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What is the Research Endowment Fund (REF)? How does the Fund work?

  • In the 2008-09 Budget Speech, the Financial Secretary announced that the Government would set up an $18 billion Research Endowment Fund (REF) to support research at the UGC-funded institutions.

  • The REF was established in 2009 to provide a steady flow of research funding for the institutions. The UGC is responsible for advising on the policies governing the operation, development and investment of the Fund. Out of the $18 billion, the investment income of at least $14 billion will be used to replace, from the 2010/11 academic year onwards, the bulk of the existing earmarked research grants distributed annually to the RGC, thus providing greater funding stability and certainty of funding to support institutions' research projects.

  • In addition, the investment income from up to $4 billion of the REF will be deployed to support theme-based research, thus allowing the institutions to work on research proposals on themes of a longer-term nature and strategically beneficial to the development of Hong Kong.

  • The REF was topped up by $5 billion in 2013/14. Investment income of $2 billion is used to replace the government recurrent subvention and investment income of $3 billion is used for providing competitive research funding for the Local Self-financing Degree Sector.