New opportunities for research partnerships between the UK and Switzerland

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The SNSF and its partner organisation UK Research and Innovation have signed an agreement paving the way to closer collaboration between researchers in Switzerland and the UK.

Building on existing ties, the SNSF and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have negotiated a memorandum of understanding. The new agreement symbolises their commitment to the growth of international collaboration opportunities between research communities in both countries. It was celebrated on 8 February 2022 in the presence of Martina Hirayama, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, and George Freeman, the UK Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.

“The UK and Switzerland have thriving research communities with successful collaborations over many years. UK Research and Innovation is committed to maintaining and growing its partnerships with outstanding research and innovation funders across the globe. This agreement with the Swiss National Science Foundation represents the next step in our successful alliance,” says Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI. Matthias Egger, President of the SNSF’s National Research Council, stresses the importance of the MoU for Swiss research: “Across all international collaborations reported in SNSF grants, the UK is among the three most frequently cited countries. We are committed to helping the research communities in Switzerland and the UK combine their efforts.”

Research visits

The funders agree to increase their support for collaboration between the two countries by issuing coordinated, parallel calls to encourage networking, knowledge exchange and research visits of up to 12 months.

UKRI issued a UK-Switzerland Partnering Awards call on 14 January 2022 with the objective of encouraging UK-based researchers to cooperate with researchers in Switzerland. The SNSF issued a parallel call for Swiss-based researchers to cooperate with their peers based in the UK under its Scientific Exchanges scheme on 1 February with a submission deadline on 8 April.

In addition to this special call, the SNSF’s regular Scientific Exchanges scheme remains open for visits of between one and six months in any discipline from and to any country, including the UK.

Further activities

Beyond the initial collaboration on Scientific Exchanges, the SNSF and UKRI intend to work towards a broader and larger-scale cooperation. This could include joint, thematically open and bottom-up research projects between the UK and Switzerland.

Existing collaborations

In 2013, the SNSF signed an agreement on the International Co-Investigator Scheme with the UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. The scheme supports projects that include a subproject abroad accounting for up to 30% of the total project costs. The projects are evaluated and funded in their entirety by the funding organisation of the country in which the largest share of the budget is requested.