75 outline proposals for new National Centres of Competence in Research

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In November 2023, the SNSF launched a 6th NCCR call. By the submission deadline in April, applicants had submitted a total of 75 outline proposals. As the next step, the SNSF will now assess these proposals.

In February the SNSF received 79 declarations of intent to submit proposals for new National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs). 75 outline proposals have now been submitted, all of which have been approved for the first assessment round. They will be assessed by evaluation panels consisting of international experts by the end of September.

Diverse topics and a high proportion of women

The topics include various social and technical challenges, such as digitalisation, artificial intelligence, health and nutrition, as well as sustainability and the strengthening of democratic societies. As with previous NCCR calls, research themes fundamental to the social sciences and humanities and to the natural and life sciences are also strongly represented. Almost all the cantonal universities plus the two Federal Institutes of Technology, seven universities of applied sciences and three research institutes are participating in the call as “home institutions” (i.e. those that provide an NCCR with long-term financial and structural support). For 26 of the proposed NCCRs, women are the designated NCCR directors and will thus perform the lead roles in them. Consequently, the proportion of women at management level (35%) is higher than in any previous round of NCCR calls.

Assessment of the NCCR outline proposals

The SNSF applies its standardised evaluation procedure to NCCR selection. At least three external expert opinions are obtained from researchers outside Switzerland to evaluate the proposals in the initial phase. For each application, these external opinions are consulted by two panel members, who then produce their own assessments. The latter provide the basis for the evaluation panel’s discussion to assess the outline proposals.

The evaluation results will be announced at the end of September 2024. The applicants will then decide together with the participating home institutions which proposals they want to develop further. NCCR full proposals (or applications) are to be submitted in February 2025.