SNSF Advanced Grants 2021: 24 projects approved

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Memory loss, leaf-eating bumblebees, environmentally friendly building materials: the SNSF has awarded grants worth 50 million Swiss francs under its transitional measure "SNSF Advanced Grants 2021".

Due to Switerland's status as a third country not associated to the Horizon Europe framework programme, the SNSF launched the transitional measure SNSF Advanced Grants 2021 on behalf of the Swiss government. The measure is aimed at scientists who wish to carry out innovative, high-risk research in Switzerland.

After a two-stage evaluation process, the SNSF has decided to fund 24 projects out of the 232 applications it received for SNSF Advanced Grants 2021. These projects will be allocated a budget of 50 million francs for an average period of 5 years. The number of projects supported by the SNSF under this transitional measure corresponds to the average number of Swiss-based projects that succeed in obtaining European funding under an ERC Advanced Grant.

Higher success rate for women

At 20%, the success rate for women is much higher than for men (8%). Women researchers lead 10 of the 24 projects, or 42%. Their share is 100% for the humanities and social sciences, 40% for the life sciences and 20% for mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. But in absolute numbers, their participation in the call (22%) remained low.

A success rate of 10% of submitted projects was recorded in each panel of experts that carried out the evaluation. 10 projects will be funded in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering, 10 in the life sciences and 4 in the humanities and social sciences, a research area that received fewer applications.

Researchers at the universities will receive 54% of the funds; 42% are allocated to the ETH Domain and 4% to other institutions.

Some examples of funded research projects

Life sciences

Consuelo De Moraes (ETHZ) has found that bumblebees respond to pollen deprivation by damaging plants in a way that accelerates flowering. The objective of her research project is to examine the effects of this damage on the regulation of the flowering time and its implications for ecology, including temporal synchrony between plants and pollinators.

Mathematics, natural and engineering sciences

Barbara Lothenbach (Empa) is investigating magnesium carbonate for possible use in the construction industry. During its production, it does not emit any CO2. The use of less polluting materials would be beneficial to society and the environment, as construction is currently responsible for a significant portion of industrial CO2 emissions.

Humanities and social sciences

Katharina Henke from the University of Bern is studying memory. "Our findings could lead to new strategies for memory rehabilitation and transform the way our society views and treats the growing number of people with memory disorders."