SPIRIT – Swiss Programme for International Research by Scientific Investigation Teams

The Swiss Programme for International Research by Scientific Investigation Teams promotes team-oriented cross-border research.

New evaluation process for SPIRIT. More information can be found in the webnews.

The SNSF offers a wide range of international funding schemes and works closely with foreign funding organisations to promote cross-border collaboration. The SPIRIT programme facilitates knowledge exchange between Swiss researchers and researchers in selected countries that are receiving development assistance. With SPIRIT, the SNSF is giving Swiss researchers more opportunities to collaborate with partners in many countries around the world.

Funding is awarded to research projects with clearly defined goals that are submitted by excellent research consortia from two to four countries. Researchers from all disciplines can apply for a SPIRIT grant; the topics are chosen by the researchers themselves. The grants contribute to the education of researchers in all participating countries. Special focus will be given to equal opportunities and the promotion of women scientists, as well as to raising awareness of gender-specific questions.

Applicants can request between 50,000 and 500,000 francs in project funds for two to four years. At least 30% of each approved grant must be allocated to Switzerland and at least 30% to the relevant partner country/countries.

As of 1 February 2021, the evaluation procedure will consist of a single stage. There will be one submission deadline for SPIRIT proposals each year, on 2 November, 17:00 Swiss local time. The evaluation process will be completed at the end of May the following year. Approximately twelve projects can be funded per year.

We recommend considering the principles of the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE) when designing the proposal.

  • Details

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    The programme is intended for two to four research groups, out of which one applicant must engage in research work in Switzerland, and at least one applicant must do so in an eligible partner country. Further applicants in a partner country or in Switzerland may be added. However, the total of applicants may not exceed four persons. Swiss applicants must meet the eligibility requirements applicable to SNSF project funding. These requirements apply mutatis mutandis to applicants from abroad.​

    The SNSF determines the eligible partner countries based on the official list of countries receiving development assistance, which is issued by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. Excluded are EU member states, countries associated to the European Union's 8th Framework Programme as well as countries collaborating on a bilateral call with the SNSF.

    SPIRIT finances original, relevant and team-oriented research that is to the benefit of all concerned. One of its top priorities is to support young researchers. If two or more applications are deemed to be of equal quality, applications by women or applications that show better gender awareness are given preference. Twelve projects are funded per year based on a competitive funding procedure.

    The duration of projects is limited to 2-4 years. The research groups can request between 50,000 and 500,000 Swiss francs. At least 30% of each approved grant must be allocated to Switzerland and at least 30% to the relevant partner country/countries. In accordance with the bottom-up principle, applicants are free to choose their own research topics. Researchers from all disciplines are eligible to submit an application.

  • Grant conditions

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    SPIRIT grants

    • Duration: 2-4 years
    • Maximum grant amount: CHF 500,000; minimum grant amount: CHF 50,000
    • At least 30% of each grant must be allocated to Switzerland and at least 30% to the relevant partner country/countries.
    • The salaries of applicants in Switzerland or abroad cannot be charged to the grant.

    Applicants

    • A SPIRIT proposal can be jointly submitted by a minimum of two and a maximum of four applicants. At least one applicant must engage in research work in Switzerland, and at least one must do so in an eligible partner country.
    • One of the Swiss-based applicants (the responsible applicant) represents the research team.
    • The funding periods of SPIRIT grants must not overlap with those of other SPIRIT grants, or of Ambizione or PRIMA grants.
    • Eccellenza grantees and SNSF professors may submit a SPIRIT application two years after starting the Eccellenza grant or SNSF professorship at the earliest.
    • Swiss applicants must meet the eligibility requirements applicable to SNSF project funding. These requirements apply mutatis mutandis to applicants from abroad.

    Partner countries

    The SNSF determines the eligible partner countries based on the list of countries receiving development assistance, which is issued by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD.

    The following countries do not qualify as partner countries:

    • Member states of the European Union;
    • Countries associated to Horizon 2020, the European Union's 8th Frame-work Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) or subsequent programmes;
    • Countries collaborating on a bilateral call with the SNSF.

    Restrictions

    • Applicants whose proposal was rejected may not submit a SPIRIT application for four months following the date of the ruling.
    • The SNSF only considers a re-submitted application if it is a significantly modified version of the rejected application.
    • An application that has been rejected can be revised and re-submitted at the most twice.
    • Only one SPIRIT grant may be awarded per person.
    • SPIRIT grant holders may not submit SPIRIT applications, unless the planned end date of the ongoing grant lies before the planned start date of the proposed research project.
  • Application

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    New evaluation process for SPIRIT. More information can be found in the webnews.

    ​The applications must be submitted via the mySNF platform.

    The SNSF recommends reserving enough time for entering the proposal in mySNF. Setting up a new mySNF user account can take up to one week. Detailed instructions on entering and submitting proposals can be found in mySNF.

    Proposals must be submitted in English.

    The CVs and track record of all applicants must be submitted as PDF documents via mySNF together with the research plan. In this context, please refer to the requirements set out in the guidelines:

    Proposals must contain a data management plan (DMP) that meets the SNSF requirements. The DMP needs to be entered directly in mySNF. It is not possible to submit the DMP as a separate PDF document.

    When planning your submission, please bear in mind that creating a DMP can be time-consuming.

  • Evaluation procedure and decision-making

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    ​Assessment criteria

    The evaluation is conducted in accordance with the following criteria:

    • scientific relevance of the research project;
    • originality of the aims and objectives;
    • suitability of the methodology, feasibility;
    • track record and expertise of the researchers;
    • complementarity of the research partners;
    • contribution to increasing scientific capacities in the relevant research field; and
    • contribution towards raising gender awareness and promoting equal opportunities.

    If proposals are deemed to be equal in terms of their scientific quality, proposals submitted by female applicants, or proposals that show better gender awareness, are given priority.

    Evaluation and review

    On receipt of the proposal, the SNSF Administrative Offices verify that the formal and personal requirements for submission are met. In addition, the SNSF checks whether the proposal meets the rules of scientific integrity:

    The proposals are internationally peer-reviewed and evaluated by the SPIRIT Evaluation Commission (SEC).

    They make a funding decision that is subsequently examined and endorsed by the Specialised Committee International Cooperation. The Presiding Board approves the decision of the SEC. Once the evaluation procedure has been concluded, the anonymised reviews are made available to the applicants via mySNF.

    Communicating the decision

    The final decision is generally made seven months after submission of the proposal and communicated to the responsible applicant in the form of a ruling (in accordance with the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure).

  • Documents

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  • SPIRIT Evaluation Commission

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    ​The Specialised Committee International Cooperation appoints the SPIRIT Evaluation Commission (SEC), which is composed of a pool of permanent international members from the humanities and social sciences, mathematics and the natural and engineering sciences, and medicine and biology. High importance is attached to balancing the percentage of female and male researchers on the Commission at no less than 40% each. In addition to promoting gender balance, the Specialised Committee International Cooperation appoints a gender equality expert as a member of the SEC.

  • FAQ

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    Is it possible to resubmit a rejected SPIRIT proposal?

    Yes, subject to the following restrictions:

    Applicants whose proposal was rejected may not submit a SPIRIT application for four months following the date of the ruling.

    The SNSF only considers a re-submitted application if it is a significantly modified version of the rejected application.

    An application that has been rejected can be revised and re-submitted at the most twice.

    Am I allowed to submit a SPIRIT proposal if I already have an ongoing SPIRIT grant?

    No, only one SPIRIT grant per person is allowed.

    Am I permitted to submit a SPIRIT application if I am already getting support through Ambizione, Eccellenza or PRIMA?

    • The funding periods of SPIRIT grants must not overlap with those of Ambizione or PRIMA grants.
    • Eccellenza awardees and SNSF professors may submit a SPIRIT application two years after starting the Eccellenza grant or SNSF professorship at the earliest.

    When is the submission deadline for SPIRIT?

    SPIRIT proposals must be submitted by 2 November, 17:00 Swiss local time.

    How large are SPIRIT teams?

    SPIRIT teams consist of between two and four persons. At least one applicant must engage in research work in Switzerland, and at least one must do so in an eligible partner country. Applicants in other countries are not eligible.

    Am I eligible for SPIRIT if I have an ongoing project in the project funding scheme, or if I intend to submit a new application by the next deadline?

    Yes, as SPIRIT is not in conflict with restrictions in project funding, you can submit an application even if you are already being funded by the SNSF. There needs to be a substantive difference between the projects, however.

  • News

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