of the Research Grants Council is to boost the quality of research
undertaken by the Hong Kong academic community, and to support the development
of fundamental and applied research to the benefit of the community.
to the continued support of the Government and the University Grants Committee
(UGC), the Research Grants Council has been able to encourage a diverse
range of research projects.
The pool of knowledge, created through these research projects, enables
many industry collaborative projects to forge ahead. In doing so, Hong
Kong is gaining an international reputation in the global research community.
of funding sources supporting research in Hong Kong are available but
the main form of funding for academic research in the local higher education
sector is the Earmarked Research Grant (ERG) allocated by the Council.
The ERG represents
the main source of Government funding for competitive academic research
projects. It complements block grants from the UGC, part of which provide
institutions with funds for outlays such as researchers' salaries, laboratory
costs and other overheads related to UGC or Council-funded research.
the Council's main task is to consider applications and approve grants
from the fund. Total funding available for the ERG 2000-2001, as originally
approved by the Government and later supplemented by the RGC, was HK$468.3
Council would again like to place on record its gratitude to the Government
and the UGC for their continuing, generous support for academic research
in Hong Kong, enabling the Council to fund more, though still not all,
highly-rated research projects.
Council's objective is to support as many worthwhile research projects
as possible with the available funds. As in previous years, the Council
continued to uphold a high quality threshold for applications, and to
give larger and longer-term grants to quality research proposals.
success rate remained at 39 per cent, the same as in 1999-2000.
criteria for the selection of research projects, as endorsed by the Council
in 1991, is detailed in Appendix
board, equal emphasis is given to both fundamental and applied research.
the Council must be satisfied that the projects it funds have significant
intellectual and innovative content and serve the purpose of academic
development. The potential to apply the research is considered by the
Council in the allocation of the ERG but it is not an overriding factor.
research projects involving potential benefits to industry in the short
to medium term, the Council expects to see some funding from the potential
the ERG was allocated
As in previous
years, the Council decided that the bulk of ERG funding should be allocated
in response to competitive bids received from the institutions. Funding
was allocated in four broad categories:
million (Note 1) in response to competitive
bids received from the institutions.
million as Direct Allocation for discretionary use by institutions to
support projects each costing less than $200,000; for field trips and
other travel requirements, and to provide initial funding support for
junior faculty and newly recruited staff involved in research.
reserved for Central Allocation to strengthen the research base, and support
group research proposals that promote collaboration among academic institutions
and synergy between research teams.
million was reserved for the pilot NSFC / RGC Joint Research Scheme in
1: An additional HK$0.3 million was met by the unspent balance from terminated
1,652 proposals across a wide range of subject disciplines were received
under the competitive bidding exercise, seeking grants totalling HK$1,567
million. Initially the bids were examined by the relevant subject panels,
with help from specialist academic assessors or referees mostly from overseas.
rigorous peer review via the Council's international network of expert
referees, the Council on advice from the subject panels, approved allocations
totalling HK$368.6 million (Note 1) to support 642 projects with an average
grant of HK$574,143. This compared with 578 projects supported in 1999-2000
at a total cost of $324.5 million (average grant HK$561,420). Projects
funded by the Council in 2000-2001 are listed by subject area in Appendix
value of grants awarded in 2000-2001 represented an increase of 13.6 per
cent over the value of grants awarded in 1999-2000. The number of projects
rated "fundable, but unfunded" was 432. A summary of allocations
from the 2000-2001 Earmarked Research Grant is shown in Appendix
of competitive bid funding for 2000-2001 by broad subject category is
summarised in Chart 1.1 while
Chart 1.2 summarises the competitive
bid funding allocation by institution.
of the ERG is directly allocated to the UGC-funded institutions as Direct
Allocation to support small-scale research projects costing less than
$200,000; for field trips and other travel requirements, and to provide
initial funding support for junior faculty and newly-recruited staff in
the Council reaffirmed the decision not to increase the amount for Direct
Allocation but rather to gradually reduce the proportion of Direct Allocation
of the total ERG, so as to leave more allocation for the competitive and
of Direct Allocation was therefore reduced from HK$70 million in 1999-2000
to HK$66 million in 2000-2001. Distribution for Direct Allocation in 2000-2001
is shown in Chart 1.3.
funding is provided in response to both group research bids and bids from
institutions for major research facilities and/or equipment to support
collaborative research involving two or more institutions and major library
the Council received five equipment bids and 18 group research applications.
After a peer review process and interviews of selected researchers by
the Central Allocation Sub-Committee, eight applications were eventually
funded. A list of the supported projects is in Appendix
Postgraduate Students Conference / Seminar Grants
is provided to support and promote inter-institutional and inter-disciplinary
exchanges among postgraduate students of the UGC-funded institutions,
and to provide opportunities for postgraduate students of these institutions
to meet and interact with eminent scholars from outside Hong Kong.
the scheme aims to facilitate the organisation of inter-institutional
conferences/seminars targeted at, and organised by or for, postgraduate
students. The grant is given in the form of travel grants which include
the travel and associated costs of invited eminent visiting scholars to
attend and speak at conferences / seminars in Hong Kong.
are received all year round and granted subject to the availability of
funds. For 2000-2001, the Council approved three applications with awarded
grants totalling HK$147,600. Brief details of these proposals are in Appendix
Research Grant 2001-2002
a provision of HK$510.8 million has been initially made available for
the ERG to be allocated via the Council, mainly in response to competitive
bids. For the 2001-2002 CERG exercise, the Council has received a total
of 1,630 project proposals, seeking some HK$1,501 million in project grants.
preliminary consideration of the CERG applications will be made by the
four subject panels, to be assisted by international expert assessors.
Recommendations of the panels will be considered by the Council at its
meeting in June 2001.
visiting programme: 2000
has a programme of making annual visits to the eight UGC-funded institutions
in Hong Kong. Generally, the Council plans to visit one or two institutions
of the Council and its subject panels visited The Hong Kong Polytechnic
University on 22 June 2000.
programme included a wide range of presentations and discussions on projects.
The visit provided a useful forum for informal discussions and collegial
exchanges with academic staff and research students from a cross section
of the university's departments, research facilities and centres. Members
were generally impressed with the range and standard of research being
carried out at the university.
noted with appreciation the strong commitment among staff to applied and
service oriented work which generally accorded with the university's mission
in encouraging and supporting applied and strategic research relevant
to the needs of Hong Kong.
were satisfied that the university had demonstrated real and substantive
improvements on various fronts in research when compared to the time of
the last RGC visit in 1995. Similar visits will continue to be undertaken
with the Council planning to visit The Chinese University of Hong Kong
in June 2001.
on the background to the Council's visiting programme is in Appendix
Research Centres Scheme
of the Co-operative Research Centres (CRC) Scheme is to promote collaboration
in applied research between UGC-funded institutions and industry. Since
the inception of the scheme in 1993-1994, a total of 26 CRC projects have
been supported for funding of which 20 projects were still on-going as
of December 2000. Progress of the funded projects under the scheme has
been reasonably satisfactory.
into account the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF),
the RGC reviewed in December 2000 the operation of the scheme and decided
to cease any new funding exercise under the Scheme. The Council concluded
that the scheme had successfully encouraged and promoted stronger interaction
between industry and universities in collaborative applied research.
seed funding of collaborative projects, the scheme played a key role in
bridging industry and universities in applied research at a time when
the research funding mechanism for applied work had yet to be established
and developed in Hong Kong.
at the same time, showed that the CRC scheme shared similarities with
the ITF. As the ITF has been established to provide dedicated funding
support for applied work, research proposals with strong industrial relevance
and clear downstream application potential can be considered for funding
support under the ITF.
The RGC will
continue to monitor progress of on-going projects up to their completion.
From these projects, the Council expects to see research outputs that
are highly research-relevant, and with strong potential for commercialisation.
Germany / Hong
Kong Joint Research Scheme
1996-1997, in collaboration with the German Academic Exchange Service
(DAAD), the RGC launched a pilot joint research scheme to encourage collaborative
research between scholars in Germany and Hong Kong. The grants provide
researchers with return air fares, accommodation and a subsistence allowance
enabling them to visit their counterparts to discuss or conduct research
projects. The scheme has since been operated on an annual basis.
2000-2001, altogether 43 applications were received covering a wide range
of subjects; 28 of the applications were new, and 15 were extension requests.
A joint selection committee comprising members from Hong Kong and Germany
selected 34 research proposals for funding support; 25 of the proposals
were new and nine were extension cases. A list of the supported projects
is in Appendix I.
/ Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme
the Council and the French Consulate in Hong Kong agreed to launch a pilot
joint research scheme to encourage and promote scientific collaboration
between France and Hong Kong by providing grants for researchers to make
a total of 37 applications were received; 32 of the applications were
new and five were extension requests. Of these, 20 applications including
16 new proposals and four extension cases were approved for funding support.
A list of the supported projects is in Appendix
/ RGC Joint Research Scheme
1998, the RGC and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)
agreed to launch a joint research scheme initially for three years on
a pilot basis. As agreed, the annual total funding for the scheme is about
HK$15 million, with the NSFC contributing RMB 5 million and the Council
contributing HK$10 million.
scheme aims to promote collaboration in research between researchers /
research teams in Hong Kong and their counterparts in mainland China,
in areas of common interest to complement each other's strengths. The
scheme specifically aims to provide support for larger scale projects
that have clearly defined deliverables in the following six priority areas:
and Environment Science
scheme operates differently from other joint schemes in that it provides
funding to support actual research expenses, instead of only travel and
a total of 148 proposals were received. After shortlisting, and in consultation
with the NSFC, 53 proposals were selected for formal application.
a peer review process and detailed discussions by the Joint Selection
Committee comprising expertise from both the NSFC and RGC, 16 proposals
were finally selected for funding support. A list of supported projects
is in Appendix K.
has identified the following major tasks for 2001:
ways and means to provide stronger support for research and to improve
the quality of research in Hong Kong.
Keep a close
watch on the development of the local research enterprise, and help the
Government to examine research needs of the higher education sector in
meeting new challenges.
research co-operation, as such co-operation is important to the further
upgrading and development of Hong Kong's research profile. Essential is
the development of closer relations with the Mainland and overseas countries.
Research Fellowship Scheme
from CERG 2002-2003, the RGC will operate a clinical fellowship scheme
jointly with the two universities operating medical schools (The University
of Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong) to provide medical
research training on a cost-sharing basis.
objective of the new scheme is to promote opportunities for clinical research
in Hong Kong. As a pilot scheme, it caters for two training fellowships
each year for young clinicians to undertake clinical research. The scheme
will be run as part of the annual CERG exercise with a preliminary review
at the end of its third year of operation.
for Individual Research
and provide better support for individual research, the RGC will role out
in CERG 2002-2003 a slightly modified funding template for individual research,
initially in the areas of humanities, social sciences and business studies.
aspects of this modified template including assessment yardsticks are similar
to those for other CERG proposals, except for a provision enabling investigators
to take time off to conduct research in an individual and independent manner.