Jerry’s using AI to help save lives

Jerry Ng, wearing a smart suit and tie

It was one his Lancaster professors who taught Jerry Ng an important lesson he has carried forward into a blossoming business career – always be passionate about what you do.

Jerry (BSc Entrepreneurship and Management, 2020) took those words from Professor Magnus George to heart, and they have helped him fly.

Just four years after graduating from Lancaster, he is Chief Marketing Officer at LifeSparrow Solutions Limited. The Hong Kong-based company uses innovative Artificial Intelligence solutions to aid search and rescue operations.

The success of their flagship product, SparAI, which uses drone technology and deep learning to detect individuals in distress meant Jerry was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list this year along with fellow LifeSparrow co-founders Josua Chan and Max Lee.

The honour reflected the company’s support of the Hong Kong Fire Services Department in a successful rescue of lost hikers in a country park. It was also recognition that the trio were right to stick with their guns and try to help people through their work – something Jerry is passionate about.

“It is something I really remember from Magnus George when I was at Lancaster,” recalls Jerry. “He always reminded us to stay passionate. You must stay passionate to what you're doing. This is something I forgot when I went into two start-ups after graduation, but for LifeSparrow I have that passion, and that is something I have kept with me. You need to find something you love, something that is unique.”

That the passion has resulted in recognition from Forbes is a great bonus – one that reinforces to Jerry that he is on the right path.

“Running a start-up and earning money is great, but at the same time you need the recognition,” he says. “You need someone to know what you're doing and know how impactful and how meaningful your creation is. The Forbes list showed us that.

“We started the company two or three years ago, so we haven't made that much impact. We would love to have more clients, to make more impact.

“We were invited to a lot of conferences and exhibitions right after we got named. Now, being on that Forbes list will always be right at the front of our bios. It will help for credibility.

“I think it has changed how we operate. We had struggled to find clients, and we were looking to move on from saving lives to a commercial use. But because we were named in the Forbes 30 Under 30, it has shown as that saving lives and making a social impact is very important. It is not just making money. So, why not specialise our product for that field rather than just looking to make money? We have changed our approach.”

Jerry came to Lancaster unsure about his future, but knowing he wanted to do something where he could harness his creative spark. The Entrepreneurship and Management programme offered a unique opportunity to do just that.

“I always wanted to create something that would make someone's life better,” Jerry remembers. “I didn’t want to work for someone else’s dream, I wanted to work for my dream. I wanted to create something – and entrepreneurship fits with that. It was the programme that best suited me.

“The education and experience I gained at Lancaster have been invaluable to my professional growth. My course was pretty special.”

The path to LifeSparrow was not an easy one for Jerry. He graduated in 2020, at the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic, and found himself having to rethink his plans.

He first joined a start-up created by a fellow Lancaster graduate – someone who would introduce him to his future LifeSparrow partner through the work. But both that and a subsequent start-up did not work out.

“It was devastating at the time for the first two start-ups to fail, but I have the passion for LifeSparrow, and I hope it will just keep growing and be successful,” says Jerry.

From the first company I learned that you can't rely on someone else outside the company. It was a licensing company, and we didn't have a lot of control. I moved on to another project, a social media app for Hong Kong locals. But we didn't have enough connections, enough funds.

“Now, we have government funding (from the Hong Kong government's Hong Kong Science Park) and university funding (from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Josua and Max’s alma-mater). We don’t have a licence, we aren’t relying on someone else. We have control.

“I’ve learned that if you want to be an entrepreneur, then you must be unique. You must know what you're doing, and you must love what you're doing, otherwise you will fail eventually.”Jerry Ng at Lancaster University. Jerry is next to the Welcome to Lancaster University sign at the end of a driveway

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