​​​​​​​Daniel ​Fuhrer

Traineeship ​from 01 February to 31 July 2013.

At the time of entry, Daniel Fuhrer was enrolled at the Institut des Etudes Européennes of the University of Geneva doing a Master of European Studies. He dedicated 50% of his time to determine consequences and opportunities of Horizon 2020 and the European Research Area (ERA) for the Swiss research funding instruments. The executive summary can be found hereunder.


Regards croisés on​​ Horizon 2020 and SNSF 

Innovating its way out of the current economic and financial crisis, the European Union (EU) will enter in a new generation of Framework Programme (FP) for Research and Innovation (R&I) entitled `Horizon 2020', the main financial tool for implementing Europe's future economic growth and jobs in the field of R&I, which will run from 2014 to 2020. As an Associated Country (AC) to the European FP since 2004 , Switzerland has an interest in getting a better picture of the final outcome of Horizon 2020. Indeed, Horizon 2020 will provide an even increased source of funding through a combination of already existing and new Research Funding Instruments (RFI) in the case of a Swiss association to the programme, to be negotiated with the EU after Horizon 2020's formal adoption at European level expected in autumn 2013.


Being prepared for Horizon 2020 and staying at the forefront implies getting a good understanding of its corresponding RFI for a leading and well-connected funding organisation like the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Switzerland's foremost institution in the pro-motion of scientific research. Therefore, this report aims to provide insight into the interplay between the instruments of the SNSF on the one hand and the ones of Horizon 2020 on the other. This is done through a set of comparisons and considerations on the three-level in-struments (national, European and international) of the SNSF.


This report's title therefore alludes to providing an overview of the interaction between Swiss and European RFI, eventually reaching the stage where we can identify communalities, differences and gaps, leading in turn to a set of regards croisés on Horizon 2020 and the SNSF.


To do so, a classification model proved necessary. Based on a literature review, a difference was made between two types of classification: the grant-oriented classifications – from a point of view of a researcher – and the goal-oriented classifications. Because we compare RFI in their use for achieving strategic goals, the choice was made to go for the goal-oriented approach developed by the European Science Foundation (ESF) in its 2009 report on ` Evaluation in National Research Funding Agencies: approaches, experiences and case studies'.


The preliminary results showed that there is a high variety of RFI at both national and Euro-pean levels falling in the category of career development, which regroups instruments designed to attract, develop and retain talented researchers and are often targeted at specific areas of research or specific career stages. Indeed, according to our analyses and partial conclusions, the highest potential for overlap between Swiss and European funding schemes is located in the pillar I of Horizon 2020 `Excellent Science', which aim is to provide a continuous source of world-class research to guarantee Europe's long-term competitiveness. In particular, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and the European Research Council (ERC) Grants share similar features with a number of SNSF's career development instruments, including in their respective goals.


On their side, the European instruments of relevance for the SNSF that belong to the `Societal Challenges' pillar showed very few overlap when comparing them to the ones of the SNSF. As a consequence, this brings the SNSF some opportunities and a considerable amount of challenges in order to achieve best synergies with Horizon 2020's RFI.


With a view of encouraging an optimal Swiss research funding policy and in the light of our observations, this report's final chapter provides practical considerations for action by the SNSF. The propositions are by no means exhaustive or conclusive, but they aim to provide food for thought and reflexion.


see complete report​​​