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Swiss Horizon alternatives more popular than EU schemes


One Swiss scheme received double the interest of its European Research Council equivalent

Swiss replacements for EU funding schemes have proved more popular with Switzerland-based researchers than the originals, according to the funder responsible for them.

During 2021 and 2022, the Swiss National Science Foundation ran five “transitional” funding schemes, worth 292 million Swiss francs (€299m), to make up for the country being prevented from joining Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme.

There have been eight funding calls through these replacement schemes, which are designed to match Horizon Europe schemes as far as possible. Three of the SNSF schemes are intended to replace European Research Council grants.

“In each call, the SNSF received more applications from researchers in Switzerland than the original instruments at the European level, including the European Research Council,” the agency said on 13 March as it presented data on the schemes.

It said it received 232 applications for its SNSF Advanced Grants call in 2021, compared with the 108 applications by Switzerland-based researchers to the ERC Advanced Grants call in 2020.

Overall, the SNSF said there had been “strong interest” in its alternative schemes, with 2,600 proposals received and 190 projects funded.

The Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grant replacements for ERC schemes had success rates of 14, 17 and 10 per cent respectively, while a postdoctoral fellowship intended to replace the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship also had a success rate of 10 per cent.

Applications to a call for quantum research projects are still being evaluated.