BRIDGE Discovery: From sustainable rice farming to democratic citizens’ assemblies

© gettyimages

For the fifth time, the SNSF and Innosuisse are together funding excellent projects that show economic and social potential with 17.5 million francs.

94 project proposals were submitted in the fifth BRIDGE Discovery call. They were evaluated by experts in applied research and research implementation. Of the researchers that applied, 29 received an invitation to present their project and take part in an interview. Based on the evaluation, the SNSF and Innosuisse are funding 16 outstanding projects with an overall budget of 17.5 million francs. This corresponds to a success rate of 17 per cent.

All topics considered

In 2021, the BRIDGE Discovery call was open to all types of innovation for the first time. In addition to technology projects, 11 projects with strong links to the humanities and social sciences were submitted. The 16 funded projects in the fifth call therefore come from very different disciplines, e.g. political science, psychology, life sciences, engineering or environmental sciences.

Ecological rice farming as a goal

Among the funded projects is that of Yvonne Fabian (Agroscope), Hans Ramseier (Bern University of Applied Sciences) and Volker Prasuhn (Agroscope), which deals with rice cultivation in Switzerland. The researchers want to work with organic and conventional farmers to develop rice farming as a method that is both environmentally friendly and climate-friendly. At the same time, the project leaders hope to increase the diversity of animal and plant species that prefer wetlands. The project aims to establish cultivation standards and pave the way for an ecological rice farming label.

Improve performance, enhance well-being

Nicole Wenderoth (ETH Zurich) and Daniel Birrer (Swiss Federal Institute of Sports Magglingen) are developing a new technology to self-regulate the brain's activation level using neurofeedback. Increasing psychological resilience in challenging situations - like an athlete in a competition - should not only improve performance, but also enhance psychological well-being. This technology could be integrated into future training programmes in highly stressful jobs, including in emergency rooms or intensive care units.

Citizens’ assembly

The project by Daniel Kübler (University of Zurich) and Nenad Stojanović (University of Geneva) is the first political science project to be supported by BRIDGE Discovery. In the project, a "Swiss Citizens' Assembly" is developed and implemented. Randomly selected citizens from all language regions come together, discuss an issue of national importance and reach a democratic decision. For the first time, citizens are to be involved in decision-making at national level through an assembly. The researchers want to establish a model that can be used by public administrations at local, cantonal and national level, or by research institutions.

Sixth call open

The sixth call for BRIDGE Discovery was launched in January 2022 for researchers from all disciplines. Researchers can submit a letter of intent until 28 February 2022, and a project proposal by 2 May 2022. The letter of intent is a precondition for submitting a proposal.