Project funding: Collaborative and interdisciplinary projects growing in importance

© Constantine Johnny

As announced last year, the SNSF is integrating collaborative and interdisciplinary research into its “project funding” scheme in 2023. The National Research Council has now decided on the specific changes.

The SNSF invests around half of its budget for new research projects in project funding, equating to 510 million francs last year. This is its most important funding scheme by far. While most funds are awarded to individual researchers’ projects, groups of researchers also receive funding. In parallel, the SNSF has been funding projects involving two to four researchers from different disciplines through the Sinergia programme since 2016. From June 2023, we will be integrating the Sinergia programme, along with its annual budget of some 100 million francs, into project funding.

The SNSF is thus embedding collaborative and interdisciplinary research in the project funding scheme. We are also amending the regulatory provisions in order to provide even stronger support for these types of projects.

Evaluation panel for interdisciplinary projects

The key changes decided on by the SNSF's National Research Council:

  • Integration of Sinergia: The current Sinergia programme will be fully integrated into project funding. The deadline for researchers to submit a Sinergia application for the last time is 17 April 2023.
  • Evaluation: Interdisciplinary projects will be assessed by a separate evaluation panel so that their specifics can be best taken into account.
  • Concurrent funding: Researchers can now receive up to three grants from project funding for the same funding period. Three grants are possible when at least one of these is approved for a Lead Agency/Weave, International Co-Investigator Scheme or EU Consortium project. The topics addressed by the proposed research projects must differ clearly from one another.
  • Amount of funding for a project: The SNSF will now provide a maximum of 250,000 francs annually per applicant of a project and a maximum of 1 million francs annually for the project as a whole. The applicants can then decide on how to divide up the funding. The maximum project length is four years, resulting in maximum potential funding of 4 million francs.
  • Applicants outside of Switzerland: In collaborative projects with three or more applicants, one applicant can be employed by a research institution outside of Switzerland if their skills are necessary for the project.
  • Coordination costs: If three or more applicants are involved, they can charge the coordination costs for the proposed research project through the SNSF funding.

These changes should mean that collaborative and interdisciplinary projects receive a higher proportion of the funding than previously. The SNSF had wanted to increase the total project funding budget in addition to integrating the Sinergia budget, and had envisaged doing so in its Multi-Year Programme 2025–2028. Due to the possible funding cutbacks in education, research and innovation announced by the federal government, it remains to be seen whether this will be possible.

Call opens in July 2023

The next project funding call opens at the start of July 2023, with a submission deadline of 2 October 2023. For the first time, researchers will submit their applications via the new SNSF portal. This platform will gradually supersede the current mySNF application portal.