FAQs

Research Matching Grant Scheme
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Timeframe

1. Will a research grant/contract with agreement signed before the three-year operation period, or an instalment of payment for a research project/donation made before the three-year operation period, be eligible for matching?

Only payments made/grants distributed within the three-year operation period will be eligible for matching. Universities/Institutions should enclose the supporting bank statement/transaction record with the application.

 

Eligibility and Uses

2. How to define the expenditure as "research‐related" for application under the Research MGS?

Universities/Institutions may refer to the list of broad categories of research-related purpose in the Operation Guide/application form. While the list is not exhaustive, the key element is that the donation should be dedicated for research and development.

 

3. Are research donations which have very general purpose eligible for matching under the Research MGS? Or must the donor indicate, at the time of committing the donation, the specific use of donation and make clear the instruction of use, if applicable, be specific to the categories of research-related purposes as listed in the Operation Guide?

Universities/Institutions may refer to the list of broad categories of research-related purpose in the Operation Guide/application form. While the list is not exhaustive, the key element is that the donation should be dedicated for research and development. Universities/Institutions should provide brief description of the usage of expenditure or, as far as practicable, information on the research project/initiative/activity to be supported.

 

4. Do I need to specify in the application form whether the private donation/research grant/research contract has been applied for the Eighth Matching Grant Scheme?

Yes. There is a column designated for such declaration to facilitate the UGC Secretariat to make cross reference during the course of application vetting, if the private donation/research grant/research contract concerned has been applied for the Eighth Matching Grant Scheme, and specifying the month of application if it is the case. Private donations/research grants/research contracts already matched under the Eighth Matching Grant Scheme will not be eligible for matching under the Research MGS.

 

5. Are research matching schemes such as the Partnership Research Programme (which has a 50% industry sponsorship requirement) by the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) and RGC's Research Impact Fund (which has a 30% matching fund requirement that may come from business sector and industry partners) eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

Under the principle of no "double matching" or "double subsidies", government funding/public funding/donations already matched with public funds (regardless whether they are from Hong Kong or non-local funding source) will not be eligible for matching under the Research MGS.

 

6. Are public/government funds from the Mainland/Macau SAR or other non-local authorities eligible for matching?

No. The purpose of launching the Research MGS is to incentivise the private sector to increase its share in Research and development (R&D) expenditure. Hence, public/government funds will not be matched, regardless of location.

 

7. Are projects from charitable foundations involving service provision in the community in addition to research eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

A research project or the part(s) of a project related to research is/are eligible for matching. A service provision project without relation to research will not be matched.

 

8. Is funding granted from research fellowship or research award from local charities/trusts/foundations/industry (e.g. Croucher Foundation) or other local and non-local funding sources eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

Yes. As long as the research fellowship or research award is not from public/government funds, the fellowship/award funding will be eligible for matching under the Research MGS.

 

9. How wide is the scope of provision of support for researchers'/ students' research activities monitored by universities/institutions? Should the activities be research-project specific? Is monetary support, for instance, in the manner of research scholarship and/or conference grants included under the Research MGS?

The scope includes but is not limited to research scholarship, students visiting overseas institutions for research-related work, visit for research collaboration with overseas institutions, as well as attending academic conferences. University/Institution should provide detailed information on the research activity(ies) in the application.

 

10. What kinds of "capital works" are eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

Examples of "capital works" that are eligible for matching under the Research MGS include but not limited to building and building service works, alterations, additions, repairs and improvements of research facilities, renovation/space re-organisation of laboratory for research, etc. In terms of utilization of matching grant, it should be noted that matching grant can be used by local self-financing degree-awarding institutions to support capital works on campus in Hong Kong, while this is not applicable for UGC-funded universities as there are established capital works programmes for them to apply for.

 

11. As a private donation/research grant/research contract may already be enough to cover the full cost of a research project, under such circumstances will the matching grant provided, and the interest income generated from the matched donation and matching grant, be allowed to extend for other research projects/activities at the university's/institution's discretion?

Under the said circumstances, the matching grant, together with the interest accrued if any, can be deployed for other research projects/activities at the discretion of the university/ institution.

 

12. Can the matching grant be used to top up a research project which has received external funding, such that the scope of research project concerned may be expanded?

Yes. As long as the external funding is not from public/government funds, it will be eligible for matching under the Research MGS to top up the research project concerned.

 

13. Can department use the matching grant to recruit teaching staff or, say, Research Assistant Professors to support duties taken by the academic staff being engaged for the research under the application concerned?

Under such circumstances, the university/institution concerned is required to exercise tight monitoring to ensure the teaching quality and that the academic staff released is redeployed for the research project/work under the application concerned.

 

14. Will the cost for employment of relief teacher, included in a research fund supported by the private sector, be eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

Under such circumstances, the university/institution concerned is required to exercise tight monitoring to ensure the teaching quality and that the academic staff released is redeployed for research projects/work under the application concerned.

 

15. Are consultancy fees, licensing revenues and royalties eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

Under the principle for matching, only the research-related expenditure will be eligible for matching under the Research MGS. The matching grant so provided should also be designated for research.

 

16. Are consultancy/service contracts containing a significant element of research eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

For such cases, only the expenditure of the part(s) related to research is eligible for matching. A service provision project without relation to research will not be matched.

 

17. Are innovation activities in the private sector which carry a good dose of research (such as the development of a new device prototype or business concept, an app for transport logistics, etc.) eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

Expenditure of the innovation activities with proof of research relation will be eligible for matching.

 

18. Will research donations in the form of endowments which support research/innovative activities and meet some objectives of the Research MGS be included under the Research MGS?

The matching grant should be used to support research directly, rather than for setting/topping up any endowment fund by a university/institution. Donations for setting up endowment fund will not be eligible for matching. That said, a specific amount drawn from an endowment and deposited in a separate account dedicated for a particular research project is eligible for matching.

 

19. Will matching grants be provided on a pro‐rata basis for cases where the expenditure of a research project includes both research and teaching purposes? How should the weightings be determined?

Matching grants will only be provided for research-related purpose/R&D expenditure. Universities/Institutions should separate the research part for application as appropriate.

 

20. Are self-financing research and innovation enterprises/institutes of UGC-funded universities covered under the Research MGS?

Applications for matching from self-financing research arms/units under/owned by a UGC-funded university will be treated in the same manner as applications from other departments/units of the same university.

 

21. Will R&D expenditure (such as money spent on research facilities and grants for research projects) from the self-financing institutions' own be eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

Only R&D expenditure arising from donations/research grants/research contracts from non-government/non-public sectors will be eligible for matching under the Research MGS.

 

22. Will donations/matching grants under the Research MGS be applicable for supporting research work/activities/projects/initiatives outside Hong Kong?

Donations/matching grants under the Research MGS should primarily be used in undertaking research work/activities/projects/initiatives in Hong Kong in order to train and groom research talent in Hong Kong. If the university/institution would like to outsource a small part of the research work/activity/project/initiative to be conducted outside Hong Kong, full justifications should be provided for consideration by the UGC Secretariat.

 

23. Is support/donation from non-public enterprises which have strong government links and provide non-cash support, including offer of shares and bonds, privileged use of IPs, etc., eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

As long as the support/donation is not from public/government funding, it will be eligible for matching under the Research MGS. Funding support from organisations like The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and MTR Corporation Limited will not be eligible for matching under the Research MGS.

 

24. In the current research environment, "research personnel" could be a professional or administrative or management staff member who helps directly in managing research contracts, industry liaison, IP negotiation, etc. Will their staff costs and/or related project management cost be eligible for matching under the Research MGS, say, including 10-20% of the total project sum being charged for management cost?

Any indirect costs (i.e. "on-costs") arising from R&D projects/activities will not be eligible for matching under the Research MGS. Staff costs of research assistants or postdoctoral fellows directly involved in the research project(s)/activity(ies) concerned are covered and eligible for matching under the Research MGS. Staff costs of administrative/ executive/management staff not performing research tasks/duties should be deemed as indirect costs (i.e. "on-costs"), and are not eligible for matching under the Research MGS.

 

25. Are overhead expenses of the university/institution in support of the R&D work of their staff eligible for matching under the Research MGS, in particular if the donor provides support for the overheads?

Any indirect costs (i.e. "on-costs") arising from R&D projects/activities will not be eligible for matching under the Research MGS.

 

26. In connection with commercialization of R&D outputs as a result of collaboration with the industries, is there any restriction on the ownership/right/revenue of the outputs/commercialization? Will revenue from commercialization be eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

Commercialization of R&D outputs as a result of collaboration with the industries is not prohibited under the Research MGS. The Government, UGC and RGC will not claim copyright or other intellectual property right of the output/work produced, or any title or right to all inventions and possible resulting patents arising from the university's/institution's sponsored research, involving the government matching grants of the Research MGS. In general, the arrangements on all copyrights to, and royalties from books, journal articles, and other copyrightable materials produced by the researcher concerned, as well as all intellectual property arising out of any work undertaken under the Research MGS by a researcher employed by the university/institution concerned, shall follow the relevant and prevailing guidelines and policies of the university/institution concerned. The university/institution concerned will continue to exercise full autonomy in collaboration with the industries.

Under the principle for matching, only the research-related expenditure will be eligible for matching under the Research MGS. The matching grant so provided should also be designated for research.

 

27. In some cases, industrial donors may put an embargo on the results obtained from the research as part of the contractual agreement. Will donations under such circumstance be eligible for matching under the Research MGS?

As long as the donations are designated for research-related purpose, the ownership of intellectual property and related agreement between the donor and the university/institution concerned will be independent of the eligibility for matching.

 

28. Is it required to accrue interest income for the matched donations and matching grants received under the Research MGS? Is there any specific formula for calculating the interest income? And will such interest income be accrued to each of the research project?

It is not a requirement under the Research MGS to accrue interest income, and there is no specific formula in determining the interest income. That said, if there is any interest income accrued from the donation/matching grant, it should be booked and reported. The matching grant and interest income from donations/matching grant can be deployed for other research projects/activities at the discretion of the university/institution, if the private donation/research grant/research contract concerned is already sufficient to cover the full cost of the original project(s).

 

Matching Formula and Priority

29. For donations in the form of shares (or bonds), what is the relationship between the value of shares (or bonds) and the "matching basis" or "matching formula"?

The shares (or bonds) should be valuated at the last bid price at the close of the day when ownership is transferred to the university/institution.

 

30. Are supporting documents required for each research project/ initiative/activity applied?

Supporting documents for the donations/research grants/research contracts applying for matching grant are required.

 

Disclosure of Information and Audit Assurance

31. Some research contracts and industry-sponsored research have confidentiality terms. In response to enquiries received, how much information will the UGC require to disclose especially for research grants/contracts?

The UGC Secretariat will only require limited information which should not be in breach of the confidentiality terms of the research grants/contracts.

 

32. Are all donations/research grants/research contracts under the Research MGS required to have an end date, as some can last for a long time and may not have a formal end date?

It is not a compulsory requirement to specify a formal end date so as to allow flexibility and continuity of research projects and activities under various circumstances. The actual timeframe of the research projects and activities should be reasonable and it is subject to monitoring by the university/institution and reporting to the UGC Secretariat.

 

33. Are universities/institutions required to commit to "research" deliverables to receive the matching grants?

The matching is not merit-based and is therefore not subject to assessment.

 

Probity Considerations for Acceptance

34. In most cases, research contracts from the private sector can have specific deliverables or the sponsors can have the rights to IP. Wonder if this might fail to satisfy the requirement of avoiding an "unfair commercial advantage over others in the same trade, industry or profession" as stipulated in paragraph 27 (ii) of the Operation Guide. On the definition of "unfair commercial advantage", will any of the following, for example, be regarded as an "unfair commercial advantage"?

  • Foreground common IP co-owned by the sponsor and university
  • A non-exclusive license for the university's solely owned IP
  • A right to use IP generated from the project by sponsors for non-profit or charitable purposes

Paragraph 27(ii) of the Operation Guide refers to any privilege arising directly from the donation/sponsorship/research grants as a result of the research project(s)/initiative(s) under the Research MGS. All IP arrangement/ownership arising out of any work undertaken under the Research MGS shall follow the relevant and prevailing guidelines and policies of the university/institution concerned.

 

35. Are there other restrictions on receiving donations from other potentially problematic companies (e.g. casinos, alcohol industry, etc.)?

Due regard should be given to the probity considerations as set out in the Operation Guide for accepting donation.