CHF 755 million for basic research


In 2012, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) was able to invest CHF 755 million in basic research, the highest amount in its sixty-year history. Compared to the previous year, this represents an increase of approximately six per cent.

As stated in the latest annual report, the SNSF approved more than 3500 research proposals to the tune of CHF 755 million. The budget was distributed as follows: 24% humanities and social sciences; 35% mathematics, natural and engineering sciences; 41% biology and medicine. In 2012, the SNSF supported 8750 researchers, half of whom were doctoral students.Competition for research funds remains fierceThe SNSF invested more than half of its funds – CHF 391 million – in project funding, its main funding scheme. This money will enable numerous researchers to realise their projects. In a welcome development, the chances of researchers obtaining a grant from the SNSF improved in project funding: after declining in recent years, the approval rate (proportion of approved to requested funding) rose again slightly in 2012, namely to 45%. In 2008, before the decline, the approval rate lay at 54%. This is evidence of the continuing fierce competition for SNSF grants. Joining forces to promote young researchersThe SNSF is convinced that academic careers must become more attractive for young researchers if Switzerland is to maintain its leading position as a research location in the global arena. In 2012, the SNSF launched a variety of measures aimed at improving conditions for young scientists. Hence, researchers are increasingly encouraged to make stays abroad at an early stage in their career as it is later often difficult to have a family and remain mobile at the same time.Further measures, such as the improvement of employment conditions for doctoral students, are to follow (see Action Plan 2013-2016). Stringent selection processes are essential to the promotion of young researchers. Only the best doctoral students have the aptitude for an academic career. For this reason, the SNSF applies a very exacting yardstick in the funding schemes Ambizione and SNSF professorships, which aim to improve the prospects of an academic career for talented young researchers. In 2012, only 19% of female candidates and 21% of male candidates managed to clear this hurdle.The SNSF is aware that the measures for promoting young talents, as envisaged in the Action Plan 2013-2016, will not be sufficient to improve the situation in the long term. It is therefore already vetting new ideas. Furthermore, the SNSF and the higher education institutions must collaborate more closely to create the right incentives for optimising the promotion of young researchers.Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) The SNSF is Switzerland’s foremost institution in the promotion of scientific research and supports approximately 8500 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 all academic disciplines, from history via medicine through to the engineering sciences. Ordering a copy You can order the Annual Report 2012 in German, French and English as well as all other publications of the SNSF free of charge at On this subject Annual Report 2012 of the SNSF (PDF, 4.4 MB) Action Plan 2013–2016 of the SNSF (PDF, 967 KB) Contact Swiss National Science Foundation Communication divisionPhone +41 31 308 23 87E-Mail