MIT Urban Technology Symposium Announcement

Event Details

Part I - Designing for Technology at MIT

Day 1  09:00 AM -10:45 AM (GMT+8) | Day 2  09:00 AM – 10:30 AM (GMT+8)

Most of Part I speakers will deliver talks via Zoom, venue will be open.

Last year, MIT launched the Morningside Academy for Design (MAD) – an interdisciplinary hub for design education, research, and entrepreneurship.  MAD aims to educate future generations in design, foster design innovation, and encourage entrepreneurship to empower individual and collective problem-solving capacity around the globe.  Together with MAD, MITdesignX is leading innovation and entrepreneurship within the Academy and across MIT, teaching venture design and helping launch over 10 new startups each year. 

In addition, multiple programs at MIT incorporate design in their curriculum or ethos, including IDM and Tata. The Integrated Design and Management Program (IDM) combines a human-centred design approach with the systematic, analytical instruction of the world’s best engineering and business schools to generate designers, engineers and business leaders ready to create high impact solutions. Whilst Tata applies designed solutions to the developing world.

Together, these programs approach technology at MIT with the power of design and the belief that design as a tool and a method can accelerate innovation and successfully engage people and cities in developing better futures. In Part I of the symposium we will hear from the directors of these programs and learn from their vision, approach, and success.

DESIGNING THE X – from entrepreneurship to corporate innovation

Innovation and entrepreneurship are not for the faint of heart with up to 90% of innovation failing to meet users’ expectations. How can we design impactful solutions for rapidly changing conditions and fiercely competitive environments? How do we design for the unknown and the unexpected?

Svafa Grönfeldt
Faculty Director, MITdesignX; Professor of Practice, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT

Svafa Grönfeldt is a Professor of Practice at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a founding member and faculty Director of MIT’s newest innovation accelerator DesignX focused on the design and development of new ventures created at MIT. Dr. Grönfeldt is the co-founder of The MET Fund, a Cambridge-based seed investment fund.

Integrating Design, Engineering, and Business

Our society increasingly needs hybrid professionals who can innovate across disciplines to make real impact. Here’s how we develop leaders who can identify what problems to solve, create effective solutions that meet real needs, and launch sustainable products and companies that improve the world.

Tony Hu
Director of MIT Integrated Design & Management (IDM), MIT

Tony Hu is an entrepreneurial product development leader who champions design, creativity, and innovation.

Over 25 years as head of product design and development at small companies and large corporations, he has brought more than 200 consumer products to market globally, including electronics, appliances, toys, and sporting goods. As an inventor, he’s licensed 22 products and been awarded 18 patents.

As a teacher, he is a rarity: an engineer with a deep background in design and business who loves sharing his holistic approach to product design with students. He has taught product design at MIT and Stanford for 13 years prior to joining IDM where he is responsible for the core curriculum. Hu earned his BS in electrical engineering at MIT, conducting research at the Media Lab, and his MS in product design from Stanford.

Introducing the MIT Morningside Academy for Design

How and why design principles will be integrated across all disciplines in the institute.

John Ochsendorf
Founding Director, MIT Morningside Academy for Design; Class of 1942 Professor; Professor of Architecture; Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT

John Ochsendorf is an engineer, educator, and designer on the MIT faculty since 2002. Trained at Cornell, Princeton, and the University of Cambridge, he is known for creative research at the intersection of structural engineering and architecture. Ochsendorf and his students have contributed to numerous design projects, including the Mapungubwe Interpretive Centre, the Sean Collier Memorial, several projects at the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture, and multiple sculptures with leading artists. He served as the Director of the American Academy in Rome from 2017-2020, and as the founding director of the MIT Morningside Academy for Design since 2022.

Ochsendorf was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to Spain (2000), a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome (2007) and a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (2008). At MIT, he was named a MacVicar Fellow in 2014 for exceptional teaching and he received the Gordon Y. Billard Award for exceptional service in 2016.

How the MIT Energy Initiative is accelerating the energy transition through education – overview and examples


Angeliki Diane Rigos
Executive Director, Tata Center for Technology and Design, MIT; Associate Director of Graduate Programs, MIT Energy Initiative

Dr. Angeliki Diane Rigos is a scientist, educator, and consultant interested in working across disciplines to promote sustainable solutions to global problems. She is the Associate Director for Graduate Programs at MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) where she runs the MITEI Energy Fellows Program. She also teaches a leadership course in the MIT LEAdership and Professional Skills and Strategies (LEAPS) Program and organizes an IAP course on leading the energy transition. She began her career as a Principal Scientist at Physical Sciences Inc. where she worked on defense and energy contracts. She transitioned to an academic position as Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Merrimack College where she taught courses in chemistry, women in science and sustainable energy and science and energy policy. For twelve years, she also worked as an energy consultant at Levitan & Associates, Inc. with a focus on power price forecasting, LNG, fuel cells, and renewable technologies including onshore / offshore wind and solar photovoltaics. In 2017, she became the Executive Director of the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design. In 2021, she founded the nonprofit Epistimi, Inc to expand the leadership training of women in STEMM globally.

Angeliki holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell University, a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Northeastern University.

* Live Zoom, including Q&A

Part II - Designing for Technology in Hong Kong

Day 2  09:00 AM – 10:30 AM (GMT+8)

In person @ MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node

Since 2016, the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node has been cultivating the unique capabilities of MIT students, increasing opportunities for innovation amongst students and faculty, and accelerating the path from idea to impact to help strengthen the region’s innovation ecosystem, especially sustainable ideas related to the built environment.

In Part II, we will hear from local leaders in design and tech innovation in Hong Kong, learning what new developments are underway and what challenges need to be addressed.  We will conclude the day making connections between the MIT programs and their methodologies for design innovation, and their application to needs specific to Hong Kong SAR. 

Subsequent to the symposium, this summer the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node and MITdesignX are collaborating on a venture design workshop within the Node’s “Urban Technology Week” program. The workshop, for students from MIT and universities across Hong Kong SAR will foster an entrepreneurial mindset and develop problem solving skills for urban issues.

Phygital: how start-ups are enabling the digital/physical convergence

Our physical world is becoming increasingly digitized. What does this mean for real estate and cities? Powerful new tools and innovative solutions are being invented to enable the transformation from analog to digital, with new and unexpected opportunities emerging. This session explores some of the latest trends and considers promising startups that are active in the space.

Steve Weikal
Industry Chair, Real Estate Transformation Lab, MIT ; Managing Partner, MET Fund II

Steve Weikal is a lecturer, researcher, and Industry Chair of the Center’s Real Estate Technology Hub, which explores innovative new technologies and business models that are reinventing traditional ways of developing, transacting and managing real estate. He is also the Managing Partner of MET Fund II, which invests in early-stage startups that have an MIT connection and focus on solutions for the coming built environment transformation. Prior to this role, Steve was the Head of Industry Relations at the MIT Center for Real Estate, responsible for managing relationships between the Center and its global network of industry partners and over 1,300 alumni representing 48 countries. He was also executive producer of the Center’s signature event, the MIT World Real Estate Forum.

Steve is a member of the Global Insights Panel for MIT Technology Review, a member of the CREtech Climate Leadership Board, and sits on the advisory boards of eight real estate and technology companies. He was the Founder of MIT Real Disruption, a successful series of conferences discussing the impact of emerging technology on the real estate industry that is now part of the global CREtech media platform. An ardent industry advocate and thought-leader, Steve speaks extensively about real estate technology for corporate clients around the world and at conferences for AFIRE, AsRES, BOMA, CCIM, CoreNet, CREW, ICSC, IREM, NAIOP, PERE, SIOR, and ULI. He has been quoted by numerous media outlets, including BuzzFeed, TechInsider, Medium, USA Today, CP Executive, Harvard Real Estate Review, the Boston Globe, GlobeSt. the Real Reporter, Travel Weekly, IPE Real Assets Europe and Anuario Inmobiliario LatinoAmerica.

Steve holds a Master’s of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) and Master’s in City Planning (MCP) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a law degree (JD) from Suffolk University Law School.

Transforming Ideas into Action

Ideas are easy. Executing them is the hard part. Most designers and entrepreneurs alike come up with great ideas all day long, but seldom do they take the risk of creating actual solutions, products or ventures. At MITdesignX we work with creative people around the world and lead them through a venture design curriculum that allows them to take action and deploy new solutions. In this talk you will learn about the methodology that guides our entrepreneurs, and see innovative and successful new startups that were just simple ideas a few years ago.

Gilad Rosenzweig
Executive Director, MITdesignX; Lecturer, Department of Architecture; Architect and Urban Planner

Gilad Rosenzweig is an architect and urban planner with two decades of experience in community development, urban tech, and the design of things big and small.

He is the executive director of DesignX – the venture accelerator of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. DesignX launches new startups creating innovation in design, cities, and the built environment.

Prior to DesignX, Gilad founded Smarter in the City, a non-profit accelerator for high tech start-ups in Roxbury, an inner-city neighborhood of Boston. Smarter in the City supports entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, connecting new startups to the tech sector and helping spur economic development in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Gilad has worked on urban design and planning projects across the country, including district and master plans in Memphis, Reno, and across the greater Boston area. As an architect, he designed residential and commercial projects in Canada, Israel and the UK.

Gilad is a graduate of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.

Common Spatial Data Infrastructure (CSDI) and Spatial Data

The talk will focus on the exploration of CSDI and spatial data and GIS will be also introduced as an effective tool for analysing spatial data.

Ann Mak
Manager, Geospatial Lab, HKSAR

Dr Mak is currently the Manager of Geospatial Lab, HKSAR. She obtained her BA degree (Geography) from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, her MSc degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her PhD (GIS) from the University of Hong Kong. Dr MAK has more than 20 years of experience in the application of GIS for complex environmental modelling problems. She also teaches GIS and related disciplines in various tertiary education institutes including the Baptist University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the University of Hong Kong.

The importance of design and product development in Hong Kong


Gene Soo
Head of Ecosystem – Global Innovation, MTR

Gene Soo is the Head of Ecosystem of Global Innovation Department at MTR. Having led the creation of Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem by cofounding StartupsHK, Gene is now tasked with building new businesses and enhancing the core MTR business with technology, partnerships, and new business models. Prior to his role at MTR, Gene led the launch of Citymapper, a transport app, into Hong Kong in 2015 as General Manager. Prior to Citymapper, Gene has been involved in building fashion, lifestyle and mobile gaming startups.

Gene has been pushing for more focus on user experience, sustainability and open data practice in Hong Kong and believes strongly in improving daily lives through better design and technology.

Gene received his BS and MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University as well as MBA from Columbia University.

Designing for Technology in Hong Kong – Emerging Intelligent Mobility Trends

This session aims to provide participants with knowledge about the global trend in Intelligent Mobility (IM) under the A.C.E.S topics, i.e. Autonomous, Connected, Electrification and Shared Mobility, with a focus on how it is deployed in Hong Kong.
Upon completion of this sessions, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the technological trend of IM
  • Explain relevant government policies and initiatives driving the deployment of IM
  • Gain insights from successful use cases in HK


Carmen Chu
Director of Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Limited and the Intelligent Mobility Skills Network Leader for Arup East Asia

Ms Chu is a Chartered Planner and Engineer specialising in transport planning and traffic engineering. She has extensive experience to take up the Project Manager role for a wide spectrum of transportation studies and land use planning projects involving transportation planning, highway & railway engineering and smart & sustainable transport strategy.
Her engineering and planning background allow her to appreciate prevailing planning constraints or opportunities, and to apply relevant town planning principles on transport system planning and/or traffic engineering design work.
Carmen serves as the Intelligent Mobility Leader in Hong Kong for Arup East Asia. She is leading several high-profile smart mobility related projects in Hong Kong for major infrastructure projects including the development of a territorial-wide free-flow tolling system and a future-proofing transport system and policy for Hong Kong.

Barry Wilson
President, Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Division of Landscape Architecture Department, HKU
Barry Wilson is President of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design, a UK Chartered Landscape Architect, a Fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong. A long-term advocate of sustainable, forward thinking development approaches, his consultancy practice – Barry Wilson Project Initiatives has been tackling urbanisation issues in Hong Kong and China for over 25 years. He received award from the China International Urbanization Development Strategy Research Committee in 2012 for his contribution to China’s urbanisation transformation and the 2019 Reed & Mallik Medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers for his paper “An Outline to Futureproofing Cities with Ten Immediate Steps. His book – Futureproof City : Ten Immediate Paths to Urban Resilience was published by Routledge in 2021.
Sunnie S.Y. Lau
Director, Head of Sustainability Research and Industry Collaboration, MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node
Sunnie believes that human-centric design promotes inclusive communities with innovative sustainable design strategies and urban designers & architects play important roles within the built environment. As a Registered Architect, she has been a regular design critic and instructor at architecture and urban design programmes. Taking up the roles of both practitioner and educator, she has been promoting architecture by designing, exhibiting, writing as outreach, and engaging communities. The endeavors included publicizing ongoing research topic on “Kowloon East Inclusive Innovation & Growth”, urban research-oriented design seminar on “Urban Mobility and Smart Infrastructure”, “Urban Resilience by Design – Adaptive Landscapes for PRD” , and facilitating dialogue between professionals, academia and young members at various cross disciplinary platforms and institutions. She was Co-Curator & Exhibitor of the Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale Of Urbanism\Architecture (Hong Kong) 2017, 2019, Venice Biennale (HK) 2020-2021. She has initiated the Smart City and Sustainability initiatives at the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node since 2019, co-taught and led the “Hacking Kowloon East” 2021 IAP Workshop and Spring course with Prof. Brent Ryan (MIT) ; and “Beyond Smart Cities- 10 min self sustainable neighborhood in Island South” 2022 IAP Workshop with Prof. Kent Larson (City Science Group, Media Lab, MIT) ; Urban Technology Week 2023.

* Live Zoom, including Q&A