Who should I contact when there is a need to enter into a research collaboration relationship with an external party, such as for exchanging confidential information, receiving / providing research materials, conducting collaborative research, etc.?
You should approach the ORKTS Contracts Team who handles project-specific contracts for research, knowledge transfer (excluding technology licensing matters which are handled by IP and Technology Licensing Team), consultancy or related services as well as other relevant collaborations with external parties.
The Contracts Team staff share research contract support responsibilities according to the University’s academic faculties / schools, and please send over the relevant project details and background information together with any draft agreement that you have in hand (ideally, with a duly completed Statement of Work – standard template downloadable here) for his / her handling. The contact details of Contracts Team staff are shown here.
What is the eligibility requirement to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) for a research contract?
According to Article 5.1 of the University’s “Policy on Research”, academic staff at Assistant Professor rank or Research Assistant Professor rank or above may serve as Principal Investigators of externally supported research awards. Other staff members, with the approval of the immediate supervisor and the Chairperson of the Research Committee, may serve as Principal Investigators under special circumstances, provided that a named full-time academic staff member at Associate Professor rank or Research Associate Professor rank or above assumes responsibility for ensuring that the administration of the award conforms with the sponsor’s requirements.
For those staff members who are not qualified to serve as PI, please submit an application to act as the project PI to the Chairperson of Research Committee via ORKTS Contracts Team.
Do I, as a Principal Investigator (PI), need to include the University’s overhead in my research contract budget?
Yes, in general, the University’s overhead has to be included in research contract budgets.
For research contracts to be entered by CUHK, the scale of overhead charges for contracts to provide research, knowledge transfer, consultancy or other services has been listed in Schedule 4 to the University’s “Policy on Research”. The current overhead charges level is fixed at :
Contract Type Overhead Rate Contracts where research activities take place on campus 25% Contracts where research activities take place off campus or are funded by government/public funds/non-profit making organizations 15%
The current overhead charges level for research contracts to be entered by SZRI or FITRI :
Contract Type Overhead Rate Government funded contract 5% Private research service contract 10% Private training service contract 13%
In applicable cases, waiver or reduction of overhead charges can only be approved by AAPC via the recommendation of Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Bursar and Director of Finance. The application with justifications made by PI shall be submitted via ORKTS Contracts Team.
What are the key conditions that I should be aware of before accepting a research award from an external party via a research contract?
Article 5.2 of the University’s “Policy on Research” specifies conditions for accepting a research award, in the form of a grant or other type of legal agreement from an external sponsor, in particular:
Scope (a) The work is consonant with the University educational and research objectives, and the University would itself have supported the research if its own funds were adequate. Exclusion of funding (b) The University reserves the right to refuse acceptance of any research grants offered by or entering into contracts with any companies as it considers appropriate. As a rule, the University does not accept any research grants offered by or in the name of tobacco companies. Freedom to publish (c) The agreement, except for the protection of the sponsor’s confidential and proprietary information, does not restrict the freedom to publish and otherwise disseminate the results of research. Access to technical data (d) The Principal Investigator and other members of the research team will be permitted to retain copies of such data and information for their own academic (but not commercial) use, and that other bona fide researchers should be given access to the data under suitable conditions. Subject to contractual arrangement that the University may have with the sponsor university or organization or the prior agreement of the Research Committee, the University will own the data and other products generated from or purchased for a sponsored project. Not for publicity (e) The results of sponsored research with the name and/or logo of the University shall not be used for advertising, commercial publicity or other commercial purposes. The name and/or logo of the University shall not be used in any way, whether in the form of written or oral statements, that could constitute or imply an endorsement by the University of any commercial product or its packaging or service, without the prior written approval of the University.
Can I, as a Principal Investigator (PI) in my research contract, apply for the Government’s Research Matching Grant Scheme (RMGS)?
As long as the application criteria of RMGS are met, the payments received under a research project established through the research contract are eligible for RMGS.
However, double matching or double subsidisation is prohibited; projects that have secured public/government funds (e.g. the Innovation and Technology Fund, research grants from the UGC and the RGC, the Research Impact Fund, etc.), and donations/research grants/research contracts already matched with public funds within Hong Kong under other matching schemes (e.g. the Eighth Matching Grant Scheme) will not be eligible for matching grants under the RMGS. For more details, please visit the University Grants Committee website on RMGS.
Please also take note of the below when filling in your RPD Form and Research Budget Table as advised by the University’s Finance Office and ORKTS:
i. Project fund start and end dates must be filled in;
ii. Please double check the entity name (whether the entity / company name stated on the contract is consistent with the RPD form);
iii. Please check whether the casting of the RPD Form and Research Budget Table is correct;
iv. Round the amounts to 2 decimal places, if applicable;
v. The project funding should primarily be used in undertaking research work/activities/projects/initiatives in Hong Kong in order to be eligible for RMGS;
vi. Costs not for research (such as administration cost, general expenses, entertainment expenses, etc.) are not eligible for RMGS;
vii. It has been clarified with UGC that certain types of service, such as testing service using conventional technology or service for holding a seminar are not seen as involving research element and hence not eligible for RMGS; and
viii. If you have ideas on the RMGS usage, if awarded, you should indicate the specific research title with a preliminary budget on the usage of the matching fund in the RPD form (e.g. 40% research staff cost, 40% equipment, 20% consumables), which can be changed subsequently.
Can I, as a Principal Investigator (PI), sign my research agreement on behalf of the University?
No, all research contracts vetted by ORKTS Contracts Team shall be signed by ORKTS Director (or Acting Director in applicable cases) on behalf of the University as the authorized signatory. Execution by any person other than the University’s authorized signatory will render the contract invalid and/or even give rise to personal liability.
For some kind of research contracts such as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), PIs may need to sign on the agreement too – but in the capacity of the project’s principal investigator (and not on behalf of the University).
The ORKTS Contracts Team will give you proper guidance during the contract execution stage.