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Education

Shaping future business

by Ada Ng

Benny Cheung, associate professor
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Photo: Edde Ngan

Technology management key to innovation-based economy

From the Digital 21 Strategy, the Hong Kong government's blueprint for the development of information and communications technology, to speeches made by leaders in China, the US and the European Union, "technology innovation" and "knowledge" have been hailed as the means to economic growth.

To capitalise on the pronounced trend towards innovation and a knowledge-based economy, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is offering a master of science degree programme in technology management. This programme aims to equip executives, managers, professionals and engineers from different industries with the ability to acquire, assess, protect, exploit, transfer and finance technology.

Integrated interface

"As Hong Kong and the world move towards an innovation-based economy, professionals with the foresight of managing and positioning technology strategically to enhance business performance and organisational efficiency will be in soaring demand," says Dr Cheung.

Increasingly, companies value the expertise of individuals who are able to evaluate the benefits of emerging technologies and apply them strategically in both the internal and external business environments.

Dr Cheung notes that technology can be used to streamline business operations and to lower the costs in the development of new products and services. In addition, it can be incorporated into a company's corporate strategies to enhance its competitiveness.

On the market front, investment in research and development (R&D) to innovate product or service offerings for new business growth can lead to fruitful results. "A joint business venture can be established to exploit the available technology and expertise to shorten the R&D cycle for timely product launches," he remarks. "A strategic technology management professional can manage technology strategically, for instance, by building barriers for competition in the market, establishing strategic alliance with business partners, creating economic benefits and business values from technology transfer and commercialisation, so as to enhance the competitive edge in the marketplace."

Commercial significance

According to Dr Cheung, technology management has become a popular academic discipline in North America, Canada and Europe but remains relatively new in Hong Kong.

"With increasing emphasis on cross-border economic integration, Hong Kong plays a pivotal role in leading innovative development," he notes.

Serving to highlight the importance of its neighbours to Hong Kong's growth, the programme includes a field study subject in which the students participate in a four-day study trip to companies in Guangdong and other cities in mainland China.

"Students on this trip are expected to apply the theories and knowledge they've learnt in class to help solve the business challenges faced by the organisations they visit. This forms part of the assessment of the students' performance in the subject," says Dr Cheung. "Our past students appreciate the opportunity and identify it as the most practical way of using what they have learnt in class."

Flexibility rules

Comprising three compulsory and 10 core subjects, students of the programme are introduced to a range of subjects including the management of innovation and technology, technology transfer and commercialisation, technology audit and assessment, systematic innovation for product development, managing the Six Sigma, enterprise resource planning, global operations and logistics management, principles of knowledge engineering and management, managing and measuring intellectual capital, and customer relationship management.

Aside from these, the programme provides a flexible study plan. Classroom sessions for both the compulsory and certain core subjects are organised on Saturdays and Sundays to minimise any clashes with existing professional duties, while some subjects are offered on weekday evenings. "Students can also take subjects running on a blended e-learning and face-to-face mode of teaching," Dr Cheung adds.

The programme is open to all candidates with a bachelor's degree with honours, in disciplines such as engineering, management, business or science. A professional qualification or the equivalent will also be considered. Priority will be given to candidates with relevant work experience. "The programme is suitable for people who look to upgrade their level of responsibility in acquiring, auditing, managing, transferring technology," Dr Cheung says.


 

Taken from Career Times 15 May 2009, p. A8

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