SNSF project funding: clearer, more attractive and more effective

In autumn 2016, the SNSF will introduce changes to project funding: the maximum duration of projects will be raised from three to four years and grants can be used more flexibly. Researchers are encouraged to focus as much as possible on a single research project.

​The SNSF is adapting the project funding scheme on the basis of a client survey that was evaluated in 2014 and the analyses of an internal working group. The aim is to make the most important SNSF funding scheme clearer and more attractive to researchers and to support research more effectively. The SNSF is also adopting rules that clearly define scientific responsibilities in research projects. As before, project funding will be open to all scientific fields, disciplines and research ideas. The changes will take effect as of 1 October 2016, together with the first dedicated regulations on project funding.

Longer and more flexible funding

Two important elements of the innovations are based on wishes expressed by researchers in the client survey: first, the maximum duration of projects is increased from three to four years. By adopting this change, the SNSF is responding to the concerns of the majority of researchers, who stated that they work much longer on a given project or question than project funding permits. The new maximum duration of four years also takes into account the average time required to complete a doctorate. Second, researchers will be able to use the awarded grants more flexibly. Costs for workshops, networking, project partners or career development for team members will be considered as project costs. This will reduce the administrative workload of researchers as this funds generally do not need to be requested separately.

Focusing on a single project

The new project funding scheme will encourage researchers to adopt a clear research focus and concentrate as far as possible on a single project. Holding two grants in project funding will still be possible, provided the subject matters are clearly different. As of autumn 2016, only one application may be submitted per submission deadline. With these measures the SNSF aims to promote research diversity in project funding, guarantee the efficient use of the limited funds available for project funding and keep the workloads of applicants and evaluators within reasonable limits.

Clear scientific responsibility

To create a situation in which it is clear who has the scientific responsibility for a project, only researchers who are responsible for the research idea and the implementation of the project should act as applicants. As a rule, this is one person per project. Two or more applicants are accepted if they are needed to achieve the targets set for the planned project. Researchers who contribute to a project without assuming project responsibility are assigned the new role of project partner.

All the latest information regarding the innovations in project funding and their implementation are available on a dedicated website. A second round of information providing details of the innovations in project funding is planned for the end of February 2016.