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Switzerland launches national alternatives to EU research calls

Image: BATMANV, via Shutterstock

National versions of ERC Advanced Grants and Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships to open in October

Switzerland’s national research funder has launched the copycat schemes the country is using as national replacements for the single-researcher EU grants that Switzerland-based researchers are currently ineligible for due to a breakdown in EU-Swiss relations.

On 24 September, the Swiss National Science Foundation published call documents for its versions of two popular funding schemes from the EU’s Horizon Europe R&D programme.

The SNSF Advanced Grants imitate those awarded by the European Research Council, while its Swiss Postdoctoral Fellowships are copies of the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Unlike the EU schemes, which allow funded researchers to work both in and outside the EU—provided that host institutions are associated to Horizon Europe—researchers funded by the SNSF schemes must carry out their projects at Swiss institutions.

Switzerland’s Advanced Grants offer CHF2.5 million (€2.3m) over five years, a little less than the €2.5m offered by their EU namesake. Like their EU equivalents, the Postdoctoral Fellowships mainly cover the grantee’s salary, with a modest top-up for project costs.

The SNSF Advanced Grants open on 1 October and close on 1 December, while the Postdoctoral Fellowships open on 15 October and close on 15 December.

Alternatives not ideal

The funder said it might also set up national replacements for ERC Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants for 2022, if Switzerland has not negotiated association to Horizon Europe by then. Swiss researchers were able to apply for the 2021 calls of these schemes before political relations broke down.

But it warned: “Measures at national level cannot entirely replace the various elements of the EU’s Framework Programme. The SNSF therefore strongly supports Switzerland’s rapid and full association to the programme.”

The government is pursuing association, but the European Commission is for the time being refusing to negotiate. It has said that Switzerland owes the EU a financial contribution to the bloc’s regional cohesion funding.