CHF 713 million for basic research


In 2011, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) invested CHF 713 million in basic science, 1.8% less than in the record year 2010 (CHF 726 million). As in previous years, the SNSF was forced to reject many promis-ing projects.

​The 2011 Annual Report shows that the SNSF approved more than 3,400 research proposals to the amount of CHF 713 million last year. The budget was distributed as follows: 26% Humanities and Social Sciences; 35% Mathematics, Natural and Engineering Sciences; 39% Biology and Medicine. The SNSF supported over 8,400 researchers, of whom 4,400 were doctoral students. If expressed in full-time positions, this is the equivalent of over 10% of university personnel.

Tough competition for research funds

About half of all research funding or CHF 359 million were spent in project funding, the SNSF's main funding scheme. The number of applications in project funding rose by 6% in 2011. The SNSF succeeded in stabilising the success rate, although at a comparatively low level of 41% (2008: 54%). “It is painful to see so many good research projects being rejected by the SNSF due to financial constraints. If we look at new projects only and exclude follow-up proposals, the success rate is at a worryingly low level of 33%,” says Dieter Imboden, President of the National Research Council.
An increase in the number of applications was also registered in career funding, where the demand for fellowships abroad, for instance, rose by 25%.

Broader support for use-inspired basic research

In the coming years, the SNSF aims to expand its support for use-inspired basic research. In 2011, it therefore integrated practice-oriented research at universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education into its general project funding and discontinued the special programme DORE. Additionally, the SNSF launched the first call for communication projects of researchers and established the new research database which provides an overview of the contents and output of research projects funded by the SNSF.

2012 – an important year for the SNSF

On the one hand, the SNSF is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2012. On the other hand, important financial decisions will be taken in the context of the Federal Dispatch on Education, Research and Innovation. The SNSF is convinced that research needs to become more attractive to young researchers if Switzerland is to maintain its leading role in international research. Young researchers can only be supported adequately, however, if the federal funds allocated to the SNSF are substantially increased.

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

As Switzerland’s foremost institution for the promotion of scientific re-search, the SNSF supports approximately 8,000 researchers every year. Its core task is the evaluation of research proposals. By awarding public research money based on a competitive system, the SNSF contributes to the high quality of Swiss research. Mandated by the federal authorities, the SNSF supports basic science in all academic disciplines, from history to medicine and the engineering sciences.

Communication division