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Funding results of Theme-based Research Scheme 2016/17

The following is issued on behalf of the University Grants Committee:

     The Research Grants Council (RGC) announced today (July 7) the funding results of the Theme-based Research Scheme (TRS) 2016/17 (Sixth Round). Seven proposals were awarded a total budget of some $256 million (inclusive of indirect/on-costs), of which $230 million (90 per cent) will be funded by the RGC and $26 million (10 per cent) will be matched by the universities concerned.

     Announcing the results, the Chairman of the RGC, Professor Benjamin Wah, said, "I am pleased to announce that the 2016/17 TRS exercise has been successfully concluded. Similar to the 23 outstanding research projects funded in the last five rounds of the TRS, the selected projects in this round of the exercise displayed strong potential for attaining international excellence and training young researchers. The projects would benefit not only the research community but also the general public."

     In the 2016/17 exercise, 55 preliminary proposals were received and 16 of them were shortlisted for submission of full proposals. Among them, 15 were invited for selection interviews. Finally, seven proposals under three different themes were awarded funding. The list of awarded projects is set out in the Annex. With a view to increasing funding support for projects and encouraging universities to submit high quality proposals which they consider worthy of putting in their own resources, the universities concerned are required to contribute a matching fund of 10 per cent of the approved budget of each project starting from this round of the exercise.

     Professor Wah said the objective of the TRS was to focus the academic research efforts of the University Grants Committee-funded universities on themes of strategic importance to the long-term development of Hong Kong. In addition to the three original themes, namely "Promoting Good Health", "Developing a Sustainable Environment" and "Enhancing Hong Kong's Strategic Position as a Regional and International Business Centre", the new theme "Advancing Emerging Research and Innovations Important to Hong Kong" was introduced in this round of the exercise.

     "We are excited about the overwhelming response to the new theme. The total number of proposals received almost doubles that of the last round. Out of the 55 proposals, 21 belong to the new theme, of which two proposals are eventually awarded funding. The new theme encompasses the science and technology fields, as well as subject areas in the social sciences and humanities. It aims at advancing our knowledge and facilitating the development and application of research innovations, as well as bringing about an impact on the creation, application, and transfer of knowledge in Hong Kong. This will contribute to powering world-class industries and developments at the local, national, regional and global levels, and capitalise on Hong Kong's existing strengths in research and innovation," Professor Wah said.

     Under the four themes there is a total of 16 grand challenge topics for the invitation of research proposals. Details of the next call for proposals will be issued later this month.

     Professor Wah attributed the success of the TRS to the continued support and contributions from the local research community and international experts. He added, "In particular, I would like to express our gratitude to the international experts who devoted their valuable time in providing peer reviews on the proposals, as well as the selection panel members who actively participated in the various stages of the selection process. The selection panel has made tough choices in the past few months to come to the decision of awarding the seven highly competitive projects. I am confident that the award-winning teams will excel in their areas and contribute to the strategic and long-term development of Hong Kong."

     Details of the approved projects are posted on the RGC website at

Ends/Thursday, July 7, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:30


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