Cover Li Ka-shing and Wei Shyy, president of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Hong Kong’s richest man wants the city to become a global hub for biotechnology

Billionaire Li Ka-shing has donated HK$500 million to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to establish the city’s first synthetic biology institute.

The new academic and research building will be named after the Tatler Lister, who hopes to turn the city into a global hub for biotechnology. On Thursday, Li attended a signing ceremony at the university’s Sai Kung campus to formally announce the new project.

Synthetic biology is the study of creating and redesigning biological parts—think organisms’ DNAs—that can be used to improve industries like medicine and energy.

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A university spokesperson said in a press release that Li’s donation will be used to “first develop scientific infrastructure and technologies to integrate genetic engineering with artificial intelligence.”

Li, who gave a speech during the ceremony, said that he’s been an advocate for investing in the emerging industry since 2003.

“Just as synthetic chemistry and petroleum was central to the 20th Century, synthetic biology and DNA are the technology engines of this century, bringing disruption to traditional manufacturing and new opportunities in the industrialisation of biology,” Li said.

“I am excited to work with HKUST, and I have faith in our next generation, together, we can contribute to the future wisely, and will stand in the forefront of this new frontier.”

Since announcing his retirement in 2018, the business tycoon has been investing in new ways to improve healthcare through technology. In July, he became the largest outside investor at Well Health Technologies Corp., which acquires medical record providers and clinics to digitise Canada’s mostly paper-based healthcare system.

See also: Li Ka-shing Invests In Improving Canada's Healthcare System