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, applying integrative design thinking processes and methods to define business opportunities, configure resources, and manage projects with dynamic capability in an era of digital presumption and business uncertainty.

  • Application Timeline - Sep 2022 Entry
  • Applications start: Sep 23, 2021
  • Application deadline: Apr 30, 2022
  • Info Session: Jan 8, 2022


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, the new postgraduate programme aims to foster transdisciplinaryknowledge based on a systematic understanding of essentials in design, business andtechnology, and support practice-based research with the established history of SD and unique resources in Hong Kong and the GBA.

Our new postgraduate programme is an 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 Hong Kong industries' transformation.

Programme structure

In Semester 1, IBD students formulate a knowledge foundation of their domain area, explore the appropriate direction of their development, and develop multidisciplinary collaboration.

Semester 2 articulates 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.

Summer Term is for self-reflection and career preparation. Every student completes at least three projects at the end of this one-year programme: the interdisciplinary project, the theme-based project and the entrepreneurial project.

To receive the award of Master of Design, students must successfully attain a total of 36 credits from the following subject categories: Compulsory Common subjects for 6 credits, Compulsory Specialism subjects for 15 credits, Elective subjects for 15 credits (12 credits from Elective Pool A and 3 credits from 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

Classes are normally held during daytime on weekdays. It normally takes 1 year to complete the specialism.

Specialism leaders

Sylvia Xihui Liu — Assistant 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 complemented by substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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 FAQ for requirements and submission)
  • 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)

  • Tuition: HK$4,850 per credit for local students; HK$5,550 per credit for non-local students

Financial Aid

  1. A number of subjects in the MDes scheme are Continuing Education Fund (CEF) reimbursable for eligible Hong Kong residents (who have the right of abode or the right to land or to remain in Hong Kong without restriction). Students taking these subjects will benefit from the CEF subsidy ceiling of HK$20,000. For further information on CEF, eligibility and the reimbursable courses list, please visit CEF official website.  
  2. 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 official website.
  3. This specialism under Master of Design is an eligible programme of the Targeted Taught Postgraduate Programmes Fellowships Scheme (2022/23). MDes Scheme has been allocated 26 fellowship places. Each fellowship subsidises HK$120,000 of the programme tuition. Details are available online on UGC's website for public information. Visit SD news for information on eligibility, selection criteria, application procedures and application results and deadline.

The School reserves the right to change the terms or withdraw from offering the financial aid. In case of any dispute or disagreement, the School’s decision is final.

Type of VISA (for International Students)

People’s Republic of China and foreign nationals may apply to this programme as non-locals and will require a student visa to take this programme.

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

Applicants will be informed by the University’s Academic Registry (AR) about the visa application process when receiving the Notice of Offer. Visa applications are processed and determined by the Immigration Department of the Government of the HK SAR. The process normally takes 8 - 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.