Based on a federal mandate, the SNSF has been funding National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs) since 2001. After launching the first series, the SNSF issued three further NCCR calls and started the second, third and fourth series of NCCRs in 2005, 2010 and 2014 respectively. The goal of this funding programme is to sustainably strengthen areas of strategic importance in Swiss research through targeted, long-term research projects. The programme seeks to promote outstanding research projects, while placing a special emphasis on interdisciplinary and/or novel approaches. The first series was concluded in 2013.
Following the completion of the first NCCR series, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) commissioned an impact analysis of the 14 concerned NCCRs in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Research and Innovation Promotion Act. The analysis was conducted by the Swiss Science and Innovation Council (SSIC), which has now published its final report.
Positive appraisal - recommendations are being implemented
All in all, the SSIC rates the structural impact of the NCCRs very highly. In its opinion the distinguishing feature of the NCCRs is that they pursue ambitious scientific and structural goals at the same time. No fundamental changes are needed, according to the report. Nevertheless, it presents a number of recommendations for developing the NCCR funding scheme. The SNSF has already implemented some of the SSIC's recommendations by continually making adjustments in the course of the four NCCR calls launched so far. For instance, the SNSF prompted the NCCRs to bring their goals more closely into line with the research topics and actively promoted scientific exchanges between the NCCRs. Further recommendations will be implemented in collaboration with the federal government and the higher education institutions in order to further enhance the profile of the NCCRs.
SSIC: The instrument of NCCR and its effects on the structures