Understanding digitalisation: The SNSF awards research grants worth 10 million francs

How does digitalisation affect individuals and society? 57 research projects will seek to answer this question in the context of the SNSF call "Digital Lives".

​Everyone is talking about digitalisation these days, and it is also high on Switzerland's political agenda. How will it change politics and the economy? Relationships between people? The way people think and feel? "These are questions that information technology cannot answer. They need to be addressed by the humanities and social sciences," says Brigitte Arpagaus, the deputy head of the humanities and social sciences division of the SNSF.

Many high-quality projects

With this in mind, the SNSF launched the call on "Digital Lives" in December 2017. The number of submitted research proposals exceeded everyone's expectations; in terms of quality the proposals are at a very high level. For this reason, the SNSF increased the budget allocated to the call from 4.4. to 10.4 million francs. The money is being used to finance 57 outstanding projects, which will receive a maximum of 250,000 francs for a period of up to 18 months. The funded projects cover a wide range of topics.

Opportunities for young researchers

"Digital Lives" appealed to both established researchers and early-career researchers. "This shows that we achieved another aim of the call, namely to promote researchers at different career stages," says Arpagaus. "A younger generation of researchers will get the chance to make a name for themselves in an area of study that will be of the utmost importance in the coming years and decades."

In addition to "Digital Lives", the SNSF is considering launching a new National Research Programme on the "Digital transformation of the economy and of society as a whole" in 2019. In so doing, it is implementing measures set out by the Swiss government in its action plan on digitalisation in the ERI sector in 2019 and 2020.