Call Circular

National Natural Science Foundation of China/
Research Grants Council Collaborative Research Scheme
2024/25 Exercise

Invitation for Applications


          The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong Collaborative Research Scheme (CRS) aims to support larger-scale collaborative research across disciplines and / or across universities in the Mainland and Hong Kong, with a view to enhancing research output and impact on both sides. On the Hong Kong side, the application must be cross-disciplinary and / or involving more than one university. Launched in 2022/23, it will initially operate on a three-year pilot basis. The six focus areas include Information Technology, Life Science, New Materials Science, Marine and Environmental Science, Medicine, and Management Science.

    2.   The RGC has reserved an amount of HK$36 million for the Hong Kong applicants in the NSFC / RGC CRS 2024/25 exercise. Around ten projects will be supported. The operational details (including eligibility, funding, application procedures, selection procedures, etc.) are set out in the ensuing paragraphs.


    3.   Each Mainland or Hong Kong applicant is only allowed to submit one application in the capacity of either the Principal Investigator (PI) under NSFC / RGC Joint Research Scheme (JRS) (which is open for applications till 26 January 2024) or the Project Coordinator (PC) under NSFC / RGC CRS in the same funding exercise.

    4.   The Hong Kong PC should meet fully the requirements for applying for the RGC General Research Fund (GRF). Please refer to paragraph 3 in Section 1 of GRF 2024/25 “Scheme Overview and Guidance Notes (GRF2)” on the RGC website: A Hong Kong PI of an on-going NSFC / RGC JRS research project or a Hong Kong PC of an on-going NSFC / RGC CRS project is not allowed to submit a new application in the capacity of PC in the current NSFC / RGC CRS exercise unless both collaborative partners have submitted their completion reports of the project to the NSFC and the RGC before the application deadline. Nevertheless, he / she could participate in a new NSFC / RGC CRS proposal if not in the capacity as a PC. Moreover, applicants should refer to the relevant requirements of the NSFC and ensure their eligibility as Hong Kong PC will be accepted by the NSFC.

    5.   A joint proposal submitted by a Mainland PC affiliated with a Mainland institution which is established and operated by the same University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded university of the Hong Kong PC will not be considered as a valid collaboration. Such application will be disqualified. Examples of invalid collaborations include but are not limited to the following –

    UGC-funded University of Hong Kong PC Mainland Institution of Mainland PC
    Hong Kong Baptist University Beijing Normal University - Hong Kong Baptist University United International College
    The University of Hong Kong The University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Institute of Research and Innovation
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen
    The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou)
    City University of Hong Kong City University of Hong Kong (Dongguan)

    6.   Mainland applicants should check with the NSFC for their eligibility requirements.

    7.   Researchers outside Hong Kong and the Mainland may participate as members of the Hong Kong or the Mainland research team.


    8.   The scheme aims to support research projects with duration of four years. For Hong Kong applicants, the grants sought for each project should not exceed HK$3.6 million (exclusive of on-costs). For Mainland applicants, the maximum funding amount per project is RMB3 million (exclusive of on-costs).

    9.   The RGC funding will provide support for:

    • salary of research support staff hired by the Hong Kong researchers;
    • equipment in Hong Kong;
    • general expenses, including consumables that are directly related to the research work;
    • expenses for receiving the Mainland collaborators in Hong Kong;
    • passage for Hong Kong researchers and research postgraduate students to visit collaborators in the Mainland; and
    • grants for Hong Kong researchers and research postgraduate students to attend international conferences.

    10.   The NSFC funding will provide support for:

    • research expenditure;
    • expenses for receiving Hong Kong collaborators in the Mainland;
    • passage for the Mainland researchers to visit collaborators in Hong Kong; and
    • other expenses allowed by the NSFC.

    11.   The Mainland and the Hong Kong partners of the supported projects will receive funding from the NSFC and the RGC separately, and the grants can only be used in the Mainland and Hong Kong respectively.

    How to Apply

    12.   A one-stage application process (i.e. no preliminary proposal stage) is adopted in the scheme. There is a quota of five submissions for each UGC-funded university.

    13.   Parallel submissions of both applications by the Mainland and the Hong Kong applicants are required. While applications must be submitted before the deadline as outlined below, Hong Kong applicants should check with their universities for internal closing dates. Late submissions will not be processed.

    14.   Hong Kong applications should be submitted to the RGC through respective universities. Mainland applications are to be submitted to the Office of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Affairs of the NSFC. Detailed information on application procedures of the NSFC is available on the NSFC website:

    15.   It is the obligation of both the Mainland and the Hong Kong applicants to ensure that their respective applications contain sufficient and consistent information for evaluation. Incomplete submission (such as those lacking substantial data / information for evaluation) or inconsistent / inaccurate information would lead to disqualification of applications. The project period of both sides should have the same start and end dates. All proposals funded in the 2024/25 exercise should commence on 1 January 2025.

    16.   Hong Kong applicants should submit two hard copies and a soft copy (with size up to 5MB per proposal) of their full proposals through the Research Offices of their universities to the RGC by 5:00 pm of 1 March 2024The application to be submitted to the RGC should be prepared in accordance with the “Full Proposal Application Form” (CRS 1 (Dec 23)) and should be jointly signed by the collaborators of both places. Each full proposal must be accompanied by an agreement of collaboration between the Hong Kong and the Mainland applicants. Hong Kong applicants are also required to submit to the RGC two hard copies and a soft copy of the proposals submitted by their Mainland partners to the NSFC by the same deadline. To ensure consistency and fairness to all applicants, applicants must complete the applications in the following standard RGC format. Failure to comply with the application format and / or the allowable page will lead to disqualification of the proposal.

      Font : Times New Roman
      Font size : 12 point
      Margin : 2.5 cm all round
      Spacing : Single-line spacing


    17.   The main factors for consideration are (i) the scientific merits and innovation of the proposal; (ii) the opportunities for effective synergism among the participating researchers, research groups and universities and the extent to which existing strengths of the Mainland and Hong Kong may complement each other; and (iii) the long-term goal of the proposal and its impacts to the Mainland and Hong Kong. Balance of different disciplines may be taken into consideration when the scientific aspects of two proposals are considered being equal.

    18.   The NSFC and the RGC will arrange to assess the research proposals received in accordance with their respective peer-review procedures. A Joint Selection Committee, comprising representatives from the NSFC and the RGC, will conduct a final assessment on the applications. The Joint Selection Committee will only fund proposals which have been supported by both sides.

    19.   The NSFC and the RGC will invite shortlisted applicants to attend selection interviews to be conducted in Hong Kong in October 2024. Concerned applicants will be informed of the details of selection interviews later.

    Announcement of Results

    20.   The results of the final selection will be announced in October / November 2024. The results will also be published on the RGC website.

    Monitoring and Assessment

    21.   Hong Kong PCs of funded research projects are required to submit mid-term and completion reports through their universities to the RGC for monitoring and assessment. The reports will be evaluated in part by the level of collaboration between the Mainland and the Hong Kong teams involved, and the PCs are required to show tangible evidence of collaboration via the research output in their mid-term / completion reports. Details of reporting requirements will be provided to the successful applicants in the announcement of funding results.


    22.   The RGC will not be responsible for any expenditure incurred by the project in excess of the approved funding.

    23.   Neither the NSFC nor the RGC will provide any insurance cover in connection with the project or allow the use of the grants for insurance cover. Applicants should make their own arrangements. The NSFC and the RGC will not accept any responsibility arising in any way from the visits and the activities undertaken by the researchers.

    24.   As a matter of policy, the RGC does not claim any intellectual property rights arising from the projects it funds. Researchers, their collaborators and the universities concerned should make their own prior arrangements with regard to the ownership of such rights.

    25.   Funded projects may be selected by the NSFC and the RGC to present their progress during a site visit. Selected projects will be separately notified of the date and logistic requirements in advance.


    26.   All enquiries should be directed to the Research Offices of respective universities in the first instance. Their contact details are as follows:

    Mr Winaf Fan
    City University of Hong Kong
    83 Tat Chee Avenue
    Kowloon Tong, Kowloon

    Tel: 3442 7547
    Fax: 3442 0136

    Mr Ivan Lau
    Hong Kong Baptist University
    Kowloon Tong

    Tel: 3411 7751
    Fax: 3411 5525

    Ms Connie Lam
    Lingnan University
    8 Castle Peak Road
    Tuen Mun, New Territories

    Tel: 2616 7683
    Fax: 2591 9618

    Ms Vivien Zhang
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong
    New Territories

    Tel: 3943 4770
    Fax: 3942 0993

    Ms Clara Fong
    The Education University of Hong Kong
    10 Lo Ping Road
    Tai Po, New Territories

    Tel: 2948 7700
    Fax: 2948 7697

    Miss Claudia Yiu
    The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
    Hung Hom

    Tel: 3400 3630
    Fax: 2355 7651

    Ms Catherine Leung
    The Hong Kong University of Science
    and Technology
    Clear Water Bay

    Tel: 2358 6946
    Fax: 2358 1541

    Miss Kay Ling
    The University of Hong Kong
    Pokfulam Road
    Hong Kong

    Tel: 2859 1181
    Fax: 2803 0558


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    UGC Secretariat
    5 December 2023