The programme is intended for two to four research groups, out of which one applicant must engage in research work in Switzerland, and at least one applicant must do so in an eligible partner country. Swiss applicants must meet the eligibility requirements applicable to SNSF project funding. These requirements apply mutatis mutandis to applicants from abroad.
The SNSF determines the eligible partner countries based on the official list of countries receiving development assistance, which is issued by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. Excluded are EU member states, countries associated to the European Union’s 8th Framework Programme as well as countries collaborating on a bilateral call with the SNSF.
SPIRIT finances original, relevant and team-oriented research that is to the benefit of all concerned. One of its top priorities is to support young researchers. If two or more applications are deemed to be of equal quality, applications by women or applications that show better gender awareness are given preference. Twelve projects are funded per year based on a competitive funding procedure.
The duration of projects is limited to 2-4 years. The research groups can request between 50,000 and 500,000 Swiss francs. At least 30% of each approved grant must be allocated to Switzerland and at least 30% to the relevant partner country/countries. In accordance with the bottom-up principle, applicants are free to choose their own research topics. Researchers from all disciplines are eligible to submit an application.
- Duration: 2-4 years
- Maximum grant amount: CHF 500,000; minimum grant amount: CHF 50,000
- At least 30% of each grant must be allocated to Switzerland and at least 30% to the relevant partner country/countries.
- The salaries of applicants in Switzerland or abroad cannot be charged to the grant.
- A SPIRIT pre-proposal or full proposal can be jointly submitted by a minimum of two and a maximum of four applicants. At least one applicant must engage in research work in Switzerland, and at least one must do so in an eligible partner country.
- One of the Swiss-based applicants (the responsible applicant) represents the research team.
- The funding periods of SPIRIT grants must not overlap with those of other SPIRIT grants, or of Ambizione or PRIMA grants.
- Eccellenza grantees and SNSF professors may submit a SPIRIT application two years after starting the Eccellenza grant or SNSF professorship at the earliest.
- Swiss applicants must meet the eligibility requirements applicable to SNSF project funding. These requirements apply mutatis mutandis to applicants from abroad.
The SNSF determines the eligible partner countries based on the list of countries receiving development assistance, which is issued by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD.
The following countries do not qualify as partner countries:
- Member states of the European Union;
- Countries associated to Horizon 2020, the European Union’s 8th Frame-work Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) or subsequent programmes;
- Countries collaborating on a bilateral call with the SNSF.
- If the pre-proposal is rejected, all the applicants involved in it will be barred from submitting any further pre-proposals for 6 months as of the date of the ruling.
- If the evaluators assign the pre-proposal to one of the three lowest ranking categories out of six, all the applicants involved in it will be barred from submitting any further pre-proposals for 18 months as of the date of the ruling.
- Only one SPIRIT grant may be awarded per person.
- SPIRIT grant holders may not submit SPIRIT applications, unless the planned end date of the ongoing grant lies before the planned start date of the proposed research project.
The applications must be submitted via the mySNF platform.
The SNSF recommends reserving enough time for entering the pre-proposal or full proposal in mySNF. Setting up a new mySNF user account can take up to one week. Detailed instructions on entering and submitting proposals can be found in mySNF.
Pre-proposals and full proposals must be submitted in English.
The CVs and track record of all applicants must be submitted as PDF documents via mySNF together with the research plan. In this context, please refer to the requirements set out in the guidelines:
Full proposals must contain a data management plan (DMP) that meets the SNSF requirements. The DMP needs to be entered directly in mySNF. It is not possible to submit the DMP as a separate PDF document.
When planning your submission, please bear in mind that creating a DMP can be time-consuming.
No DMP is required for pre-proposals.
The evaluation is conducted in accordance with the following criteria:
- scientific relevance of the research project;
- originality of the aims and objectives;
- suitability of the methodology, feasibility;
- track record and expertise of the researchers;
- complementarity of the research partners;
- contribution to increasing scientific capacities in the relevant research field; and
- contribution towards raising gender awareness and promoting equal opportunities.
If proposals are deemed to be equal in terms of their scientific quality, proposals submitted by female applicants, or proposals that show better gender awareness, are given priority.
Two-phase evaluation procedure
The evaluation procedure is divided into two phases: the applicants first submit pre-proposals. If the pre-proposal is accepted, they are invited to submit a full proposal.
If the pre-proposal is rejected, all the applicants involved in it will be barred from submitting any further pre-proposals for 6 months as of the date of the ruling. If the evaluators assign the pre-proposal to one of the three lowest ranking categories out of six, all applicants involved in it will be barred from submitting any further pre-proposals for 18 months as of the date of the ruling.
Evaluation and review
Pre-proposals and full proposals undergo a stringent evaluation procedure. The SNSF Administrative Offices verify that the formal and personal requirements for submission are met. In addition, they may examine whether the full proposal complies with scientific integrity rules:
Pre-proposals and full proposals are evaluated by the SPIRIT Evaluation Commission (SEC).
Pre-proposals are generally evaluated by three SEC members and rated according to the SPIRIT assessment criteria. Each decision is examined and approved by the Specialised Committee International Cooperation.
A full proposal submitted upon invitation is peer-reviewed by international experts. It is generally forwarded to two external reviewers, who assess it based on a questionnaire reflecting the SPIRIT assessment criteria.
Based on the external reviews, the application is evaluated and rated by two SEC members according to the SPIRIT assessment criteria. The SEC then compares and discusses all of the applications and reaches a provisional decision on each one. Subsequently, the decision is examined and endorsed by the Specialised Committee International Cooperation. The Presiding Board approves the decision of the SEC. Once the evaluation procedure has been concluded, the anonymised reviews are made available to the applicants via mySNF.
Communicating the decision
Pre-proposals: the definitive decision is generally made four months after submission of the pre-proposal and communicated to the responsible applicant in the form of a ruling (in accordance with the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure).
Full proposals: the final decision is generally made ten months after submission of the full proposal and communicated to the responsible applicant in the form of a ruling (in accordance with the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure).
The entire process – from the submission of pre-proposals to the ruling sent to applicants to inform them about the final decision on the full proposal – generally takes fourteen months to complete.
The Specialised Committee International Cooperation appoints the SPIRIT Evaluation Commission (SEC), which is composed of a pool of permanent international members from the humanities and social sciences, mathematics and the natural and engineering sciences, and medicine and biology. High importance is attached to balancing the percentage of female and male researchers on the Commission at no less than 40% each. In addition to promoting gender balance, the Specialised Committee International Cooperation appoints a gender equality expert as a member of the SEC.