Collaborative Research Fund
Frequently Asked Questions

Proposal Preparation

1. Who can apply for the Collaborative Research Fund (CRF)?

Those who are eligible to apply for research funding from the RGC could apply. Please refer to the link on RGC's website: <http://www.ugc.edu.hk/eng/ugc/faq/q302.html>.

2. Can an applicant submit more than one proposal as Project Coordinator?

No, each applicant could only submit one application as Project Coordinator.

3. Can a Project Coordinator be involved as Co-Principal Investigator in another proposal?

Yes, a Project Coordinator could be involved in other proposal(s) as Co-Principal Investigator, but he/she needs to justify that he/she could deploy sufficient attention to each of the proposals.

4. Can a Project Coordinator of on-going major project (i.e. project funded under the Theme-based Research Scheme or the Areas of Excellence Scheme) apply as a Project Coordinator/Co-Principal Investigator of a CRF project?

Yes, but again, the applicant would have to convince the Collaborative Research Fund Committee that he/she could deploy sufficient attention to the projects under his/her charge.

5. As RGC is also calling for applications under other funding schemes, can I apply for CRF grants using the same proposal?

It is the responsibility of applicants (both Project Coordinator and Co-Principal Investigator) to ensure that no duplicate funding from all sources will be sought for the same/similar research project. Breach of this rule or failure to declare similarity of proposals may result in disqualification of the application and debarring from applying future UGC/RGC grants. Hence, once it is known that he/she has been awarded funding from RGC/UGC or other sources, the Project Coordinator and Co-Principal Investigator should decide whether he/she will decline funding from other sources or withdraw his/her application under CRF.

The Project Coordinator and Co-Principal Investigator will be asked to make declaration on submission of same/similar research when invited to submit the full proposals. It is the RGC to decide whether two proposals/completed projects are similar or related. The judgment of the RGC is final.

6. Can I submit a proposal with a single Project Coordinator and no Co-Principal Investigator?

No, it should be noted that the main objective of the CRF Group Research grant is to encourage collaboration across universities and discipline while that for the Equipment grant is to enable acquisition of major research facilities or equipment that could not otherwise be afforded by one university and can be used for collaborative research. The project teams are expected to pursue interdisciplinary collaborative goals which would not be possible by working on the project's individual components in isolation of each other.

7. Is there any restriction on the Co-Principal Investigators? Can they be overseas (including Mainland) researchers or non-academics?

Though there is no restriction on the Co-Principal Investigators, RGC would like to see the funding benefiting local research community.

It should be noted that CRF project grant should primarily be used in undertaking research work in Hong Kong by the Project Coordinators and their teams in order to train and groom research talents in Hong Kong. It would be legitimate for the Project Coordinators to subcontract out a small part of the research work (regardless of geographic locations) only if specified conditions are fulfilled. For subcontracting services or research work to be conducted outside Hong Kong, RGC's approval is required. The RGC would deal with the matter on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the merits and justification given by the Project Coordinators and whether the specified conditions have been fulfilled. The detailed guidelines on outsourcing of research work are provided in the "Disbursement, Accounting and Monitoring Arrangements for Funding Schemes Administered by the Research Grants Council". Also, the grant provided by the RGC should only be used to cover project expenditure which would not otherwise be separately incurred, and the funding policy adopted by the RGC governing the remuneration of research support staff and purchase of equipment stipulated in "Disbursement, Accounting and Monitoring Arrangements for Funding Scheme Administered by the Research Grant Council" should apply.

8. I am currently holding a CRF group research project, which was funded within the two funding years specified in the call circular for "renewal" funding application. Should I apply for "renewal funding" or submit a new application?

It is up to the Project Coordinator to decide whether to submit a "renewal" or new application. To qualify for "renewal funding", the research team must demonstrate in the proposal that remarkable results have been achieved in their current research and there is a good argument and prospect for further research work to continue in the relevant area. A "renewal" proposal should be an extension of the current project led by the same project coordinator and should not constitute any major overlap with research work supported by other UGC/RGC grants. It should have its own goal and a new or extended research objective. A Project Coordinator is only allowed to submit one single proposal in an exercise, irrespective of new or renewal application.

9. Is there any ceiling or quota on the number of proposals to be submitted by or involving each university?

There is no ceiling or quota on the number of proposals to be submitted by or involving each university.

Budget Preparation and Proposal Submission

10. Is there any upper or lower limit of the amount of funding applied for each proposal?

The net amount of funding requested from the RGC (excluding matching funding from university and funds obtained from other sources) should range from $2 million to $10 million per project.

The proposal should justify the proposed amount and why the application was made under the CRF rather than other schemes.

11. Is matching funding required?

Yes. Universities are required to commit at the application stage that they would provide partnership/matching funding in real money on a 50% (RGC) (excluding on-costs)/50% (universities) basis for equipment cost (in Group Research Grant applications)/total approved budget (for Equipment Grant applications) for a funded project.

12. Some researches may need a longer duration (more than 3 years) to see the desired result/impact. Can I still submit the proposal?

The duration of a CRF project should normally last for no more than three years. The proposal with longer duration should justify the duration and funding applied for.

13. Can I list my collaborator as a Co-Principal Investigator and include his/her salary in my budget?

No. You should not list any collaborator as the Co-Principal Investigator. You may pay someone for the materials or services procured in conducting your research as long as the procurement of that materials or services is permissible under the RGC and the procedures in compliance with the university's policy.

14. For Equipment Grant proposal, can I request fund for meeting the costs of maintenance and other general expenses?

No. The Equipment Grant supports only staff cost for equipment development and the cost of the proposed equipment. University(ies) should provide necessary infrastructural support to meet the recurrent costs of the funded equipment.

15. I noticed a major issue with my proposal after the submission to the RGC. Can I rectify it after the submission deadline?

No. But at the full proposal stage, the shortlisted applicants may provide a brief update of the proposal. The updates are confined to changes such as eligibility of the applicants, declaration of similar/related proposals/projects, investigator(s)'s CVs, grant records, relationship with nominated reviewers, etc. Applicants should not use the opportunity to revise their proposals substantially.

Selection Criteria

16. How will the CRF proposals be evaluated?

A two-stage assessment process, with peer-review mechanism, is adopted. Applicants are required to submit preliminary proposals in the application stage. The Project Coordinators of the shortlisted preliminary proposals will be invited to submit full proposals through their universities around May. The project teams of shortlisted full proposals will be invited to attend selection interviews in December. The funding decision will be announced by early January of the following year.

17. What are the selection criteria?

The RGC adopts a different set of criteria for Group Research Grant and Equipment Grant proposals. Please refer to the respective call documents for more details.

Announcement of Results

18. When will I be informed of the decision of my CRF proposal?

Results of the CRF will usually be announced by early January in the following year through your university.

19. What is the start date of the project?

The project should start on or before 30 June in the following year.

Reporting Requirements

20. What are the reporting requirements?

PCs are required to submit annual progress reports or mid-term progress reports on all on-going projects through their universities to the RGC. In addition, the RGC holds a CRF Symposium every year to monitor the progress of the on-going Group Research Projects. Each project team of the Group Research Projects has to present their progress at the Symposium and there will be a private meeting with the CRF Committee. Upon completion of the projects, PCs should submit completion reports to the RGC no later than 12 months after the approved completion date of the projects. Please refer to the "Disbursement, Accounting and Monitoring Arrangements for Funding Scheme Administered by the Research Grant Council" for details.