SNSF Starting Grants
Lead your independent project and your team in Switzerland.
As a continuation of the previous schemes, the SNSF is also planning an SNSF Starting Grants call 2024 this year in consultation with the SERI. The call is scheduled to open in November 2023. Researchers at Swiss institutions can therefore start preparing their applications for an SNSF Starting Grant 2024. More information will follow in the autumn. As in 2022 and 2023, the EAER/SERI is evaluating additional funding for this call as part of the 2024 transitional measures for Horizon Europe and will inform in due course.
Due to Switzerland’s status as a non-associated third country in the Horizon Europe programme, the federal government mandated the SNSF to launch the funding scheme "SNSF Starting Grants 2023". This integrative call is a transitional measure covering the ERC Starting Grants 2023 as well as the former SNSF funding schemes Eccellenza and PRIMA.
International and Swiss-based applicants who intended to apply for an ERC Starting Grant or an Eccellenza or PRIMA grant to work in Switzerland are welcome to submit an SNSF Starting Grant proposal to the SNSF.
The scheme is open to all disciplines and topics; researchers of any nationality may apply. Applicants can request a budget of up to CHF 1.8 million for a period of five years.
With an SNSF Starting Grant, grantees will lead an independent research project and direct a team of researchers in Switzerland. An SNSF Starting Grant comes after several years of research after the PhD, or an equivalent qualification or medical degree, during which time the grantees have already achieved scientific independence and contributed to impactful research in their field.
You meet the personal requirements for this call if:
After your PhD defence:
- You have at least 2 years of research experience
- You submit your application no more than 8 years after the date of your PhD defence.
After your medical degree (state examination or equivalent):
- You have at least 3 years of clinical work and at least 2 years of research experience
- You submit your application no more than 12 years after obtaining your medical degree.
After your PhD equivalent, defined as 3 years of research activity after obtaining the higher education degree:
- You have at least 2 years of research experience
- You submit your application no more than 8 years after obtaining a qualification equivalent to a PhD.
The time periods are calculated based on the submission deadline.
Applicants whose project was rejected in the 2022 SNSF Starting Grants call are eligible to submit an application in the 2023 call. Applicants can apply for SNSF Starting Grants a maximum of two times. This rule also applies to all other SNSF career schemes.
Position and salary
Higher education institutions that offer assistant professorships must offer at least such a position and title for the duration of the grant. Applicants who do not already have such a secured position should request funding for their salary at the level of assistant professor via the SNSF Starting Grant. It can be either the full salary or part of the salary in case of the salary partly covered by other funds.
Research institutions that do not offer assistant professor positions and titles, must offer a position involving independent project and management responsibility (“group leader position”) for the duration of the grant. Applicants who do not already have such a secured position request funding for their salary at the level of group leader via the SNSF Starting Grant. It can be either the full salary or part of the salary in case of the salary partly covered by other funds.
Please consider the following important points when preparing and submitting an application:
- Research plan (Art. 4.1 Call Document) (PDF)
- CV: new format should be used (Art. 4.2 Call Document) (PDF)
- Major achievements (Art. 4.2 Call Document) (PDF)
- Requested funding (Art. 3.1 Call Document) (PDF)
- Confirmation letter from the host institution (Art. 1.3 and Art. 1.4 Call Document) (PDF)
Higher education institution
The higher education institution has to sign the confirmation letter (template for the 2024 call will be available here).
A scientific Steering Committee, set up by the Presiding Board of the National Research Council, oversees the evaluation and funding activities related to the SNSF Starting Grant Call. It also ensures application of the SNSF’s best practices and compliance regarding conflicts of interest. It is composed of the president of the National Research Council, independent external experts of each research domain (humanities and social sciences; biology and medicine; mathematics, natural and engineering sciences) and members of the Specialized Committee Careers. The evaluation of the submitted proposals is based on the principle of competition. Discipline-specific panels will evaluate the proposals in a two-phase procedure.
The applications are assessed and rated based on the submitted documents for phase 1 and based on the additional external peer reviews and interviews for phase 2.
- Scientific Steering Committee
- Evaluation panels and external peer reviewers (Art. 5.1 Call Document) (PDF)
- Evaluation procedure (Art. 5.2 Call Document) (PDF)
- Evaluation criteria (Art. 5.3 Call Document) (PDF)
- Evaluation form – SNSF Starting Grants (PDF)
- Outcome and communication of decisions (Art. 5.4 Call Document) (PDF)
Guidelines and regulations
The general provisions of the SNSF apply to the SNSF Starting Grant Call 2023:
Ethics and integrity:
Research activities and methods that have ethical implications or may raise questions requiring sound ethical assessment must be declared on mySNF. Hence, please take note of the Swiss laws and ethical standards. Furthermore, the rules of scientific integrity must be respected.
Members of the evaluation bodies
The list contains the names of the members of evaluation bodies. For the SNSF, interaction between applicants and members of evaluation bodies over applications is not compatible with academic best practices.
- Evaluation panel - SNSF StG Panel I - H
- Evaluation panel - SNSF StG Panel I - SS
- Evaluation panel - SNSF StG Panel II - A
- Evaluation panel - SNSF StG Panel II - B
- Evaluation panel - SNSF StG Panel II - C
- Evaluation panel - SNSF StG Panel III - A
- Evaluation panel - SNSF StG Panel III - B
- Evaluation panel - SNSF StG Panel III - C
Where can I find the information needed to create a proposal?
The Call document and other important information can be found under "Participation requirements".
Is it possible to extend the eligibility period in special circumstances?
The time window for submission of an SNSF Starting Grant proposal can be extended if the applicant has suffered a delay due to one of the reasons stated in Art. 1.11 of the General implementation regulations for the Funding Regulations (PDF).
What is the difference between the academic age and the net academic age?
The academic age indicates how much time has passed since the doctorate. It is relevant for calculating the time window in accordance with the personal requirements (see Call document). On the other hand, the net academic age (calculated automatically in the new CV format) indicates how much time you have been able to spend doing research since your doctorate; it is taken into account in the evaluation. Hence the net academic age cannot be used to calculate the eligibility window.
Why does the SNSF require a new CV format?
The SNSF has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which recommends that funders be explicit about the criteria they use to evaluate the scientific productivity of applicants, taking due account of the scientific quality, value and impact of their entire research output (including datasets, software, prototypes) in addition to research publications.
Where can I find information on the new CV format?
My Ambizione, PRIMA or Eccellenza grant is still ongoing. Can I apply for an SNSF Starting Grant?
You can submit an application for an SNSF Starting Grant while receiving an Ambizione, PRIMA or Eccellenza grant. The research projects must address clearly distinguishable topics. It will also be evaluated whether you are in a position to make substantial contributions to each of the research projects. If your salary needs to be covered by the SNSF for the duration of the grant (Ambizione, PRIMA or Eccellenza, and SNSF Starting Grant), you should request your full salary under the SNSF Starting Grant.
Are any exceptions possible for an SNSF Starting Grant regarding the minimum of two years' research work required after the doctorate?
No exceptions can be granted. This requirement needs to be met by the submission deadline, with the date of the exam or thesis defense being the relevant date.
Can I have an SNSF Starting Grant and an SNSF project or Ambizione proposal under evaluation at the same time?
You can submit an SNSF Starting Grant proposal and an SNSF project or Ambizione proposal. Both grants will only be funded if the research projects clearly address separate topics and you are in a position to make substantial contributions to each of the research projects.
I have an interdisciplinary project that I cannot easily categorize into one research field and a main and sub-discipline(s) on mySNF. What do I need to consider?
The interdisciplinary character of your proposal will be taken into account during the evaluation. Depending on the choice of research field, your proposal will be evaluated in one of the following three research domains: Social Sciences and Humanities, Mathematics, Information Technology, Natural Sciences and Technology and Life Science. If your project is situated at the intersection between these domains, you should go to “Basic data I” on mySNF and choose the research field according to where you primarily want the proposal to be evaluated. The main referee will then be assigned from the selected research field, while the co-referees may be assigned from the further research field(s).
My application is linked to a research institution that does not offer assistant professorships; can I still apply for an SNSF Starting Grant 2023 without the guarantee of such a position during the grant?
Yes. For institutions that do not offer assistant professor positions, an equivalent position involving independent project and management responsibilities ("group leader position") is accepted.
Can I apply for only a portion of my salary if my research institution covers the remaining portion?
Yes, that is possible. However, the salary may not exceed a 100% position (1 FTE).
What happens if I obtain a professorship and my salary is covered by the SNSF Starting Grant?
You must inform the SNSF accordingly. If the professorship is in Switzerland, you may generally continue to use the project funds. The remaining funds of your salary must be refunded to the SNSF.
Can I resubmit an SNSF Starting Grant application even if my project was rejected at the first evaluation stage of SNSF Starting Grant 2022?
Yes. You can submit twice to the SNSF Starting Grants regardless of whether your application made it to the second round of the first call.
I am a clinician researcher. Does the SNSF cover the salary for my clinical activity?
For clinically active researchers, the SNSF covers the share of the salary awarded for the research work. The share for clinical work must be financed by the research institution/hospital and is not covered by the SNSF.
What happens to my SNSF Starting Grant if I am appointed to a higher education institution abroad?
Applications to transfer project funds from an SNSF Starting Grant to move abroad (see also "Money follows Researcher" procedure) are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Salary components of the grantee are not remitted abroad. As a rule, such applications can only be submitted to the SNSF two years after the start of the grant.
Can I transfer my entire grant to a new research institution in Switzerland?
If you want to transfer your grant to another institution, including the funds covering your salary, contact the SNSF explaining the reasons for the move as well as its added value for your project or your career. A written request submitted by the grantee should include the following documents:
- Like the initial research institution, the new research institution must provide confirmation letters.
- The original research institution submits a written statement on the change.
The SNSF evaluates the request by taking into account the project’s feasibility or the relevance to pursue your career in the new institution.
What happens to my grant if I take on a new job outside of academic research?
You must inform the SNSF accordingly. The SNSF terminates the grant. The remaining amount of the grant must be refunded to the SNSF.