Lead Agency projects: now also possible with the USA

A new agreement between the SNSF and the National Science Foundation simplifies cooperation between researchers in the two countries. Applications can be submitted as of April 2023.

In November 2021, the SNSF and the National Science Foundation (NSF) concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Now, a year later, the two funding organisations have signed a Lead Agency agreement based on the MoU. Researchers can submit joint applications to either organisation. The projects must have a joint research question and research plan. The parts of the project conducted in each country are not independent projects and cannot be carried out separately.

"We are very pleased with this first concrete implementation measure of the Memorandum of Understanding," says Laure Ognois, Head of International Cooperation. "It simplifies the application process for researchers and prevents contradicting decisions by the two funding organisations involved."

Part of project funding

The Lead Agency process is part of the SNSF's project funding scheme. There is no additional budget and the usual project funding requirements apply. Researchers may submit a Lead Agency application if there are no thematic overlaps with applications under evaluation at the SNSF or with ongoing projects.

The Lead Agency Procedure starts with selected Directorates and Divisions of the NSF. Only applications covered by them can be submitted.

First submission date: 3 April 2023

The two funding organisations have agreed to take turns as the Lead Agency on a yearly basis. In 2023, the deadlines for submitting proposals to the SNSF are 3 April and 2 October. US applicants are required to submit an expression of interest (EOI) describing the entire project to the NSF, regardless of whether the lead lies with the SNSF or the NSF. For the submission deadline of 3 April 2023, applicants are asked to submit the EOI by 17 February 2023.

The SNSF has already signed Lead Agency agreements with Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Sao Paulo, Slovenia, South Africa, South Tyrol and Sweden.

Who is taking part?

The Lead Agency Procedure starts with these Directorates and Divisions of the US National Science Foundation:

  • Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO)
    - Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)
  • Directorate for Geological Sciences (GEO)
  • Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS)
    - Astronomical Sciences (AST)
    - Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS)
    - Division of Physics (PHY)
  • Directorate for Engineering (ENG)
  • Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE)
    - Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
    - Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)