Alumni in Conversation

From crisis to opportunity

Under the post-pandemic new normal, many CityU alumni are contributing to their field and society through novel technologies and business ventures initiated during the outbreak. Here, seven alumni of different professions share how they are succeeding despite the COVID-19 challenges.

Dr Lawrence Tzang Chi-hung 曾志雄
BSc (Hons) Applied Chemistry and PhD in Biology and Chemistry
Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Prenetics Limited
聯合創辦人兼首席科學官, Prenetics Limited

The innovative testing solutions that kicked off global goodwill

As demand for rapid COVID-19 tests grew during the pandemic, Prenetics Limited, the diagnostics and genetic testing company founded by alumnus Lawrence Tzang Chi-hung and his team, responded quickly to a series of challenging missions. Prenetics assisted the HKSAR Government by conducting a massive amount of tests at various Community Testing Centres and Hong Kong’s airport in a swift manner. Internationally, the company provided efficient on-site testing to Premier League soccer teams, Hollywood film crews as well as five airports in United Kingdom. Such endeavours have brought global goodwill and a promising post-pandemic outlook for the company.

Looking back at his start-up journey from CityU, Lawrence is grateful to have met Professor Michael Yang Mengsu (CityU Senior Vice-President (Innovation & Enterprise) and Yeung Kin Man Chair Professor of Biomedical Sciences) who pointed him in the direction of scientific research. Multigene Diagnostics Limited, founded in 2009, was Lawrence’s initial foray into the business world. The company specialised in developing molecular diagnostics technologies to detect various diseases at an early stage for preventative purposes. In 2014, it attracted venture capital funding and was renamed Prenetics Limited, becoming Hong Kong's first unicorn to list on NASDAQ in 2022.

Our aim is to help people take precautions against serious diseases, and to continue to benefit society through our research achievements.
Lawrence Tzang

The pandemic greatly changed the testing industry, according to Lawrence, bringing an influx of testing work, all of which required fast and highly accurate results. This presented the company not only with business opportunities but also a good avenue to contribute to society, he said.

“Take the Premier League, a major global sporting event, as an example. The League was incurring great losses from matches being suspended due to COVID-19. We were the only company that within two weeks could propose a solution.” Under Prenetics’ proposal, samples could be taken from players from different clubs in carparks without the need to leave their vehicles. This involved almost zero contact. “Such an operational model, the first of its kind in the world, successfully paved the way for matches to resume,” he explained.

As the Prenetics team was already skilled in genetic testing, PCR tests were not difficult for the company to handle. However, collecting and testing of large quantities of samples within a limited period of time and working around the clock to ensure timely results required additional assistance from a large number of robots as well as the automated information management system. Prompt deployment of manpower was also needed to meet the HKSAR Government’s disease control requirements and the testing needs of travellers from different countries. In the achievement of these goals, Lawrence paid tribute to his dedicated team who handled huge quantities of samples yet never failed to deliver test reports within a short period of time.

Prenetics is now looking to build on its pandemic experiences to further assist people’s well-being. “As COVID-19 subsides, the company will make use of its advanced genetic testing technologies, and put a lot of resources on projects such as cancer screening and cancer companion diagnostic tests,” Lawrence said. “To this end, we acquired an Asian genetic testing company at the end of last year. The company’s co-founder is Professor Mok Shu-kam, an authority on lung cancer, further strengthening our R&D capability in this area.”

Lawrence Tzang (first left) said that funds raised following Prenetics Limited listing on NASDAQ in 2022 are expected to further strengthen the company’s cancer-screening capabilities.
曾志雄(左一)指出,Prenetics Limited於去年中在納斯達克交易所(NASDAQ)上市,成功為公司籌集更多資金,料有助進一步增強推展癌症篩查的實力。

迅速完成檢測 助英超疫下復賽

疫情帶來大量檢測需求,創立基因診斷公司Prenetics Limited的城大校友曾志雄及其團隊,憑藉迅速靈活應變的能力,不但在疫情期間協助特區政府在短時間內完成大廈圍封、負責多個社區檢測中心及機場旅客等的檢測工作,更為英超球隊、荷里活電影拍攝團隊以至五個英國機場等提供高效率及精準的現場檢測服務,助公司建立良好的環球商譽,疫後發展前景可期。

曾志雄回顧在城大開展的初創之路,表示慶幸遇上引領他走上科研路的楊夢甦教授(城大高級副校長(創新及企業)兼楊建文生物醫學系講座教授)。「為了將更多科研成果落地,我們於2009年成立獨立公司『高通基因』,重點開發早期疾病分子診斷技術,冀讓人可預防多種危疾。」科研助人的理念為公司於2014年贏得風險基金投資注資,並易名為Prenetics Limited,於去年更在美國納達克交易所(NASDAQ)上市。




The Prenetics team safeguarded community health in the pandemic by providing the HKSAR Government, businesses, and the public with testing solutions that leveraged the company’s lab network, expertise, and advanced technologies.
疫情期間,Prenetics Limited的團隊憑藉完善的實驗室網絡、專業的科學知識,以及先進的數碼系統,為特區政府、企業以至廣大市民提供兼具優質、安全、快捷與準確的檢測方案,致力守護社區健康。