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HKU start-up wins top prize at Inaugural Hello Tomorrow Singapore Regional Summit

Lifespans, a start-up company formed by HKU professors and alumni, won top prize at the Inaugural Hello Tomorrow Singapore Regional Summit. The team uses advanced materials to tackle complications stemming from orthopaedic implants within the growing elderly population.

The start-up company invents, manufactures, and sells innovative trauma and spine implants optimised for repairing common bone fractures such as the hip, shoulder and spine, At present, the rigid, all-metal implants on the market easily break through elderly bone, failing after surgery at rates as high as 25-35%. Lifespans takes the design approach of “soft implants for soft bones” - that is, using soft polymer materials and mechanical features that are gentle yet firm when repairing fractures in elderly patients.

Ten of the best deep-tech start-ups, selected from over 200 applications in the region from companies discovering palm oil alternatives, and re-purposing waste water and plastic, to innovators working on the next-generation of energy storage, battled in the Regional Finals of the Global Challenge held in Singapore.

The runners up were NDR Technologies from Singapore, which develops surgical robotics to assist surgeons during minimally invasive surgery and Biteback from Indonesia, which processes insect to create healthier and more sustainable alternative to palm oil.

Lifespans, as the champion in the region, will contest in the Global Health track finals of the Global Summit held in March 2019 in Paris. The Global Challenge this year saw some 4500 applications from 120 countries.

Lifespans received funding support from TSSSU @HKU (Technology Start-Up Support Scheme for Universities) under HKU's Technology Transfer Office and leveraged on this to raise sizeable private investment for the commercialisation of their technology and the development of the company.

About Hello Tomorrow Singapore
Hello Tomorrow Singapore is the regional (Southeast Asia and Hong Kong) chapter of Hello Tomorrow, started in 2011 by PhD students who were struggling to find support as they sought to adapt their research toward real-world commercial uses.

The organisation has since grown tremendously, with over 20,000 active participants and 11 local hubs across the globe. It is a global non-profit with a mission to unlock the potential of deep technologies to solve the world's toughest challenges, by highlighting, empowering and connecting the most promising deep-tech entrepreneurs globally with the right enablers

About Lifespans Limited (“Lifespans”)
Lifespans is an HKU medical devices start-up which was co-founded by Dr Sloan Kulper, HKU PhD & MIT graduate, Dr Erica Ueda, MIT engineer, Professor William Lu, Professor Frankie Leung, and Dr Christian Fang of Department of Orthopaedics & Traumatology.

Lifespans has developed three innovative implants that are shown in laboratory conditions to provide superior performance for repairing fractures in the elderly: the Lifespans Soft Hip, Soft Shoulder, and Soft Spine. It is presently completing the final safety and efficacy testing required to bring these three innovative orthopaedic devices through the regulatory approval processes in the US and EU, followed by Asian countries, with patents filed in the US, EU, and China. The company anticipates receiving its first approvals for sale to hospitals through its distributor partners starting Q2 2019. Lifespans

About Technology Transfer Office, HKU
The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) manages the use of the intellectual property assets of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) by providing patenting, licensing, and other commercialisation support to the University’s researchers. Acting as the bridge linking HKU to society in the area of technology commercialisation, TTO facilitates industries and businesses to access HKU’s powerhouse of knowledge, innovation, and expertise through close collaboration. Website:

TSSSU@HKU is an award scheme that provides funding support to technology start-up companies formed by HKU's Professors, students or alumni. This is leveraging on a funding scheme, "Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities" (TSSSU), provided by the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) for the six local universities, under which ITC will provide each university with an annual funding of up to HK$4 million to encourage technology start-ups to commercialise their R&D results. Companies under the scheme will be funded with a maximum amount of HK$1.2 million each year for no more than 3 years. The scheme was first launched in 2014. So far, the TSSSU@HKU programme has supported 30 new technology startup companies in total. Six of them were admitted to the Cyberport's Incubation Program and another eight were admitted to the corresponding programme at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park.

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