Issue 13, August 2007

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Research Impact and Funding Outlook
Beyond 2007
Examining the Interdependent Behaviour of MNCs in Foreign Direct Investment
New Cancer Drug Breakthrough for
Hong Kong
Cooperative Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Research Centre Established In Hong Kong
The Case for Better Corporate Governance
Gene Mapping fights "Cantonese" Cancer
The Effects of Culture on Decision Making and Judgement
A "Rising Star" in
Hong Kong
Research projects funded in Central Allocation 2006/2007 exercise

Hong Kong can be proud of its tremendous achievements in the world of academic research. In just less than 2 decades, from virtually no major research being conducted at all, our research performance has grown dynamically to reach international levels and win praise from around the world for our achievements and high standing.

This explosive growth began with the formation of the Research Grants Council (RGC) in 1991 and our mission to drive academic research in Hong Kong's universities with funding from the Government via the University Grants Committee (UGC). This year, we passed yet another milestone when we received a record high of more than 2,000 CERG (Competitive Earmarked Research Grant) applications for funding.

Enhancing our Capabilities into
the Future

Since our formation, Hong Kong's research capabilities have been measured by Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) conducted by the UGC. Four RAEs have been held so far with the latest being completed in 2006. While these RAEs have served us well, the current methodology is showing its limitations – it does not present a holistic view of research performance nor does it measure high-end performance effectively. It also does not take into account the quality of research students trained. Though some years away yet, we expect the next RAE to take a very different approach.

Taking our research activities to yet greater highs, there are a number of challenges we must overcome.

Scale and Scope – We need to continue high quality research projects conducted by our researchers and their students. However, it is also crucial to launch long-term and large-scale interdisciplinary projects if we are to make a greater impact in the field.

Research in Education – Hong Kong only has a small number of research postgraduate students. We need to train more of them for Hong Kong's transformation into a knowledge-based society. We should also integrate research activities into our undergraduate education. This will drive inquiry-based learning while also developing creative and innovative minds among our students.

Knowledge Transfer – Knowledge created from research should make an impact to the society. Only when new inventions can be used, biological discoveries transformed intomedicines, or social and environmental knowledge translated into policy, can we truly say that research has a useful impact and active role to play in the community.

The Need for Increase in Funding
To achieve these objectives more funding is essential. Though our budget has grown six fold from HK$100 million in 1991 to our present HK$600 million, this is barely sufficient to support our current projects – some 800 CERG single projects and 10 or so larger group projects.

At the same time with the move to the four-year undergraduate program planned for 2012, it is likely that another 1,000 faculty members will be added to the current 4,000. If a majority of the new members will need research project support from RGC, we will need another $300 million just to meet their requirements. At the same time, seed grants and start-up funding for new faculty members as well as post-doctorate fellowships to help local PhDs extending their training overseas, have to be planned and initiated. Together with the development of larger scale, more collaborative research projects, I believe that our funding levels will need to double in the next few years to maintain our international competitive position.

The RGC has therefore been working with the UGC to plan our funding toward 2012. The road will not be easy – we will need Government support and approval, but I am optimistic that we will succeed. We are also seeking an additional one-off grant to help our universities upgrade their research equipment. Many of the equipment items, though stateof- the-art 16 years ago, are now showing defi nite signs of wear and tear.

With these developments, I am confident that our research will scale new and ever greater heights while earning recognition around the world.

Professor Roland Chin
Chairman, Research Grants Council