Funding and Implementation Regulations
The Funding and the Implementation Regulations provide the legal basis for all funding schemes of the SNSF.
Rules that apply to all funding schemes and procedures are governed by the Funding Regulations of the SNSF. They are based directly on the Federal Research and Innovation Promotion Act (RIPA).
The Implementation Regulations contain detailed provisions that set out how the principles stipulated in the Funding Regulations are implemented for all funding schemes.
There are also separate Regulations for the individual funding schemes.
1a) What do the Funding Regulations and the Implementation Regulations regulate?
Principles and rules that apply to all funding schemes and procedures are governed by the Funding Regulations of the SNSF, which are based directly on the Federal Research and Innovation Promotion Act (RIPA). The Implementation Regulations contain more detailed provisions which also apply to all funding schemes and explain how the rules set out in the Funding Regulations are implemented. Provisions that are specific to individual schemes are governed by special regulations and call documents, such as, for instance, the Project Funding Regulations or the Sinergia Regulations.
1b) Which regulations has the SNSF revised and when will the new regulations enter into force?
The revised General Implementation Regulations for the Funding Regulations enter into force on 1 July 2022. Please note the following changes when applying the new regulations:
- The salaries of the project partners' employees can now also be charged to the grant. As with grantees’ employees, a 'request of employment' message needs to be submitted. Services provided by project partners and mandated third parties (subcontracting) must generally not exceed 20 per cent of the grant. (Clause 2.10)
- For travel, conferences and workshops, grantees can claim travel and care costs for accompanying children. (Clause 2.9, 2.17)
- The maximum chargeable costs for material of enduring value and equipment are now set at 100,000 francs. Co-funding by the institution is not required. (Clause 2.8)
- The SNSF is discontinuing the two additional programmes “Protected research time for clinicians” and “Grants for exemption from teaching duties” as of 2025. Both offers relate to structural problems in clinical research and in humanities and social sciences teaching which the SNSF is unable to solve for the long term. To allow time for the institutions affected to make the appropriate arrangements, both programmes will run until the end of 2024. (Clause 2.20, 2.23)
1c) Which rules will apply during the transition phase?
The following rules apply during the transition phase:
- During the transitional period up to 1 July 2022 we will accept budgets under the old and the new regulations.
- The SNSF will apply the new provisions only to pending procedures and ongoing grants if they do not disadvantage the researchers.
- If rights assigned to grantees on approval of funding are not in accordance with the new Regulations, these rights will nonetheless remain in force.
- When submitting your application, please take note of the links in mySNF to the specific requirements for the chosen funding scheme and the help texts.
2a) Do I have to be employed at a research institution in Switzerland in order to be eligible to submit a proposal to the SNSF?
Not necessarily, although it is generally the case. Written assurance of employment at a research institution in Switzerland is enough. Subject to certain conditions, researchers working abroad or at institutions with international sponsors may submit a proposal. Self-employed researchers are also eligible (see FAQs 2 and 3)
2b) Do I have to be employed for the entire duration of my research project?
Yes, unless you are self-employed, or you have a tenure track position, e.g. a temporary assistant professorship. In such cases, the SNSF may approve grants that last longer than the period of employment.
2c) In what form do I have to provide confirmation of my employment status?
Applicants generally confirm their employment status at a research institution based in Switzerland or closely associated with Switzerland in the form of a self-declaration. For certain funding schemes, the SNSF may ask for specific documents that confirm the applicant's employment status. If only an assurance of employment has been given, or if the employment relationship has not yet started, written confirmation or the employment contract will generally need to be submitted.
2d) Do I need to have a minimum FTE or work-time percentage as a researcher in order to be eligible to submit a proposal to the SNSF?
Yes, the research work, along with any academic teaching activities, must correspond to at least 50% FTE (being employed as a visiting lecturer is not regarded as an employment relationship and is therefore not counted). Researchers devoting less than 50% of their time to science are eligible to submit an application if their scientific research and teaching activities are normally carried out as part of another professional activity (this applies in particular to clinicians as well as employees at museums and archives).
2e) Are self-employed researchers eligible to apply for funding to the SNSF?
Self-employed researchers who earn an income through their research work are eligible if they can provide written evidence that their research activities are their main source of income and correspond to at least 50% FTE. The research work must be carried out in Switzerland or closely associated with Switzerland. This is the case if the research work and corresponding income are subject to Swiss law.
2f) Are retired persons eligible to apply for funding?
In principle, eligibility to submit applications to the SNSF ends with the conferral of emeritus status or with retirement. However, an exception can be made if the retired person or person with emeritus status is employed by a research institution at a minimum of 50% FTE (Article 10 of the Funding Regulations).
3a) Which research institutions does the SNSF recognise?
The SNSF policy in this regard is consistent with the Research and Innovation Promotion Act (RIPA): it recognises, in particular, cantonal universities and federal institutes of technology (ETHs), universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education; further accredited higher education institutions and other institutions of the higher education sector; the research institutions of national importance supported by the Confederation as well as, under certain conditions, the federal administration and non-commercial research institutions outside the higher education sector. The latter must not pursue any commercial goals and their research quality and standards must be comparable to those of higher education institutions. Institutions with international sponsors are eligible if the institution has its registered office in Switzerland and its basic financing is mainly Swiss, or if the applicant is employed at a legally independent Swiss branch of an institution that has its registered office abroad.
3b) Can I apply for funding to the SNSF if I am employed at a research institution abroad?
If all of the research work or parts of it are conducted abroad, researchers are eligible to apply provided they are employed at a minimum of 50% FTE by a Swiss institution under Swiss law for the duration of the proposed research project. In addition, the research project must be administered in Switzerland and the applicant must have a Swiss delivery address. The relevant institutions abroad must not pursue any commercial purposes and must carry out their research work independently.
4a) Eligibility to apply depends on the date of the doctoral degree, but precisely which date is meant?
If the date on which the doctoral degree was obtained is relevant for eligibility, the date of the viva voce or the date on which the doctoral thesis was officially accepted will be the crucial date.
4b) Can I apply to the SNSF even if I don't have a doctorate?
In principle, you can. At least three years working as a researcher as your main source of income after graduating from a higher education institution may be deemed comparable to a doctoral degree.
4c) If eligibility to apply is linked to a specific time period - for example, number of years after obtaining one's doctorate - is it possible to extend this period?
The SNSF may extend this period by at the most one year on request if applicants are able to cite good reasons this. The following reasons are accepted: maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave; work incapacity due to illness or accident; care duties; services for the general public, particularly military or civilian service; continuing education, particularly internships, clinical work and mandatory participation in a doctoral school before starting one's dissertation.
5a) What is the difference between an applicant and a project partner?
Applicants are responsible for the proposed project and the grant (if awarded) in scientific and administrative terms and they make a substantial contribution to the project. It was they who came up with the research idea and the research plan was developed by them; they are also entitled to include the grant in their CV as one of their scientific achievements. They are also responsible for organising and staffing the project, personnel management, outcomes and output.
Project partners make an important scientific or methodological contribution the project. However, they are not responsible for the research proposal in scientific or administrative terms and may not refer to the grant as their own accomplishment.
5b) Can I submit an application to the SNSF if I am already working as an employee in an SNSF-funded project?
Not during the same period of time. For the SNSF, an applicant is a person conducing independent research who applies for a grant to finance his or her own research ideas. Project employees, however, are not scientifically independent, rather they work on a research project that was devised by another person. These two roles are incompatible, therefore the SNSF does not consider applications that would result in a person having them in parallel. If you fulfill all requirements, you can apply for a project grant of your own if the start date is after your period of employment in another researcher's project. However, you may apply for a career grant that starts prior to the end of your employment in a project if you terminate your employee status before starting your own grant (should it be approved).
6a) What do I need to consider when preparing the budget for my research project?
You need to include a realistic budget in your research proposal in order to cover the project costs, which should be subdivided according to the pre-defined budget items. Only costs that are eligible for the relevant funding scheme may be claimed and only costs that are project-specific. The cost estimates must always be proportionate and economical.
6b) Which costs are eligible?
Costs for personnel, social security contributions, materials, use of infrastructures, conferences and workshops, collaborations, career measures and gender equality measures. The SNSF may limit the range of eligible costs in individual funding schemes.
6c) When does the SNSF reduce the budget of an approved application?
Costs which cannot be allocated are cancelled by the SNSF; any which are not substantiated or portions of costs that have not been adjusted will be reduced accordingly. Reductions may also be applied for research projects that run concomitantly in terms of scientific content or as a function of their scientific quality. Such reductions may be applied as an overall reduction or as reductions specific to particular budget items.
6d) What do I have to pay attention to when using the awarded budget?
If the application is approved, the SNSF generally awards a total amount for the research project (total budget). Grantees are obliged to use the total budget to achieve the objectives set out in the approved research plan. Transfers between budget items are possible and do not require any authorisation from the SNSF as long as the grant as a whole is not exceeded. Significant changes to the budget or to the use of financial resources in the course of the research project need to be approved by the SNSF, however.
6e) Do the eligible costs also include the salaries of the applicants?
The applicants' own salaries are generally included under eligible costs only in the career funding schemes. The specific provisions governing these funding schemes apply in this regard.
6f) Which costs incurred by project partners are eligible?
The cost of services provided for the research project by project partners may be charged to the grant in accordance with the SNSF rules for eligible costs. The salaries of the project partners, however, are not eligible for funding.
6g) Are the costs of computing time eligible?
Yes, and costs for data acquisition or access to data are also eligible. However, the costs must have been incurred specifically for services provided in the context of the approved research project. Any general expenses for servicing or maintaining infrastructure are not included. The costs of data storage over the duration of the project are only eligible if unusually large amounts of data are being processed that exceed the normal capacity of the university infrastructure.
6h) Are costs for making research data accessible (open research data) eligible?
The applicants can request at the time of submission of the application funding for the preparation of research data in view of its archiving, and to the archiving itself in data repositories complying with the FAIR data principles. The SNSF may allocate up to CHF 10,000 for these activities.
6i) Which infrastructure costs are eligible?
Only direct costs for the use of infrastructures linked to the execution of the funded project are eligible. This does not include general expenses for the servicing and maintenance of the infrastructures.
6j) Are travel costs and expenses in connection with conferences and workshops eligible?
Organisation and travel costs for conducting conferences and workshops that are in line with the objectives of the SNSF-funded research project are eligible. Upon request, the SNSF may also award grants to cover the costs of conferences that are not conducted in the context of an SNSF-funded project. For any accompanying children who require care, in addition to the travel costs set out in the previous paragraphs, a contribution to the childcare costs can be claimed in accordance with the rates recognised by the SNSF.
6k) Are the costs of research collaborations with third parties eligible?
The costs of research collaborations with third parties, e.g. researchers with a thematically similar project, can be charged to the grant if they are directly linked with the research project. The collaboration should be proportionate to the size of the research project and conducted by researchers employed in the project.
6l) Where can I find provisions on supplementary costs that may be eligible for, e.g., a gender equality grant or a grant for career measures?
These provisions are included in the relevant Annexes of the Implementation Regulations: "Flexibility grants" in Annex 4, mobility grants for doctoral students in SNSF projects in Annex 5, "Research time for clinicians" in Annex 6, the "Gender equality grant" in Annex 7 and "Grants for exemption from teaching duties" in Annex 8.
7a) I would like to conduct my research project together with applicants working abroad. How should I proceed?
If the partner abroad does not bear any responsibility for the project or make a substantial contribution, you can claim collaboration costs for your project or assign project partner status to your partner abroad. If the partner abroad is supposed to be co-responsible for the project or if you developed the research idea together with them, there are two options for cross-border collaboration - Money follows Co-operation Line and the Lead Agency process. Please refer to the special SNSF web pages devoted to these topics.
7b) I will be starting in a new job abroad before I can complete my ongoing project. What will happen with my SNSF project?
When you move abroad, your project can be transferred to the same place, provided you continue to meet the eligibility requirements for applicants. What is more, your project can still be administered in Switzerland. You need to apply to the SNSF for both of these measures.
8a) In order to conduct my research project successfully, I need the right staff. Which staff categories does the SNSF recognise?
The following employee categories are recognised by the SNSF:
- Doctoral students
- Other employees who make a specific contribution to the research project; these include employees with a degree who do not intend to do a doctorate; employees with a doctorate who are not included in the postdoc category due to their period of employment and time window; technicians; auxiliary staff. No career measures may be requested for employees.
8b) For how long can I employ staff members in my research project?
The maximum period of employment funded by the SNSF is:
- four years for doctoral students
- five years for postdocs
The relevant start date for calculating this period is:
- For doctoral students, the day of registration for doctoral studies
- For postdocs the date of the viva voce or of the official acceptance of the thesis
8c) Can the relevant start date be adjusted when calculating the maximum employment duration?
On request, the relevant start date can be postponed by at the most one year for calculation of the employment duration if one or more of the following reasons apply:
- Maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave;
- Inability to work due to illness or accident;
- Care duties;
- Services for the general public, particularly military or civilian service;
- Continuing education, particularly internships, clinical work;
- Compulsory participation in a doctoral school before starting work on the doctoral thesis
8d) Can a temporary position in industry or the private sector be a reason to adjust the start date for calculation of the maximum employment period?
If the position in question includes aspects of continuing education and boosts the person’s academic career, it is possible to postpone the start date for calculation of the employment period by at the most one year in accordance with the item "Continuing education, particularly internships, clinical activity" mentioned under 8c.)
8e) Can the maximum employment duration be extended?
If delays occur during an ongoing employment relationship due to the reasons set out 8c, the time window for the maximum employment duration may be extended by at the most one year upon request.
8f) Is there any rule with regard to the number of FTEs that employees in an SNSF-funded project need to work?
For doctoral students, the goal is to complete their dissertation quickly. To achieve this, experience has shown that 80-100% of a full-time position needs to be devoted to the dissertation (section 7.3 para. 3 of the General Implementation Regulations for the Funding Regulations). A percentage of less than 80% is only permitted if all of the following conditions are met: a. The dissertation can be written within the regular timeframe of four years, b. the lower percentage has been chosen by the doctoral student themself and c. execution of the project is ensured. The maximum funding period is four years. No restrictions apply to the other employees in this regard. However, applicants are expected to employ postdocs at 100% FTE should this be requested by the postdoc.
8g) Is there a maximum funding period and can it be extended?
The maximum grant duration is four years. If required, the SNSF can at the grantee's request extend the grant by at the most one year so that it covers a period of continued salary payments in case of maternity, adoption, illness, accident, military service or other services.