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【Cubic Zine Issue 14】“Cultural differences stand for fun!” Innovation 101 with social entrepreneurship pundit Dr Elsie Tsui

Where Ideas Root and Flourish

Breaking news! A few staff teams under Office of Research and Knowledge Transfer Services (including us editors) have already moved bases to the recently opened InnoPort. We simply can’t wait for more interdisciplinary and interdepartmental events to take place here. While Cubic Zine is alive and well, we’ll “go lean” and bring you more diversified content on innovation and entrepreneurship!

In this issue: #HappyHour #ScholarSocialInnovators #TrialAndErrorLab #MeatFree #Innovation #CreativeTension

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Scholar-Social Innovator→ GLOCAL

“Cultural differences stand for fun!” Innovation 101 with social entrepreneurship pundit Dr Elsie Tsui

Dr Elsie Tsui (Head of Social Innovation, CUHK Office of Research and Knowledge Transfer Services)

Elsie toiled considerable years in the business world – shortly after graduating from CUHK Sociology, she studied MBA at the University of Cambridge, then spearheaded the Public Affairs and Communications function at Greater China division of The Coca-Cola Company for eight years, before working as an innovation consultant.

With copious experiences diagnosing enterprises at her past jobs, she is well-versed with many brand stories, especially those in her beloved fashion industry. Intriguingly, what got her talking today turn out to be two other buzzwords with which she has become fascinated for the past ten years – innovation and social impact.

Taking up a new role (as Head of Social Innovation at ORKTS) starting this September, has she set any targets? How would she define innovation, and how would she recommend us to nurture it?

Read the interview

【Scholarly keyword】Creative tension

Elsie put it plainly, “overly cynical people who like killing others’ ideas – ‘don’t do this and that’ – they do no good to innovation.” Still, she points out that an appropriate amount of creative tension could be beneficial.

Mark Batson Baril, “expert” in workplace conflict, defined the term as “constructive” conflict that “brings on the kind of tension that sparks excitement, conversation and creativity”. He also listed several conditions that kill creative tension – fear of failure, eroding trust, lack of safety and groupthink. If a member in the group feels distrusted or fears rejection, the potential for innovation would be stifled.



Meat ban? | Denmark

While the recently available OmniPork options at McDonald’s proved to be a hit, many European governments racked their brains to achieve their emission reduction goals via the “food” department. The Guardian reported a controversial policy initiated by the Danish authorities to meet their goal of 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. State canteens were obliged to bar meat from their menus twice a week. Beef or lamb could only be served once a week.

The measure was met with fierce opposition, concluding with a hasty retraction after a mere week. The ruling party explained the intention as “setting an example on greener eating habits”, and had reached a consensus with the industry to make meat-free days voluntary.

Trial and Error Lab | Hong Kong

Wong Yuk Kuen (first from the right) is a BA Chinese Language and Literature and MA in Intercultural Studies graduate from CUHK. (Photo: Trial and Error Lab)

“Embrace failures” sounds a cliche inspirational quote for start-ups. But let’s be real – how much “room” are we actually allowed for failures? Chancing upon a five-month window for a venue at Breakthrough Centre, Wong Yuk Kuen, alumna of CUHK Department of Chinese Language and Literature, and a few media persons came up with an experiment – leasing the space at a low rate to youngsters in the cultural and creative industry. This Trial and Error Lab has nurtured over 60 craftsmen to date; they even organised a “Trial and Error Fest” in October to promote their core spirit.

No wonder some say Silicon Valley originated from a garage.



CUHK is blessed with an abundance of spaces, and now, one more! The central hub for interdisciplinary teams of faculty members and students to cocreate and innovate – this is InnoPort!

Managed by ORKTS, InnoPort is right next to the University MTR Station, taking up five floors of the Inter-University Hall. CUHK members engaging in innovation and entrepreneurial activities are welcome to take advantage of its chic co-working and event spaces. Come enjoy a coffee at the open-air deck of our new cafe too (tentatively open next January)!

InnoPort is opening up in phases; teams and students affiliated with the following units are currently eligible?
✔️ORKTS PI Centre
✔️Entrepreneurship and Innovation Minor Programme (EPIN)
✔️Center for Entrepreneurship (CfE)
✔️Centre for Innovation and Technology (CINTEC)
✔️I·CARE Centre for Whole-person DevelopmentYunus Social Business Centre@CUHK

Please contact relevant units for details. Don’t forget to like InnoPort’s Facebook page and follow it on Instagram!



Come mingle with CUHK entrepreneurs!

The Happy Hour entrepreneurial talk series organised by the CU Entrepreneurs Alliance is now in its second season, welcoming live audiences starting in October! Join us at InnoPort and meet other great minds on campus!

Upcoming sessions:
Where innovation meets social problems | 20 Nov | Speakers: Mr Eddie Li & Mr James Chong
The start-up journeys of academics | 4 Dec | Speakers: Prof Renjie Zhou, Dr Congyi Lyu & Ms Dawei Wang

Details & Registration


Be our next scholar-social innovator!

CUHK runs two funding schemes that enable scholars apply their research to the community – KPF and S-KPF. Selected projects may receive up to HK$400,000 for KPF projects or HK$600,000 for S-KPF companies. Over 200 teams have already benefited from the schemes, working on physical and mental well-being, social cohesion, cultural and heritage conservation, and so on.

We are now accepting applications for both schemes! Eager to transform your research expertise into social impact? Keen to initiate social innovation projects to benefit the community, or even start your own social enterprise? Don’t miss the deadline on 16 Dec!



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