ASPIRE League Partnership Seed Fund

The ASPIRE League was set up in 2009 as a consortium of five leading science and technology universities in Asia with a vision to promote innovation in the region through the advancement of science and technology. 


  • About the Seed Fund
    In 2019, the ASPIRE League launched the ASPIRE League Partnership Seed Fund, which aims to foster deeper research collaboration within the League, and to build on the research strengths of member universities to create greater impact. The scheme encourages researchers from the League's mother universities to collaborate on research topics of mutual interest, with the objective to subsequently make joint external funding applications and build valuable long-term relationships. 

    For the 2020 cycle, the participating universities are:
    - Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
    - Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
    - Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech)
    - The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)

    The Seed Fund is open to faculty of ASPIRE League member universities only. Each application must involve at least two participating universities, although as many participating universities are encouraged to participate in a project. Tsinghua University (Tsinghua) will not be able to participate in the 2020 cycle. However, faculty from participating universities may invite Tsinghua faculty to join their respective proposals. The invited Tsinghua faculty may join the proposal(s) using their own research budgets. 

  • How to Apply
    The application form can be found here. Any interested faculty member of a participating university may invite faculty member(s) from another participating university(s) to participate in a proposal. If multiple faculty members from a single university are involved in the same proposal, they should select from among themselves a "Lead Collaborator", who will be the group's coordinator. 

    The Lead Collaborators from participating member universities of each project should identify from among themselves the Principal Investigator (PI). The PI will be responsible for submitting the proposal on behalf of the group. The PI should also work with other Lead Collaborators to develop a concrete plan including deliverables, with the project period between 12 and 18 months. 

  • Transfer of Funds
    For each successful project, each participating university will award the stipulated funding directly to its own researcher(s). For HKUST faculty, successful proposals will be awarded HK$50,000.

  • Use of Funds
    The funding is intended to support travel costs of its own faculty, or for symposiums or workshops held locally, but does not cover salaries, honorarium, equipment, scholarships, conference attendance fees, or tuition fees. 

    The use of funds will be governed by each participating university's respective rules and regulations. In principle, the funding must be spent within 12-18 months from the date the research project commences; however the period shall be governed by the respective participating member university's regulations. 

  • Eligibility
    Full-time faculty from all disciples are welcome to apply.

  • Application Submission and Deadline
    Only one application should be submitted per proposal. Only the PI should submit the application form. Each application should include the following information and supporting documents, and sent in a PDF file to
    - Project title, objectives and potential impact; activities to be undertaken
    - Expected outputs, e.g. anticipated papers, applications for external funds, etc.
    - A clear budget plan, e.g. costs for flights, accommodation etc., with a clear breakdown of the proposed cost to be borne by each participating university. It is expected that a similar level of activity will take place at each participating university and applicants are advised, where possible, to split the cost more or less equally between the universities. 
    - CVs of the PI and Lead Collaborator(s) together with their selected list of publications
    - A support letter from the head of the home department/school (if required by the applicant's university)

    The submission deadline is 30 April, 2020 (Thursday).
    Applicants will be notified of the results in August 2020.

  • Evaluation Criteria
    Each proposal will be considered by a joint assessment process and evaluated on the following criteria (with equal weighting):
    - Quality of proposed activities
    - Impact of proposal (including academic gain)
    - Ability to leverage future external funding

  • Reporting
    An Interim Report should be submitted by 31 May, 2021 for the ASPIRE Forum held in July 2021. A Final Report outlining the activities undertaken and the actions moving forward should be submitted within one month of the project's completion. The PI should submit both reports to

  • For Enquiries:
    ASPIRE League Secretariat 
    Toku Hirasawa (Tokyo Institute of Technology)
    Tel: +81-3-5734-3016

    Program Coordinator:
    The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Adelaine Lim, Head, Research Policy & Special Projects
    Tel: +852-2358-2694

Printer Friendly, PDF & Email