Swiss-Japanese research cooperation: glaciers, DNA and software


The SNSF and the JSPS, a Japanese partner organisation, have selected eight joint research projects after a stringent, competition-based selection process.

The projects cover a wide range of research fields in mathematics and the natural and engineering sciences. An interdisciplinary project, combining hydrology, meteorology and climatology at the University of Nagoya and WSL, will study glaciers in the high mountain regions of Asia. Another project is devoted to improving the source text of computer programmes (software restructuring); it is being jointly conducted by the University of Kyushu and the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI). A third project brings together organic chemists and molecular biologists whose aim is to identify carcinogenic DNA. The researchers are based at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science and ETH Zurich respectively.

The SNSF will fund the Swiss part of the research with 1.9 million francs while its partner organisation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), will cover the costs incurred in Japan. The projects have a duration of 3-4 years.

94 pre-proposals submitted

The Swiss-Japanese call attracted a lot of interest: 94 pre-proposals were submitted for the first evaluation phase in 2018. Subsequently, 21 applications were sent out for peer review. In the final step, the SNSF and the JSPS jointly selected the 8 most fundable projects. This corresponds to a success rate of 38%. Of the initially submitted pre-proposals, 8.5% were successful.

The 239 applicants in the pre-proposal phase included 21 women, or 9%. In the application phase their share rose to 13%, and to 22% among the funded projects (5 out of 23 applicants). Overall, the share of female applicants was higher in Switzerland than in Japan.

Programmes with eight non-European countries

The bilateral programmes of the SNSF are aimed at promoting and strengthening scientific cooperation with eight non-European countries that show high research potential. Besides Japan, these are Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa and South Korea for the 2017-2020 period. At the end of 2018, the programmes included 98 ongoing SNSF-funded projects.

Bilateral programmes: Japan


Division InterCo