Use-inspired basic research

The SNSF's main concern is supporting basic science. However, as it is increasingly difficult to draw a clear line between applied and basic research, the SNSF has created the category "use-inspired basic research" in project funding, which ensures that such undertakings are evaluated appropriately.

The SNSF focuses on funding basic research rather than use-inspired research, the objective of which is to make immediate use of findings for commercial purposes. That said, the SNSF would like to offer adequate funding for research whose main objective is to increase scientific knowledge, even though the problems it seeks to address are of a practical nature. For this reason, researchers have been able to declare their SNSF applications as "use-inspired" since 2011. The new category "use-inspired basic research"

  • recognises that research which combines the aspect of gaining scientific knowledge with an orientation towards application is becoming increasingly important both nationally and internationally;
  • ensures the adequate evaluation of use-inspired applications by taking into account their broader impact as an evaluation criteria and by engaging external reviewers from the practical realm.

New category makes use-inspired projects more visible

A first monitoring report of the SNSF looks at how often the category "use-inspired basic research" is chosen and by what type of research project.

Closing the gap between basic research and application

The category "use-inspired basic research" aims to close the gap between pure basic research (normally funded by the SNSF) and applied research (often funded by the CTI). It is not possible to draw a clear line between funding by the SNSF for projects whose central aim is to increase scientific knowledge, and funding by the CTI, which is aimed at market-oriented use. The two organisations agree that overlapping funding should be the goal. The CTI and the SNSF are therefore coordinating their strategies in overlapping areas and collaborating in various fields.

Research funding partnership: cooperation between the SNSF and the CTI

Joint programme of SNSF and CTI: building a “Bridge”

The SNSF and the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) are jointly setting up the new programme “Bridge” to complement the support they already provide for Swiss science and innovation respectively. The programme aims to better exploit the economic and societal potential of scientific research by promoting the transfer from scientific knowledge to innovation.

National Research Programmes (NRPs): getting to the bottom of problems

NRPs are geared towards finding solutions and are therefore also use-inspired. They generate scientific knowledge aimed at solving Switzerland's most pressing problems. For this reason, knowledge and technology transfer are of prime importance: the research groups involved take a practical issue as their point of departure. The research results are then analysed in view of potential applications in collaboration with target groups. This transdisciplinary research work generates a high number of approaches for effectively tackling social, political and economic challenges.


CoRe division