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UGC launches Research Impact Fund

The University Grants Committee (UGC) today (May 15) announced that a new competitive research funding scheme called the Research Impact Fund would be launched on a pilot basis to encourage more impactful research and foster more collaborative efforts with stakeholders beyond academia.

The scheme takes forward one of the initiatives announced in 2017 Policy Address. The Chief Executive stated in the Policy Address that the Government would request universities to conduct more impactful and translational research projects that meet Hong Kong's needs, so as to tie in with the work promoting the development of industries and re-industrialisation. In this regard, the Government requested the UGC to complete the review on the allocation of research grants within one year, and expand the assessment criteria to include research impact and effectiveness of knowledge and technology transfer.

The Chairman of the UGC, Mr Carlson Tong, said, "There is an increasing focus on the impact brought about by research projects in our society and economy. We see a need for greater change in the local research culture whereby researchers should be further encouraged to consider actively potential benefits and beneficiaries at the outset and how they will achieve excellence with impact. Research impact can be defined broadly. That may include research with academic impact, social and economic impact and research that translates into products and services (e.g. smart city, fintech and robotics technology); as well as research that aligns with important policy, community and social objectives (e.g. dealing with ageing population and enhancing regional cooperation). Funding applications can be made to the Fund in respect of any research that carries an impact, and there will not be any restriction or preference with regard to the actual research topic. Academic merit and research impact are both the main assessment criteria".

"We propose allocating an annual sum of $50 million from the UGC's Central Allocation Vote for the implementation of the Fund on a pilot basis. A total of $150 million, representing $50 million in each year in the 2016/17-2018/19 triennium, would be available in the first call for proposal."

"Implementing the Fund will not only enable Hong Kong to stay competitive in the globalised higher education sector but also strengthen our research and educational capacity. The UGC will continue to focus on research excellence and at the same time, increased emphasis will be placed on realising the impact of our research."

The Fund will be administered by the Research Grants Council. The UGC Secretariat will consult relevant stakeholders, especially universities and front-line researchers, when working out a detailed operational framework for the Fund. The first call for proposals is expected to be issued in early 2018.

Monday, May 15, 2017