Spark has found its niche – new call in spring 2023

Following a positive evaluation of the pilot phase, Spark is now part of the SNSF's regular funding portfolio, with minor changes in the regulations. The next call opens on 3 April 2023 and closes on 2 May 2023.

The SNSF launched Spark as a funding scheme in 2019 subject to a two-year pilot phase. The goal was to fund original and unconventional projects that are unlikely to be funded under other funding schemes. The research community responded very positively to the novel scheme, which is based on a double-blind evaluation procedure. In the two pilot calls, researchers submitted a total of 1,632 applications to the SNSF. A budget of 10 million Swiss francs was available for each call. Thanks to the availability of additional funding in 2019, the SNSF was able to increase the budget for the first call to CHF 27 million. Thus, it funded 284 projects in 2019 and 103 projects in 2020.

After completion of the pilot phase, an evaluation team from Norway evaluated the funding scheme. The surveys and interviews showed that there is strong support for the scheme and its selection process among all stakeholders. The evaluators also noted that the scheme has filled a niche in the Swiss research and funding landscape. Their evaluation report concluded that the pilot project worked as intended and achieved important goals. Based on this report and its recommendations, the SNSF has decided to incorporate Spark in its portfolio as a funding scheme for novel and unconventional research.

The next call opens on 3 April 2023 with a budget of 10 million Swiss francs. The submission deadline is on 2 May 2023. In view of Spark’s integration into the SNSF funding portfolio, minor changes have been made in the Spark Regulations to include recommendations from the evaluation report and experiences from the pilot phase. Please read the regulations carefully in advance to be able to enter your proposal correctly.