Innovative Business Design (MDes)

Applying integrative design thinking processes and methods to define business opportunities.


The Master of Design (Innovative Business Design) (IBD) is an interdisciplinary specialism based on a design-centred entrepreneurship approach. Students apply integrative design thinking processes and methods to define business opportunities, configure resources and manage projects with dynamic capabilities in an era of digitalisation and business uncertainty.

  • Application Timeline - Sep 2023 Entry
  • Applications start: Sep 22, 2022
  • Review deadlines:
    Early Round: Dec 9, 2022
    Round 1: Feb 3, 2023
    Round 2: Mar 17, 2023
    Round 3: Apr 30, 2023
  • Programme application deadline: Apr 30, 2023
  • Info Session: Jan 7, 2023 (Event details/ Register)

News: Master of Design offers local students an option for part-time mode of study for Sep 2023 Entry (Read more)


The aims of this specialism are:

  • to foster transdisciplinary knowledge through systematic integration;
  • to impart an understanding of the essentials in design, business and technology;
  • to progress practice-based research and integrative design thinking training;
  • to incubate talents for Hong Kong industries' transformation; and
  • to identify opportunities and resources for improving lives and economies at the local, regional and global levels.

Also: Employers of MDes Graduates


Targeting on meaning creation, IBD is the first postgraduate programme focusing on design-centred entrepreneurship in the world. A succeeding programme of the unique ID&BM (International Design and Business Management), IBD aims to foster transdisciplinary knowledge based on a systematic understanding of essentials in design, business, and technology, at the same time support practice-based research with the established history of SD and unique resources in Hong Kong and the GBA. IBD is a hub of innovation ecosystem through configuring resources and facilitating innovation for our students, alumni, industrial partners, government, and other key stakeholders as a catalyst for change.

Incubating talents for the transformation of Hong Kong's industries.

Programme structure

The programme begins with subjects in which IBD students formulate a knowledge foundation in their focal domain, identify appropriate directions for their further development, and develop their skills in multidisciplinary collaborations.

In the second stage of the study, students will learn the core knowledge of Innovate with Lifestyle and Culture and Design for Transformation with a holistic view of design's value in the new business context created by human-centred design thinking and new technologies.

The final stage is for self-reflection and career preparation. Every student should have completed three projects by the end of this one-year programme, i.e. an interdisciplinary project, a theme-based project, and an entrepreneurial project.

To receive the award of Master of Design, students are required to attain a total of 36 credits from the subject categories below:

  • 6 credits in "Compulsory Common" subjects;
  • 15 cerdits in "Compulsory Specialism" subjects;
  • 15 credits in Elective subjects (12 credits in Elective Pool A and 3 credits in Elective Pool B).

"Compulsory Common" subjects (6 credits)

SD5008 Research and Analysis for Design (3)
SD5009 Research and Academic Writing (3)

"Compulsory Specialism" subjects (15 credits)

Foundation subjects
SD5116 Design for Transformation (3)

Lab Studies subjects
SD5132 Lab Studies in Human Cyber-Physical Systems (3)

Specialism Project subjects
SD5138 Theme-Based Project (3)
SD5139 Entrepreneurship Project (6)

Elective subjects

Elective Pool A (12 credits)

Foundation subjects
SD5114^Design Methods (Advanced) (3)
SD5115^ Design Project Management (3)
SD5116 Design for Transformation (3)
SD5511 UX Design Fundamentals (3)
SD5512 Prototyping and Scripting (3)
SD5411 Designing Services (3)
SD5711 Design for the Biosphere (3)
SD5712 Design for Change (3)
SD5713 Design Systems Thinking (3)

Specialism Major subjects
SD5117 Innovate with Lifestyle and Culture (3)
SD5513 Theories in Interaction Design (3)
SD5514#Advanced Visualisation and Interaction (3)
SD5412 Advanced Service Design Methods and Tools (3)
SD5413 Socio-Technical Service Ecosystem (3)
SD5414 Systemic Innovation and Designing Future Services (3)
SD5716 Regenerative Ecosystems Design (3)
SD5717 Territories, Societies, and Spatial Complexes (3)

Elective Pool B (3 credits)

Interdisciplinary Studio / Project subjects
SD5131^Interdisciplinary Project (3)
SD5431 Interdisciplinary Studio (3)
SD5731 Regenerative Environments Design (3)

Lab Studies subjects
SD5132 Lab Studies in Human Cyber-Physical Systems (3)
SD5531 Lab Studies in Systems Design (3)
SD5532# Lab Studies in Intelligent Systems Construction (3)
SD5432 Lab Studies in Data-Driven Service Design (3)
SD5732 Lab Studies in Applied Technologies for Territorial Design (3)

# denotes subject containing pre-requisite requirement.
^ denotes subject containing co-requisite requirement.

Class delivery mode & duration

For full-time students, the normal duration is 1 year; for part-time students, the normal duration is 3 years. A full-time study load is 36 credits in a year; a part-time study load is 6 – 9 credits in a compulsory semester (Semester 1 and 2).

Full-time and part-time students follow the same timetable and attend classes together. Classes are normally held during the daytime on weekdays. 

Specialism leaders

Sylvia Xihui Liu — Associate Professor, PhD

Sylvia Xihui Liu

Dr Sylvia Liu has both academic and industrial experience. She obtained her PhD degree from PolyU in 2010 under the supervision of Prof. John Heskett and became visiting assistant professor in 2011. Before her PhD study, she was design manager at Nova Design. Her consultancy services ranged from product design, branding and design strategy and has earned several international design awards, such as IDEA, iF and Red Dot. Her research interest focuses on design management capability. The outcomes of her research include papers in top design journals, innovative business models and design policies. Since 2013, she has been invited as adviser for developing the national design policy of China related to Made in China 2025 and One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR). 

Kevin Denney — Professor of Practice (Social Innovation)

Kevin Denney

Kevin Denney is a Design Strategist. Kevin hails from Chicago where his did his graduate studies at the IIT, Institute of Design. Kevin’s focus is on designing cities for health and prosperity. In his work in industry and academia, Kevin emphasizes the importance of developing models and frameworks that enhance collaboration across domains.

Teaching staff


Entrance requirement

A Bachelor's degree or equivalent in design, business, humanities, or a technological field is required, preferably with two years of relevant professional experience. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications and substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Portfolios of professional work are required. Before submitting their portfolios, applicants should read Guidance Notes on Design Portfolios.

A complete application includes

  • Application form
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation (academic/ work)
  • Evidence of academic qualification, i.e. degree certificate(s)/diploma(s) and final official transcript(s)
  • Portfolio (refer to Guidance Notes on Design Portfolio)
  • IELTS/ TOEFL report (click here to view PolyU's English Language Requirement) 

All admissions must go through the interview process. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview either in-person or online.

  • Number of credits: 36

  • Normal Period of Study: 1 year (Full-time)/ 3 years (Part-time)

  • Tuition: HK$5,600 per credit for local students; HK$5,900 per credit for non-local students

Financial Aid

  1. Extended Non-means-tested Loan Scheme (ENLS), administered by Student Finance Office (SFO) of the HK Governments, offers interest-bearing loans to eligible local residents (who have the right of abode in the Hong Kong or have resided or have had their homes in Hong Kong continuously for three complete years prior to the commencement of the programme) to settle tuition fees. For details of the scheme, eligibility and application, please refer to SFO's website.
  2. This specialism under Master of Design is an eligible programme of the Targeted Taught Postgraduate Programmes Fellowships Scheme (the Fellowship Scheme) in 2023/24 academic year. MDes Scheme has been allocated 26 fellowship places. Each fellowship subsidises HK$120,000 of the programme tuition. Details about the Fellowship Scheme are available on the University Grants Committee (UGC) 's website. For information on eligibility, assessment criteria, and application procedure, visit PolyU eProspectus. It is expected that local applicants are informed of their MDes admission and Fellowship application results at the same time.
  3. The Master of Design (MDes) is offering two entry scholarship schemes to outstanding non-local creative talent to further their studies in Hong Kong. The scholarship programmes are part of the MDes' new vision to develop proactive leaders and game changers for the future of industries. International Excellence Scholarship (IES) and Top Universities Scheme (TUS) are the two scholarship programmes, with 50% and 15% tuition scholarships valued at HK$106,200 and HK$31,860, respectively. For details, please refer to the announcement for details. The initial screening of nominations begins in late January 2023. Scholarship quotas are limited, so applying early is advantageous.

PolyU reserves the right to change or withdraw the fellowships/ scholarships at any time. In case of any dispute/disagreement, PolyU’s decision is final.

Type of VISA (for International Students)

Mainland Chinese and nationals of other countries may apply to this programme as non-locals and will require a student visa to take up this programme.

Holders of dependant visas or a visa under IANG are also considered non-locals but do not require a student visa.

You will be informed by the Academic Registry (AR) of the details of visa applications, immigration regulations, health care, cost of living and other non-academic matters of concern to non-local students if you are offered admission to one of our programmes.

Visa applications are processed and determined by the Immigration Department of the Government (IMMD) of the HK SAR via PolyU upon admission. The process may take 8 to 10 weeks upon receipt of all the required documents.


Should you require further assistance, feel free to contact us by e-mail at or by phone +852 3400 3440.