2024 February
Hong Kong’s Home-bred Biotech Pioneer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, local born Ricky Chiu, Founder of Phase Scientific, made good use of his proprietary technology and developed a line of COVID test kits at an amazing pace. His company saw rapid growth as a result. Recently, his company launched the first non-invasive HPV test product in the world that uses a urine concentration technology. This breakthrough has made cervical cancer prevention more effective.

COVID accelerates development of revolutionary proprietary technology

Ricky Chiu founded Phase Scientific in the United States in 2015 and developed the proprietary PHASiFY technology. Five years ago, he made a decision to return to Hong Kong. Basing his company in the SAR, he has put major efforts in developing new diagnostic tools and services for cancer and infectious diseases. The company grew at a remarkable speed during the pandemic, expanding from a small firm of about 30 people into an I&T enterprise supported by more than 250 employees.
“I&T companies must get on the fast lane. You have to keep moving or you’ll sink.” Chiu stressed that quick reaction is vital to I&T companies. Driven by this belief, Chiu and his team wasted no time to use their proprietary technology to develop test products at the sudden onset of COVID in 2020. Amazingly, nucleic acid test kits with enhanced sensitivity were developed in only three weeks. Recognizing the urgent demand for nucleic acid test kits in the community, Chiu applied his R&D deliverables in community testing and became one of the five government-authorized COVID-19 testing service providers.

Urine test launched to detect cancer

Bolstered by the rapid business development during COVID, Chiu’s company has made its mark in the market. It is now preparing for public listing. Even so, Chiu remains clear of his original intention and continues to invest in the development of cancer testing tools. “COVID has undoubtedly presented us an opportunity but we intend to stay focused in developing the original core products and services at this stage.”
It has been less than a year since post-pandemic normalcy but within this short period Phase Scientific has successfully launched a world-first and locally developed proprietary urine DNA concentration technology. With its novel urine-based cervical cancer screening test, women can do non-invasive, painless and private HPV testing with their own urine samples to keep cervical cancer at bay. 
As Chiu explained, urine samples have long been used for medical testing but accuracy leaves something to be desired. The patented PHASiFY technology is a new breakthrough in urine testing capable of processing and concentrating large volumes of urine specimen. It extracts over 10 times more target analytes compared to the industry gold standard. Empowered by this proprietary concentration technology, PHASiFY urine HPV testing products can achieve accuracy comparable to a Pap smear. “This groundbreaking proprietary specimen processing technology effectively concentrates target analytes in patient specimens, thereby improving the performance of laboratory and on-site tests to ensure early testing, early detection and early treatment. It gives robust support to focused treatment and focused prevention.”

Hong Kong’s advantage in diverse talent

The HKSAR Government unveiled the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Development Blueprint earlier, reflecting the great importance attached to the I&T industry by the government, industry and society. Chiu said Hong Kong has one of the most international I&T talent pools in the world, and we have gained rich international experience and built a network over the years. Hong Kong is well placed to attract local and overseas professionals.
Chiu also pointed out that universities in Hong Kong have many ongoing sophisticated I&T research projects and proven successes. We can also collaborate and exchange ideas with top-notch experts of various disciplines, working together to explore and launch products suited to the market. This is very instrumental to the long-term growth of the industry as a whole.