Grant FAQ


We have compiled a list of Q&As from past Grant Briefing Sessions that should answer commonly asked questions under the few headings.

› Terms & Conditions

› Industry-Academia Collaboration

› Evaluation Process & Criteria

› Application Submission

› Developing Research Project Plan

› Grant Administration

Terms & Conditions

1. Documents on the grant refers to [R]esearch more often than [D]evelopment although the name of the grant is R&D Grant. Does CREST R&D Grant cover development work?

The grant covers both R&D. All scientific and engineering researches are beneficial to the local E&E industry are included. However not all development activities fit in. Examples of development activities which may be covered by the grant are technology development, system simulation/modelling development, and proof of concept development to demonstrate findings discovered in the research. Examples of development activities not covered by the grant are pre-commercialisation product development or product prototyping which are specific to the companies involved.

2. What does beneficial to local E&E industry mean?

Local E&E industry sector in Malaysia refers to commercial activities in the entire span of supply-chain of E&E sector within the country. The intended research areas may address scientific or engineering challenges which enables new or improved product development or manufacturing process of the product.

3. Is software development within the scope supported by the grant?

Software development could be one of the area supported by the grant depending on the exact nature of the research area. Developing software application for commercial purpose may not fall into the supported area because it is a commercialisation activity benefiting specific company only rather than E&E industry. Developing new algorithm, tool, protocol, method or technique that address specific challenges with a level of innovation worthy of Masters or PhD degree, could fall into the area supported by the grant.

4. Is factory automation project within the scope supported by the grant?

Factory automation project per se is not within the scope supported by the grant because it is benefiting specific company only rather than E&E industry. Applicant is advised to look into specific research work within factory automation which could fall within the scope and submit application accordingly. For example, developing faster, better and error-free technique and tool to migrate PLC-based to embedded-based equipment could be within the scope supported by the grant.

5. Does the project leader have to be Malaysian?

The project leader does not have to be a Malaysian citizen if there is another individual – who is a Malaysian citizen – takes the role of principal investigator. If the project leader and principal investigator is the same person, then he/she must be a Malaysian citizen.
Both project leader and principal investigator have to be Malaysian only when they are registered student researchers paid by CREST grant, or post-doc researchers whose allowances are paid by CREST grant.

6. Should the research project leader or principal investigator come from academia or industry? What is the qualification for project leader or principal investigator?

Either project leader or principal investigator should be Malaysian citizen, and project leader should not be the post graduate student involved in the project. In the event that project leader and principal investigator is the same person, he or she must be Malaysian citizen and must not be a post graduate student.

The research project leader or principal investigator may come from either academia or industry. In other words, the project leader may be university faculty members, post-doctorate researcher, company employees or company managers, as long as they are not a student in the project. And the principal investigator may be university faculty members, post-doctorate researcher, company employees or company managers, or postgraduate student.

7. Payment of allowance is only to Malaysian student. Define Malaysian student?

Full-time post-graduate student researchers and full-time post-doctorate researchers whose tuition fees and/or allowance are paid by CREST R&D Grant must be Malaysian citizen. Malaysian citizen is defined according to nationality law in the Constitution of Malaysia achieved through registration or naturalisation, indicated by the presence of Malaysian blue identity card. It does not extend to those holding permanent resident status.

8. Can an employee of a university furthering his/her study become one of the postgraduate students participating in the funded research project?

Any postgraduate student can be a research team member. However only Malaysian full-time student (not an employee) is eligible to receive tuition fee and student allowance using CREST grant. There is no restriction if participating company or university wishes to provide allowance to students who is an employee of a university.

9. Is there a possibility that the requested budget be cut?

The approved budget may be less than the requested budget per the recommendation of the evaluation panel. Once the research project and its budget are approved, CREST is committed to disburse the money per the approved amount as stated in the MOA. Likewise, per the MOA, if the research is not delivering per the committed milestones and other deliverables, CREST may suspend or terminate the funding if the research is not making committed progress.

10. Can the students supporting this research register to a mix-mode post graduate programme?

Yes the student researchers who tuition fee and/or allowance are paid by CREST R&D Grant can register to a mix-mode programme. However, the project lead is advised to evaluate if this is appropriate or beneficial for the research itself and if so, properly reflect students’ constraint in the research project plan as appropriate.

11. Can students register into a post graduate programme prior to becoming part of the research team funded by CREST R&D grant?

Yes they can. However CREST grant award cannot be backdated to pay for the tuition fee and allowance from the time they registered until the time the research project is approved to commence.

12. Can students join the research team a few months after the research funded by CREST R&D grant commences?

Yes they can when this is a planned scenario. The research project plan should reflect that tuition fee and allowance for the students correspond to their join date at a later time. However, if this is a schedule delinquency scenario, it has to be treated per the project monitoring process and project change process.

13. One of the possible outputs of the research is journal publication. What types of journal are acceptable?

There are no preset criteria (e.g. impact factor) for the journal or conference. Researchers are recommended to choose the ones which bring value to their respective organisations and build reputation to the Malaysian E&E R&D ecosystem.

14. Are post graduate students participating in this research required to enter into contractual agreement?

Student researchers whose tuition fee and/or allowance are paid by CREST R&D Grant are not required by CREST to sign employment or other contractual agreement with CREST, university, or industry partner. However, industry partner may dictate the terms and conditions if it is paying students’ tuition fee and/or allowance.

15. Does the research project have to be commercialised?

The approved research projects are ones which are expected to bring great benefits to the company and to the industry as stipulated in the application. The said benefit is not necessarily in the form of commercialisation.

16. Is there a limit to the requested budget per application?

There is no pre-set limit to the total requested budget for each application. Each application is advised to request for budget that is proportionate to the size and scope of the research. Based on past applications that were approved, the total requested budget ranges from RM30k to RM600k.

Take note however that each line item may have its own limit. For example tuition fee, student allowance, and equipment/software rental have their own limit; please refer to the terms and conditions. Each requested line item which is deemed inappropriate may be cut, or not approved.

17. Is CREST grant taxable? Can company contribution to project supported by CREST grant receive tax relief?

CREST grant does not have its own tax provision. Existing tax provision applies to the company, university and personnel involved in the research project.

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Industry-Academia Collaboration

18. Is it compulsory to have industry partner?

Yes. It is compulsory for collaborative research to have industry partner(s) with at least 50% contribution to the total research project cost for the application to be accepted for evaluation.

19. What happens when any of team member intent to leave the program?

What happens if the partnering organization (either the company or university) is no longer interested in pursuing the collaborative research?

20. How is 50% industry contribution defined?

Industry contribution to the research can take many forms as long as they can be substantiated and auditable. The total financial value of the contribution shall be >50% of the total research cost. Among possible forms of industry contributions are:

  • Cash contribution to purchase equipment, software, material etc. for the research;
  • Cash contribution to pay tuition fee/allowance to post graduate researchers;
  • Training fee for researchers necessary to conduct the research;
  • Conference fee or conference travel to support producing paper as part of the deliverable obligation;
  • Contribution in kind: Financial value of equipment usages for the research;
  • Contribution in kind: Financial value of employees’ time working on the research.
21. What assistance can CREST provide to assist grant applicant to find industry/academia partner?

Interested parties from either academia or industry are highly encouraged to expand their networking from which they can explore possibility for partnership. History shows that such networking could result to business dealing, recruitment/internship arrangement, research sponsorship, and many other types of collaboration beyond collaborative research for CREST funding.

Industry and academia are welcomed to express their area of interest to CREST from which CREST could, on best effort basis, match make, or provide contact information of parties having similar interest. Industry and academia may also participate in Cluster Programs facilitated by CREST. Contact CREST R&D Secretariat for more information.

22. Which company can become industry partner?

The R&D Grant is intended to incentivize collaborative research which will make impact to R&D ecosystem in E&E sector. Business-driven companies which are part of the sector are accepted as industry partner regardless of the ownership or shareholder of the company. They may be owned by the government or government entities, local public-listed company, local SME, or foreign owned. However they may not be owned by any university. They do not have to be CREST member companies.

However, although operating as a company, government-link research institutions may not be considered as companies that are part of E&E industry sector. These research institutions may however participate in the funded research as additional but not as sole partner.

23. Can a faculty member work with engineers from a foreign company?

A faculty member working with engineers working at a foreign company does not fit into the funded collaboration mode because it is at individual level rather than at organizational level, and because it does not involve company registered in the country. The funded collaborative research must involve at least one company registered in Malaysia pairing with at least one university located in Malaysia.

24. Is there any limit on the number of applications a company/university can submit? 

NO. There is no limit on the number of applications a company/university can submit.

25. Is there a limit on the number of approved projects a company/university can participate in?

NO. There is also no limit on the number of approved projects a company/university can participate in.

26. Is there a limit on the number of projects a Project Leader can lead?

YES. A project leader, or in short, “Project Lead” may lead only one approved project at a time.

28. Who owns the IP?

A research project may produce several intellectual properties (IP). The ownership of all or some of the IPs needs to be determined among the partners participating in the research. Legal teams from academia and industry need to determine which IPs to be owned by which party, either in full or in percentage of ownership. It is desired that this arrangement be agreed to as precondition to signing the MOA.

It is important to note that CREST favours open IP that extends the benefit of the research beyond the research participants to the broader industry. Although CREST accepts protected IP to fulfill the deliverable obligation, only open IP will be given points for merit in the evaluation of the application.

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Evaluation Process & Criteria

29. The evaluation criteria mentioned about evaluation on risk of the research. What types of risk will be evaluated?

Two types of risks will be evaluated; research execution risk and technical risk.

Research execution risk refers to the risk of executing the research according to the stated plan. In other words it is the risk the research is not able to meet its schedule, cost and deliverable obligations. CREST favors research proposal with low execution risk.

Technical risk refers to the technical complexity of the research itself. In other words it is the risk the research work is not able to answer research questions or meet research objectives. CREST favors funding various degree of technically challenging and risky science and engineering researches.

30. If application is declined, will the reason of the decline be provided?

Due to administrative challenges, reason for decline was not provided in the previous CREST R&D Grant cycle and this is expected to continue for this current cycle. CREST is taking effort to have the capability to provide feedback in future cycle.

31. When can I know if my application is successful or not?

Please refer to CREST R&D Grant yearly calendar as guidance. If you do not receive a letter with the result of the application within the given timeline guidance, please contact CREST R&D Secretariat.

32. What is the assessment criteria for an application?

Each application is assessed based on three main criteria:- Strategic fit, Technical Merit, and Operational Merit. Criteria ratings are Excellent, Very Good, Good, or Insufficient.

An application will be shortlisted only if it has the following ratings:

  • Excellent or Very Good for Strategic fit, AND
  • Excellent or Very Good for Technical Merit, AND
  • Excellent or Very Good for Operational Merit.
33. How is the evaluation panel formed? And who are the evaluators?

The evaluation panel is NOT made up of “permanently” appointed evaluators who will remain in the panel for all grant cycles. For every grant cycle, a panel of evaluators will be “freshly” appointed depending on the domain knowledge required based on the applications received. And depending on each evaluator’s expertise and experience, an evaluator will be appointed to evaluate and provide recommendations for either a selected number of applications (relevant to his/her expertise) or all applications if suitable.

CREST R&D Secretariat maintains a list of recommended, willing, reputable and carefully vetted individuals from both academia and industry. These individuals must have respected qualifications and experience in their field. CREST accepts self-nomination from individuals with the above qualities to be considered as part of the evaluation panellists for future grant cycles. Please contact the R&D Secretariat for more information.

 

34. Who are EXCO members?

From Feb 2013 onwards, the CREST EXCO had already been formally transitioned to become the CREST Board of Directors. The CREST Board of Directors (BOD) consists of representatives from industry, university and government agencies/departments.

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Application Submission

35. How should the use of existing equipment or software be declared?

Although using existing software or equipment does not require new budget request, it should be declared in Section D of the application form to indicate the full picture of the research cost. Using existing software or equipment provided by the company also counts towards company contribution to the research, and this therefore necessitates declaration in the budget spreadsheet.

36. How should the equipment or software provided or paid by the company be declared?

Equipment or software provided or paid by the company counts towards company contribution to the research and is an important part of the research funding. This needs to be declared in the budget spreadsheet in the application form so that it can be appropriately audited and tracked.

37. What can be counted as company contribution “in-kind”?

Contribution in-kind can take many forms.

Refer to above: Question 20 “How is 50% industry contribution defined?”

38. How should company contribution be captured in the case where a company employee spends only 20% of his time on the research project?

Employee’s time working in the research project can be captured as part of company contribution. In the budget spreadsheet, the employee’s name and number of hours spent should be included in the first expense category “Allowance and Fee”. In the company contribution column, the amount that should be put is a fraction of his salary (20%) times total number of months involved. Take note that supporting document indicating his salary, which can be represented by company’s average burden rate should be included.

39. Can contingency budget be requested to cover unexpected spending?

Contingency budget request will not be approved. The application should comprehend unexpected event in the form of assumptions and risk in the research project plan. The basis of cost estimate and assumptions should be clearly noted. Additionally, risk statement related to cost should also be clearly captured in the research project plan. Upfront declaration of assumption and risk will help provide justification for a budget change request throughout the course of research project execution.

40. How many applications can a person submit?

There is no limit to the number of applications a person can submit. The number of applications which can be awarded to the same submitter or project lead however will depend on the evaluation.

41. How many students can be in a research project?

One of the deliverable obligation is to produce at least one graduating Malaysian student (Master or PhD). Depending on the scope and complexity of the research project, a research may have additional students, which can be Master or PhD students or combination. Additional students may also be non-Malaysian citizen, although CREST pays student allowance and tuition fee to Malaysian students only. Take note that evaluation panel will evaluate to ensure the number of students commensurate with the scope and complexity of the research project.

42. Does a research project have to be a new project? Can it be continuation of an existing research project?

Continuation of relationship: The proposed research can involve university and company who are currently partners in other types of collaborative work or those who are currently not in any relationship. The grant can be used to continue or enhance existing relationship, or to build new relationship.

Continuation of topic: Huge problem statement may be broken down into several research parts. One of those parts may be submitted for CREST R&D Grant application as long as it can stand on its own merit. Each proposal submitted to CREST is evaluated without reference to preceding or other research parts.

Continuation of IP: University and company partners are advised to discuss and achieve agreement related to payment for license or permission to use an existing intellectual property obtained from preceding research. Take note that grant money cannot be used to pay for IP license.

43. Does CREST assign a mentor/coach/account manager to support the approved research project?

NO.

44. How students should be captured as research team member in the application when they are not yet identified?

Research team composition must be stated as requested in the application. Students who are not yet identified can be stated using placeholder “student 1”, “student 2”, etc. It is important to identify the expected role, responsibility and work scope for each to-be-hired students even though they are no on board yet.

45. How to apply for GRASP?

Graduate Research Assistance Scholarship Program (GRASP) is supplementary to CREST R&D Grant, therefore its approval is tied to the approval of CREST R&D Grant application. There is no specific application needed. Upon approval of CREST R&D Grant application, GRASP will be offered by default, provided that the student candidate meets the stipulated requirement. In the application of CREST R&D Grant, basic student allowance rate should be used (RM1.8k/month for MSc, RM2.5k/month for PhD).

46. What is specific terms and conditions for GRASP?

Graduate Research Assistance Scholarship Program (GRASP) is offered to those who meet the CGPA and working experience requirement. The student needs to sign a separate agreement to give commitment to stay in the research project throughout the entire research duration with additional deliverable obligation. The performance of the student will also be reviewed from time to time.

47. Can the application process be simplified?

CREST welcomes any feedback and will continue to look for opportunity to improve its R&D Grant process while maintaining the objective of good governance and oversight. Therefore the process may be changed from cycle to cycle. Prospective applicants are advised to attend briefing for the cycle they intend to submit since it may differ from past cycle.

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Developing Research Project Plan

48. The equipment or software quotation provided by the supplier as included in the application may no longer be valid the time the procurement takes place. How this should be handled?

It should be captured in the assumptions and risks, and dealt with according to risk response plan when the event occurs.

49. What is the procedure for change request when there is any change required?

All project leads of approved research will be called for a briefing on project monitoring process and project change process. The approval of the change request shall be subjected to the conditions as stipulated in the said process. The process will be posted on CREST website at a later time.

50. What is the possibility that the proposal is rejected when the application shows the risk is high?

The research project plan in the application submission should state the risk of the research project and the response plan regardless of the risk level. These risk statements are used by the evaluation panel to evaluate operational merit. Evaluation panel needs to understand and be convinced that the proposal submitter understands the risks of the project and ready to respond to those risks. Not stating the risks that exist may indicate that the proposal is weak and risky for CREST to fund. On the other hand, declaring risks with good response plan may indicate that the proposal is strong with acceptable risk for CREST to fund.

51. When can a research project start?

A research project funded through CREST R&D Grant can start beginning the effective date of MOA. The effective date of the MOA also indicates the time when the first disbursement of the grant money. Sufficient time should be budgeted for MOA discussion and finalisation to take place; based on past experience this may take at least 3 months.

The following guideline should be followed as guideline in preparing for schedule. Application made in the first cycle (Jan) should have October of the same year as the start date. Application made in the second cycle (July) should have April the following year as the start date.

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Grant Administration

52. The software and equipment purchased for the project belong to CREST. Where will be they be located?

Only software and equipment purchased using CREST money will belong to CREST. The software or equipment contributed by the company or university still belong to the respective parties.

Typically CREST will appoint software hosting provider to host common software purchased using CREST money so that its access can be shared. The software could be accessed by remote. Exception to this will be evaluation on case by case basis.

The equipment purchased using CREST money can be placed at the location nominated by the research team. It may be located at the university or one of the company participating in the research.

53. Where the disbursement of grant money would be made?

Upon approval of the CREST R&D Grant application, each project lead will be asked the detail of the grant request. Project lead will need to identify the location of the disbursement for each of the line item in a quarterly breakdown. Disbursement will be made at the beginning of the quarter to the nominated location, which can be the university or the company participating in the research. Project lead will be asked to provide the bank account number of the company and university involved in the project. Typically student allowance and tuition fee is only paid to the university.

In deciding the location of disbursement of each item, the project team is advised to consider among others the location of the research, accounting process and limitation, procurement process and processing timeline.

54. When will the disbursement of grant money be made?

The disbursement is made at the beginning of each quarter, namely the first week of January, April, July, and October. Take note that the disbursement for a given quarter is made based on the performance of preceding quarter – evaluated during quarterly project review.

55. How is the MOA drafted and who is involved in getting it approved/signed?

All project leads of approved projects will be called for a briefing on the process to make sure MOA is completed. Basically, CREST will prepare a draft or template MOA which will be given to the project leader. He/she will need to ensure legal team from the university and company involved get together to discuss whether to accept the draft, or propose changes which both parties can agree to, and bring back this proposed changes to CREST legal for final buy off. CREST prints the final copies of the tripartite MOA for project leader to circulate for signature from the highest authority for the companies involved (typically CEO or Managing Director), and the highest authority for the universities involved (typically Vice Chancellor), before signed by CREST CEO.

56. Can the project duration be extended to give more time for the students to complete thesis write up?

NO. The project lead is expected to have proper planning to execute the entire research project including completion of deliverable obligations, within the stipulated time.

57. Can the project duration be extended if the research discovers new interesting finding which may lead to more interesting result?

The research within the originally approved scope should be completed per commitment. The additional/new scope should be submitted as new research project proposal which will go through separate evaluation and budget.

58. What is the penalty if the research project cannot be completed within the stipulated time or cannot fulfill the deliverable obligation?

Inability to complete within the stipulated time or inability to fulfill the deliverable obligation will result to penalty per the MOA. The project lead is expected to monitor the progress throughout the research project and take steps to detect problem and take remedial action to recover. CREST R&D Secretariat will be monitoring to ensure the project lead remains in control of his/her project. The Secretariat may also initiate appropriate action that may include suspension or termination of the fund.

59. What if the project would like to change the research methodology half-way through?

Sufficient pre work should be done to determine the best methodology to achieve the intended research objectives. A research project with inappropriate research methodology should have not been approved in the first place. Change of research methodology is a major change and is treated as change of research plan.

60. What if there is an absolute necessity to change the research plan or deliverables?

All project leads of approved research will be called for a briefing on project monitoring process and project change process. The approval of the change request shall be subjected to the conditions as stipulated in the said process. Take note that there will be a processing fee for any change request.

61. What if the student in the project qualifies to be upgraded from Master to PhD?

Sufficient pre work should be done to determine the appropriate level of study for a given research scope and complexity. The university may at its discretion approve upgrading of student status from Master to PhD throughout the research project. As far as deliverable obligation to CREST is concerned, graduation of PhD student can be a substitute to graduation of Master student. Take note however that student allowance will remain at what Master student is qualified per the effective MOA. Request for change of student allowance will be treated as change request which needs to go through change request process.

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