Penn China Research & Engagement Fund

Launched in March 2015, the Penn China Research and Engagement Fund is a five-year, $10 million competitive matching program designed to stimulate and support activity in China and engagement with the Penn Wharton China Center.  The primary goals of the fund are:

  • To highlight the Penn Wharton China Center as a preeminent space in China for knowledge exchange and professional consultation.
  • To develop new, or strengthen existing, institutional and faculty-to-faculty relationships with Chinese partners.
  • To support outstanding research projects from across the University that are poised to make significant contributions to their field.
  • To increase the study and understanding of China at Penn and create opportunities for meaningful student engagement.

Fund Sizes and Fund Terms

To date, the Fund has supported 25 projects at a funding level of 4.8 million, with 2.4 million from the Provost Office and 2.4 million matched by Schools/Centers through internal or external funds. The minimum award amount will be $25,000; there is no maximum award size.

The Penn CREF term is limited to three years. Beginning Fiscal Year 2017 and for all subsequent years, applicants should assume a July 1 start date, unless otherwise noted.

Types of Support

The Penn China Research and Engagement Fund will support a wide range of activities including:

  • Research and academic collaborations
  • Conferences, symposia, and workshops
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Professional consultation and collaboration
  • Faculty exchange programs
  • Short-term or embedded courses that bring students to China and East Asia
  • Select travel costs, including international airfare (to/from China) and domestic airfare (in China)

What is Not Allowable

The Penn China Research and Engagement Fund may not be used for:

  • Faculty salary
  • Operational support (i.e., permanent staff salary, etc.)
  • Allocation of School/Center indirect costs (i.e., facilities, etc.)
  • Payments to partner institutions for indirect costs

Fund Requirements

Beyond the goals of the fund, there are three technical requirements for all applicants:

  • Matching funds from internal or external sources equal to or greater than the amount requested from the University.
  • Significant use of the Penn Wharton China Center. For multi-year projects, there must be demonstrated use(s) of the Penn Wharton China Center in the first year of the project.  Use may be defined as holding conferences and events at the Center, using the Center as a work-space or home base for the China-based activities, utilizing Center support to carry out research and other activities in China, such as carrying out logistical tasks and collaborating with Center staff to develop contacts and networks that may be useful to the project, etc.
  • Collaboration with academic partners or other institutions in China.

PWCC Facilitation Fee

A 20% PWCC Facilitation Fee will be charged for the use and support of the Penn Wharton China Center.  Penn CREF funds will need to cover the cost of this fee, so the fee should be included in your budget proposals.  The 20% Facilitation Fee does not cover select out-of-pocket expenses, such as: catering support, interpretation and translation services; select printing services (e.g., bilingual business cards); and off-hour support for events (e.g., HVAC on evenings and weekends).  For additional information about the services that are and are not covered by the Facilitation Fee, please check the FAQ document.  The Penn Wharton China Center reserves the right to charge additional fees for costs and expenses incurred.


All Penn faculty and senior administrators are eligible to apply.  Proposals must be endorsed by the PI’s School or Center.  For proposals that are generated by more than one School or Center, the leadership of all institutions must endorse the proposal.

  • 2018 Timeline

    Call for Proposals:

    Proposals Due:

    Awards Announced: