Research Grants Council Meeting in December 2022

Results of Proposal Evaluation

Funding Scheme Results Announcement of Results
Collaborative Research Fund (CRF) 54 proposals amounting to $290 million (exclusive of on cost) were funded, including 33 Collaborative Research Project Grant (CRPG) proposals, seven Collaborative Research Equipment Grant (CREG) proposals and 14 Young Collaborative Research Grant (YCRG) proposals. Two group research proposals, one under CRPG and one under YCRG, were supported for one-year exploratory funding. Letter to Heads of Universities dated 5 January 2023
Research Impact Fund (RIF) 13 proposals amounting to $75 million (exclusive of on cost) were funded. Letter to Heads of Universities dated 3 January 2023
Theme-based Research Scheme (TRS) 29 proposals were shortlisted for submission of full proposals. Letter to Research Vice Presidents dated 21 December 2022
Areas of Excellence (AoE) Scheme Six proposals were shortlisted for submission of full proposals.
Strategic Topics Grant (STG) 13 proposals were shortlisted for submission of full proposals. Letter to Research Vice Presidents dated 15 December 2022


Research Funding Schemes

Collaborative Research Fund

The overall budget for CRF 2023/24 will remain the same at $280 million, including $130 million under CRPG, $100 million under CREG and $50 million under YCRG. The Collaborative Research Project Steering Committee will consider the allocation of the $50 million apportionable budget among AoE, CRF and TRS in June 2023. The prevailing arrangement allowing the CRF Selection Panel to flexibly redeploy the funding allocation between CRPG, CREG and YCRG will also remain in order to maximise the effective use of the resources available.


Research Impact Fund

The RIF 2022/23 exercise was concluded successfully. RGC noted that the 13 approved proposals demonstrated strong merits with high risks and, meanwhile, offered potentially high value returns. RGC was glad to see several proposals successfully taking basic sciences to practical applications, connecting diverse disciplines in one single proposal. The RIF 2023/24 exercise is planned to be launched in late January 2023 and the budget will remain at $75 million.


Areas of Excellence Scheme and Theme-based Research Scheme

In the 2023/24 exercise, a total of 14 AoE and 62 TRS preliminary proposals were received. Four AoE proposals (which fell within the scope of TRS) were transferred to TRS. As a result, ten AoE and 66 TRS proposals were processed. In view of the increase in the number of grand challenge topics as well as the number of applications, the budget for the regular TRS exercise would increase from $230 million in 2022/23 to $300 million in 2023/24.

The Fourth TRS Public Symposium was held at The University of Hong Kong on 11 December 2022. Representatives of 12 projects funded under the Sixth and Seventh Rounds of the TRS exercise showcased their achievements to over 150 participants.


Strategic Topics Grant

The Strategic Topics Grant (STG) was launched on 8 August 2022. By the deadline of 8 September 2022, 29 preliminary proposals were received. After the assessment, 13 preliminary proposals were shortlisted and invited for submission of full proposals. The full proposals will be assessed and considered by the STG Assessment Committee in June 2023 for funding recommendation. Funding results are expected to be announced by July 2023.


Budget for Various Funding Schemes Funded by the Research Endowment Fund (REF) in 2023/24

The indicative broad allocation for the various funding schemes funded by REF in 2023/24 was approved by RGC as follows:

Funding Schemes Budget
($ million)
(A) Funding schemes under the Earmarked Research Grants  
     (1) General Research Fund 988.3
     (2) Early Career Scheme 145.3[1]
     (3) CRF 280.0
     (4) Joint Research Schemes 103.2
     (5) Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship Scheme 10.0
     (6) Postgraduate Students Conference / Seminar Grants 0.8
(B) TRS 300.0[2]
(C) AoE Scheme 50.0
(D) Apportionable budget for collaborative schemes 50.0
(E) Exploratory funding for TRS and AoE Scheme 30.0
(F) Funding Schemes for Self-financing Degree-awarding Institutions 100.0
(G) RIF 75.0
(H) Tuition Waiver for Local Research Postgraduate Students 90.0
(I) STG 150.0
(J) Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards (Hong Kong) 5.7
Total: 2,378.3

The allocation above reflects broad indicative figures and may be subject to further adjustments.


Progress of Research Matching Grant Scheme and RGC Research Fellowship Schemes

After thirteen processing cycles of the Research Matching Grant Scheme (RMGS), the aggregate amount applied for matching is about $4.39 billion and the total amount of matching grant disbursed to UGC-funded universities / self-financing degree-awarding institutions is about $2.48 billion. In addition to the two universities having reached the matching “ceiling” of $500 million, five other universities and three institutions have reached the matching “floor” of $50 million. The remaining balance available for matching stands at about $0.52 billion, which will remain open for applications by the participating universities / institutions until it is fully exhausted.

The deployment progress of the matching grants disbursed in the first four processing cycles (Q3, 2019 to Q2, 2020) has been reported to RGC as per the situation reports received from universities / institutions. The next call for situation reports covering the 5th and 6th processing cycles is expected to return by April 2023.

The progress of the fourth nomination exercise (2023/24) of the RGC Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme (PDFS), RGC Research Fellow Scheme (RFS) and RGC Senior Research Fellow Scheme (SRFS) is also noted. A total of 90, 36 and 38 nominations have been received from the eight UGC-funded universities for PDFS, RFS and SRFS respectively. Vetting of nominations is in progress and assessment will commence in early 2023. Results of PDFS will be available in April 2023, and RFS and SRFS awards will be announced in July 2023. RGC is pleased to note the clarion call from the Secretary for Education, who officiated the award presentation ceremony in November 2022, for more female academics to espouse a research career, and that the third cohort (2022/23) of RFS and SRFS awardees have been featured in a series of advertorials on several local papers (in print as well as on their online platforms), with each SRFS awardee also featured in a short video which will be available at RGC website in early 2023 for public viewing. It is noted that some PDFS awardees have left before completing the fellowship for better opportunities including tenure-track positions / Research Assistant Professorship in Hong Kong or elsewhere, which corroborates the commendable quality of awardees and attraction of the scheme.


Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards (Hong Kong)

The Healthy Longevity Global Competition (the Competition) was launched by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) of the United States in 2019. The Competition consists of three phases – the Catalyst Phase, the Accelerator Phase, and the Grand Prize Phase. RGC collaborates with the NAM for the Catalyst Phase in 2022 (HLCA (HK) 2022), which aims to reward bold, innovative ideas from any discipline that could extend the human health span through disease prevention, mobility, functionality, social connectedness, longevity and more. Ten awards were offered by RGC in 2022, each with HK$389,000 and travel subsidies to attend the Innovator Summit 2023 to be organised by the NAM.

RGC approved to extend the collaboration with the NAM to operate HLCA (HK) for additional three years (i.e. 2023, 2024 and 2025). The call for applications for HLCA (HK) 2023 is expected to be issued in late January / early February 2023 and results will be announced in September 2023.


Engagement and Communication Initiatives

Meetings with Vice-Presidents (VPs) (Research) of the UGC-funded universities are held regularly in the past years and they are much welcomed by the VPs as this provides an opportunity to keep participants updated of RGC’s overall strategic direction and policies, as well as to exchange views on various matters concerned by the research community. The last meeting was held on 20 December 2022 after RGC meeting on 10 December 2022. The next meeting would be held in June 2023.

RGC has been collaborating with Hong Kong Central Library and Hong Kong Science Museum in organising public lectures to arouse public interest in the research subjects, local research development and introducing the work of local researchers. Eight such lectures were held from October to December 2022.

To enhance public understanding about the work of RGC and its operations, two local Chinese newspapers Ming Pao and Wen Wei Po were engaged to publish an advertorial on RGC in mid-November 2022.



[1] Including an additional $30 million for enhancing support to junior researchers.
[2] Including an additional $70 million to meet the strong demand of the universities following the addition of new grand challenge topics.