precoR - six precompetitive projects ready to start


A coloured scanning electron micrograph of a woven nylon netting. © Keystone

The SNSF precoR panel has evaluated 27 applications in response to the first call for proposals. Six scientifically excellent projects featuring a defined vision of an original and novel application have been accepted for funding.

The transition of a target-oriented project from basic, "non-predictive" research to a stage that allows predictive engineering approaches is challenging. The goal of the precoR initiative (funding of precompetitive research) is to support the basic scientific research of a project to the point where a commercial application becomes viable.

Despite the thematic limitation to Materials Science or Fabrication Technology a substantial number of applications – 27 in all ­­– were submitted by the March 2014 deadline. Indisputably, the funding for projects transitioning basic research into product development corresponds to a need in these engineering sciences.

The proposals were scientifically evaluated by a panel consortium consisting of members of the SNSF Research Council, the Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI and SwissMEM. Six out of 27 applications were selected for funding, resulting in a success rate of 22%. In order to stay within the budget constraints of CHF 2 million, an average cut of 37% of the accepted proposals was required. The six proposals accepted for funding are the following:

  • Advancing Graphene Nanoribbons from Lab to Fab (GNRfab), Roman Fasel (EMPA)
  • Pressurized-fluid assisted polymer processing and melt-spinning with continuous foaming suppression, Manfred Heuberger (EMPA)
  • Low-Temperature Solution-Deposition of Core-Shell Particles on Flexible Substrates for Transparent Conducting Electrode Applications, Markus Niederberger (ETH Zurich)
  • Multiphysical transport phenomena in scalable particle based photoelectrodes for solar watersplitting, Simone Pokrant (EMPA)
  • On-chip coherent light sources based on nonlinear frequency conversion in thin organic two-dimensional crystals, Dieter A. Schlüter (ETH Zurich)
  • Manufacturing Approach for High Performance Lithium Ion Batteries, Vanessa Wood (ETH Zurich)

A possible continuation of the precoR initiative is currently being discussed.


Division Mathematics, Natural and Engineering Sciences
Christian Brunner