Ms Michelle Li, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education
Professor Lee (Chairman of the Research Grants Council), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you all today to celebrate the outstanding achievements of researchers from our higher education sector. First of all, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the awardees for their excellent research work – they stand out among many scholars nominated for the awards. I am grateful to the Research Grants Council (RGC) for running various research funding schemes in support of the Government’s efforts in nurturing researchers in disciplines, from natural sciences to technology, and to social sciences and humanities.
2. The year 2020 has presented us with unprecedented challenges. Whilst we did not expect 20/20 to be a year of clear vision, we have never contemplated the degree of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (or VUCA) facing humankind. When the pandemic unfolds and we seem to be reaching our wit’s end, we cannot but look to our researchers and scientists for inspiration. We hope they will extend the frontier of human knowledge and achieve major breakthrough – breakthrough in vaccines and public health, so that we can win the battle against COVID-19. We also look for insights on how best to heal our mind and soul, restore broken relationship and keep our economy at float. Of course, we must continue to step up our research to build a better world beyond COVID-19.
3. The Hong Kong SAR Government attaches great importance to promoting research excellence. Supporting research in our higher education sector is one of our top priorities. We have injected $20 billion into the Research Endowment Fund (REF), committed $3 billion in support of the Research Matching Grant Scheme (Research MGS), and provided $190 million per annum for the RGC to introduce three new regular research fellowship schemes. I am pleased to note that the $20-billion REF injection is already in place, boosting the budget of various funding schemes under the RGC; the donations secured by the universities and matched under the Research MGS have been encouraging; and that the three new regular RGC research fellowship schemes have been well received and attracted first-rate nominees. Looking ahead, the Government will spare no effort in supporting and promoting Hong Kong’s research excellence.
4. This afternoon, we are delighted to honour the first cohort of RGC Senior Research Fellows and RGC Research Fellows, whose cutting-edge research projects in multiple areas with significant impacts on the local community and beyond are most impressive. Their strong research outputs, well proven track records, distinguished leadership and global vision in their respective areas of research, have set a high benchmark for future exercises.
5. We are also here to celebrate the achievements of a group of outstanding researchers who are receiving awards under the Early Career Scheme and the Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship. They will be the latest addition to a distinguished group of around 150 award recipients under the two schemes launched in 2012. All the awardees are outstanding academics who excel in their individual fields of study and whose work has been impactful to society: bringing changes to our culture, economy, environment and public health. I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the awardees, whose outstanding work fully deserve our recognition and appreciation.
6. I am also extending my congratulations to the younger researchers who are receiving the RGC Postdoctoral Fellowships. These up-and-coming researchers are our future of innovation. Their talent and immense research potential have indeed been spotted by the discerning selection panels and I wish them every success in pursuing a fruitful career in research in Hong Kong.
7. Today’s awards only mark the beginning but not the conclusion of a new phase for our awardees to scale new heights. I am confident that they will continue to contribute to Hong Kong’s academic research efforts, produce amazing work that extends the frontier of knowledge, further improves our lives, and inspires the next generations to join the research community one day. I look forward to witnessing the development of both stronger research capacity and richer research culture in Hong Kong in the years to come.
8. Thank you.