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Mainland-Macau joint research fund set to open for applications

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The Macau Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST) have jointly launched a funding scheme for scientific research projects. The scheme aims to create more opportunities for cooperation between Macau and mainland scholars and research teams. It also aims to enable Macau scholars to participate in national-level research projects, in order to lift the standard of local research.
The scheme is mainly aimed at projects with participants from both mainland and Macau research teams. Applicants must submit two sets of application documents to both FDCT and MOST. The two departments will firstly consider the applications separately before coming together to see how many projects have gained approval from both sides. Successful applicants will receive RMB2 million and MOP3 million from MOST and FDCT respectively. 
Paulo Cheang Kun Wai, a member of the FDCT administrative committee, said that there have always been subsidies from the Ministry to support scientific research projects in the mainland. However, the amounts granted were not ideal and there were restrictions on how the funding could be spent: “The money could not leave the mainland. So if teams from Macau wanted to conduct research (in collaboration with mainland teams), they could participate but would not be supported financially.”
There is no restriction on research topics this year, but FDCT and MOST will set specific research topics for the 2015 applications. Cheang said that, based on the information he has gathered, many of the applications are for projects regarding research on Chinese medicine, life-science and information technology. “Next year we are going to consider topics that are more closely related to the lives of Macau residents and negotiate with MOST to decide on the designated research area. We will then relay this topic to the research institutions. They can then start putting together research teams. It is like a public tendering process for research”, said Cheang.
He continued to suggest that the method of deciding the research topic is crucial: “Let me give you an example: the Ministry might be interested in research related to nuclear technology, but this area of research has nothing to do with Macau because we don’t have a need for it. However, we might be interested in environmental protection… We can first decide what we need and then negotiate with the Ministry. As long as they agree with our proposed research topic and have the expertise, we can set the topic and open applications.”
Furthermore, he revealed that MOST actually suggested that FDCT should initiate topics because the mainland has the personnel to conduct research in basically any field. Cheang said that the Ministry wants to get to know Macau’s needs, and only then can they help choose the topic. He added that there are already 10 teams preparing to submit their applications, but that he is not sure of their progress.
In the future, Cheang suggested that FDCT would propose research topics related to environmental protection, because improving the environment could be a great help to the local tourism industry.
The scheme’s application period will commence on March 1 2014 and last for one month. The winning applicant will be published about a year later. JPL

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