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Signing of Framework Agreement between the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong and the Scottish Funding Council

The Research Grants Council (RGC) today (November 6) signed a framework agreement with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). The agreement aims to explore collaborative research opportunities between the two parties. The ceremony was witnessed by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim and the First Minister of Scotland, the Rt Hon. Alex Salmond MSP.

SFC is a non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government responsible for funding teaching and learning provision, research and other activities in universities and higher education institutions in Scotland. Scottish Development International (SDI) is a joint venture delivering support for companies investing in Scotland.

The agreement was signed between the Chairman of RGC, Professor Benjamin Wah, and the Board Member and Chair of Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee of SFC, Professor Albert Rodger. It lays down a framework based on which both parties would explore collaborative research opportunities with a view to enhancing the cooperation between the researchers funded by the SFC and RGC respectively and to promote mutual understanding between the two parties.

Mr Ng said that the HKSAR Government had all along encouraged the development of academic research in Hong Kong. "We are committed to supporting academic research in the higher education sector. The Research Endowment Fund, set up in 2009, has provided long-term funding stability to support all the RGC activities. This is the Government's recognition of the excellent research work undertaken by academics and their students in the higher education sector," he said.

Professor Wah stressed that "it has been a major mission of the RGC to promote research collaboration and exchanges between academics in Hong Kong and other regions through the implementation of Joint Research Schemes". Currently, a total of nine Joint Research Schemes with regions around the world are implemented. Over 850 research projects have been funded and conducted by researchers in Hong Kong with their partners in Mainland China, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States under the Joint Research Schemes since 1996.

Witnessing the signing, the First Minister said:"I am delighted that today's agreement will bring the benefits of world-leading reputation for excellence in education from each side to the other. It sends a clear message that Scotland and Hong Kong are working closely together and that life sciences and energy industries are examples of two industries that stand to gain from our close partnership.

"The Framework Agreement is a part of Scotland's strategy to widen and deepen our links, share our expertise and develop new partnerships with Hong Kong as we both seek to promote sustainable economic growth."

Laurence Howells, Chief Executive of the SFC said, "Collaboration between universities to accelerate progress in research has been a great success for Scotland. Today's agreement with the RGC builds on that success. It will give Scotland's next generation of research leaders some wonderful new opportunities and will further enhance the international reputation of Scottish university research.

"I'm delighted the SFC has been instrumental in bringing this about."

Julian Taylor, Executive Director for Asia Pacific of SDI said: "SDI is proud to have supported the SFC, the RGC of Hong Kong and their respective research communities in identifying this new partnership. Both Scotland and Hong Kong are home to some of the best universities in the world and Scotland's innovative research pooling collaboration model helps advance the country's position as a leading knowledge partner for Hong Kong.

This Framework Agreement is only the start of what is expected to be a long term sustainable partnership between the best in Scotland and the best in Hong Kong to lead on key global research challenges, resulting in significant competitive advantage for both regions".

"The signing of this new agreement signifies a concrete step in fostering closer co-operation between Scotland and Hong Kong. Through the provision of research support to scholars, we hope to create a new synergy which will drive research excellence and derive cutting-edge scientific outcomes in both places," said Professor Wah at the ceremony.