Academic Research


The Government is committed to supporting academic research in the higher education sector.  In the 2017/18 academic year, around HK$8.8 billion of the research expenditure of the University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities was funded by the Government.  

The UGC provides recurrent funding to universities for research projects and activities through two main sources: (i) block grants deployed for research activities; and (ii) earmarked research grants through the RGC on a competitive basis.   The research element of the block grant funding is primarily designed to ensure the existence of appropriate research infrastructure in universities to facilitate research-informed teaching, and research itself – through the provision of academic staff, technical/support staff and equipment/resources.  Individual earmarked grants through the RGC allow pursuit of research projects of a size that cannot be accommodated under the block grant.  With the above dual support, research in UGC-funded universities has made remarkable progress across the board, with pioneering research in several areas.


For details of the various funding schemes administered by RGC, please visit the RGC website at .  



Research Endowment Fund


With a view to enhancing Hong Kong ’s research capacity and competitiveness, an HK$18 billion Research Endowment Fund (REF) was established in 2009 to generate investment income and provide stable research funding for the eight institutions funded by the UGC through the RGC. In 2012, we injected a further HK$5 billion into the REF to provide additional research resources for tertiary education sector, of which HK$3 billion is being used to generate investment income to support research projects of self-financing degree-awarding institutions. We injected another $3 billion into the REF in 2018. The investment return of the injection will be used to provide non-means-tested tuition fee waiver to local students enrolled in UGC-funded research postgraduate programmes. 
Moreover, In June 2019, the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council approved the proposed injection of $20 billion into the REF to substantially increase and provide sustainable research funding to the higher education sector with a view to strengthening the research capabilities of our universities and further promoting excellence in research. The investment income to be generated from the injection can be used for (i) sustaining the level of research funding; (ii) providing funding for the Research Impact Fund (RIF) launched by the RGC to render continued funding support for impactful research; and (iii) providing additional funding for the RGC’s collaborative research funding schemes to encourage cross-institutional/ cross-disciplinary collaborations.  


The REF would provide a steady and additional funding source for earmarked research grants.   It would also support theme-based research, thus allowing the UGC-funded universities to work on research proposals on themes of a more long-term nature and strategically beneficial to the development of Hong Kong.



State Natural Science Award


The State Natural Science Award (SNSA) is China ’s most prestigious award in the field of natural science. Organized by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China , the SNSA aims to recognize academic excellence in basic and applied research in natural science. Since 2000, nominations for the SNSA in Hong Kong are coordinated by the Education Bureau with the assistance of the Research Grants Council (RGC) and the Beijing-Hong Kong Academic Exchange Centre (BHKAEC). For details of the SNSA, please visit the website of BHKAEC.


Please refer to the attached public notice for details of the nominated projects for the SNSA 2020.  


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