RGC head urges 'get out of the lab'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2007, 12:00am

Academics should take their research out of the laboratory to show the public their value in order to secure more government funding, head of the Research Grants Council said.

Speaking at a seminar at the University of Hong Kong this week, Roland Chin Tai-hong, chairman of the government advisory group on funding for academic research, said academics in Hong Kong should engage more in 'long-term and large-scale' projects.

'If you tell [the government] you publish 3.1 papers per year, who cares? We have to take research to the community and be civic scientists.

'Don't hide in the lab. Talk to colleagues, tycoons and friends,' Professor Chin said.

In encouraging local academics to make an impact on society, he said professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would not boast about the number of projects they had completed or articles published. Rather, they prided themselves on their influence on society.

Also the academic deputy president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Professor Chin said local academic research should be promoted to foster creativity and innovation, which would in turn facilitate economic growth in both Hong Kong and the region.

'Whatever we do in academic research we should link it to the community,' he said.

And it was imperative for research to be conducted in universities alongside the industrial sector because it was in universities where knowledge was created, disseminated and transferred and where research talents were nurtured.

'Research informs teaching. The two go hand-in-hand,' he added.

He had been asking the government to give universities a one-off grant of HK$200 million to update research equipment, and would like to see the budget for RGC doubled. Currently the council receives HK$600 million a year from the government.

Professor Chin said more support would be needed to strengthen academic research in Hong Kong, especially considering intensifying competition from neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia, which were committed to assuming a major role in academic research in the region.