Frequently Asked Questions (for Secondary Schools)
A1: IT Innovation Lab is an enhancement initiative launched under the existing “Enriched IT Programme in Secondary Schools” (EITP), and the scope of funding is extended to all publicly-funded secondary schools. It aims to cultivate the interest of secondary school students in IT, enhance their innovative thinking and foster an IT learning atmosphere to encourage them to choose technology-related tertiary education programmes and pursue an I&T career in the future.
A2: The IT Innovation Lab initiative is not restricted to setting up a physical lab. The funding should be used on students for learning IT, and the facilities and equipment acquired through the funding should be directly related to the proposed IT-related activities.
A3: Solely purchasing hardware and software does not meet the initiative objective. The hardware and software to be purchased must be the IT equipment that are necessary for organising the related activities. The school is required to use the procured equipment in organising activities for students to learn IT. When designing the activities, please make sure the learning objectives attribute to the learning of IT knowledge, theory and/or relevant practical skills involving exercising knowledge and practice of the IT discipline, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing and big data, instead of the perspective of merely an IT user.
Eligibility of Applicants
A4: The applicant must be a publicly-funded secondary school, including government, aided, caput secondary schools and secondary schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS).
A5: The funding scope of the IT Innovation Lab initiative includes the following two aspects－
- procuring and maintaining IT equipment (such as server-side and client-side hardware and software, cloud servers and storage services) and acquiring relevant professional services (such as cloud services) that meet the needs of the school and its students; and
- organising IT-related activities. These activities can take different forms, including workshops, seminars, short courses, local visits, experience activities, as well as participation in local and non-local competitions and organising exhibitions to showcase students’ innovation and achievements. The scope of such activities can also be wide-ranging, including for example learning to code, learning about new technologies such as virtual reality (VR) / augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), drones, robotics, etc., the application of IT, digital transformation, visits to multi-national companies in Hong Kong and local start-ups as well as preparing for IT competitions, such as datathons, etc. The funding could also cover operational expenses of these activities (such as maintenance and professional services for learning support) and administrative cost.
- non-local study tours;
- teachers' training;
- use of IT in supporting general teaching and learning; and
- promotion materials (e.g. souvenirs, prizes, printing service for promotion, professional service for event website development, etc.).
A6: The funding under this programme can only be used to organise IT-related extra-curricular activities and procure IT equipment and related services which are necessary and directly related to the proposed IT-related activities. Generally speaking, the funding for the procurement of IT equipment and related services should not be more than $500,000 during the entire programme period. Schools should provide clear and concrete justifications on any expenditure in procuring IT equipment and related services, and explain why such expenditure is required for the proposed IT-related activities. Schools should also provide specific plans on how to fully utilise the IT equipment and related services (such as organising more IT-related activities) within the scope of the IT Innovation Lab programme.
A7: Renovation works and furniture unrelated to the proposed IT activities are out of scope of the programme. Please refer to Annex 3 - Examples of Out-of-Scope Items of the Application Guidelines.
A8: Whole-school network upgrade for e-learning is out of scope of the programme. Please refer to Annex 3 - Examples of Out-of-Scope Items of the Application Guidelines: e-learning equipment for assisting general teaching and learning purposes.
A9: For effective use of the funding of IT Innovation Lab programme, participating schools adopt cloud services, including cloud server and storage service, which are more agile, flexible and cost-effective, and helps reduce the amount of maintenance work required for schools.
A10: No, one single application can contain multiple planned activities or equipment to be acquired in the school year.
A11: The first round of programme was open for application from 1 December 2020 to 30 June 2023. The second round of programme is open for application from 1 September 2023.
A12: Schools are welcome to make a joint application. They can submit application forms signed by individual principals and indicate the activities to be organised jointly at the columns of activity titles / descriptions on the application form. OGCIO will vet the related applications together but the approval is to be granted based on individual schools with a maximum funding of $1 million.
A13: According to Clause 45 of the Application Guidelines, expenses arising from any procurement or activities conducted before the approval of the application will not be subsidised. As such, participating schools shall organise the ECAs concerned or procure equipment or services only after the funding has been approved. This is to avoid causing any extra financial burden to schools in case the funding cannot be approved as originally planned. Besides, since the actual approval period will be subject to factors such as the completeness of information provided in the application by schools, the number of applications received and the meeting dates of the Vetting Committee, schools should allow sufficient buffer time between application submission and the organisation date of the ECAs concerned.
A14: According to the guidelines issued by ICAC, participating schools should open a dedicated bank account to handle the funding under the programme. If a school encounters difficulties in opening a bank account, it may propose an alternative in lieu of this arrangement to OGCIO with reasons and justifications, which should cover how it will strengthen its internal financial management, for instance, by using an existing dormant bank account which bears the school name and has been inactive generally for 6 months or more, stepping up its financial management of the separate ledger account through a computerised accounting system, and providing half-yearly financial reports, etc. OGCIO will take the school’s proposal into consideration based on the information the school submitted and reserve the right to conduct school visits for ensuring that the funding is properly used in compliance with the objectives and requirements of the programme.
A15: It is advisable for the participating schools to plan in advance for opening a bank account in order to allow sufficient time for completing the required procedures. The account opening arrangements and documentation requirements for opening a bank account (such as the school registration documents, the relevant minutes of meetings and the identification documents of the authorised persons of the bank account etc.) may vary from bank to bank. Participating schools may refer to the list of retail banks and virtual banks in Hong Kong and their documentation requirements for opening accounts provided by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Please refer to the webpage below for details: https://www.hkma.gov.hk/eng/smart-consumers/account-opening/contact-details-of-banks/
A16: According to Clauses 96 and 97 of the Application Guidelines, any unspent balance (including interest, if any) shall be returned to OGCIO upon completion of the programme or early termination of the school project.
Schools must purchase the IT equipment and related services required for organising activities in accordance with the approved application. For any major revision of the approved budget, schools should submit a change request form to the One-Stop Support Centre. Schools are reminded not to procure any equipment/services with the unspent balance before the change request is approved. For details about the change request, please refer to Clauses 42 and 43 of the Application Guidelines.
Submission of a new application is required if a school plans to use the unspent balance to organise other IT extra-curricular activities.
First and Second Rounds of the Programme
A17: As the first round of the programme will end in the 2022/23 school year, schools shall submit their applications on or before 30 June 2023.
A18: No. Under the new round of the programme, each publicly-funded school will be eligible for a maximum subsidy of up to $1 million.
A19: The activities approved should be implemented and completed in accordance with the schedule specified in the application form. Should a school be unable to complete the activities as scheduled, it should submit a change request (https://www.it-lab.gov.hk/en/crform.php) with strong justifications to amend the activities completion date. Upon approval of the request, the school can continue to receive funding for the activities.
A20: Since the Government proposed to extend the “IT Innovation Lab in Secondary Schools” programme for three school years, the maintenance period of the IT equipment procured under the first round of the programme can be extended to 31 August 2026 or earlier on condition that these equipment will be re-used in the extra-curricular activities held by the schools under the new round of the programme.
A21: For the funding applications which are already submitted by schools and under vetting, or those applications submitted on or before 30 June 2023, if the activities listed on the application form are commenced on or before 31 August 2023 and will be completed in the 2023/24 school year or earlier, those approved activities will continue to receive funding support under the first round of the programme.
A22: According to Clauses 96 and 97 of the Application Guidelines, any unspent balance (including interest, if any) shall be returned to OGCIO upon completion of the programme (i.e. 31 August 2023) or upon completion of all approved activities under the first round of the programme. The return of unspent balance could be in form of netted off against the approved budget of new funding application or repayment if the school decides not to apply for funding of the programme. Before obtaining approval of funding application for the new round of the programme, the school is reminded not to use the unspent balance to purchase IT equipment/professional services for the extra-curricular activities proposed under the new round of the programme.
A23: The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) has introduced a new Small Unmanned Aircraft Order (SUA Order) which is a new subsidiary legislation made under the Civil Aviation Ordinance (Cap. 448) and has come into effect on 1 June 2022. This new order is to foster the innovative development and application of SUA or drones in Hong Kong in tandem with evolving technology while safeguarding aviation and public safety. Under the new regulatory regime, SUA operations will be regulated under a risk-based approach and classified according to the weight of the SUA and the operational risk level. SUA operations of different risk levels will be subject to the corresponding regulatory requirements. These requirements may include registration and labelling of SUA, registration of remote pilots, training and assessment, equipment, operating requirements and insurance.
To facilitate sustainable development of SUA, flight operation for educational or research purposes is subject to the limited application of the new law. Requirements such as remote pilot registration, training and assessment, as well as equipment, insurance and most of operating requirements are not applicable. However, the SUA concerned must fulfill the registration and labelling requirements, and be operated wholly within the school premises of a specified school. For details, please refer to the Safety Requirements Document and SUA Advisory Circular AC-009, Guidelines for Small Unmanned Aircraft Operations within School Premises at https://www.cad.gov.hk/english/sua_new.html.
The CAD has launched the Electronic Portal for Small Unmanned Aircraft (eSUA). Schools may access the eSUA, or find the links at https://esua.cad.gov.hk to register or obtain the latest SUA Drone Map and other safety information.