Where Ideas Root and Flourish
Happy new year! May all your dreams and goals manifest in 2022! This issue of Cubic Zine features the ebullient Dr Chui Pui Yi Apple, Research Assistant Professor of the School of Life Sciences and founder of Coral Academy. Her watchword for us? “Act Now.” It’s pertinent to both conservation and entrepreneurship — give it a try no matter how.
In this issue: #FoodTechAccelerator #Breer #SocialEconomy #EuropeanCommission #CoralAcademy #Conservation
Scholarly Outreach -> GLOCAL
What’s special about corals in Hong Kong? They are simply tough! In Hong Kong, water temperature can go down to 13°C in winter and up to 31°C in summer. It’s quite a feat to survive such temperature difference. Corals can adapt to environmental changes, but adaptation takes time. Climate change is just coming too fast. We want to explore if corals in Hong Kong are particularly resilient to temperature changes, and if so, what is the mechanism?”
“I have always wanted to be a marine scientist since I was a kid!” Apple chuckles.
While carrying out the mission of finding more resilient or tolerant coral species to cope with climate change, ecological conservation is pressing. Does Apple have any pointer? What does she want to achieve with Coral Academy?
“Bleached corals are not dead,” says Apple. Corals get most of their bright colours from zooxanthellae, which live in a mutually beneficial relationship with coral polyps by producing food for corals. In the documentary Chasing Coral highly recommended by Apple, a scholar describes such mutualism this way, “They (corals) essentially have food factories living inside of themselves”. Corals expel the zooxanthellae that live inside them when sea temperature increases, leaving only the transparent coral polyps and white coral skeletons. This is called coral bleaching.
Apple emphasises that bleaching corals are losing most of their food sources, but if the environment improves soon enough for zooxanthellae to return, corals can recover from bleaching. If unfavourable conditions persist, however, corals may die or are more at risk of diseases.
Business 2.0 —> FORCE FOR GOOD
The European Commission presented in early December 2021 the Social Economy Action Plan for 2022-2030 to help the European social economy thrive by creating the right framework conditions (e.g. taxation policy and certification systems), opening up opportunities for social economy organisations to start up and scale up, and enhancing awareness and recognition of the social economy. An increase from the €2.5bn mobilised in the last 6-year action plan for the new measures is expected.
According to the Commission, the social economy includes social enterprises, cooperatives, mutual benefit societies, non-profit associations and foundations. There are 2.8 million social economy entities in Europe and they altogether employ 13.6 million people. These entities steer social innovation and inclusion, but their impacts are not properly recognised in at least ten European countries.
Among the many accelerator programs in Hong Kong, Good Food Accelerator Program is one that dedicates to food technology. DayDayCook announced in December 2021 their plans to launch the first accelerator program on food technology to grow the food tech sector of Hong Kong.
Apart from Cyberport, this accelerator program is also endorsed by investment and corporate partners including C Ventures, Gobi Partners, KPMG and CJ Foods. The inaugural program has selected 8 startups, for instances Farmacy that creates smart indoor farms, detox future salad AllKlear Health, and Breer the craft beer outfit that uses waste bread from bakeries. These food startups have focuses on Alt-Proteins, Food as Medicine, food distribution, or product innovation.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
ORKTS Webinar Series “From Research to Market” has come to an end. The series of one-hour webinars covers the importance of patents, commercialisation of biomedical research, synergy of industry, academia and research sectors, startups for scholars and so on. Click to view some of the webinar recordings here.
The last episode features the sharing from Mark Cheng, Senior Advisor of Ashoka on social innovation and its difference from social entrepreneurship. He also stresses the importance of “spread an idea for a positive systemic change” instead of profitability or market share with the example of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus.
BE -> ENGAGING
This week-long contest is open to students and alumni of all tertiary institutions. All you need is a tech-related startup concept, team up with 2-10 members, and materialise your ideas with programmers, engineers, designers and marketers in 6 days. Winner of the Techathon is entitled to HK$1.9m of seed fund and incubation support!
Pick a theme from AI & Fintech, Humanities & Health Tech, Social Impact & New Generation Technology, or Smart City & Sustainability, and register on or before 2 Jan 2022!
Recommend Cubic Zine to your friends and partners — let us all do good and do well!
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