1,500 new research projects and 400 fellowships abroad in anniversary year

© SNF-Wettbewerb für wissenschaftliche Bilder. Elena Hertel und Kaan Mika, CC BY-NC-ND.

In 2022, the SNSF approved 910 million francs for its regular funding schemes. We awarded a further 173 million for the Horizon Europe transitional measures. Coronavirus research generated a wealth of knowledge.

On 1 August 2022, the SNSF celebrated its 70th anniversary. Founded in 1952 out of concern that Swiss research might sink into mediocrity after World War II, it performs the same key tasks today as it did then: to promote the best projects in all disciplines and to facilitate advances in science on behalf of the Swiss government. We enable nationwide competition between research ideas that is independent and solely committed to quality. This process is adjudicated by 1,100 Swiss and international experts in honorary bodies, who are supported by our Administrative Offices in Bern.

In 2022, the SNSF evaluated thousands of applications and approved funding for around 1,500 research projects and 400 fellowships abroad, as well as for open-access publications. In total, it invested 910 million Swiss francs in new projects, fellowships and books through its regular funding schemes, and an additional 4 million for articles in scientific journals. We awarded a further 173 million for extraordinary transitional measures, since researchers in Switzerland are currently not able to participate in important parts of Horizon Europe, the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation. However, these transitional measures cannot replace the European framework programme. The SNSF is therefore in favour of Switzerland's rapid association to Horizon Europe.

The institutions will also receive about 146 million Swiss francs for indirect research costs incurred during the lifetime of the new projects.

The new SNSF funding awarded in 2022 is divided among funding categories, disciplines and institutions as follows:

  • Funding categories: We invested 510 million francs in project funding, in which experienced researchers investigate self-chosen topics. 187 million was awarded for the work of research groups in programmes, 172 million for young researchers in career funding, 26 million for science communication and 14 million for infrastructures. We supported projects under the Horizon Europe transitional measures with 173 million. In addition, the SNSF funded around 1,500 freely accessible journal articles with 4 million francs via its partner, the ChronosHub portal.
  • Research areas: 389 million francs went to the life sciences, 335 million to mathematics and the natural and engineering sciences, and 266 million to the social sciences and humanities. A further 93 million were used for interdisciplinary projects under the Sinergia programme.
  • Institutions: The SNSF awarded 652 million francs for applications from universities, 282 million for institutions in the ETH Domain, 59 million for universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education, and 90 million for other institutions. In addition, as mentioned above, the institutions will receive about 146 million francs for indirect research costs incurred during the lifetime of the new projects.

5,500 projects with 20,000 researchers

5,500 SNSF-funded projects were ongoing at year-end 2022. Most of them will span several years. More than 20,000 researchers from higher education and other institutions were involved in the projects, of whom 39.5% were women. The share of women leading a research project was 31.7%. This corresponds to an increase of 1 percentage point compared to 2021.

Many findings from coronavirus research

The special call "Coronaviruses", the National Research Programme 78 "Covid-19" and other SNSF-funded projects generated knowledge about the virus and the pandemic throughout 2022. December 2022 also saw the start of 25 projects of the National Research Programme 80 "Covid-19 in Society", which examines the pandemic from a humanities and social sciences perspective. Among other topics, the researchers are studying the impact of the pandemic on the world of work, family structures and social cohesion.

International cooperation

Last year, we again strengthened Switzerland's links to international research partners. For example, the SNSF signed a joint memorandum of understanding with the Israeli funding organisation. Together with the National Science Foundation (USA), we made it easier for researchers from both countries to collaborate on quantum science projects. And working with partners in four continents, we launched an international initiative on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Support for Ukrainian researchers

The war against Ukraine is having a devastating effect on scientific research in the country. After the Russian attack, the SNSF took rapid action and, together with partners, ensured that around one hundred researchers from Ukraine were able to come and work in Switzerland. The SNSF also signed an agreement on closer cooperation with the Ukrainian funding agency in summer 2022.

For more information, please refer to the 2022 Annual Report. The detailed key figures and all funded projects can be found on the SNSF data portal.

New projects funded by the SNSF – six examples from the project funding scheme

Mathematics, natural and engineering sciences

The puzzle of lithium abundance in low-mass dwarf stars is addressed by Corinne Charbonnel, University of Geneva. Her goal is to answer unresolved questions regarding stellar physics, galactic archaeology and the chemical evolution of the universe.

Christoph Studer (ETH Zurich) is researching new methods related to positioning systems that are device-independent. These systems make it possible to locate a particular spot even indoors or in densely populated areas.

Humanities and social sciences

How did the institutionalisation of young children in the late 1950s subsequently affect their lives? Did the placements even have an effect on the following generation? Patricia Lannen of the Marie Meierhofer Institute for the Child (MMI) at the University of Zurich will be investigating these questions.

Laurent Fresard, Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), examines the relationship between sustainable investments and corresponding information from financial markets – and how this information influences corporate decisions.

Life sciences

How can chronic lower back pain be alleviated? A novel, interdisciplinary approach is being explored by Sibylle Grad of the AO Medical Foundation Research Center in Davos and Olivier Guillaume of the Vienna University of Technology.

Urgent questions about threats to biodiversity are addressed by Jakob Brodersen of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and Nicolaj Krog Larsen of the University of Copenhagen. Using geological and biological data from various lakes, they are analysing the factors that influence diversity.

Multi-year programme 2025-2028 with four priorities

The SNSF submitted its multi-year programme 2025-2028 to the Swiss government in August 2022. To support Swiss research in meeting upcoming challenges, we have defined four priorities for the period in question:

  • Strengthen international networks
  • Fully exploit research potential
  • Work together for a sustainable future
  • Advance digitalisation in science

The new measures to implement the above priorities complement the existing portfolio with which we successfully support research in Switzerland. As in the past, the lion’s share of the budget is allocated to projects whose topics are proposed by the researchers themselves. With their scientific curiosity, they contribute to progress across society and the economy.