SUSTech to co-host 2021 Times Higher Education Innovation & Impact Summit in Shenzhen
Chris Edwards, Yang XU | 04/23/2020

On April 22,Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer of Times Higher Education (THE), announced globally that Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) will co-host the THE Innovation & Impact Summit in Shenzhen in April 2021. With a theme of “Cultivating Resilience, Changing the World,” the summit will bring together leaders from higher education, business, and governance to promote the exchange of cutting-edge ideas.

In the closing remarks of the 2020 THE Innovation & Impact Summit, THE’s Phil Baty commented that “SUSTech is one of the most dynamic and exciting young universities in the world.” The 2020 summit was the first summit to take place virtually as a result of the global outbreak of COVID-19. Thousands of higher education and industry leaders from around the world tuned in to the online broadcast.

The 2020 summit was billed as a one-day mini-summit that ran entirely online. Workshops took place on a diverse range of topics. The 2021 summit will build on the events of 2020 as it examines resilience and innovation across the globe, resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. As a co-host to the 2021 summit, SUSTech believes that higher education will continue to play a vital role in combining ideas and impetus into sustainable development for all members of society through driving innovative scientific progress.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the vulnerability of the global governance system and the ability of society to withstand risks and challenges. Cities act not only as places of achievement and laboratories for human civilization but also as focal points for environmental and social issues. The international community is increasingly aware that in this era of globalization and the knowledge economy, academia shoulders the important task of identifying opportunities during crises. It must draw social consensus and strengthening the world’s ability to resist risk. Universities also play a key role in empowering urban development and mankind’s response to crises, enhancing the protection of global ecosystems, and the endurance of sustainable development.

The 2021 summit, hosted at SUSTech, will discuss in depth the new mission and future development trends of higher education, the university’s responsibility to the international community to achieve sustainable development, the relationship between innovation in scientific research and human well-being, and the knowledge economy environment. Topics such as universities and their host cities, building social innovation ecosystems, and university governance in the post-pandemic era will also be explored over three days in Shenzhen.

SUSTech President Shiyi CHEN extended a warm welcome to all to Shenzhen and SUSTech while emphasizing that “universities and their host cities shall play a critical role in cultivating and building resilience of human society to all kinds of crises.”

The 2021 THE University Impact Rankings will also be released during the summit. These rankings differ from traditional university evaluation methods as they use new indicators to measure the social impact of universities based on their contribution to the achievement of the UN (SDGs).

For more information:

Times Higher Education (THE)

Times Higher Education (THE) is the world’s leading higher education brand, authoritative ranking institution, and higher education magazine published in the UK. Every year, THE announces the “Times Higher Education World University Rankings” of the world’s leading universities.

Southern University of Science and Technology

Being located in a leading city of innovation, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) plays a major role in increasing international connectivity and fostering collaborative endeavors within academia and beyond to address the grand challenges in our contemporary world. SUSTech aims to be a world-class research university that cultivates outstanding and innovative talents who produce high-impact research. The university also seeks to support the sustainable development of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, and China more broadly by advancing knowledge and promoting the application of new technologies. SUSTech was established just ten years ago to serve as a Chinese model for higher education reform in the interest of modernizing the national university system. It is anchored in research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, all key attributes vital for socio-economic development in our interconnected cities, regions, and countries.


Nearly 40 years ago, Shenzhen was a small fishing village. Today, it has been transformed into an international megacity, hosting more than 30,000 technology companies. As one of the R&D and manufacturing hubs of China, Shenzhen is the perfect place for entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators alike to make their home alongside tech giants such as Huawei, Tencent, BYD, DJI, BGI, and Mindray.

Shenzhen’s cutting-edge areas of innovation – biotechnology, information technology, new energy, new materials, telecommunications, and the cultural and creative industries – make it a rising global metropolis. Over 30% of the total PCT patent applications in China in 2019 came from Shenzhen.

2020, 04-23
By Chris Edwards, Yang XU

From the Series

Global Influence

Proofread ByYingying XIA

Photo BySUSTech Global, Yan QIU


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