Who is eligible for funding?

The main applicant and co-applicants need to be employed as PI/Group leader (or similar) for the entire duration of the project at a Swiss higher education institution (ETH-Domain, Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences), University Hospitals in Switzerland.


The main applicant is responsible for corresponding with SPHN and for setting up and managing the consortium (i.e. co-applicants and/or associated applicants) for his/her proposal (if applicable).


Wider participation is also desired, i.e. other research institutions and hospitals (e.g. cantonal hospitals) are encouraged to associate with at least one of the above-mentioned SPHN partner institutions and to submit joint applications. 


Associated applicants are employed at other research institutions as defined by SERI (e.g. SIB, CSEM) and/or public hospitals (e.g. cantonal hospital), and make a partial contribution to a project without taking responsibility for it.


Foreign research groups, other publicly funded institutions (e.g. eHealth Suisse, FOPH) and private entities can also act as associated applicants but must cover their own costs.

Are cost-neutral extensions of grants possible?

At the grantee’s request, SPHN may exceptionally extend the grant by a maximum of 12 months without provision of additional funding.

The extension must be requested before expiry of the grant period and requires a written justification (Cost-neutral extension request template).

Is it possible to include research groups located in a foreign country?

Under certain circumstances (e.g. no Swiss research group can provide the respective know-how), it is possible to include research groups located in a foreign country as associated applicants.


However, associated applicants located in countries outside of Switzerland are not eligible to receive SPHN funding and must cover their own costs.

Is it possible to include publicly funded institutions (e.g. cantonal or federal offices)?

Collaboration with publicly funded institutions which are not research institutions or hospitals (e.g. e-Health Suisse, FOPH) is possible. They should be listed as associated applicants. However, they are not eligible for SPHN funding and must cover their own costs.

Is it possible to include for-profit organizations as associated applicants?

For-profit organizations may participate as associated applicants.


However, they must cover their efforts with their own resources and provide written guarantee that:

  • their data and published results are accessible at all times without restrictions;
  • no commercial use is envisaged on the basis of this collaboration.
Who should provide a host institution commitment letter? Who should sign the letter?

A host commitment letter must be provided by the host institution management for each applicant (main applicant, co-applicants, and associated applicants) who requests funding from SPHN.


In the case that several applicants from the same institution are part of the same project proposal, the host institutions may provide one host commitment letter that covers the total amount requested by its applicants (template).


The letter should be signed by a person who is authorised to sign research grants/contracts at your institution (Authorised Legal Signatory for Research Contracts). Depending on your institutional bylaws, it can be the Dean, the Vice-Rector/Vice-President or the Head of the Grants Office.


In the case of joint SPHN-PHRT proposals, applicants from ETH-Domain institutions requesting funding only from PHRT but not from SPHN, do not have to submit a host commitment letter. By submitting a joint SPHN-PHRT proposal, they nevertheless commit to adhere to the current valid version of the Ethical Framework for Responsible Data Processing.  

Is there a maximum number of applicants that is allowed or a number range that is recommended for the size of the consortium?

Projects should involve the relevant medical/scientific/technological centres in the field. However, only applicants whose knowledge and expertise is necessary to the project should be included in the proposal.  


The SPHN call does not specify a maximum number of applicants. However, management and governance of the project are part of the evaluation criteria.

Are joint SPHN-PHRT proposal also possible for infrastructure development projects or only for driver projects? In the case of a joint project, should they have only one main PI for the whole project or two?

Yes, joint SPHN-PHRT proposals can also be submitted for infrastructure development projects. There should be one designated main PI for the SPHN part and one for the PHRT part of the project. 

Can each associated applicant request 20% of the total funding requested from SPHN or does the maximum of 20% refer to the associated applicants altogether ?

The funding requested for all associated applicants together should not exceed 20% of the total amount requested from SPHN.

Can I request funding for the generation/creation of health-related data (e.g. –omics data, images etc.)

Yes, but only if it is necessary to reach the primary goals of the SPHN initiative (e.g. interoperability). This limitation, however, only concerns funding through SPHN.


In case of a joint SPHN-PHRT project, the ETH SFA PHRT explicitly invites large scale data generation (www.sfa-phrt.ch). Projects should therefore collaborate with PHRT for large scale data generation. However, only ETH Domain research groups are eligible for PHRT funding. 

What are the rules for matching contributions?

Only funds, which are transferred by the host institution to an account/credit line administered by the applicant are to be considered as cash contributions


“In kind” contributions are non-monetary resources, goods or services from the institution's operating budget (e.g. salaries, costs for large or specific equipment) that are explicitely allocated to the SPHN project. In kind contributions are valued in monetary terms.


Please note that funds and resources received from other competitive grants (e.g. SNSF, H2020, PHRT etc.) cannot be considered as own contributions.


Although the composition of the contribution is not specified, usually a 50% cash-50% in-kind contribution is preferable. 

What is the CV format?

Each applicant should provide a CV (max. 2 pages; see SNSF guidelines). Please do not include Major scientific achievements in the CV.


The main achievements should be described in Part B (Section 2) under "International standing/track record of main and co-applicants in their field of research and technology (max. 3 pages in total)".


The publication list is not part of the CV. The publication list should be submitted by all applicants and include the applicant's 10 most relevant publications to the project without limit of time range (i.e. there is no 5-year or 10-year limit).





Do I need to apply for ethical approval before submission of the proposal?

No, however, applicants should list all authorization or notification documents that are required for performing the proposed project under Section 3.9.


If you already have some of them, please attach copies in the Annex part of your proposal.


Please note that funds will not be released until all necessary permissions and authorizations have been obtained for the period to be financed.

What is the evaluation procedure? What are the evaluation criteria?

The evaluation procedure is the following:


  1. Formal check: The Management Office verifies that the proposal meets the formal requirements (completeness of the proposal, eligiblity of the applicants, etc.; see Section 4.1 of the Funding Regulations).
    Proposals which fail to comply with the formal requirements will not be admitted to the next stage of the selection procedure and will be rejected if the issue cannot be easily corrected.
  2. Assessment of the proposals: each proposal is evaluated by two members of the International Advisory Board (IAB).
  3. Evaluation meeting: during the evaluation meeting, the IAB discusses the referees’ assessments and provides a rating.
  4. Funding decision: the recommendation of the IAB is examined and decided upon by the National Steering Board (NSB).
  5. Communication to the applicants: After the NSB meeting, a decision letter is to the main applicant. The ruling comprises the decision of the NSB, the assessment of the IAB in the form of an evaluation summary, as well as details regarding the awarded funds and funding conditions, if applicable.


The criteria are outlined in the call for proposals (Section 8.2).

How should I submit an application for a joint SPHN-PHRT project?

  1. Please submit only one single application file (as PDF or zip) to both SPHN and PHRT.
  2. For creating the application, applicants can use either the SPHN or the PHRT templatePlease split the project plan (Research Part B3, max. 20 pages) in two parts (one for SPHN, one for PHRT). For Part C (Project resources), applicants are requested to fill in the joint detailed budget template (.xls) in order to specify the amount of contribution requested from PHRT and SPHN respectively.
  3. A host commitment letter has to be provided to SPHN, only if applicants (main- OR co- OR associated applicants) request funding from SPHN. In the case of a joint SPHN-PHRT project, an applicant requesting funds from PHRT but not from SPHN, does not have to submit a host commitment letter from the ETH-Domain institution. By submitting a joint proposal, all applicants commit to adhere to the current valid version of the Ethical Framework for Responsible Data Processing. 
  4. Please submit the same application to both programs by 30 June (23h59 CET): for SPHN via the online system and to PHRT via email.