year 2002 was another vigorous and successful one for Hong Kongs
research community. Research funded by the Research Grants Council
(RGC) continued to grow impressively, in both quantity and quality.
the 2002-2003 Competitive Earmarked Research Grant (CERG) exercise,
the RGCs largest and most important funding programme, the
number of proposals received was a record 1,698, seeking some HK$1.6
billion in funding.
these proposals, 691 were approved and supported by the RGC, with
total funding of HK$428 million, a 6% increase over the previous
year. Not all quality proposals could be supported; about 500 met
the quality threshold but could not be funded.
impressive growth was only made possible by an increase in the RGC
budget, thanks to very strong support from the University Grants
Committee (UGC) and the Government.
looking towards the next few years, funding will obviously become
tighter amid overall stringencies in public expenditure. The upcoming
challenge for the RGC is to become even more vigilant in creating
economies and to make the research dollars go even further.
would argue about the centrality of research in shaping the future
of Hong Kong as a knowledge economy and research must be protected
even when resources are limited. Indeed, in less favourable times,
the need for research to generate new knowledge and invent new ways
of doing things is greater than ever.
research in Hong Kong has only a relatively short history and, fortunately,
we have been able to build up a vibrant and robust research culture
during the nineties when Hong Kongs finances were in a relatively
Hong Kongs research funding base is narrow when compared to
that in other developed economies. There is a need for a greater
degree of diversity in the system and more funding opportunities
will need to be created in the longer term. This is important and
requires the concerted efforts of both the government and industry.
academic research, we must be particularly careful not to be tempted
by quick success and immediate results. Very often, we need time
and patience to see our investment in research bear fruit and blossom
into often unexpected wonders.
research teams with accumulated knowledge and experience need to
be assembled and nurtured with steady support to achieve the capacity
that would be in the right place when needed. To achieve this, we
on the side of the RGC see it as imperative to maintain support
across a wide spectrum of research disciplines and subjects.
part of 2003-2004 funding, a sum of HK$12 million was dedicated
to research on SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), a new infectious
disease which caused human suffering on a global scale and in particular
impacted Hong Kong in an unprecedented manner.
part of the worldwide effort to combat the disease, Hong Kong researchers
were quick to show their leadership in grappling with the scourge
and, in the process, made valuable contributions to medical science.
achievements brought Hong Kongs research capability into sharp
focus and bore testimony to the territorys success in competing
seriously at the international forefront of research. The incident
was vivid proof of how research investment pays off.
has also proved the value and robustness of Hong Kongs research
capacity which the RGC has helped Hong Kong to build up over the
past decade. No one can now doubt that Hong Kong is in the premier
league of world research.
year also saw the award of the first clinical research fellowship.
This was a pilot scheme introduced in the CERG 2002-2003 exercise
to promote opportunities for clinical research training in Hong
it is only a modest funding initiative and many operational details
might need to be further refined in the light of actual experience,
the RGC is hopeful that the scheme will in the long run contribute
to a more conducive environment for promising young clinicians to
pursue a career in clinical research.
the coming budgetary stringencies, the RGC remains firmly committed
to helping Hong Kong, through funding of quality research, to realize
a better tomorrow. In this regard, funding programmes will be reviewed
constantly and, where appropriate, new features will be added to
make sure that the programmes cater to emerging needs.
my gratitude to all who enable academic research to flourish in
Hong Kong, I have pleasure in presenting this annual report for