Annual report 2022
1,500 new research projects and 400 fellowships abroad in anniversary year.
On 1 August 2022, the SNSF celebrated its 70th anniversary. Its key tasks are the same as in 1952: promoting the best projects in all disciplines on behalf of the Swiss government and facilitating advances in science. We enable nationwide competition between research ideas that is independent and solely committed to quality.
In 2022, the SNSF allocated 910 million francs in its regular funding schemes. We awarded a further 173 million for Horizon Europe transitional measures.
Learn more about our activities in 2022:
Foreword by the SNSF Board
Everything is connected
When situations become complicated, it can be helpful to take inspiration from people who are used to moving between different realities or disciplines. Like Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance polymath and genius, who famously said: “Realise that everything connects to everything else”.
Everything? Take situations that appear to completely unrelated at first glance, like the war in Ukraine, a new virus, Switzerland’s relations with the EU or the shortage of skilled labour. And then realise that scientific research is either affected or plays a key role in each case.
The war in Ukraine has had a particularly devastating impact on the country’s position in the scientific world, while at the same time harming Russia’s position and international scientific collaboration in a ricochet effect. That is because this aggression is also an attack on liberty, democracy and self-determination, values on which scientific autonomy and research cooperation are built. The SNSF has responded swiftly, working with its partners to allow around a hundred Ukrainian scientists to come to Switzerland. It has also signed a collaboration agreement with its Ukrainian counterpart, the National Research Foundation of Ukraine (NRFU).
Even after three years, the coronavirus pandemic is still spawning scientific research. The SNSF’s special call and two National Research Programmes are generating ever more knowledge about COVID and are thus helping reduce the disease’s impact on people and society.
With relations between Switzerland and the EU still virtually at a stalemate, our country remains shut out for the short and medium term from the most important part of Horizon Europe, a situation that penalises Swiss research as much as it does Swiss scientists. This handicap also has an indirect impact on business, which will be increasingly starved of innovation and is already short of skilled staff to work in cutting-edge companies. The SNSF is working tirelessly to compensate for Switzerland’s exclusion to the greatest extent possible and will continue to respond rapidly with new schemes inspired by European models. However, it will never be able to offset the numerous disadvantages of exclusion by itself because nothing will ever be as good as full and complete participation in Horizon Europe.
This string of extraordinary situations presented a challenge for the SNSF, which, while it learnt a lot, occasionally reached its limits. Substantial effort and resources were funnelled into managing these problems, which had to be addressed on top of the SNSF’s core tasks of funding scientific research in Switzerland. Given the budget restrictions we are expecting, we have to be able to focus more on our primary mission without always having to somehow deal with emergencies.
This list of disparate developments reminds us above all of the crucial role that scientific research plays for Switzerland. Weakening this research will impoverish our country and create complications in the future. Deep down, everyone knows this. However, that is insufficient, because as Leonardo da Vinci also said: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
Under the strategic goal that the Confederation has set itself for 2023 to 2027, Switzerland will remain a leader in education, research and innovation. We will endeavour to make our contribution with passion, humility and energy, despite an increasingly uncertain budget situation.
President of the Foundation Council
President of the National Research Council
Research funding – key figures
Funding approved in 2022
In 2022, the SNSF approved 910 million Swiss francs for new projects, fellowships abroad and publications (excluding Open Access journal articles) under its regular funding schemes. More than 500 million Swiss francs went to project funding, allowing experienced researchers to focus on self-chosen topics. We also approved around 180 million each for the work of research groups in programmes and for young researchers in career funding schemes.
Switzerland is not associated with Horizon Europe, the EU's framework programme for research and innovation. That is why the SNSF approved 173 million francs for projects within the framework of transitional measures last year. This includes the budget for the Eccellenza funding schemes, which we have integrated into the transitional measures. These benefit both early-career researchers and established researchers.
In all, we evaluated 7,542 applications in 2022 and approved 2,733. The lion's share of the money was used to finance approximately 1,500 research projects in Switzerland. We also awarded 45.3 million francs for 405 fellowships that enable early-career researchers to conduct a research stay abroad. With other grants, we supported measures under the Scientific Exchanges scheme and the Open Access publication (books and book chapters) scheme. In addition to the 2,733 approved applications, we financed approximately 1,500 Open Access journal articles with a total of 3.7 million francs via the portal of our partner ChronosHub.
In 2022, 36% of the newly awarded funds went to life sciences, 31% to mathematics, natural sciences and engineering, and 24% to the humanities and social sciences. 9% were used for interdisciplinary projects under the Sinergia programme.
The SNSF approved 651 million francs for projects at universities, 282 million for institutions in the ETH Domain, and 59 million for universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education. Additional grants and supplementary measures amounted to 18 million francs last year. They include grants for researchers with childcare duties.
The new funds approved in 2022 will result in an overhead of approximately 146 million francs, which will be transferred directly to the higher education institutions to compensate for their indirect research costs.
Ongoing projects 2022
At the end of 2022, 5528 SNSF-funded projects were ongoing. They involved 20,368 researchers from higher education and other institutions, 39.5% of them women. Most projects run for several years. The share of female researchers leading a project was 31.7%. This corresponds to an increase of 1 percentage point compared to 2021.
Insight into our activities
Research and its context are constantly evolving. In line with its strategy, the SNSF wants to anticipate and shape these changes together with its partners in the education, research and innovation sector. Therefore, in addition to evaluating research proposals and financing projects, we again undertook a whole host of other tasks in 2022. We have contributed ideas to promote diversity in research, strengthened our national and international networks and made research more visible in the public domain. Here we present a selection of activities carried out over the year.
As the SNSF's governing body, the Foundation Council ensures that the SNSF stays on mission. It supervises the activities of the bodies of the SNSF. Based on a recommendation from the National Research Council, it endorses the main pillars of the SNSF's funding policy and, in particular, the multi-year programme. The Foundation Council is responsible for approving the financial statement and the annual report.
42 honorary members, 45 per cent women, 55 per cent men
Prof. Maria Schönbächler, representative of SCNAT
Representatives of scientific organisations
Cantonal universities > Basel: Prof Torsten Schwede. Bern: Prof Daniel Candinas. Fribourg: Prof Katharina Fromm. Geneva: Prof Dominique Soldati-Favre. Lausanne: Prof Franciska Krings. Lucerne: Prof Gisela Michel. Neuchâtel: Prof Etienne Piguet. St. Gallen: Prof Thomas Markus Zellweger. Ticino: Prof Benedetto Lepori. Zurich: Prof Stefanie Walter.
Federal Institute of Technology > Lausanne: Prof Harald Brune. Zurich: Prof Sabine Werner.
Universities of Applied Sciences/Universities of Teacher Education > Prof Horst Biedermann (PH SG), Prof Maria Caiata Zufferey (SUPSI), Dr Markus Hodel (HSLU) (until 1.11.2022; successor vacant), Prof Jürg Kessler (FHGR), Prof Isabelle Mili (IUFE Geneva), Dr Christine Pirinoli (HES-SO), Prof Jean-Marc Piveteau (ZHAW), Prof Falko Schlottig (FHNW).
Academies > Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences: Prof Antonio Loprieno. SAHS: Prof Claudine Burton-Jeangros. SAMS: Prof em. Daniel Scheidegger (until 31.7.2022), Prof Georges Thalmann (from 1.8.2022). SATW: Prof Konstantinos Boulouchos. SCNAT: Prof Maria Schönbächler, Prof Marcel Tanner.
Prof Cesla Amarelle, Dr Gregor Haefliger (SERI), Dr René Imhof (F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG), Monika Knill (Canton of Thurgau, Dept. of Education and Culture), Dr Anja Isabella König (Novartis Venture Funds), Ulrich Jakob Looser (BLR&Partners AG), Jürg Stahl (Swiss Olympic), Natascha Wey (VPOD).
Prof Ron Appel (SIB) (until 10.10.2022), Prof Denis Duboule (University of Geneva and EPFL, free co-optation), Prof Michael Hengartner (ETH Board), Dr Erna Karrer-Rüedi (Eos Entrepreneurs Foundation), Dr Thierry Strässle (ETH Domain), Dr Prabitha Urwyler (actionuni, until 7.11.2022), Dr Pascale Vonmont (Gebert-Rüf Stiftung, free co-optation), Dr Stefanie Wyssenbach (swissuniversities).
Executive Committee of the Foundation Council
The Executive Committee prepares the agenda of the Foundation Council and directly supervises the activities of the National Research Council and the Administrative Offices. It elects the members of the Research Council and – together with the president of the Research Council – the Executive Management of the Administrative Offices. The Executive Committee also approves the service level agreement with the Swiss government.
15 honorary members, 53 per cent women, 47 per cent men
Jürg Stahl (President); Prof Maria Schönbächler (Vice President); Members: Prof Horst Biedermann, Prof Harald Brune, Prof Daniel Candinas, Prof Denis Duboule, Prof Katharina Fromm, Dr Gregor Haefliger, Dr Anja Isabella König, Prof Franciska Krings, Prof Jean-Marc Piveteau, Prof Torsten Schwede, Prof Dominique Soldati-Favre, Prof Chr. Pirinoli, Prof Stefanie Walter, Prof Sabine Werner.
T+R AG, Gümligen BE.
Prof Franciska Krings (President); Prof em. Walter Reith, Prof Dominik Hangartner, Dr Rita Pikó, Ingrid Petersson.
National Research Council
The National Research Council is the scientific body of the SNSF. It is responsible for evaluating grant applications and making funding decisions. The eight-member Presiding Board heads the Research Council and monitors the quality of funding decisions. It advises on science policy issues and develops the SNSF's funding policy.
96 honorary members, 39 per cent women, 61 per cent men
Prof. Matthias Egger
Presiding Board > Prof Matthias Egger. President Division I: Prof Laura Bernardi, Deputy of NRC President. President Division II: Dr Bernd Gotsmann. President Division III: Prof Matthias Peter. President Division IV: Prof Dimos Poulikakos. President Specialised Committee Careers: Prof Gabriele Rippl. President Specialised Committee International Cooperation: Prof Anna Fontcuberta i Morral. President Specialised Committee Interdisciplinary Research: Prof Andreas Mayer.
Division I: Humanities and Social Sciences > Prof Laura Bernardi (President); Prof Peter Auer (Vice President); Prof Roberto Caldara, Prof Véronique Dasen, Prof Paulo de Assis (from 1.4.2022), Prof Julia Eckert, Prof Christiana Fountoulakis, Prof Julia Gelshorn, Prof Daniel Gredig, Prof Eszter Hargittai (until 30.9.2022), Prof Madeleine Herren-Oesch, Prof Ben Jann, Prof Wassilis Kassis, Prof Thomas Keil, Prof Simona Pekarek Doehler, Prof Gabriele Rippl, Prof Dominic Rohner, Prof Frank Schimmelfennig, Prof Konrad Schmid, Prof Martin Spann, Prof Danièle Tosato-Rigo, Prof Birgit Watzke, Prof Markus Wild.
Division II: Mathematics, Natural and Engineering Sciences > Dr Bernd Gotsmann (President); Prof Ulrike Lohmann (Vice President until 30.9.2022); Prof Donna Testerman (Vice President from 1.10.2022); Prof Rémi Abgrall, Prof Natalie Banerji (from 1.4.2022), Prof Aude Billard (until 30.9.2022), Prof Jeffrey Bode, Dr Marc Bohner, Prof Joachim Buhmann, Prof Philippe Cudré-Mauroux, Prof Manfred Fiebig, Prof Karl Gademann, Prof Thomas Gehrmann (until 30.9.2022), Prof Fabrizio Grandoni, Prof Ravit Helled, Prof Juliane Hollender (until 30.9.2022), Prof Anne-Marie Kermarrec, Prof Frédéric Merkt, Prof Jean-François Molinari, Prof Daniela Rubatto, Prof Bettina Schaefli, Prof Stefan Schmalholz, Prof Olivier Schneider, Prof Adrian Signer (from 1.10.2022), Prof Vera Slaveykova-Startcheva (from 1.10.2022), Prof Thomas Südmeyer.
Division III: Biology and Medicine > Prof Matthias Peter (President); Prof Claudia Kühni (Vice President); Prof Anne Angelillo-Scherrer, Prof Mohamed Bentires-Alj, Prof Melanie Blokesch, Prof Kirsten Bomblies (from 1.10.2022), Prof Mirjam Christ-Crain, Prof Roberto Coppari, Prof Bart Deplancke, Prof Dominique De Quervain, Prof Olivier Devuyst, Prof Laurent Excoffier, Prof Thomas Flatt (from 1.10.2022), Prof Michel Gilliet, Prof Monica Gotta, Prof Fritjof Helmchen, Prof Christoph Hess, Prof Anthony Holtmaat, Prof Beat Keller (until 30.9.2022), Prof Hanna Kokko (until 30.9.2022), Prof Brenda Renata Kwak, Prof Kaspar Locher, Prof Oliver Mühlemann, Prof Adrian Franz Ochsenbein, Prof John Richard Pannell, Prof Carlo Rivolta, Prof Federica Sallusto, Prof Peter Scheiffele, Prof Isabelle Schmitt-Opitz, Prof Margitta Seeck, Prof Matthias Stuber, Prof Verdon Taylor (from 1.4.2022), Prof Rolf Zeller (until 31.3.2022).
Division IV: Programmes > Prof Dimos Poulikakos (President); Prof Nikola Biller-Andorno (Vice President from 1.1.2022); Prof Anastasia Ailamaki, Prof Uschi Backes-Gellner, Prof Manfred Max Bergman, Prof Dominik Brühwiler, Prof Annalisa Buffa, Prof Mira Burri (from 1.1.2022), Prof Eleni Chatzi, Prof Anna Fontcuberta i Morral, Prof Gudela Grote, Prof Chinwe Ifejika Speranza (from 1.6.2022), Prof Denis Jabaudon, Prof Stuart Lane, Prof Martin Lengwiler, Prof Andreas Mayer, Prof Bert Müller, Prof Henning Müller, Prof Nicolas Rodondi, Prof Rainer Wallny.
Specialised Committee Careers > Prof Gabriele Rippl (President); Prof Stuart Lane (Vice President); Prof Anne Angelillo-Scherrer, Prof Peter Auer (until 30.9.2022), Prof Julia Gelshorn (from 1.12.2022), Prof Monica Gotta (from 1.10.2022), Prof Ben Jann, Prof Beat Keller (until 30.9.2022), Prof Christian Matter, Prof Federica Sallusto, Prof Jess Snedeker, Prof Donna Testerman.
Specialised Committee International Cooperation > Prof Anna Fontcuberta i Morral (President); Prof Madeleine Herren-Oesch (Vice President); Prof Manfred Max Bergman, Prof Véronique Dasen, Prof Michel Gilliet, Prof Brenda Renata Kwak, Prof Daniela Rubatto, Prof Thomas Südmeyer.
Specialised Committee Interdisciplinary Research > Prof Andreas Mayer (President); Prof Juliane Hollender (Vice President until 30.9.2022); Prof Rainer Wallny (Vice President from 1.11.2022); Prof Melanie Blokesch (until 31.12.2022), Prof Roberto Caldara, Prof Olivier Devuyst (from 1.3.2022), Prof Anthony Holtmaat, Prof Kaspar Locher, Prof Frédéric Merkt, Prof Danièle Tosato-Rigo, Prof Vera Slaveykova-Startcheva (from 1.11.2022), Prof Markus Wild.
Gender Equality Commission > Prof Michèle Amacker (President); Prof Yvonne Benschop (from 1.6.2022), Prof Sébastien Chauvin (from 1.1.2022), Prof Michelle Cottier, Prof Stephen Curry (from 1.6.2022), Dr Jasmine Lorenzini (from 1.10.2022), Prof Ruth Müller.
Research Integrity Commission > Prof Nadja Capus (President); Dr Tania Bühler (until 30.9.2022), Prof Bart Deplancke, Prof Olivier Devuyst (from 1.10.2022), Milva Franceschi, Dr Sarah Glaser, Prof Gudela Grote (from 1.1.2022), Prof Juliane Hollender (until 30.9.2022), Danielle Jeanneret, Dr Ladina Knapp, Prof Stuart Lane, Prof Ulrike Lohmann (until 30.9.2022), Dr Vanja Michel, Prof Jean-François Molinari (from 1.10.2022), Eva Moser, Dr Barbara Schellenberg, Dr Amalia Sofia (from 1.1.2022), Dr Cornelia Sommer (from 1.10.2022), Prof Thomas Südmeyer, Dr David Svarin, Prof Danièle Tosato-Rigo.
102 evaluation panels, consisting of about 1200 honorary members in all, lay the groundwork for the Research Council's decisions.
As at 31.12.2022
The Administrative Offices support and coordinate the activities of the Foundation Council and the Research Council. They are responsible for all administrative matters as well as for the SNSF's national and international networking activities and communication. The implementation of the selection procedures is its core task.
356 employees (301.85 full-time positions), 59.3% women, 40.7% men
Executive Management > Director, Chief Executive: Dr Angelika Kalt. Chief Finance, Infrastructure and Services Officer (CFO): Céline Liechti. Chief Information Officer (CIO): Sébastien Stampfli. Chief Operations Officer (COO): Dr Thomas Werder Schläpfer. Chief Research Development Officer (CDO): Dr Laetitia Philippe (from 1.2.2022).
Heads of Staff Divisions > Human Resources: Karim Errassas. Communication: Christophe Giovannini. Strategy: Dr Katrin Milzow. Legal Department: Dr Kaspar Sutter. Management Support: Dr Anna Brandenburg.
Heads reporting to CFO > Finance: Markus König. Facility Management: Yves Flohimont.
Heads reporting to CIO > IT Research Funding Services: Laurence Krpoun-Meylan. IT Management & Administration Services: Dr Frank Neidhöfer. IT Enterprise Business Services: Dr Frank Neidhöfer. IT Client, Platform & Core Security Services: Michael Sägesser. IT Service Desk: Bruno Tanner. IT Information & Collaboration Services: Peter Tomasini-Monjoe.
Heads reporting to COO (from 1.7.2022) > Projects: Dr Simona Berardi Vilei. Grant Management: Dr Michael Hill. International Cooperation: Dr Laure Ognois. Careers: Dr Marc Zbinden. AARE programme: Benjamin Rindlisbacher.
Heads reporting to CDO > Long-term Research: Dr Jean-Luc Barras. Thematic Research: Dr Pierre Willa. Gender Equality in Research Funding: Dr Simona Isler (until 31.7.2022), Dr Jasmine Lorenzini (from 1.10.2022).
As at 31 December 2022
The annual accounts for 2022 present a virtually balanced picture. Federal government contributions increased by around CHF 30 million from the previous year. The transitional measures in connection with Horizon Europe resulted in higher costs for the performance of services.
The increase in federal contributions was due on the one hand to the rise in the basic contribution as per the service level agreement and, on the other hand, to the contribution for the transitional Horizon Europe measures in 2022. The latter amounted to CHF 23 million. Other contributions saw a sharp decline, as co-financing of the BRIDGE programme by Innosuisse had already been accounted for in the previous year for the entire 2021-2024 period.
Expenditure on research funding remained unchanged from the previous year and corresponds to the budgeted figure. The SNSF spent CHF 17 million on the first projects in connection with the Horizon Europe transitional measures. These measures resulted in additional expenditure of CHF 5.8 million on scientific assessments and at the Administrative Offices.
In the coming years, we will continue to implement our strategy for 2021–2028, which is based on four strategic priorities: “We promote diversity in research”, “We shape the future of research”, “We convey the value of research” and “We strengthen the competence of the SNSF”. Our primary tasks for 2023 are the following:
Horizon Europe: Where are we heading?
In 2023, we will be awarding SNSF Advanced Grants 2022, SNSF Swiss Postdoctoral Fellowships 2022 and SNSF Starting Grants 2023. This will be the second call for proposals for these three transitional measures launched by the SNSF on behalf of the federal government. Funds will also be awarded under the transitional measures SNSF Consolidator Grants 2022 and Quantum Transitional Call, likewise launched on behalf of the federal government. The SNSF is currently working with SERI to plan alternative measures in the event that Switzerland is unable to participate in the Horizon Europe research programme in the long term.
Encouraging diversity in research
Following a positive evaluation of the pilot phase and minor changes, the Spark funding scheme will be included in the SNSF’s regular funding portfolio. The next call for proposals will take place in 2023. The SNSF will also be supporting projects in the field of health and well-being at the universities of applied sciences and teacher training for a limited period of time. The first call for proposals is planned for early 2023, and the second for 2024.
In May 2022, the Federal Council adopted two complementary measures: a national initiative for quantum science and the establishment of collaborative research programmes in strategically important areas. As part of this second measure, in 2023 the SNSF will participate in a multilateral call for proposals for the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF, Canada) and in calls for proposals from the Belmont Forum on the consequences of climate change. A call for proposals in the field of quantum physics with the American National Science Foundation (NSF) may also be launched in 2023 or 2024. Moreover, a first call for proposals will be issued in 2023 via the Lead Agency process with NSF in which researchers from both countries can submit collaborative proposals.
Shaping the future of research
On behalf of SERI, the SNSF has carried out feasibility studies for new National Research Programmes (NRPs). In 2023, the topics for these programmes must be developed. The SNSF also wishes to promote faster and wider application of research results in all areas of society. To that end, it has launched a call for proposals for implementation networks, as announced in the Multi-Year Programme 2021–2024. The aim is to test the scheme and to gather initial results for its further development. The role of the SNSF in supporting data infrastructure will also need to be clarified, based on studies carried out by the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Social Sciences (FORS) and the Data and Service Center for the Humanities (DaSCH).
In response to the SNSF’s survey of staff employed in SNSF-funded projects, we will intensify cooperation and dialogue with higher education institutions on working conditions, such as contract duration, workload and preventing harassment. We will also monitor the situation of early-career researchers more systematically.
Conveying the value of research
We are initiating new activities to better understand and subsequently leverage the scientific data resulting from what we fund. In this way, we hope to both exploit and communicate research results more effectively beyond the scientific community.
From January 2023, all new grant applications will be subject to the following rule: scientific articles resulting from a research project funded by the SNSF must be freely available with immediate effect. In addition, we now require a CC BY licence. All articles may thus be used without restrictions – from redistribution to automated analysis. Furthermore, the SNSF will also focus on ensuring the quality of scientific publications and on supporting alternative forms of publishing. This includes, for example, Open Access journals that do not charge researchers any fees (the “diamond” model of Open Access).
Strengthening the competence of the SNSF
We aim to improve research funding by further developing processes and structures. In April 2023, a call for Sinergia proposals will be the first to open on the new SNSF portal. This portal will gradually introduce a new system with adapted processes for evaluating applications and managing grants.
In 2023, the GO 2024 project on revising the statutes is up for approval. The aim is for the SNSF to have a flexible, simple and modern statutory basis for carrying out its tasks efficiently and reacting quickly to new challenges.
Following development of a new competency model for administrative staff in 2022, Human Resources plans to review the function levels and salary grades in 2023, as well as to launch a “culture of dialogue” project and to further strengthen leadership.
Federal contributions up to 2024
According to the current planning for 2021-2024, the SNSF will receive CHF 4,646 million from the federal government over this period, subject to changes in the federal government’s annual budget decisions and possible additional contributions. This amount does not include transitional and complementary measures for Horizon Europe. The following contributions are planned up to 2024:
in CHF million 2021 2022 2023 2024 2021-2024 Projects, careers, programmes, infrastructures, science communication, service provision 1,008.2 1,018.1 1,086.8 1,042.3 4,155.4 Indirect costs of research institutions (overhead) and supplementary tasks 99.6 115.8 124.4 151.2 491.0 Total 1,107.8 1,133.9 1,211.2 1,193.5 4,646.4