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Joint research scheme between Research Grants Council and Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research

The Research Grants Council (RGC) today (August 12) signed an agreement with the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to mark the launch of a new joint research scheme which strengthens cooperation in the fields of science and innovation, and promotes scientific research and technological exchanges between the researchers in the Netherlands and Hong Kong.

NWO is an organisation that funds top researchers at universities and institutes and steers the course of Dutch science by means of subsidies and research programmes.

The agreement was signed between the Chairman of RGC, Professor Roland Chin and the Director of Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Sciences and Mathematics of NWO, Dr Louis Vertegaal.

The new joint research scheme will operate in the mode of travel and workshop grants, enabling the researchers in both places to visit their counterparts or conduct research. The RGC and NWO will provide eight travel grants at an amount of about HK$30,000 for a one-year grant or HK$60,000 for a two-year travel grant for the Principal Investigator in Hong Kong, and an amount of about €3,000 for a one-year grant or €6,000 for a two-year travel grant for the Principal Investigator in the Netherlands; and two workshop grants at a maximum of HK$150,000 per grant for a workshop organised in Hong Kong and €15,000 for a workshop organised in the Netherlands under the disciplines of Astronomy, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science. Applications for the first exercise will be called for on September 15 and closed on November 30, 2010.

All applications for funding under the Scheme will be vetted by a Joint Selection Committee formed by experts nominated by NWO and the RGC. The criteria to be adopted in the assessment of travel grants are: (a) the academic quality of the proposed research and of the applying research teams; (b) the possible synergy, complementary expertise, benefits expected and the prospects for longer term collaboration; and (c) the opportunities for training young researchers through the proposed research. For the workshop grants, the academic quality of the researchers and that of the guest speakers; the degree of intra- and inter-institutional participation by local researchers and students; and the prospects for new/longer term research collaboration are important criteria. Results will be announced at end April 2011.

Dr Vertegaal was impressed with the research capability of Hong Kong's higher education institutions. He noted that the research environment in the Netherlands and Hong Kong had much similarity. He had high hopes for a long-term cooperation and said: "I hope that this agreement marks the beginning of a long and successful collaboration between NWO and the RGC."

Professor Chin welcomed the collaboration and said, "This is the 6th joint research scheme of the RGC and the 4th one with European countries. The current three joint research schemes are with the United Kingdom, Germany and France. There are also the RGC-Fulbright Scholarship with the United States and the National Science Foundation of China. These schemes have been operating well to foster academic links and promote international or regional research collaboration amongst researchers. They also add new dimension in the local research community through communication and exchange of research experiences with overseas academics. The RGC will further explore co-operation opportunities with other organisations worldwide."