Demand for internal funding is increasing
The number of researchers at ETH Zurich is growing. The ETH Zurich Research Commission is also feeling the effects. More grant applications are being submitted. There is likely to be a particular shortage of funding for junior researchers.
Research Commission has never received so many grant applications from
researchers: the number of requests is reaching a record high, says Nicholas
Spencer, President of the Commission. One reason for this is growth: more
Chairs will also mean more applications. The total number of funded research
projects is not, however, increasing at the same rate. “For years we have
continuously had around 250 active grants”, says Sonja Negovetic, Secretary of
the Research Commission from the Scientific Coordination Staff Unit.
The “ETH Grants”,
together with the “ETH Fellowship” and “Pioneer Fellowship” funding
scholarships, play an important role in the internal funding of research at ETH
Zurich, since they also support projects which have little chance of success
with the federal and EU funding bodies: “This principally applies to research
which is very exciting for a field, but which the National Science Foundation
will probably reject as too ‘risky’”, explains the materials scientist Nicholas
Three additional members
It is not only the number of requests that is increasing, but also the wealth of research topics, which the 25 Commission members evaluate professionally and with the help of an average of three international expert opinions per application. In October 2012, the Executive Board approved the addition of three new members to the Commission. ETH Zurich had already discussed and simplified its internal funding instruments in principle in 2011
In addition to requests for internal ETH Zurich funding, the ETH Research Commission is responsible for evaluating and awarding SNSF fellowships for junior researchers. The competition for mobility grants is also increasing. If ETH Zurich doctoral and postdoctoral students apply to do some research at a foreign university, around 60 per cent of grant applications are successful. In the past this figure was higher, in the future it could be lower.
Regulation for study abroad retained
from 1 January 2013, a new regulation regarding the separation of funding
opportunities for doctoral and postdoctoral students will apply to the SNSF
fellowships. According to the SNSF regulations, the mobility grants last 18
months, or 12 months if the host university contributes to the funding. ETH
Zurich prefers to award grants for 12 months to keep the number of recipients
as high as possible. In this case, ETH Zurich expects the host university to
cover the costs for a further twelve months.
Spencer is convinced: “This requires a binding commitment from both sides and promotes integration. The mobility grants are extremely important for supporting junior researchers and we want to give as many of our graduates as possible the opportunity to make use of them under favourable circumstances.”