SNSF strengthens partnership with Israeli funding organisation

The conclusion of a memorandum of understanding and the introduction of the Lead Agency process at a later stage will simplify cooperation between Swiss and Israeli scientists.

On the occasion of Israel President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Switzerland, the SNSF and the Israel Sci-ence Foundation (ISF) signed a joint memorandum of understanding. Matthias Egger, president of the National Research Council, speaks of a milestone: “The agreement is the start of a long-term and promising cooperation between the two funding organisations.”

Only one application for joint projects

In a first implementation step, Swiss and Israeli researchers will only have to submit a single application for joint projects. Either the SNSF or the ISF will then assess the project, as opposed to both in parallel, as is currently the case. “With the Lead Agency Procedure we are simplifying the application process for researchers and preventing contradicting decisions by the two funding organisations involved,” says SNSF director Angelika Kalt.

The SNSF has already concluded such agreements with numerous European countries as well as with South Africa and the federal state of São Paolo in Brazil. An agreement with the USA is in preparation. Each year, the SNSF finances several hundred research projects with this procedure. In each case, it assumes the costs of Swiss participation.

Different forms of cooperation

In addition to the lead agency process, the new memorandum of understanding enables other forms of cooperation between the SNSF and the ISF. These might include joint conferences, or the exchange of information and best practices. “A strategic goal of the SNSF is to continue to expand international cooperation,” says Matthias Egger. “The Israel Science Foundation is an ideal partner in this respect.”

Daniel Zajfman, Chair of the Academic Board of the ISF, also stresses how important the memorandum of understanding is for his organisation: “It allows scientists from both countries to cooperate seamlessly and be funded. It is part of the ISF strategy to enhance international scientific cooperation, and the Swiss funding agency is an ideal partner, given the high level of research it supports.”

The ISF primarily finances basic research, with a budget that amounted to 210 million francs in 2021. Since 2011, the SNSF has supported 413 projects by Swiss researchers that include an element of direct cooperation with Israel.