Billing for the use of internal university infrastructure
Centralised infrastructures are becoming increasingly important for research. The SNSF aims to ensure that applicants have access to the infrastructures needed to successfully complete their research projects. However, pursuant to the SNSF Funding Regulations only "the direct costs of the use of infrastructure for conducting the research project" are chargeable to the grant (FR Article 28).
In addition, Articles 2.12 (material costs: computing time and data) and 2.15 (direct costs of infrastructure use) of the Implementation Regulations stipulate that "general costs for the maintenance and service of the infrastructures" are not covered by the grant.
In order to distinguish eligible from ineligible costs, as of 1 January 2017, research infrastructures that charge a fee for their services must provide a breakdown of the costs charged to the research projects. As of 1 January 2019, all financial reports submitted to the SNSF must include a detailed summary of the cost structure of the invoicing infrastructure. This information is ideally integrated into the invoice or added as an annex (see information dated 30 November 2018). The invoice must show the name of the research infrastructure and the services provided.
Definition of infrastructure
Pursuant to the Funding Regulations, the term “infrastructure” refers to those units within a research institution that provide services and are necessary for the implementation of a research project, but which do not form an integral part of the basic facilities or the facilities required for the normal operation of an academic institution. “Normal operation” encompasses the provision of services in the areas of administration, technology transfer, interface with the Cantonal Ethics Commission, general information technology, communication, human resources, finance, real estate management, materials and logistics, etc. The costs of such services may not be charged to the SNSF grant.
Invoice enclosures for the purpose of documenting tariffs have to be based on the following categories:
|Direct costs of infrastructure use (eligible)|
|Salaries and social contributions of personnel for use of the necessary equipment||For services that are provided for use of the infrastructure and that are directly linked to processing of the object of study.|
|Energy costs||Only for equipment that gives rise to variable energy costs that are significantly higher than the normal level.|
|Acquisition costs of appliances that have a service life of ≤ 4 years||Only if the appliances could be also purchased within the framework of SNSF grants (≤50,000.- per SNSF project).|
|Other direct costs of infrastructure use||Reasons for incurring these costs need to be explained in detail|
|Direct costs of provision of infrastructure (non-eligible)|
|Salaries and social contributions of personnel for the maintenance of the equipment|
|Maintenance contracts, repair costs|
|Depreciation of research equipment|
|Other costs directly associated with infrastructure|
|Indirect costs (non-eligible)|
|Administration and management costs|
|Other general costs|
|Other accounting costs, overheads|
Small appliances with a service life of ≤ 4 years
Some centrally administered small appliances used in specific research projects have a service life of less than four years. Due to this limited time-span, they may be regarded as a crossover between consumables and appliances. If these small appliances could also be acquired under individual SNSF grants (up to a maximum of CHF 50,000), the costs of the appliances may be regarded as project-related infrastructure costs that may be charged by the infrastructure management unit. An example of these small appliances are nodes in high-performance computing centres.
Separation of personnel costs for use and provision of infrastructure
In many cases, the project-related use of these appliances (chargeable) as well as their maintenance and administration (both not chargeable) are performed by the same person. In such cases, the person responsible for the relevant infrastructure subdivides the salary costs into these three categories. The SNSF is able to verify this allocation of costs by comparing similar services at different higher education institutions.
Workshops/laboratories and facilities for keeping laboratory animals
Workshops/laboratories and facilities for keeping laboratory animals may only charge for directly project-related services. With regard to facilities for keeping laboratory animals, the housing and breeding of animals that are not involved in the conducted experiments has to be classified as normal operation and therefore may not be charged to the grant.
These rules also apply to by university hospitals infrastructures that are used for research projects. Only hospital infrastructures which can show that they are not (part-) funded by contributions for research and teaching are exempt from the obligation to document tariffs. Such service providers may charge the research projects the usual tariffs.