Swiss National Science Foundation

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF, German: Schweizerische Nationalfonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, SNF; French: Fonds national suisse de la recherche scientifique, FNS) is a science research support organisation mandated by the Swiss Federal Government. The Swiss National Science Foundation was established under private law by physicist and medical doctor Alexander von Muralt in 1952.


The SNSF consists of three main bodies: Foundation Council, National Research Council and Administrative Offices. The Foundation Council is the highest authority and makes strategic decisions. The National Research Council is composed of distinguished researchers who mostly work at Swiss institutions of higher education. They assess research proposals submitted to the SNSF and make funding decisions. The National Research Council comprises up to 100 members and is subdivided into four divisions:

The divisions work together with local Research Commissions, which are based at institutions of higher education. These commissions act as a link to the SNSF and they offer a local perspective on applications emanating from their institution.

The administrative offices support and coordinate the activities of the Foundation Council, the Research Council and the Research Commissions. Their tasks include financial controlling of research funding, requesting and evaluating external reviews of proposed projects, maintaining national and international contacts in the area of research policy, representing the SNSF in relevant bodies and communicating with the public. The administrative offices are located in Bern.

Funding schemes

Mandated by the federal authorities, the Swiss National Science Foundation supports basic science in all academic disciplines. It evaluates research proposals submitted by researchers and funds projects selected on the basis of scientific criteria. The SNSF provides fundings for research projects[1] and for research career,[2] among which fellowships, SNSF professorships and Marie Heim-Vögtlin grants (programme for the promotion of women in research). By awarding fellowships and special grants, the SNSF also supports young researchers. In addition, the SNSF supports international collaborations with specific programmes and collaborations[3] and it funds conferences and publications (mainly dissertations and habilitations).

Research Programmes and Centres of Competence in Research

The National Research Programmes (NRP) and National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR) are the most important research programmes of the SNSF. Mandated by the Federal Council, NRPs generate scientific knowledge aimed at solving pressing problems. They generally run for up to five years and have an overall budget of eight to twelve million Swiss francs. Since 1975, the SNSF has launched over 69 NRPs. NCCRs aim to strengthen research structures in Switzerland. Each NCCR is based at an institution of higher education and consists of a centre of competence as well as a national and international network. NCCRs benefit from SNSF funding of 20 to 60 million Swiss francs over a period of ten to twelve years, as well as university and third party funding.[4]

National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR)

Research magazine Horizons

The research magazine Horizons (German title: Horizonte, French title: Horizons) is a joint publication of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (it was edited by the SNSF alone before 2012).[6] In four quarterly editions, it reports on the latest results and insights from all research disciplines: from biology, medicine, natural sciences and mathematics to social and cultural sciences. The magazine addresses a broad public interested in research issues and is available as a free subscription (as well as freely accessible on-line).

Since its hundredth issue, in March 2014, the magazine Horizons is also available in English on-line.[7]


The Swiss National Science Foundation awards the Swiss Latsis Prize (funded by the Latsis Foundation).

See also

Notes and references

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