Home > UGC Publications > Speeches and Articles > 2001 > Speech by Professor Kenneth Young, Chairman, Research Grants Council (RGC) at the RGC Dinner (22.6.2001)

Speech by Professor Kenneth Young, Chairman, Research Grants Council (RGC) at the RGC Dinner on 22 June 2001

Distinguished Guests, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you to the RGC dinner tonight. I would in particular like to extend a warm welcome to our guests, including Heads of Institutions and Chairs of the institutions?Research Committees, representatives from the German and Israeli Consulates and the British Council, and representatives of other research funding bodies.

All of you have taken precious time out of your busy schedules to be with us tonight.

Before I say much more I need to reassure you of one thing. Just as we put a page limit for research proposals, we also put a limit on the Chairman's speech.

The RGC was formally established in 1991 and this year is the 10th anniversary. Ten years is not a long time when we talk about research -- some projects take that long from conceptualization to fruition. But considering how the RGC has grown from modest beginnings in 1991, you will agree that all those associated with the RGC can be pleased with the development of quality research in Hong Kong over the past decade.

I do not intend to overload you tonight with an historical account of the work of the RGC, but still I would like to highlight some major achievements. The RGC started ten years ago with a budget of only $100 million. In 2001-2002, the annual Earmarked Research Grant (ERG) will be increased to over $500 million. The five-fold increase in ten years is equivalent to 17% growth per annum compounded. This growth is all the more significant as it has taken place against a contracting budget for the whole UGC sector. To this, I would like to thank and appeal to the UGC for its continued support of the RGC. I am also pleased to tell you further that the CERG has funded more than 4,000 projects so far.

I am sure that demand for funds will continue to grow as the level of research in Hong Kong progresses. In fact, over the last few days the panels have struggled very hard to trim and cut some very credible proposals in order to fit into the overall budget.

There is something a little special in the arrangements this year. Ever since we outgrew the space in the Secretariat, we have been holding panel meetings in a hotel. This year, for the first time, we held the panel meetings at one of our institutions, and I want to thank CityU for its hospitality.

Our panel members play a vital role in charting the course of the RGC. We now have 100 panel members, compared with only 22 in 1991. But the expansion of panel membership is barely catching up with the workload placed upon the panels. We also rely on our pool of some 9,000 external reviewers. They have, over the years, provided us with extremely valuable assessments on the research proposals and also given us a global perspective. So I should like to take this opportunity to express the Council's heartfelt thanks to panel members and external reviewers, for the heavy burden and hard work discharged in a highly professional manner, with no reward except the knowledge that it helps the development of research in Hong Kong.

We can point with pride to the current level of community awareness about research. We are also pleased to see the vibrant and robust research culture in Hong Kong taking shape. Nevertheless, I am conscious that when compared with many developed parts of the world, Hong Kong still has a long way to go in research, and there is little room for complacence. The RGC is therefore mindful of the need for constant improvements, and is always looking for opportunities to bring in new initiatives to cope with the changes and aspirations of the higher education sector.

The Council has recently launched a CERG grant for individual research and a fellowship scheme to encourage clinical research. We shall also examine at tomorrow's meeting the possibility of awarding longer-term grants in an attempt to further enrich our funding support to the local academia.

Looking ahead, the RGC is likely to continue to be the principal funding agency in the higher-education arena to support academic research on a broad front, complementing new funding schemes such as the Innovation and Technology Fund. The RGC will continue to fund good quality research, basic or applied, without prescribed disciplinary priorities. Indeed, the RGC is dedicated to supporting all research that contributes to our intellectual stock and helps to strengthen the research and educational capacity of Hong Kong. At the same time, we stand ready to cooperate with the other funding agencies to ensure effective use of information and resources.

Finally, let me end by thanking you once again for joining us tonight and, more so, for your continuous support of the RGC work. Could I also ask you to join me in proposing a toast to the 10th anniversary of the RGC.

Thank you.