Make your ideas reality with the SNSF!
With its project funding scheme, the Swiss National Science Foundation enables researchers to independently conduct research projects with topics and goals of their own choice.
Applicants can apply for funding of research costs and staff salaries, as well as of scientific cooperation, networking and communication; however, they may not apply for their own salaries.
The funding period ranges from one to four years, with grants starting at CHF 50,000 (minimum amount). The SNSF recommends that researchers focus on one project and plan it for a four-year period.
Applications for project funding can be submitted if the following personal and formal requirements are met. If two or more applicants jointly submit an application, each applicant must individually meet the requirements.
Please consider the following important points when preparing and submitting an application. Please also take note of the requirements for the form and content of the research plan, the CV and the Data Management Plan (DMP) as well as the detailed information given in mySNF. Please also consider the principles of the SNSF relating to Open Access to Publications.
SNSF grants cover the following research costs:
Cost for supplementary measures must be applied for together with the application.
Applications for the following supplementary measures can be submitted during the running time of the application:
Formal check and refusal to consider proposals
Evaluation by internal and external experts
Detailed information on grant management can be found under the following links:
Grantees assume the following obligations, in particular:
Guidelines and regulations
The conditions for project funding are set out in three sets of regulations:
- Regulations on Project Funding (PDF); these regulations may include specific provisions that apply only to project funding and are different from the provisions of the Funding Regulations
- Funding Regulations (PDF)
- General Implementation Regulations (PDF)
The following guidelines are based on the regulations. They comprise additional explanations and comments intended to facilitate application of the regulatory provisions in practice. If you need any further clarifications, please contact the Administrative Offices of the SNSF (see contact details at the top of the page).
- Requirements for the research plan
- Requirements for CV / major achievements
- DMP – Guidelines for researchers
- Projects - submitting an application
- List of SNF research domains and disciplines (PDF)
- Guide/documents for the Weave / Lead Agency Procedure
- Use-inspired basic research
- Regulations of the National Research Council on the treatment of scientific misconduct by applicants and grantees (PDF)
1) 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)]
2) 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.
3a) Do I need to work a certain number of hours to be eligible to submit a project funding application?
Yes, the research work, along with any scientific teaching activities, must constitute the equivalent of at least 50% FTE (being engaged as a lecturer is not regarded as an employment relationship and is therefore not counted). Researchers devoting less than 50% of their time to scientific activities are eligible to submit an application if their scientific research and teaching activities are usually carried out as part of another professional activity (this is specifically geared to clinicians as well as employees at museums and archives).
3b) 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.
3c) 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.
3d) 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).
3e) In which language should a project funding application be written?
Apart from most disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, all applications in project funding must be submitted in English. In the disciplines where English is not compulsory, the applicants can choose between German, French, Italian and English. In these disciplines the language of the majority of publications on the research topic should be chosen as the language of the application. This will make it easier to find suitable external reviewers. The data entered in mySNF and the covering letters should be written in the same language as the research plan.
4a) 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.
4b) 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.
5a) 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.
5b) 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.
5c) I have not yet acquired four years of research experience since completing my doctorate. Can I apply for project funding?
In principle, no - unless you already hold a position where you can independently conduct research (e.g. assistant professor or leader of a research group); the position must be assured for the entire duration of the project (exceptions are possible with regard to positions for young researchers). If this is not the case, the revised Ambizione scheme will be more suitable for you. There you can apply for research funds, either including or excluding your own salary.
5d) I haven't done a doctorate as I graduated from a university of applied sciences. What requirements do I need to meet in order to be eligible to submit a project funding application?
Applicants without a doctorate must generally have completed three years of research work as their main source of income since obtaining their higher education degree, and they need to follow this up with four additional years of research experience. Researchers who obtain an independent research position before these four years have passed (e.g. as assistant professor or leader of a research group) can submit a project funding application as of then.
6a) Do I need to submit a project with a four-year duration?
No, you can submit projects with a shorter duration. The minimum duration for projects is 12 months.
6b) Can I submit a follow-up application for my ongoing project?
Applications proposing follow-up research on a specific topic are always possible.
6c) What is a project partner?
A project partner makes only a small contribution to a research project. He or she is not the driving force behind the project and is not responsible for its progress. Project partners may be academic researchers or individuals working in the public or non-profit sector. They may receive funding through the project, but will not be employed as project staff.
6d) 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.
6e) Can I submit a project with co-applicants?
Needless to say, several applicants are allowed should this be essential for achieving the project goals. All applicants will be equally responsible for the project and will need to make a substantial contribution to it. Persons who participate in the project without being responsible for it will be given project partner status.
6f) Can I participate in a project run by a colleague of mine?
If you have planned the project together with a colleague and if you are responsible for a substantial share of the research work, you should participate as applicant. The project will then be yours as well. If your work will not make a substantial contribution to the project, and if you are not responsible for the project or the project idea to any significant degree, the role of project partner will be more suitable for you.
6g) In how many projects can I be involved simultaneously as main or co-applicant?
You should try to focus on one fully-fledged project. If you have a completely different research idea, you can submit a second project proposal or participate in another project. Back-to-back projects with briefly overlapping funding periods are generally not a problem.
The SNSF does not differentiate between main applicants and co-applicants. All applicants enjoy equal rights, share project responsibility and make a significant contribution to the project..
6h) I am currently conducting a project of my own. Can I submit a proposal for a further project?
One person may have the role of applicant or grant recipient for a maximum of two current projects. No distinction is made between the roles "corresponding applicant/grant recipient" and "further applicant/grant recipient". If you are involved in an ongoing grant in one of these roles, you can only submit a second application with an overlapping funding period if the research topics are clearly different. In case of any doubts in this regard, we recommend that you contact the Administrative Offices of the SNSF.
6i) I am taking part in an ongoing project. Can I submit a proposal for another project?
Both in the current and in the new regulations, the SNSF does not distinguish between main applicants and co-applicants. All applicants enjoy the same rights, are equally responsible for the project and make a substantial contribution to it. Hence, it is immaterial whether your name is mentioned in first, second or third place in an application. If you have a research idea that is clearly different from the current project, you may submit or participate in one further application at the most.
6j) I am currently participating in more than two projects. Can I submit a proposal for another project?
In principle, you cannot. It might be possible to make an exception, however, if the funding periods of your ongoing projects are due to expire soon. For more information on this subject, please contact the relevant division of the Administrative Offices.
6k) Does a Weave/Lead Agency project count as project funding?
Yes, project grants awarded based on the Weave/Lead Agency process fall under project funding. The Weave/Lead Agency process simplifies the submission and evaluation of transnational applications. Such projects are accepted regardless of whether they were evaluated and approved by the SNSF or the relevant funding agency abroad.
6l) Does a lead agency project count as project funding?
Yes, project grants awarded based on the Lead Agency process fall under project funding. The Lead Agency process simplifies the submission and evaluation of transnational applications. Such projects are accepted regardless of whether they were evaluated and approved by the SNSF or the relevant funding agency abroad.
6m) Can/should I withdraw from projects where I am a co-applicant?
If you are making a substantial contribution to a project as co-applicant, you may not withdraw from it. If your role is more that of a project partner, you may submit a withdrawal request to the Administrative Offices for approval. Please contact the relevant division of the Administrative Offices if you have any questions.
6n) I would like to merge two projects into one bigger project? Would this be possible?
In principle, yes - provided it makes sense as far as the topics and organisation of your projects are concerned. For more information on this subject, please contact the relevant division of the Administrative Offices.
6o) I have just submitted a project funding application. Can I also submit a Sinergia project?
Yes, a Sinergia proposal can be submitted at the same time as a project funding proposal.
6p) I already have a project funding grant. Can I still submit a Sinergia project proposal?
Yes, a Sinergia proposal can be submitted during the running time of a project funding grant.
6q) Are there any limitations on project funding for holders of career funding grants?
Yes, they are described in the relevant regulations. Ambizione grantees are excluded from project funding, and SNSF professors can submit an application for project funding two years after receiving the SNSF professorship at the earliest.
6r) 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).
7a) 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.
7b) Which costs are eligible?
Costs for personnel, social security contributions, materials, use of infrastructures, open access publications, conferences and workshops, collaborations, career measures and gender equality measures. The SNSF may limit the range of eligible costs in individual funding schemes.
7c) When does the SNSF reduce the budget of an approved application?
Costs that are not eligible are deleted by the SNSF and costs (or cost components) that cannot be justified or are out of proportion are reduced. Budgets may also be reduced due to thematic overlaps with other grants or relative to the quality of the proposal. These cutbacks can take the form of an overall deduction or of cuts to specific budget items.
7d) 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 SNSN 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.
7e) 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.
7f) 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.
7g) Are the costs of computing time and cloud computing 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.
7h) 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.
7i) 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 (independent conference grants, Annex 3 of the Implementation Regulations).
7j) 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. Specific personnel, research and travel costs are eligible. Personnel costs outside the scope of the SNSF project and for non-scientific staff are not eligible, however.
7k) 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" (contributions to childcare ) in Annex 4, "mobility grants" for doctoral students in SNSF projects in Annex 5, "research time for clinicians" in Annex 6, "gender equality grants" in Annex 7 and "grants for exemption from teaching duties" in Annex 8.
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.
Salary costs of other employees may not be charged to SNSF grants uninterruptedly over a long period. With regard to uninterrupted funding by the SNSF, all SNSF-funded employments and fellowships starting at the doctoral level are considered. Funding gaps of a few months are not regarded as an interruption in SNSF funding. 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 the four-year period for doctoral students is the actual start date of the dissertation, as communicated to the SNSF by the relevant grantees. The four-year time window starts one year after the said start date at the latest. This year may be used for preparatory activities connected to the dissertation, e.g. participating in classes of a doctoral school.
For postdocs, the relevant start date of the five-year period is 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;
Delays of the relevant start date for doctoral students are included in the definition of the start date of the time window.
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 hours per week that employees in an SNSF-funded project need to work?
No. However, the SNFS expects that doctoral students devote 80-100% of a full-time equivalent to their doctorate. Grantees are encouraged to employ postdocs at 100%, if the latter so wish.
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.
9a) 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 - International Co-Investigator Scheme and the Weave/Lead Agency process. Please refer to the special SNSF web pages devoted to these topics.cheme and the Lead Agency process. Please refer to the special SNSF web pages devoted to these topics.
International Co-Investigator Scheme:
Research projects that are to be conducted in collaboration with applicants based abroad may be submitted and approved via the usual SNSF funding process in accordance with the International Co_Investigator Scheme. Information on the accepted countries and the conditions can be found on the SNSF website. To obtain this grant, applicants must be able to show that the project would not be feasible without the additional applicants and that the research conducted abroad adds substantial value to the overall project. Not more than half (50%) of the total budget should be used for the research abroad.
Weave/Lead Agency process:
Researchers in Switzerland who want to carry out a cross-border research project can also submit an application according to the Weave/Lead Agency process. This process can be chosen if the SNSF has signed an agreement with a partner organisation in the country in question. Researchers in these countries and in Switzerland must submit their joint application to only one organisation, the so-called Lead Agency. The Lead Agency evaluates the overall project according to its own processes and criteria, and the partner organisation accepts the Lead Agency's decision. If the project is approved, each organisation finances the part of the project conducted in its own country.
9b) 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.
10) What changed when the new Project funding regulations were introduced in 2016?
11) Is it possible to submit projects on legal commentary?
A research project can include legal commentary. If the project's direct output is a legal commentary, it will need to be published in an open access format. According to the SNSF's open access policy, results of the research projects can be used in a printed commentary that is not freely accessible, provided an open access version of the results had previously been made available.