More than 1000 project funding applications

Experienced researchers use the SNSF's project funding scheme to investigate self-chosen topics. They submitted 1032 applications in response to the first call of 2020.

The SNSF spends approximately half of its budget on project funding. In 2019, it awarded funding worth 531 million francs to 863 projects. Researchers can apply for this type of funding twice a year, in April and in October.

1032 applications in April 2020 confirm how important this scheme is for Swiss research. Whether in the humanities and social sciences, biology and medicine or mathematics, natural and engineering sciences: application numbers have hit a new high since 2016. That year, the SNSF had remodelled the funding scheme, for example by extending the maximum duration of a grant from three to four years. "The high number of applications might be linked to our extension of the submission deadline in April 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic," says Thomas Werder Schläpfer, member of the Executive Management of the SNSF.

644,000 francs on average

Of the 1032 projects, 362 are in biology and medicine, 358 in mathematics, natural and engineering sciences, and 312 in the humanities and social sciences. On average, researchers requested a budget of 644,000 francs for a project duration of 3.6 years.

The average age of the applicants is 48. 31% are competing for an SNSF grant for the first time. Since April 2014, the share of projects involving use-inspired basic research has risen from 22% to 31%. Women submitted 24% of the applications.

With the funding they receive from the SNSF, researchers can finance the salaries of their team members. In addition, they can use it to cover project costs, e.g. consumables, access to infrastructure and conference participation. The applicants' salaries are paid by their higher education institutions.

The proposed projects will go through a demanding selection process until September 2020, involving international reviewers. The National Research Council will then decide which of the 1032 projects the SNSF will fund.

Implementing their own ideas

The project funding scheme is aimed at established researchers who choose their topics themselves. Several of them together may also submit a group application. "The large share of funded projects on self-chosen topics is a speciality of the SNSF compared to funders in other countries," says Thomas Werder Schläpfer. "This allows researchers in all disciplines and from all institutions to pursue their own ideas. It ensures that scientific research in Switzerland is relevant, flexible, creative and diverse – perfect conditions for gaining new insights and for solving practice-related problems."