PolyU Signs Commercialization and Collaboration Agreement with Avalon Nanofiber Limited

(2014/10/23)

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) signs a commercialization and collaboration agreement with Avalon Nanofibre Limited (Avalon) today (23 October) to conduct further research on the nanofibre technology platform developed by Professor Wallace Woon-fong Leung, Chair Professor of Innovation Products & Technologies, Department of Mechanical Engineering. The collaboration is a significant milestone in PolyU’s engagement in collaborative research with the industry which maximizes the potential of technology development and the applicability of the new technology.

The agreement was signed by Dr Henry Feng, CEO of Avalon and PolyU’s Executive Vice President Mr Nicholas Yang in today’s ceremony. Dr Feng, former Chairman and CEO of China Petrochemical Development Corporation, Taiwan, and a distinguished industrialist, is teaming up with Dr Manson Fok, a successful medical doctor and biotech entrepreneur from Hong Kong; and Dr Johnson Yiu-Nam Lau, a successful academician who turned into a very successful pharmaceutical/biotechnology executive with a history of launching the second largest biotechnology initial public offering (IPO) in the US. Dr Fok will serve as the Chairman and Dr Lau will serve as the Vice-Chairman of Avalon.

Mr Yang emphasized “This collaboration exemplifies PolyU’s endeavours in fostering innovative culture and translating deliverables of innovation into products with high applicability through intense engagement with our industry partners.” Avalon is strongly confident of this patented nanofibre technology, and would embark on both product development for commercialization as well as to further invest in additional research and development. “We are excited by the potential and versatility of this nanofibre technology platform. After rounds of fruitful discussions with the research team led by Professor Leung on the technical challenges for commercialization of this potentially paradigm shifting technology, we have decided to enter into this collaboration with an investment of over HK$10 million in product development and preparation for scaling-up the production capacity.” commented by Dr Feng.

Professor Alex Wai, PolyU Vice-President of Research Development said, “This partnership demonstrates PolyU’s success in technology transfer model from the promotion of up-stream collaborative research to technology development and commercialization. PolyU is excited to launch such a close PolyU-industry collaboration with this experienced group of biotechnology veterans. We will continue exploring with established industry veterans to enter into close collaborative engagement to maximize the potential and impact of the PolyU innovations.”

Professor Leung’s research team has been conducting research on the applications of the nanofibre technology platform and filtration/separation technologies for many years. A variety of materials could be potentially used for nanofibre production, and chitosan has been chosen for a specific application, namely, the development of nanofibre face mask. The chitosan based nanofibre offers unique and specific physicochemical properties. The presence of many positive charge groups can provide outstanding feature for filtration, biomedicine, and healthcare applications so as to attract the clusters of negative charges on the surface of viruses and bacteria like common pathogens such as Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. The first commercial grade prototype of nanofibre face mask shall be available for evaluation in the coming six months, followed by the launch of marketable products within a year. Professor Leung commented, “It is very excited to gain the tremendous support from the top industry experts to commercialize this technology. Our research team enthusiastically looks forward to collaborating seamlessly with Avalon on the product development and further extends the technology into other
applications.”

Professor Leung has received a gold medal from 42nd International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva and a special award from the Romania Ministry of National Education in April 2014 for the nanofibre filtration technology. Professor Leung expresses acknowledgement to the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission, Hong Kong Research Grant Council and PolyU for providing the initial funding to support the early development of the technology.