Simplified application process with first non-European country

The SNSF has signed a Lead Agency agreement with the National Research Foundation in South Africa. As of 2021, researchers will be able to submit joint projects to one of the two organisations.

The SNSF and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) have already launched joint calls and funded 37 projects under a bilateral programme of the Swiss government. They are now expanding their collaboration with a Lead Agency agreement. Based on this agreement, researchers in Switzerland and South Africa can submit joint funding applications. This simplifies the application process considerably. The two funders will take turns during a two-year pilot phase: the SNSF will evaluate all submissions in 2021, the NRF in 2022. The first submission deadline is 1 April 2021. Researchers are free to choose their own research topic.

A new milestone

For the first time, the SNSF has signed a Lead Agency agreement with a non-European country. In a video conference, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and Blade Nzimande, South African Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, welcomed the agreement as a milestone in research relations between the two countries. Matthias Egger, President of the National Research Council of the SNSF, and Molapo Qhobela, CEO of the NRF, also participated in the conference.

Federal Councillor Parmelin said that the agreement was the result "of the very positive developments in the context of the bilateral programme. This programme was initiated in 2007 with a bilateral agreement on scientific and technological collaboration. An important aim was to establish direct collaboration between the two funding organisations and bring the two countries' research communities closer together."

Matthias Egger stressed the importance of the new agreement: "I'm very pleased to see that we are introducing the tried and tested Lead Agency process with an African country for the first time. This will open up new opportunities for joint research, from which both sides will benefit."

Joint research question

Lead Agency applications need to meet certain criteria. They must have a joint research question and research plan. In addition, the parts of the project conducted in each country are not independent projects and cannot be carried out separately.

The Lead Agency process is part of the SNSF's project funding scheme. Hence researchers may only submit a Lead Agency application if there are no thematic overlaps with applications being evaluated at the SNSF or with ongoing projects.