The Research Grants Council (RGC) is inviting applications for allocations from the General Research Fund (GRF) 2023/24 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) 2023/24. Details of the application procedures for the two schemes are provided below.
Submission and Deadline
The RGC Electronic System is available for submission of GRF and ECS applications from 26 August 2022 to 4 November 2022. All applications must be submitted through the electronic system. Applications should reach the University Grants Committee Secretariat through the electronic system by 4 November 2022. To avoid overloading the electronic system during the peak period, applicants are encouraged to submit their applications well before the submission deadline.
Quota and Eligibility
The RGC does not impose any quota on applications under both schemes. It is however important that universities should satisfy themselves that the applications are of sufficient quality before they are submitted to the RGC for consideration.
The staff eligibility requirements for GRF and ECS have been stated in the respective “Scheme Overview and Guidance Notes” (i.e. GRF2 and ECS2) (Guidance Notes) and remain valid as of now. New appointees within the first three years of his / her full-time academic job as a substantiation track / tenure track Assistant Professor or career equivalent level (“the eligible period”) are encouraged to apply under the ECS. They may choose to submit their applications under the GRF or the ECS but not both in each funding cycle. Universities are required to check and confirm that the applicants meet the eligibility requirements. Each grantee and awardee of the ECS is limited to receive the grant once only. Those who failed in previous ECS exercises may re-submit applications, which can be a new research topic or a research topic previously applied but not supported, within the eligible period.
Financial Thresholds on Applications
Under both the GRF and ECS, the grant size per project is normally up to $2 million. The lower thresholds for applications are $150,000 for projects in the fields of Biology & Medicine, Engineering and Physical Sciences, and $100,000 for projects in the fields of Business Studies and Humanities & Social Sciences.
Applicants are invited to make reference to the average and range of funded amounts under the respective Subject Panels at Annex before they apply. Applicants should provide strong justifications for proposals seeking funding significantly higher than funded amounts as indicated in the Annex. The budgets of these proposals must be well supported and will be critically examined by the respective Subject Panels. Applications with large budget for equipment and requiring collaborative efforts should be submitted under other funding schemes such as the Collaborative Research Fund or Research Impact Fund instead of the GRF / ECS.
Scheme Overview and Guidance Notes
Applicants should read the Guidance Notes carefully before completing the application forms. A full set of the Guidance Notes has been uploaded to the RGC website (http://www.ugc.edu.hk/eng/rgc/funding_opport/).
Matters Requiring Attention
Applicants’ attention is drawn to the following decisions of the RGC:
- Increasing the Budget Cap for GRF and ECS Proposals
At the RGC meeting held on 11 June 2022, it was agreed that the budget cap for GRF and ECS proposals in the fields of Biology and Medicine; and Engineering would increase from $1.2 million to $1.6 million starting from the 2023/24 exercise. Proposals costing more than $1.6 million will still be considered provided that they are supported by strong justifications. The proposal budget cap applies to proposals in the fields of Biology and Medicine; and Engineering only.
- Revision on Declaration of Ethical Approval
As agreed at the RGC meeting held on 12 December 2020, the application forms for RGC’s research funding schemes open for application in or after October 2021 would be revised such that the universities and applicants would be requested to indicate whether the submitted proposals involve the study of artefacts as well as whether relevant approval has been sought and granted. Such requirement has been included in the GRF and ECS application forms.
Update of Proposals
Applicants will be requested to provide a brief update setting out any essential changes to the applications, i.e. the eligibility of the applicants, addition / removal of Co-Investigators, alternative funding obtained, declaration of related proposals, investigator(s)’s CV, grant records, etc. through the electronic system by 14 April 2023, if any. Such updates should be confined to the essential parts of the original proposals, and applicants should not use the opportunity to hand in a substantially changed proposal.
Enquiries about this call and other related matters about the GRF and the ECS should be directed to the Research Offices of the applicants’ universities. Applicants requiring additional information about internal deadlines, application procedures or assistance in completing the application form may contact the Research Offices of their own universities.