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Lingnan Entrepreneurship Initiative (LEI)

The liberal arts route to entrepreneurial success

Launched in 2018, the Lingnan Entrepreneurship Initiative (LEI) is the first and only collaborative Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the liberal arts in Hong Kong. LEI empowers the University’s undergraduate students to create sustainable and inclusive solutions addressing real-world issues, by thinking like and working with entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors.

 

Professor Leonard K Cheng

Professor Leonard K Cheng

“Often when we think of innovation we think of technology as an important element of innovation. But it’s not the only one,” said Professor Leonard K Cheng, President of Lingnan University and Chair Professor of Economics, “Another form of innovation concerns business models.” These include social enterprises pioneering novel ways to assist communities in solving their own problems. LEI nurtures students to take on social entrepreneurship through practical experiences in classrooms, forums, workshops, startup competitions, local and international internships, and more. Collectively, these experiences form the possibilities within the University’s unique Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) ecosystem.

 

Under the leadership of its Director, Prof. Albert Ko, LEI has gone from strength to strength and executed a number of new programmes to foster a vibrant entrepreneurship community in Lingnan and beyond. The Design Innovation programme was introduced in workshops and courses to facilitate creative problem-solving, communication and collaboration skills through design thinking, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, and participatory design. LEI organized the first Asia Design Innovation Meet-up and Gallery to guide higher education faculty to adopt Design Thinking.

 

To promote inclusive entrepreneurship, LEI hosts a range of skills and knowledge-sharing workshops with various experts in the field and provides multiple incubation funding opportunities. Students can also experience the thrill and challenges of designing their enterprises at competitions like the annual Startup Weekend at Lingnan, and other international competitions. To expand resources and opportunities to explore diverse career pathways, LEI is collaborating with Amazon Web Services Educate (AWS Educate) to launch the Lingnan I&E Academy.

 

Design Innovation programme

 

Under the leadership of LEI’s Director, Dr Albert Ko, a number of new programmes have been created to provide additional training. The Department of Management’s Professor Ivy Yang has led a group effort to introduce a Minor in Entrepreneurship, which gives students the chance to develop their first start-up plan. While the Office of Service Learning (OSL) has launched a Design Innovation programme to help further develop creative, problem-solving, communication and collaboration skills, the Student Services Centre has organized complementary activities to hone skills in leadership and entrepreneurship and the China Economic Research Programme has provided related training and internship opportunities in the Greater Bay Area.

 

To promote inclusive entrepreneurship, LEI hosts a range of skills and knowledge-sharing workshops with various experts in the field and provides multiple incubation funding opportunities. Students can also experience the thrill and challenges of designing their enterprises at competitions like the annual Startup Weekend at Lingnan, and other international competitions. To expand resources and opportunities to explore diverse career pathways, LEI is collaborating with Amazon Web Services Educate (AWS Educate) to launch the Lingnan I&E Academy.

 

Air Purifier

 

LEI engages students, faculty, and alumni to join the I&E ecosystem. Lingnan students have continued to innovate, focusing on socially impactful projects. For instance, one team developed a low-cost but effective air-purifier for cleaning the air in sub-divided flats.

 

LEI’s signature programs enable students from different majors to conduct international fieldwork, and work on critical issues like access to affordable technology. Conducted with the Office of Service-Learning (OSL), the multi-year Joint Humanitarian Summer and Winter Academy is a collaboration with educational institutions and NGOs, from around the world. After receiving trainings led by experts in various technical and problem-solving skills and sustainability concepts, students travel to various locations around the world to work with communities on local issues. In 2019, student cohorts focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and worked in Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Nepal and Uganda on projects ranging from waste management and urban planning to education, and community entrepreneurship. The 2020 virtual summer Humanitarian Innovation Challenge also involved students working on small-scale independent projects looking at technology and products specifically designed to address the challenge of COVID-19.

 

LEI is also a hub for technological resources and open-source projects which benefit the general public. In the summer of 2020, LEI and partners from across Hong Kong led Project Ultra Violite to provide rapid disinfection service for low-income families living in sub-divided housing units during COVID-19. Volunteers used a Bluetooth control module to use UV-C Disinfection light, a setup which was assembled by LEI and the instructions for which are available to the public for free.

 

To promote a culture of community co-creation, LEI has also developed spaces to explore creative ideas and implement them in physical prototypes. L.E.I. Beta (β) Lab is the collaborative space by the LEI and Fong Sum Wood Library which aims to create a dynamic and social innovative community at Lingnan University. OSL has also revamped a corner of the office and equipped it with technology such as 3D printers, a laser engraver, 3D scanner, electronics equipment, hand tools and all the software needed to use them.