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Funding results of 2015/16 Theme-based Research Scheme and introduction of new theme to 2016/17 Scheme

The Research Grants Council (RGC) announced today (July 9) the funding results of the 2015/16 Theme-based Research Scheme (TRS) exercise (fifth round). Five proposals were supported for funding under the TRS with a total of some $203 million (including oncosts and indirect costs).

Announcing the results, the Chairman of the RGC, Professor Benjamin Wah, said, "Though this is the fifth TRS exercise, I am delighted to see high-quality proposals keep coming in. Similar to the 18 outstanding research projects funded in the last four rounds of the TRS, the selected projects in this round of the exercise displayed strong potential for attaining international excellence that would benefit not only the research community but also the general public."

In the 2015/16 exercise, 28 preliminary proposals were received and 13 of them were shortlisted for submission of full proposals. Among them, 11 were invited for selection interviews. Finally, five proposals under three different themes were awarded funding. The list of awarded projects is set out in the Annex.

Professor Wah said the objective of the TRS was to focus the academic research efforts of the University Grants Committee-funded institutions on themes of strategic importance to the long-term development of Hong Kong. Currently, there are three themes, namely "Promoting good health", "Developing a sustainable environment" and "Enhancing Hong Kong's strategic position as a regional and international business centre".

"We are excited about the Government's decision to launch the fourth theme in the next exercise. Starting from the 2016/17 exercise (sixth round), in addition to the existing three themes, a new theme, 'Advancing emerging research and innovations important to Hong Kong', will be introduced. The new theme encompasses the science and technology fields, as well as subject areas in the social sciences and humanities. It aims at advancing our knowledge and facilitating the development and application of research innovations, as well as bringing about an impact on the creation, application, and transfer of knowledge in Hong Kong. This will contribute to powering world-class industries and developments at the local, national, regional and global levels, and capitalise on Hong Kong's existing strengths in research and innovation. The four grand challenge topics under the new theme are 'Big Data', 'Imaging, Robotics and Smart Manufacturing', 'Urban Infrastructure' and 'E-learning and Digital Citizenship'. Under the four themes, there will be a total of 16 grand challenge topics for invitation of research proposals. Details of the next call for proposals will be issued later this month," Professor Wah said.

Professor Wah said he was grateful for the continuous support and contributions made by various parties in implementing the Scheme. In particular, the international experts had devoted their valuable time in professionally assessing the proposals and reviewing the topic suggestions for the new and existing themes.

"All the funded projects are selected through rigorous peer-review evaluation by international experts and local trade professionals. The selection panel has made tough choices in the past few months to come to the decision of awarding the five highly competitive projects. I look forward to seeing the award-winning teams making remarkable achievements and training young researchers for the strategic and long-term development of Hong Kong." he added.

The details of the approved projects are posted on the RGC website at www.ugc.edu.hk/eng/rgc/funded_research/layman/theme/trs5.html