International cooperation – opportunities for researchers

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Doctoral students, postdocs, future professors or well-established scientists – the SNSF can help researchers expand their networks with European and international colleagues at any stage in their career.

Collaborating across borders is something most researchers take for granted. In cross-border projects, they can address societal problems, broaden their horizons and advance their careers. The SNSF makes international networking easy. "Our funding opens a lot of doors for researchers," enthuses Matthias Egger, President of the National Research Council. "It enables them to find partners abroad, exchange ideas with them and carry out joint projects."

Building networks

Researchers start or intensify their international collaboration in personal exchanges. They build and maintain networks that advance their own careers and research as a whole. Conferences provide a forum for discussing research questions and findings. Some examples of funding opportunities:

  • Networking and mobility in project funding: Researchers can fund the costs of networking and exchange at different career stages.
  • Scientific Exchanges: These make it possible to organise research stays or to stage events in Switzerland.
  • COST Actions: The European COST programme offers support through networks. These Actions can comprise conferences, exchange programmes or continuing education courses. The SNSF also funds research projects by Swiss participants as part of the Actions.

Collaborating on projects

From bilateral partnerships to large consortia, the SNSF supports joint projects between researchers. The funding schemes are thematically open or focused on one topic. Some address a specific country, while in others the country can be chosen freely. Examples of funding opportunities:

  • Weave/Lead Agency/International Co-Investigator Scheme: These three agreements make it easier for researchers to apply for funding for joint projects with colleagues abroad.
  • SOR4D, SPIRIT and federal bilateral programmes: In these programmes, researchers from Switzerland and selected countries work together.
  • International contribution in projects: In project funding and other schemes, researchers based abroad can participate as co-project leaders or partners. Swiss researchers can also hire team members from abroad for their projects; this further strengthens knowledge exchange across borders.

Success factor for Swiss science

In the SNSF projects currently underway, around 7200 international collaborations are taking place - as joint projects, partnerships, stays abroad, exchanges or other contacts. "This network building is an important success factor for Swiss science," says Matthias Egger. "Everyone benefits – the researchers, the universities, the economy and the public. And of course the same is true for the other countries involved." For this reason, the SNSF is also continuing to strive for Switzerland’s association to the Horizon Europe framework programme, which is irreplaceable.

Researchers can find detailed information on all funding opportunities for international collaboration on the SNSF website.

Opening more doors

In 2023, the SNSF will continue to expand its international funding opportunities or create new ones. For example, it will participate in three multilateral Belmont Forum calls. The Forum supports global and interdisciplinary research on climate change. The list of countries with which a lead agency agreement is in place will be extended to include the USA and Israel. In addition, the SNSF will now provide information on foreign funding opportunities that researchers in Switzerland can take advantage of directly or together with colleagues in the relevant countries. One example of this are partnerships with Canadian researchers in the natural and engineering sciences.