MARVIS – Space research with the SNSF

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MARVIS is a SNSF funding scheme in the area of space research. It will provide annual funding of up to a total of 3.5 million francs for projects by international research networks.

MARVIS stands for “Multidisciplinary Applied Research Ventures in Space.” Through it, the SNSF aims not only to promote the development of core competencies in space research, but also to strengthen Switzerland's position in future-oriented areas of research and innovation. It focuses on three areas in particular: the contribution of space travel to a sustainable future, ensuring a rapid response in emergency situations and protecting space assets. This funding scheme has been commissioned by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Calls will be launched every two to four years.

The proposals are evaluated in two steps: First, the SNSF evaluates the scientific and technical quality of the project. In Step 2 of the evaluation, the SERI will evaluate the project according to the space, research and innovation policy.

MARVIS funding can have a duration of between one and seven years. Initially, a maximum duration of four years is funded for the projects. A subsequent application for extension is possible (Art. 4 of the call for proposals document).

  • Participation requirements

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    Please refer to Art. 2.1 of the call for proposals for details of the participation requirements for MARVIS projects.

    The eligibility criteria for applicants and project partners can be found in Art. 2.2 of the call for proposals.

  • How to

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    Refer to the text of the call for proposals for the list of eligible costs, the requirements for the structure and content of the research plan, and the additional documentation necessary.

    Submit your MARVIS application using the online application system mySNFExternal Link Icon. We strongly recommend creating a user account at least one month before the submission deadline so that you can prepare the required information and documents in good time.

    MARVIS funding can have a duration of between one and seven years. Initially, a maximum duration of four years is funded for MARVIS projects. A subsequent application for extension is possible (Art. 4 of the call for proposals document).

    Please note the following points when preparing and submitting a research application:

  • The evaluation process

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    MARVIS proposals are evaluated in two steps:

    Step 1

    In Step 1, the SNSF evaluates the scientific and technical quality of the project. This evaluation is based on the project outline, which consists of the research plan as described in Art. 2.4 of the call document, along with the CVs of the applicants in the standardised SNSF CV format, and the supplementary documents (as described in Art. 2.4.4 c of the call document). Based on the Step 1 evaluation, the SNSF submits a recommendation to the SERI, as well as an assessment of the alignment of the projects with ESA activities.

    The SNSF is responsible for Step 1 of the evaluation on scientific and technical criteria.

    At least three reviewers per application will independently prepare separate evaluation reports. One of them is an expert from the ESA in the domains of industrial policy and technology. Discipline-specific experts will evaluate proposals that meet the formal requirements.

    The following evaluation criteria apply in the first evaluation step:

    1. The scientific and technical quality of the project, its innovation potential and its level of interdisciplinarity;
    2. The scientific and technical quality of the university and industrial partners involved, their organisational integration into the project and the planned measures for knowledge and technology transfer;
    3. The professional qualifications of the researchers involved, including the complementarity of the expertise and knowledge of the applicants and the added value of the collaborative character of the proposal;
    4. The planned measures to promote young researchers and equal opportunities.

    Evaluation scores are given for each of these criteria and used to calculate a final numerical score. Proposals are ranked based on the final score awarded by the individual reviewers in their evaluations.

    Step 2

    In Step 2 of the evaluation, the SERI will evaluate the project according to the space, research and innovation policy. To enable this, the project plan is made accessible to the SERI. This project plan consists of the project outline described above, complemented with detailed information on the requested funding.

    For more details on the evaluation please refer to Art 3.2 of the call document.

  • Documents

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    Legal basis:The general provisions of the SNSF apply to the MARVIS call for proposals:

  • FAQ

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    General questions

    How is 'national importance' defined ?

    The definition of national importance of a project can be drawn from the Swiss Space policy. With the MARVIS call, the SNSF and the SERI want to promote multidisciplinary, applied research projects that can position Switzerland favourably in the European and international space ecosystem.

    What is the Swiss space policy?

    The Swiss Space Policy is outlined on the SERI website Schweizer Weltraumpolitik (admin.ch)External Link Icon and the reference document is linked here in GermanExternal Link Icon and here in FrenchExternal Link Icon. There is no English version of it.

    Types of project

    What topics are eligible for MARVIS funding?

    There are no pre-defined topics for MARVIS, as long as the projects fulfil all criteria as outlined in the call document and have a clear link to space.

    How will the SNSF and the SERI ensure that there are no similar projects at the European Space Agency ESA?

    There is no similar funding scheme at ESA. To ensure appropriate coordination with ESA’s needs, ESA experts will also take part in the evaluation.

    What are the expected TRLs (technology readiness levels) in MARVIS projects?

    This is not explicitly defined. Projects have to comply with all the eligibility requirements as outlined in the call text. The resulting TRLs are therefore implicitly defined.

    Are projects where a lot of software will be developed eligible for funding?

    Yes, as long as they fulfil all the criteria as outlined in the call text.

    What is the difference between a MARVIS project and an Innosuisse project?

    MARVIS projects are distinguished from typical Innosuisse projects by their size, the number of required academic partners and the specific link to space.

    In step 2 of the evaluation, the projects will be reviewed according to the Swiss space policy. What is the relevant reference document?

    It is the “Revision der schweizerischen Weltraumpolitik” from 2008. This document is available in German and French under Schweizer Weltraumpolitik (admin.ch)External Link Icon / Politique spatiale de la Suisse (admin.ch)External Link Icon.

    Consortium partners

    What is the definition of "different academic partners"? Could two institutes from the same higher education research centre build a consortium and apply for MARVIS funding?

    No, the eligible higher education research centres are defined according to RIPA Art. 4c, paras. 1 and 2 (SR 420.1 - Federal Act of 14 December 2012 on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA) (admin.ch)External Link Icon). Individual institutes do not fall under this category. The collaborating institutes need to belong to at least two different higher education research centres.

    How will companies be represented in a MARVIS consortium?

    In MARVIS, the companies and industries are not applicants, but partners. There will be no contract between the SERI and the companies involved. It is the responsibility of the consortium to establish a contractual framework with all partners. The same is true of IP agreements. All agreements may be reviewed during the step 2 evaluation.

    How can cantonal or federal offices participate in MARVIS?

    Cantonal or federal offices can be project partners but not applicants, and they cannot receive funding. Some specific cases may need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

    Industry and project partners

    Can industry partners also be from abroad?

    Yes, industry partners can be from abroad. For them, the same MARVIS rules and conditions apply as for Swiss industries.

    Can a project partner that is not part of the consortium get funds from MARVIS?

    Non-industrial partners that are not part of the consortium can get up to 20% of the total MARVIS grant (subcontracting of necessary services). As they are not part of the consortium, the do not get access to the generated IP.

    Are researchers from PSI and EMPA eligible as applicants, or must they be project partners?

    Researchers from PSI and EMPA are eligible as applicants, as their institutions are higher education research centres according to RIPA Art. 4c paras. 1 and 2. (SR 420.1 - Federal Act of 14 December 2012 on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA) (admin.ch)External Link Icon)

    Can researchers from "research facilities of national importance" be applicants?

    Researchers from research facilities of national importance (RIPA Art. 4c para. 3), as listed in Forschungseinrichtungen von nationaler Bedeutung (admin.ch)External Link Icon, are not eligible to be applicants on MARVIS proposals. They may participate as project partners.

    Funding and matching funds

    How should the funding be entered on mySNSF?

    On mySNF, you will find the following:

    • ‘Requested funding’ container where the requested budget for the first 4 years should be added;
    • ‘Supplementary document’ container where you can include the co-financing documents;
    • ‘Project Overview Budget Form’ container where you can add the requested budget for the additional (maximum) 3 years. Please note that the project duration is between 1 and 7 years.

    Must the 100% matching funds be provided each year by year, or in total?

    The matching funds must be 100% in total over the granted duration. It must not be 100% on each annual instalment.

    Can industry partners that are part of the consortium receive MARVIS funding?

    No, industry partners that are part of the consortium may not receive funding from MARVIS. They may benefit however from early access to intellectual property (IP) and technology and know-how transfer.

    Can a project partner that is not part of the consortium get funds from MARVIS?

    Non-industrial partners that are not part of the consortium can get up to 20% of the total MARVIS grant (subcontracting of necessary services). As they are not part of the consortium, the do not get access to the generated IP.

    Can third-party funding come from ESA?

    ESA funding can be recognised as third-party funding if it is allocated for the same project goal (material link between the MARVIS activities and the activities funded by ESA), and if it was awarded by ESA through a competitive process. The link and overlap of activities between an ESA project and the MARVIS project must be substantiated in the MARVIS proposal.

    Without pre-empting the results of the evaluation during step 2, there is no guarantee that ESA funding in a specific MARVIS project can or will be recognised.

    Is there a minimum to the industry cash contribution?

    No, as long as the 10% rule is followed. Nonetheless, the splitting of the work, the consortium partners’ roles and the industry contributions are part of the MARVIS evaluation.

    Is there a minimum to the non-cash contribution from industry?

    No, not formally. Nonetheless, the splitting of the work, the consortium partners’ roles and the industry contributions are part of the MARVIS evaluation.

    What is the difference between contributions in the form of subcontracting and cash contributions in MARVIS projects?

    The matching funds contributions from industrial project partners can be made in the form of services that would be in principle eligible to be paid under "subcontractors". At least 10% of the industry partners’ contribution must be made in cash, the rest can be in kind contributions.

    What types of costs are eligible?

    The standard SNSF regulations apply, unless stated otherwise in the MARVIS call document.

    What types of costs are considered for the research centre’s own contribution?

    All costs that would also be eligible for funding according to the MARVIS call and SNSF regulations.

    What is the applicable overhead rate?

    Since MARVIS projects are co-funded, no overhead can be charged.

    Application and evaluation process

    Can supplementary information be provided once the deadline has passed and the evaluation has started (e.g. between step 1 and step 2 of the evaluation)?

    Only information submitted by the call deadline will be considered in the evaluation. No information provided later can be considered.

    Will applicants be informed if their projects are chosen for step 2 of the evaluation?

    Yes

    Research plan

    Does the research plan cover the 4 years for which funding is requested, or the full 7 years?

    Only the 4 years. The research plan for the years 5-7 must be submitted together with the request for extension of the project.

    Can the funding for years 5-7 be adapted/finetuned when submitting the request for extension?

    Yes

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