Outstanding Chinese graduate shortlisted for British Council Alumni Award

  • Date

    Tue 21 Nov 17

Dr Ruijiao Li in our Robotic Arena

An Essex graduate who returned to China to establish a multi-million pound robotics company is shortlisted for a prestigious British Council Alumni Award.


Dr Ruijiao Li was chosen as a finalist in the British Council Alumni Awards for using his experience of studying at Essex to help create the hugely successful AMY Robotics in China. He will find out on Saturday 25 November whether he has won the Spirit of Youth category at a glittering awards ceremony in Beijing.

Ruijiao said: “I am so excited to be nominated; as soon as I found out I immediately shared the news with my friends and family”

He graduated from our School of Computer and Electronic Engineering School in 2015 with an MRes Computer Science in Robotics and is now the Chief Roboticist at his company AMY Robotics.

The Spirit of Youth award is part of the UK Government’s Spirit of Youth campaign which aims to inspire collaboration and exchange between the next generation of leaders in the UK and China.

The Spirit of Youth award recognises a significant and unique contribution from a UK university alumnus to UK-China collaboration across the campaign’s pillars of education, sport, culture and creative industries, science and innovation, health and tourism.

It is jointly sponsored by British Airways, Jaguar Land Rover, IELTS, and IPSOS.

“My three years at Essex enhanced my skills and knowledge in robotics and I got involved in research projects, including major EU funded projects,” he said. “This all helped me develop essential skills which have helped me contribute to our company. My previous experiences at Essex have all helped with product development, management and dealing with suppliers.”

As chief roboticist, Ruijiao leads the product design and development of algorithms and robot architecture.

He said: “Before graduating from Essex I had the dilemma of choosing between an academic career and one in industry. I graduated in 2015 when the AI and robotics industry was blooming and there was a great opportunity so our team and I started AMY robotics to develop robots.”

His company uses innovative technology to develop and create service robots. Since 2016, his company has gained international attention by creating robots for hospitals, hotels, museums, and for helping with daily life.

AMY Robotics is the first Chinese company that has shipped service robots to businesses worldwide and was ranked number three in Intel’s International Robotics Innovation Challenge.

Ruijiao chose Essex ahead of five other leading universities including Edinburgh University, Bristol, and Glasgow.

He said: “The robotics lab at Essex is one of the best robotics labs in the UK, Essex robotics has a world-wide reputation and my supervisor Professor Huoshueng Hu is a world famous roboticist.”

This is the third year running an Essex alumnus has been shortlisted for a British Council Alumni Award, which celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education. The other categories include Professional Achievement, Entrepreneurship and Social Impact. This year, the award categories in China are being sponsored by EIC Education, MG, and

Last year, Essex had five finalists across the world, the highest number for a university outside the Russell Group., with alumnus Ricky Gunawan  winning the Social Impact Award in Indonesia.

Winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying in the UK to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions and countries. We’re delighted that 30 Essex graduates have applied this year across 19 countries.