Sets Up Two Production Lines to Produce 200,000 Surgical Masks a Day for the Public
To help fight the COVID-19 epidemic and solve the shortage of preventative gear such as surgical masks, Adrian Cheng, Executive Vice-chairman and General Manager of New World Development (“NWD” or “the Group”) today announced that the Group will set up local mask production lines through its charity foundation to produce 200,000 masks a day in Hong Kong SAR. Production is expected to start in April 2020, and the masks will be given for free to the public as part of NWD’s efforts to combat the coronavirus. In addition, NWD will invest HK$10 million and work in partnership with Master Dynamic Limited (MD), a leading Hong Kong material analysis and nanotechnology company, to research and develop the application of NanoDiamonds technology to enhance the protective function of mask materials, with the aim to further develop a specialised coating that will kill bacteria and viruses. The new technology has the potential to create a new generation of affordable and highly effective surgical masks.
With global shortages of surgical masks during the COVID-19 outbreak, there is an urgent need to produce high-quality yet affordable masks locally to meet rising demands from society, especially from low-income families. This initiative is underpinned by the Group’s Creating Shared Value (CSV) principles and aims to contribute concrete and innovative solutions to social issues at a critical time. The initiative is moreover aligned with the Group’s goal to provide an ecosystem of services and infrastructure to ensure the well-being of the local community, which includes healthcare businesses such as Gleneagles Hospital, FTLife Insurance and its health tech wellness centre - Humansa.
Mr. Adrian Cheng says, “The recent COVID-19 made me realise how challenging it has been for the local community to source masks locally. Right after I announced to donate HK$10 million in protective gear to local communities, our team reached out to suppliers worldwide in search of high-quality masks. The fluctuation in prices and unreliability of supply prompted me to make the decision to start a local production line right here in Hong Kong. We have no shortage of scientific research capabilities, talent and resources in this city, and we are absolutely equipped to produce high-quality masks locally to tackle immediate and long-term needs. Driven by our vision for “creating shared value” and doing so through the power of technology, innovation and cooperation, I believe we can work together to win the battle against the COVID-19 epidemic and bring long-term positive change to society.”
Breakthrough NanoDiamonds Technology for Antibacterial and Antiviral Masks
Headquartered at Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP) with a 6,000 square feet Nanotechnology Applications Centre (NTAC), MD has a team of more than 100 engineers, software developers and researchers.
Collaborating with Chow Tai Fook (CTF) Jewellery Group, MD has previously successfully developed T MARK, which features a protruded nano-marking technology on diamond tables and antibacterial nano-coating technology on CTF’s gold jewellery and has obtained a number of R&D patents. During the R&D process for this technology, MD discovered that NanoDiamonds coating technology is bacteriostatic with the ability to block off and suppress the growth of bacteria and viruses. The company is exploring ways to apply this specific technology to the non woven material of surgical masks, which may be used to produce high-performance, breathable and waterproof antibacterial and antiviral masks that can block off, suppress and even kill bacteria and viruses. Preliminary results from this R&D project are expected in four months. MD has previously worked with a local university to apply NanoDiamonds technology to healthcare solutions such as cancer diagnosis and successfully helped doctors to identify the location of early-stage tumors.
Daily Production of 200,000 Masks for Low-income Families
NWD has also ordered two automated mask production machines and sourced raw materials to make adults and children-sized masks. A factory with cleanrooms to make surgical masks at ASTM-Level 1 and above will be set up. Each production line can make up to 100,000 masks daily, starting April 2020. The masks produced are for community-based distribution through non profit organisations to low-income families.
NWD has established a professional team to cover engineering, planning and construction, factory operation and R&D, including a team from Hip Hing Construction under NWS Holdings, which was responsible for the construction of cleanrooms at Gleneagles Hospital. In the long run and when the epidemic eases, the production lines will be used to meet internal operational needs of the Group. Additionally, some masks will be sold to individuals in need and non-profit organisations at a low price.
Over 1 Million Surgical Masks and Protective Kits Already Donated to Low-income Families
Last month, the Group’s charitable foundation donated HK$10 million to establish a “community anti-epidemic fund”. To date, over 1 million masks and over 10,000 preventative kits containing surgical masks, hand sanitiser gels and sanitising wipes were distributed to low-income families through non-profit organisations in Hong Kong.