Sinergia – interdisciplinary, collaborative and breakthrough
Sinergia promotes the interdisciplinary collaboration of two to four research groups that propose breakthrough research.
The Sinergia regulations provide the legal basis for Sinergia proposals and grants, and describe the conditions for awarding a Sinergia grant.
The Sinergia regulations are based on the Funding Regulations and the Implementation Regulations of the SNSF.
Overview of the grant conditions
- Duration: 1 to 4 years
- No less than 2 and no more than 4 applicants may apply together for a Sinergia grant.
- The consortium as a whole must have adequate experience in managing research projects.
- One applicant must be designated as the legal representative of all applicants vis-à-vis the SNSF. If the grant is approved, this applicant becomes the corresponding grantee. This person may not be outside Switzerland. The grants are paid to the institution at which the corresponding grantee is employed. The corresponding grantee is responsible for forwarding the funds.
- They contribute to the research project through cooperation with the consortium, without being responsible for the project.
- Their role must be clearly described in the grant application.
- They can benefit from the grant, but their contributions must be budgeted in the application.
- Only one Sinergia grant per person and period for all applicants.
- Only one Sinergia application per applicant and deadline.
- SNSF professors may submit a Sinergia application 2 years after starting their SNSF professorship at the earliest. Ambizione grantees are excluded for the duration of their grant.
Before drafting a Sinergia proposal, applicants need to ensure that the project also complies with the following definitions and rules:
Interdisciplinary research is defined as research across disciplinary boundaries. In order to achieve the research objectives, it is necessary to integrate elements (theories, methods, concepts, etc.) from two or more disciplines. A similar degree of importance is attached to all the disciplines involved. Collaborative proposals that involve only one discipline or one main discipline supported by auxiliary disciplines should be submitted in SNSF project funding:
An application should be related to disciplines from at least two different research domains of the following SNSF-list:
Collaborative research means that the expertise and knowledge of the applicants is complementary and that the collaboration of the different applicants is essential to achieve the research goals and creates an added value. The collaboration of research groups from different types of institutions (UASs, UTEs, universities, ETH/EPF, etc.) is also welcome.
Breakthrough research addresses important challenges and presents a novel approach, it questions or goes beyond existing models, theories, doctrines, research approaches, methods, etc. It opens up new lines of research and has a high potential for impact in or beyond academia.
Eligibility of applicants
- All applicants must have obtained a doctorate at least four years before submitting the application or have equivalent research experience.
- All applicants must be employed with a work-time percentage of at least 50% for the duration of the project at a research institution eligible to receive research funding from the SNSF or have been given written assurance of such employment.
- All applicants must be in a position to carry out research projects under their own responsibility and to lead project staff.
- All applicants must make a substantial contribution to the proposed research. The research infrastructure necessary to carry out the proposed research must be at their disposal.
- If there are three or more applicants, one applicant may be based at a research institution abroad, if his/her expertise is essential, meaning it is not available in Switzerland (2+1, 3+1).
Preparation and submission of the application (mySNF, research plan, etc.)
Applications must be submitted via the online platform mySNF:
It is recommended that applicants start entering details in mySNF as soon as possible after the launch of the call. Setting up a new mySNF user account may take up to one week. On mySNF, help texts offer detailed advice on writing and submitting the grant application. The application has to be written in English.
The CVs and scientific track records of all applicants, as well as the research plan must be submitted as PDF-documents via mySNF. The following guidelines must be adhered to in principle:
The proposal must include a Data Management Plan (DMP) set up according to the requirements issued by the SNSF. The content of the DMP is directly entered in the mySNF submission form. It is not possible to upload a DMP as a separate PDF file.
Please keep in mind the time needed to complete the DMP during the submission procedure.
Evaluation procedure and decision
The following specific aspects of the general assessment criteria of the SNSF (scientific quality of the proposed research project, scientific qualifications of the researchers) assume greater importance in the evaluation of Sinergia proposals:
- Whether the interdisciplinary collaboration is of high quality and adequately organised in view of the joint research objectives
- Whether the expertise and knowledge of the applicants is complementary and whether the collaboration of the different applicants is essential to achieve the research goals and creates an added value
- The proposal’s breakthrough character: the research addresses important challenges, presents a novel approach, questions or goes beyond existing models, theories, doctrines, methods, etc., it opens up new lines of research and has a high potential for impact in or beyond academia
The evaluation consists of three steps:
- Formal verification: The Administrative Offices of the SNSF check whether the submitted application meets the formal and personal requirements. They may also check whether the application complies with the rules of scientific integrity:
- International peer-review process: The application is sent to usually two or more external reviewers and evaluated using a list of questions based on the Sinergia assessment criteria. Once a funding decision has been reached, the applicant can access the anonymised external reviews via mySNF:
- Examination by the Sinergia evaluation commission: Based on the external reviews, two members of the Sinergia evaluation commission evaluate the application and rank it according to the assessment criteria. Subsequently, the Sinergia evaluation commission discusses and compares all applications and reaches provisional funding decisions. In a last step, the Presiding Board of the Research Council verifies whether the procedures have been correctly applied and the budget and other conditions complied with. If this is the case, it approves the provisional decision of the evaluation commission.
Communication of the decision
The final decision is generally taken five-and-a-half to six months after the submission deadline. The Administrative Offices of the SNSF communicates the final decision to the applicants as soon as possible in the form of a ruling (in accordance with the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure).
Sinergia evaluation commission
The list contains the names of the members of the evaluation body Sinergia evaluation commission. For the SNSF, interaction between applicants and members of evaluation bodies over applications is not compatible with academic best practices.
Does Sinergia also finance research groups based abroad?
Yes, a Sinergia project may include one (and only one) foreign research group. Like the two or three other research groups of the Sinergia project based in Switzerland, the foreign group may receive funds for conducting research linked to the Sinergia project.
Can a Sinergia project include two research groups from the same institution?
Yes, a Sinergia project may include two research groups from the same institution if these two groups work in different labs.
Is the Sinergia programme open to researchers who do not have a permanent professorial post at a university (e.g. postdoctoral researchers, tenure track assistant professors, SNSF professors,...)?
The Sinergia programme is open to established researchers. In the SNSF's understanding, established researchers are qualified scientists who hold a permanent or long-term position at a Swiss research institution, who have one or more research groups of their own, who have already received third-party funding through a competitive procedure, who educate the next generation of scientists and who know how to organise and manage scientific projects.