Home  GRF  Application The call circular dated 28 August 2015 issued by the Secretary, RGC to the Heads of UGC-funded institutions inviting applications for the General Research Fund (GRF) for 2016/17 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) for 2016/17
The call circular dated 28 August 2015 issued by the Secretary, RGC to the Heads of UGC-funded institutions inviting applications for the General Research Fund (GRF) for 2016/17 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) for 2016/17

Applications for Allocations from
(I) the General Research Fund 2016/17 and
(II) the Early Career Scheme 2016/17

I am writing to invite applications for allocations from the General Research Fund (GRF) 2016/17 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) 2016/17. The details of the procedures of the two schemes are provided below.

Electronic Submission

The GRF Electronic System and the ECS Electronic System are available for submission of GRF and ECS applications respectively in respect of all five subject panels - Biology & Medicine Panel, Business Studies Panel, Engineering Panel, Humanities & Social Sciences Panel and Physical Sciences Panel. All applications must be submitted through the electronic systems. Applicants can use the electronic systems to prepare their applications starting from today.

Deadline for Submissions

Applications should reach the UGC Secretariat through the electronic systems by 13 November 2015. With a view to avoiding overloading the electronic systems during the peak period, applicants are encouraged to submit their applications well before the submission deadline.


The RGC does not impose any institutional quota on applications under both schemes. It is however important that institutions should satisfy themselves that the applications are of sufficient quality before they are submitted to the RGC for consideration.

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 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. Institutions should check and confirm that the applicants meet the eligibility requirements. Grantees and awardees of the ECS are not eligible to compete in the ECS again. Those who failed in previous ECS exercises are allowed to 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 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. The RGC believes that research in Hong Kong can be better served through greater funding support for high-quality projects.

There are no upper limits, but the applicants / institutions would appreciate that given the considerable competition for the limited funds available, justification for individual research projects costing over $1 million will need to be particularly well argued and supported. The RGC considers that applications with large budget for equipment and requiring collaborative efforts should be submitted under other funding schemes like the Collaborative Research Fund instead of the GRF/ECS. Applicants may refer to the funding results at RGC webpage http://www.ugc.edu.hk/eng/rgc/result/result.htm for the average funding level supported in the past GRF/ECS exercises.

Explanatory Notes

Applicants must read the Explanatory Notes (GRF2 and ECS2) carefully before completing the application forms. A full set of the Explanatory Notes will be mounted on the RGC webpage http://www.ugc.edu.hk/eng/rgc/form/form.htm.

May I also draw applicants' attention to the following issues:

  1. Re-submission
    For proposals which have been submitted in previous exercises but not approved by the RGC, applicants should provide response to the comments given by the previous reviewers. While the RGC does not impose penalty in the form of disqualification or debarment for non-disclosure of similar re-submission, the RGC reserves the right to discount the rating of an application for its failure to acknowledge the fact that the application is a re-submission of a previous application.

  2. Project Objectives of Approved Projects
    Applicants are required to provide the project objectives of completed (funded by all sources), ongoing (funded by all sources) and terminated (funded by UGC/RGC only) projects in the past five years to facilitate the RGC's consideration of the current application.

Update of Proposals

Applicants are requested to provide a brief update setting out any essential changes to the applications, i.e. the eligibility of the Principal Investigators, budget adjustment, alternative funding obtained, declaration of similar / related proposals, investigator(s)'s CV, grant records, relationship with nominated reviewers, etc. through the electronic system by 30 April 2016. 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.

Hard copies

Institutions are required to assist the Secretariat with the printing of hard copies of each proposal which has been submitted through the electronic system for contingency purposes. The Secretariat will confirm the detailed requirements in April 2016. To help reduce the cost of processing and save paper, applicants are requested to keep the length of proposals and attachments to the minimum.


If your staff have any enquiries about the application procedures or other aspects of this circular, please contact Mrs Alice Sham, Assistant Secretary-General (Research) 1 (Tel.: 2844 9996 or email: asham@ugc.edu.hk) or Mr N K Pang, Senior Research Administrator (2) (Tel.: 2844 9959 or email: nkpang@ugc.edu.hk).