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Monday, March 18, 2019, 23:31
Top national fund opens for young HK, Macao scientists
By Kathy Zhang
Monday, March 18, 2019, 23:31 By Kathy Zhang

From Thursday, for the first time, young scholars from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions will be eligible to apply for a national-level science fund.

Under the new measure, access to funding of the National Natural Science Foundation of China will be extended to Hong Kong and Macao applicants.

The new measure showed the central government’s support and high expectations of Hong Kong scientists, academics and also for the city’s technology and innovation development

Ashley Tse Hiu-hung

a member of the Youth Development Commission of Hong Kong

The fund, namely the Excellent Young Scientists Fund (Hong Kong and Macao), serves to encourage young scientists from the two SARs to participate in central-government-funded research programs. They can also contribute to the nation’s drive to achieve scientific and technological excellence.

The fund will be offered exclusively to young scientists from eight universities of the two cities — six from Hong Kong and two from Macao, according to the foundation’s website.

Eligible applicants should be full-time faculty members of the eight institutions and work for no less than nine months a year. To be eligible, male applicants should be under 38; female applicants, under 40.

Each shortlisted scholar will receive a grant of 1.3 million yuan (US$194,000) over three years to conduct research in the fields of science and technology.

Chow King-lau, a professor at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said these new measures were great news for the city’s natural science fields. They will benefit the younger generation of scientists and researchers.

With the top-level funding program, young scientists will have increasing financial and policy support to carry out more research projects every year. This will help to extend research areas.

He said the fund was good news for the highly regarded natural science sector in Hong Kong. 

Ashley Tse Hiu-hung, a member of the Youth Development Commission of Hong Kong, said the new measure showed the central government’s support and high expectations of Hong Kong scientists, academics and also for the city’s technology and innovation development.

Tse believes the fund will be a major confidence booster. She says the amount of the grant and relatively simple application procedures will make it attractive.

“It will remove some young scientists’ misgivings about insufficient resources and research funding,” she added.

The new measure is the latest addition to a series of favorable policies from the central government in support of Hong Kong and Macao’s development and integration with the country in science and technology.

These moves follow President Xi Jinping’s instruction in May 2018 to strengthen the city’s standing as a global technology innovation hub. This will also allow universities and research institutions in Hong Kong to apply for research funds from the central government.

The Ministry of Science and Technology last June announced that national-level funding programs for science and technology will be open to Hong Kong and Macao applicants.

Similarly in January, three key areas of the National Key Research and Development Program of China announced it would accept applications from higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Macao. 

FACT BOX

Amount of funding: 1.3 million yuan (US$194,000) in total per project 

Duration: Three years 

Eight designated institutions for processing the applications: University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, University of Macau, Macau University of Science and Technology. 

Eligibility requirements:

1. Abide by the laws of the Hong Kong and Macao SARs

2. Be employed by one of the above eight universities

3. Work at one of the above eight universities for at least nine months a year during the three-year funding period

4. Male applicants aged under 38 years; female under 40

5. Have high ethical standards as scientists

6. Have a doctorate’s degree or professional qualifications

7. Have prior experience in conducting basic research programs 

Non-eligible candidates:

1. Recipients of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars and Excellent Young Scientists Fund

2. Post-doctoral researchers and post-graduate degree candidates 

Application method: online registration via https://isisn.nsfc.gov.cn/

Source of fund: National Natural Science Foundation of China http://www.locpg.gov.cn/jsdt/2019-03/17/c_1210084467.htm

Contact the writer at kathyzhang@chinadailyhk,com

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