SNSF boosts collaboration with US funding agency

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Researchers in Switzerland will find it easier to carry out projects with partners in the USA.

The SNSF and the National Science Foundation (NSF) signed a joint memorandum of understanding in Washington on the occasion of President Guy Parmelin’s visit to the USA. According to Matthias Egger, president of the National Research Council, the agreement marks a milestone: “We are creating the basis for long-term cooperation between our two funding agencies”, he said.

Significantly easier

In a first practical implementation step, Swiss and American researchers will only have to submit a single application for joint projects. The SNSF or the NSF will then assess the project, as opposed to both in parallel, as is currently the case. “This so-called lead-agency process significantly reduces the administrative work for researchers”, says Egger.

The SNSF has already concluded lead agency agreements with numerous European countries as well as with South Africa and the federal state of São Paolo in Brazil. Each year, the SNSF finances several hundred research projects under these agreements. In each case, it assumes the costs of Swiss participation.

Ideal partner

In addition to the lead agency process, the memorandum of understanding enables other forms of cooperation between the SNSF and the NSF. These might include joint conferences, or the exchange of information and best practices. “A strategic goal of the SNSF is to continue to develop research and support for it”, says Egger. “The US funding agency is an ideal partner in this respect.”

NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan stresses how important the memorandum of understanding is for his organisation: “We are pleased to partner with our Swiss counterpart agency to make rapid progress on solving global grand challenges and to ensure that the process for collaborative research between our countries is as seamless as possible for the research community.”

The NSF primarily supports basic research, with a budget that amounts to 7.7 billion Swiss francs in 2021. The USA plays a key role for Swiss science. In the last five years alone, the SNSF has funded more than 5,000 projects in Switzerland involving collaboration with the USA.