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  Theme-based Research Scheme–Call for Proposal

  Theme-based Research Scheme–Call for Preliminary Proposals

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The Theme-based Research Scheme (TBRS), which supports academic research on themes of a longer-term nature and strategically beneficial to the development of Hong Kong, has been making good progress, says RGC Chairman Professor Roland Chin. 

Earlier this year, the Steering Committee for Research Themes identified three research themes for the first round of TBRS, including "Promoting good health", "Developing a sustainable environment" and "Strengthening Hong Kong as a regional and international business centre". Following the receipt of over 300 white papers from local academics, sixteen topics for the selected themes were identified by RGC’s White Papers Review Panel formed mainly by external experts. 

"To facilitate the community to discuss, refine and select the final ‘Grand Challenge Topics’, a one day workshop on each of the research themes was held in August. The discussion was enlightening and each of the workshops was attended by over 200 academic staff," stated Professor Chin. "The project panels were formed by selected local experts of our universities. I am pleased to note that they started to work together in presenting their ideas and promoting the respective topics. The audience also participated actively in the discussion. The workshop did achieve its intended purpose successfully," he added. 

Professor Chin said that he was grateful for the support and contribution made by various parties in this new initiative, including experts, from both overseas and Hong Kong, who played an important role as facilitators during the workshops, and assisted in refining and selecting the topics. Subsequently these Grand Challenge Topics were endorsed by Government. The invitation for preliminary proposals followed immediately. A salient point of the scheme is that projects should have high academic merit and be of high impact to Hong Kong.

"We are moving towards a new arena and I look forward to seeing more outstanding research, contributing strategically and significantly to the long term development and well-being of Hong Kong, such as improving Hong Kong economy and enhancing our quality of life."


Nurturing Young Talents 

In addition, the RGC will follow the practice of funding agencies abroad by strengthening its research support to young new scholars, with the aim of recruiting and nurturing new talents in the local academia. "Young scholars" refer to faculty members who are newly appointed as assistant professors at a university. The scheme has won preliminary support from the Council members. According to Professor Chin, research funding schemes for young academics have been around as early as the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the more well-known schemes are "Career Awards" in the United States established by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

 "The award is more than just project funding. Young professors who have won the award not only received research grants. More importantly, they took great pride in the honor and recognition that the award bestowed on them", stated Professor Chin. 

"A four-year normative undergraduate curriculum will be implemented in all UGC-funded universities in Hong Kong starting in 2012," added Professor Chin. "In order to meet the growing demands for teaching staff, the Government will allocate resources to hire nearly one thousand new professors for universities across Hong Kong, of whom half will likely be younger scholars. It is for this reason that RGC submitted a proposal to increase academic research funding for this target group, as it will help attract more talents to Hong Kong, raise academic standards in universities, and nurture the next generation of academic scholars. Hence the new funding scheme’s objective, ‘Invest in the Young Generation’. More details of the scheme will be discussed at the RGC meeting in December."