National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs)
Cutting-edge research made in Switzerland
NCCRs are aimed at established researchers in Switzerland who wish to pursue a long-term research project on a theme of strategic importance. The NCCR management teams are based at a higher education institution or at another renowned research institution. NCCRs are backed by one or more home institution.
The budget for each series of NCCRs is determined by parliament. In addition to federal funds, NCCRs receive funding from higher education institutions and from third parties.
Aims of NCCRs
NCCRs aim to strengthen Swiss research in areas of strategic importance for the future of Swiss science, business and society. The programme seeks to promote research projects of the highest quality with a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches, but also on new, innovative approaches within the disciplines.
NCCRs aim at:
- improving the distribution of work among research institutions in Switzerland and at improving their international integration; in so doing, the NCCRs contribute to the creation of new research structures or the strengthening of existing ones;
- establishing a network of collaborations and partnerships between the academic and non-academic public and private sectors;
- maintaining links to the potential users of research results in order to make a contribution to knowledge and technology transfer;
- supporting talented doctoral students and postdocs as well as improving the career prospects of women in research.
Call for proposals
The Swiss National Science Foundation launched a call for the 5th series of National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs) in October 2017. By end of August 2019, the SNSF concluded the scientific selection procedure.
The Federal government will decide communicate its decision on the establishment of new NCCRs mid-December 2019.The five to six new NCCRs will subsequently start their research work in early 2020.
Submission of proposals
Pre-proposals and proposals for an NCCR must be submitted via the mySNF platform.
Researchers involved in an NCCR can apply to the NCCR management directly for a mobility grant or a support grant. The SNSF will evaluate the applications approved by the NCCR management in accordance with the general requirements for these supplementary measures.
Can I work for a National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) as a doctoral student or postdoc?
Each NCCR offers programmes for young scientists where the latter are taught to conduct multidisciplinary research. Working in an NCCR holds great appeal for young researchers interested in multidisciplinary questions. The NCCRs recruit young scientists themselves and announce vacant positions on their website. Interested parties should contact the NCCR directors directly.
When and how often can one apply to a National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR)?
The SNSF periodically issues new NCCR calls. Four series of NCCRs have been launched so far (2001, 2005, 2010, 2014). The new call (5th series) was launched in October 2017 and will be open until late autumn 2019. The SNSF informs the Swiss higher education institutions and the other research institutions about the start of a new call at an early stage.
Who can call for the creation of a National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR)?
Established researchers at a Swiss higher education institution or research institution. Proposals for NCCRs must be backed by one or more home institutions. In collaboration with the home institution(s), NCCRs are expected to sustainably promote young scientists at all levels in line with the goals of the NCCR funding scheme.
Where can I find information on the legal basis of National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs)?
The legal basis of NCCRs is set out in the Federal Research and Innovation Promotion Act (RIPA) and in the relevant Ordinance (implementation regulations).
Youtube Channel #NCCRWomen
While the main goal of the NCCRs is to foster cutting-edge collaborative research, they also aim to actively promote women’s careers in science.
On this occasion of the 50th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote in Switzerland, all NCCRs have joined forces in a campaign that highlights the importance of women in the Swiss research landscape. From International Women’s Day on 8 March until 31 October, the 50th anniversary of the first women’s vote, each NCCR will present a series of videos portraying the work of some of its women scientists. These short films illustrate the key roles that women play in all fields of research in Switzerland.
Evaluation of the NCCR selection process
The Swiss national Science Foundation (SNSF) mandated the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) to perform an evaluation of the selection process of the National Centres for Competence in Research (NCCRs) of the 5th series. NCCRs are long-term research networks in areas of strategic importance for Swiss science, the Swiss economy and Swiss society. The selection process is highly competitive. Even if the final funding decisions are made by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the SNSF is responsible for short-listing the most promising projects based on the evaluation criteria. The ability to do so is central to the output and impact of the NCCR programme as a whole. For this reason, the Programmes division of the SNSF decided to initiate an evaluation of the short-listing process of the NCCRs of the 5th series. The primary purposes of the evaluation are to assess the effect of the changes implemented as a result of the first assessment performed in 2016 and to guarantee quality and further improve the short-listing process for NCCRs, especially in view of upcoming NCCR calls.
The evaluation addresses all major stakeholders of the process: applicants, home institutions, evaluation panel members, as well as members of the Research Council. The results of the evaluation will be made available on the SNSF website once the study is completed.