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PolyU Develops Novel Anti-Virus 3D Printing Material – OpenGov Asia

With the Omicron variant making its way into the local community, the HKSAR Government announced tightening COVID-19 measures to contain the epidemic. The public should stay vigilant to maintain good personal hygiene at all times to strengthen individual defence against the pandemic.
At present, some public facilities such as doorknobs in public toilets and lift buttons have poor cleanliness and can become breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria, thus posing a threat to public health.
An interdisciplinary research team from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has successfully developed the world’s first “anti-virus 3D printing material” (material) that can kill the COVID-19 virus on surfaces as well as most common viruses and bacteria. The main component of the material is resin, added with anti-viral agents such as cationic compounds, to damage the membrane of the virus and destroy its structure to kill the virus and bacteria.
Dr Kwan Yu Chris LO, Associate Professor of PolyU’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing, who led the research team, said that laboratory tests confirmed the material can kill 70% of the COVID-19 virus and other viruses/bacteria surviving on a surface within two minutes; eliminate over 90% of viruses within 10 minutes, and terminate almost all viruses and bacteria on a surface in 20 minutes.
Dr Lo stated that this material is a resin material with high anti-virus performance. Using 3D printing technology, it can be produced in different forms catering to different needs. It is therefore highly flexible and can be used extensively in public facilities to provide epidemic prevention support to the community.
The team has already applied patent of this technology and application and will use it for commercial purposes in future.
In the past year, with the support of the laboratory of PolyU’s University Research Facility in 3D Printing (U3DP), the research team has collaborated with the Home Affairs Department, the Hong Kong Wetland Park and an environmental organisation to produce recycling bin handles, toilet doorknob covers, lift buttons, braille boards and more, in order to conduct further tests and trials of the effectiveness and durability of the material in killing viruses.
Prof. Chi-wai KAN, a member of the research team and Professor of PolyU’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing stated that even after use for a year, not only is the handle on the recycling bin still in good condition, no COVID-19 virus, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus are detected on the handle’s surface.
He noted that this proves that the efficacy rate of the material only diminishes gradually after three years of use, and is effective in fighting against viruses and bacteria. Since the material kills viruses via physical means, it can still exert the same effect on mutant viruses.”
Prof. Kan added that because the disinfection components of the material are embedded in the products rather than coated on the surface, daily cleaning with disinfectants such as bleach does not compromise its anti-virus performance.
The research team will also collaborate with the Sham Shui Po District Office to produce doorknob protective covers for over 100 unmanaged “Three-Nil” buildings in the district and install these covers on doors frequently used by residents, so as to reduce the risk of virus transmission in buildings.
The team hopes to apply the material to primary and secondary schools, healthcare facilities, and public transportation systems.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has established a new institution for cutting-edge technology and policy research in solid waste recycling issues, a critical area in achieving carbon neutrality to tackle climate change. The Research Centre for Resources Engineering towards Carbon Neutrality (RCRE) will focus its efforts on four research directions, including policy and society, environmental and economic impact, waste-to-resource technology, as well as recycling and sustainable construction.
In Hong Kong, waste is one of the top three sources of carbon emissions. The HKSAR Government aims to reduce carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Meanwhile, China has also pledged to attain national carbon neutrality by 2060.
RCRE pools top researchers from various disciplines, covering most of the solid waste spectrum, including construction waste, waste asphalt, tyres, glasses, incineration residuals, food waste, textiles, waste management policy, and life cycle environmental cost analysis. They will combine their efforts to support the Government’s carbon neutrality strategy, including minimising the waste required to be disposed of at landfills.
RCRE’s recent research includes using sea-sand and seawater eco-engineered panels to enhance marine biodiversity along Lantau’s coastline, developing biochar-enhanced construction materials, and upcycling waste plastics into sustainable asphalt pavements, to name but a few.
The Centre will also leverage the University’s advanced research platforms in water and waste, transport and highway engineering, road, concrete materials, and bioenergy, as well as PolyU’s joint laboratory on solid waste science with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics.
At the online inauguration ceremony of the new centre, Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment noted that technological development plays a pivotal role in achieving carbon neutrality. He noted that the Government supports local universities and private enterprises to develop low-carbon and green technologies. A $200 million Green Tech Fund was set up to provide better and more focused funding support for R&D projects which can help Hong Kong decarbonise and enhance environmental protection, as Hong Kong strives to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050.
At the same time, according to the Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035 with the vision of waste reduction, resources circulation and zero-landfill, the Government will also continue to step up promotion of innovation and technology development, promote the R&D and trial of decarbonisation technologies, and consolidate and strengthen downstream recovery, recycling and waste-to-resource capabilities.
The President of PolyU stated that as a university with a strong emphasis on societal impact, PolyU started researching solid waste management in the early 1990s. PolyU now has the largest research team and facilities among all the universities in Hong Kong focusing on resources engineering towards carbon neutrality and has established a strong track record and recognised reputation in the waste management research community.
RCRE, which is part of the PolyU Academy for Interdisciplinary Research, will fulfil the University’s motto of ‘To learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind, he added.
The Director of RCRE, Chair Professor of Sustainable Construction Materials and Head of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering noted that waste reduction and resources circulation are key to driving carbon reduction, and often require complementary policies to facilitate the wide and efficient application of these cutting-edge decarbonisation technologies. RCRE aspires to become a leading global research centre in solid waste recycling issues, promoting Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area as models of resources engineering towards a circular economy.
Fraudsters have been running schemes on government programs essentially since those programs were first created. However, COVID-19 created an environment especially ripe for fraudulent activity. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, government unemployment offices were flooded with both legitimate requests as well as hits from scammers looking to take advantage of the system and the chaos caused by the flood of claims.
Access to new technology like bots and Artificial Intelligence has given criminals, both those acting individually and larger organized crime syndicates, the power to submit fraudulent benefit applications on a tremendous scale.
First, fraudsters either buy stolen IDs, many of which are purchased from the dark web or create synthetic IDs by combining various bits of identity data from different sources. Then, they employ bots to completely inundate government systems and slip in fraudulent applications, which often go unnoticed among the flood of legitimate ones.
As the government attempts to limit criminal activity, many agencies are working to deploy technology solutions that allow them to capture anomalies and detect fraud in programs like UI, Medicare/Medicaid and even the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
With nearly 30% of the fraudulent UI claims in larger states based on stolen Social Security numbers, it’s much more difficult for government agencies to catch anomalies. Implementing an automated identity verification (AIV) system can be a lifesaver for agency IT teams that are understaffed and overworked for several reasons:
A 2020 report commissioned by researchers at the Administrative Conference of the United States found that federal agencies were closing the gap and that 45% of the 142 agencies surveyed were also using AI and/or machine learning to assist in fraud analysis in two key areas:
Data analytics can help supplement IT and financial auditing teams and improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of their post-mortem audits. Analytics make it possible to quickly and efficiently compare the data from disparate systems, more confidently identifying anomalies between them.
As important as fraud detection, prosecution and recovery are, using behavioural analytics to help prevent fraudulent activity by verifying identity before a claim is ever paid out is the real opportunity.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, bipartisan members of the house recently introduced legislation that would require the government to drastically modernise the United States’ digital identity infrastructure. This bill establishes the Improving Digital Identity Task Force to establish a government-wide effort to develop secure methods for governmental agencies to validate identity attributes to protect the privacy and security of individuals and support reliable, interoperable digital identity verification in the public and private sectors.
According to a development guideline of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), China is striving to establish a modern agricultural science and technology innovation system by 2025.
The CAAS aims to achieve breakthroughs that can help improve grain yield, self-sufficiency of oil-bearing crops such as soybeans, and the utilisation rate of irrigation water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. China also needs self-developed technologies to reduce dependence on importing certain crops, livestock and poultry varieties.
The guideline focuses on major fields such as seeds, cultivated land, agricultural machinery and bio-safety. It calls for boosting the construction of new key laboratories, a grain crop science centre, a molecular design breeding centre, a national crop germplasm resource bank, livestock and poultry bank and an agricultural microorganism bank.
China basically stands on its own feet in agricultural science and technology but lags behind some leading developed countries. China still lacks significant achievements in areas of modern biotechnology, such as genome-wide selection, gene editing and synthetic biology, as well as in emerging information-technology fields, such as the Internet of Things, big data, blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their application in agriculture.
The CAAS will focus on seeds, cultivated land, agricultural machinery and equipment, and agricultural biosafety and promote the trial of transgenic industrialisation, aiming to support high-quality development with high-quality science and technology.
– Wu Kongming, CAAS President
In addition, the country’s grain-crop yield is at a relatively low level, so it is urgent to advance technical research on increasing yields. Wu called for efforts to build a national agricultural science and technology innovation centre, strengthen original and independent innovation, explore new frontier fields, and achieve world-class scientific discoveries and major breakthroughs in key technologies.
Wu also stressed strengthening international cooperation, including the Belt and Road cooperation, in agricultural science and technology. The CAAS will accelerate international cooperation in disease prevention and control in both animals and plants and biotechnology.
According to Statista around 25% of China´s workforce are in agriculture, but the sector is based largely on small, family-owned farms, and it is in many cases still quite old fashioned. In part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global food shortage is growing, and China has for years known that there will be a battle of resources in the future to feed the world´s largest nation. One of the answers that are also backed by the national government is using tech to optimise output.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the top of the national agenda, however mostly applied in sectors such as finance, healthcare and smart city solutions. A report made it clear that farming was one of the industries left furthest behind in smart technologies, but also one of the areas with the biggest potential to upgrade.
China will improve efforts to create higher yields and higher quality production of major food crop varieties, and self-sufficiency in major livestock and poultry varieties by 2030 by deploying technology, as reported by OpenGov Asia. China released an action plan to promote the national seed industry late last month in Sanya, South China’s Hainan province, where the Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base is located.
The plan lays out the necessary theoretical, scientific and technological developments for the industry to improve seed varieties and grain yields, and ensure the protection of national germplasm resources. Since the beginning of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), China’s ability to innovate in breeding technology has continued to rise. However, China is still in the process of developing breeding theories and key technologies.
By 2030, the self-sufficiency rate of vegetable varieties, such as broccoli, carrots and spinach, will rise from the current 10% to more than 50%. Moreover, a platform will be built to boost seed industry technology, integrating basic research, technological innovation, variety creation, big data, and industry incubation.
American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) – in partnership with DOC’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA)’s Bureau of Trade (BOFT) – will cooperate through a new Technology Trade and Investment Collaboration (TTIC) Framework that aims to strengthen critical supply chains, including semiconductor supply chains. The Commerce Department’s move is a sign that the Biden Administration may seek to continue to deepen ties with Taiwan as a part of a broader free and open Indo-Pacific strategy.
The Taiwan-U.S. Economic Prosperity Dialogue (EPPD) show how important the Taiwan-U.S. relationship is to US national security and the robust US-Taiwan economic relationship. Both countries discussed collaboration on critical and emerging technology issues and their impact on the existing US-Taiwan economic relationship. Specifically, the two discussed countering foreign economic coercion, strengthening 5G network security, and advancing collaboration across science and technology (S&T) fields.
Taiwan’s role is important in building resilient and safe supply chains, stressing the importance of US-Taiwan ties to ensure they remain safe and secure. In order to do that, some of both the components and products of the supply chain would need to be built on American and other nations’ shores.
– Sandra Oudkirk, Director, AIT
AIT has played a key role in building up Taiwanese direct investment in the United States, including a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). TSMC plays a unique role within the US-Taiwan relationship as a “technological powerhouse” and a key provider of components for many critical technology industries. Currently, TSMC produces 92% of the world’s advanced chips and is the world’s largest contract chip producer.
TSMC’s critical lines of production include national security-sensitive chips for F-35 fighter jets, high-performance chips for US military suppliers, and other Department of Defense (DoD)-approved military-grade chips, leading to calls from US lawmakers for TSMC to move some of its production capabilities to the US.
Another important potential avenue of cooperation that Taiwan and the United States should pursue is further coordination on the development of 5G open radio access networks (RAN). Open RAN networks provide an alternative method for developing, testing, and deploying advanced 5G telecommunications networks that are not reliant on inputs from Chinese companies (namely Huawei). Taiwan represents an excellent opportunity as an export market for US 5G capabilities and ICT companies that specialise in telecommunications hardware.
Taiwan and the US have worked in conjunction on these issues for several years, including at a GM Taiwan event that promoted integrated 5G solutions between US and Taiwan companies and a 2021 event showcasing US software solutions for Open RAN technology
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and U.S. Secretary of Commerce have announced the establishment of the Technology Trade and Investment Collaboration (TTIC) framework. The TTIC framework aims to bolster bilateral trade, investment, and industrial cooperation while diversifying critical supply chains. The TTIC talks were conducted by senior officials and are a remarkable indicator of the economic and trade development between Taiwan and the U.S
TTIC also focuses on promoting a two-way investment environment, studying industry trends, and exploring new opportunities and investments in the US market. The two sides are to designate representatives at the bureau level to plan and convene the first meeting of the TTIC in the coming months, the statement said, while providing few other details about the framework’s functions.
The Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks are likely to be positive for US interests centred around technology supply chains, while mildly disappointing for Taiwan which is looking for greater market access, according to analysts. Talks on the trade and investment framework will take place against the backdrop of a global semiconductor shortage that has challenged signature American consumer electronics firms.
The Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) on Information and Communications Co-operation between the Government of the Republic of Singapore and the Government of Malaysia had a strong digital theme. Both countries discussed digital transformation efforts and explored areas where bilateral digital cooperation could advance post-pandemic recovery.
Both parties discussed issues relating to enabling trusted data flows between the two countries, and to better connecting the respective innovation and technology ecosystems to support businesses and start-ups. In addition, both are committed to implementing projects to demonstrate the benefits of cooperation in this rapidly developing digital domain to support the recovery of our respective economies.
In addition, the JCM also discussed how media production, distribution and consumption are being disrupted by technologies and online platforms, including growing volumes of information and the rapid spread of falsehoods.
The JCM is a platform of increasing importance, to deepen the bilateral cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia. The pandemic has driven many companies to digitally transform and seize new opportunities. Through the JCM, we have initiated meaningful digital cooperation projects to increase the adoption and interoperability of digital technologies in both countries. Our collaboration will serve as a springboard to enhance connectivity between our businesses and people and to support our recovery from the pandemic.
– Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore
Malaysia continues to embrace digital technology and develop unique technologies and business models to assist the country in establishing new development engines. With the growth of the digital economy, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and ever-evolving technology, Malaysia looks forward to exploring potential collaboration in this sector in the future. Malaysia is stepping up efforts to assist Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and business owners in adopting digital technology, and will continue to advance plans to establish an inclusive and progressive digital economy for all.
Malaysia has a sustainable and solid economic foundation, comprehensive business-ready environment and dynamic skilled workforce. As an attractive cost-competitive investment location in the region, she is fast becoming a preferred centre for shared services and leading technology industries. Singaporean companies who are looking to expand into Malaysia should pay attention to the launch of the Future 5 Strategy, and evaluate how their businesses can fit into this plan in order to anchor a foothold into the market.
The five industry sectors that have been identified as key drivers are AgTech, HealthTech, Islamic Digital Economy and FinTech, CleanTech and EduTech. These industries are based on the strategic national industries for digitalisation and have also been mapped to Malaysia’s national priority sectors.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singapore and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have also launched negotiations on a new Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA) last year. The agreement seeks to deepen bilateral cooperation in new emerging digital areas, such as in personal data protection and cross-border data flows, digital identities, fintech, as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI) governance frameworks. It also aims to support and foster greater collaboration between both countries’ SME communities in the digital economy.
Recently, Singapore and ROK have concluded negotiations on the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA). The KSDPA will be Singapore’s fourth Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), and the first with an Asian country. The agreement will deepen bilateral cooperation in the digital economy between both countries, by establishing forward-looking digital trade rules and norms to promote interoperability between digital systems. This will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a trusted and secure digital environment for our businesses and consumers.
The KSDPA is part of a series of DEAs that Singapore has embarked upon. These agreements are an inter-agency effort led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, to advance collaboration in the digital economy and enhance digital connectivity.
To analyse potentially cancerous lesions in mammography scans, Computer engineers and radiologists at Duke University have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to determine if an invasive biopsy is necessary. Unlike its many predecessors, this algorithm is interpretable, meaning it shows physicians exactly how it came to its conclusions.
Rather than allowing the AI to freely develop its own procedures, the researchers trained it to locate and evaluate lesions just like an actual radiologist would be trained. The AI could make for a useful training platform to teach students how to read mammography images. It could also help physicians in sparsely populated regions around the world who do not regularly read mammography scans make better health care decisions.
If a computer is going to help make important medical decisions, physicians need to trust that the AI is basing its conclusions on something that makes sense. We need algorithms that not only work but explain themselves and show examples of what they are basing their conclusions on. That way, whether a physician agrees with the outcome or not, the AI is helping to make better decisions.
– Joseph Lo, Professor of Radiology, Duke University
Engineering AI that reads medical images is a huge industry. Thousands of independent algorithms already exist, and the FDA has approved more than 100 of them for clinical use. Whether reading MRI, CT or mammogram scans, however, very few of them use validation datasets with more than 1000 images or contain demographic information. This dearth of information, coupled with the recent failures of several notable examples, has led many physicians to question the use of AI in high-stakes medical decisions.
The researchers’ idea is to build a system to say that this specific part of a potentially cancerous lesion looks a lot like this other one. Without these explicit details, medical practitioners will lose time and faith in the system if there is no way to understand why it sometimes makes mistakes.
The researchers trained the new AI with 1,136 images taken from 484 patients at Duke University Health System. They first taught the AI to find the suspicious lesions in question and ignore all of the healthy tissue and other irrelevant data. Then they hired radiologists to carefully label the images to teach the AI to focus on the edges of the lesions, where the potential tumours meet healthy surrounding tissue and compare those edges to edges in images with known cancerous and benign outcomes.
This is a unique way to train an AI how to look at medical imagery. Other AIs are not trying to imitate radiologists; they are coming up with their methods for answering the question that is often not helpful or, in some cases, depend on flawed reasoning processes. After training was complete, the researchers put the AI to the test. While it did not outperform human radiologists, it did just as well as other black box computer models. When the new AI is wrong, people working with it will be able to recognise that it is wrong and why it made the mistake.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, a new report showed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has reached a critical turning point in its evolution. Substantial advances in language processing, computer vision and pattern recognition mean that AI is touching people’s lives daily—from helping people to choose a movie to aid in medical diagnoses.
In terms of AI advances, the panel noted substantial progress across subfields of AI, including speech and language processing, computer vision and other areas. Much of this progress has been driven by advances in machine learning techniques, particularly deep learning systems, which have leapt in recent years from the academic setting to everyday applications.
On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) recently announced up to AU$ 40 million in funding to support research and development (R&D) that aims to support the achievement of the Government’s ultra-low-cost solar stretch goal.
The R&D funding round will build on ARENA’s previous R&D investment into solar PV and will seek to support projects that align with ARENA’s Solar 30 30 30 target of 30 per cent module efficiency and 30 cents per installed watt at utility-scale by 2030. ARENA invites applications that can materially reduce the levelised cost of solar PV by 2030 across two streams:
ARENA currently expects to allocate up to $20 million in total funding to each of the two streams.
Ultra-low-cost solar was recently added as a priority technology in the Australian Government’s latest Low Emissions Technology Statement (LETS), which set a stretch goal of $15 per megawatt-hour, roughly a third of today’s cost.
Ultra-low-cost solar will be a key input to scaling up production of low-cost green hydrogen, in support of the LETS hydrogen goal of “H2 under $2”, as well as the key to unlocking other decarbonisation pathways for heavy industry including low emission materials such as green steel and aluminium.
As part of ARENA’s new Investment Plan and in support of ultra-low-cost solar, ARENA has set an ambitious target of ‘Solar 30 30 30’, to improve solar cell efficiency to 30 per cent and reduce the total cost of construction of utility-scale solar farms to 30 cents per watt by 2030.
Since 2012, ARENA through its R&D Programs has committed close to $105 million in grant funding to over 70 projects. In addition to this, ARENA has also supported the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP with AU$ 84 million of funding over 10 years.
The CEO of ARENA stated that the pioneering work of Australian solar researchers will be key to driving cost reductions and improving solar cell efficiency.
He noted that Australia’s solar researchers have been leading the world for decades. Thirty years ago, UNSW researchers invented the PERC silicon solar cell, technology which today is the foundation of more than 80% of the world’s solar panels.
That work continues through ACAP, the universities and CSIRO as well as clean energy start-ups. Just a few months ago a start-up founded by former UNSW students and now based in Sydney, created the world’s most efficient solar cell. This AU$ 40 million R&D funding round will support Australia’s solar researchers and industry to get behind the target of Solar 30 30 30 and drive the innovation that will deliver ultra-low-cost solar, he added.
Ultra-low-cost solar will be a vital component in helping Australia move towards a lower cost, largely renewable electricity system and achieve the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Expressions of Interest for the Ultra Low-Cost Solar R&D Funding Round will open in February 2022 with applications due by 5 pm AEST Monday 11 April 2022.

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