The National Centres of Competence in Research NCCR



The National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs) are an established federal funding in-strument for top-level research in Switzerland. NCCRs are long-term research projects on themes of strategic importance to Switzerland as a location for research and innovation. They stand for excellent and internationally recognised research, for knowledge and technology transfer, and for promoting equal opportunities and the careers of young researchers. NCCRs also contribute to a better structuring of the Swiss research landscape. From 2020 onwards, the Confederation will be supporting 22 ongoing NCCRs (Series 3 to 5). Some of these NCCRs will conclude in 2022/2023.

NCCRs are research projects of national importance based at one or more home institutions with a focus on basic research. A further important aspect is national coordination and the creation of networks of research partners from universities and the private sector. Funding is awarded to the highest quality research projects, with a focus on interdisciplinary and innova-tive approaches. NCCRs are also expected to promote young researchers, encourage equal opportunities and engage in knowledge transfer.

NCCRs run for a maximum of twelve years and receive between four and five million francs a year in funding from the federal government. In addition there are contributions from the universities involved, competitive third-party funding and contributions from the private sector.

Facts and figures

Since being launched in 2001, the NCCRs have become an important federal government funding instrument for basic research. The federal government has launched a total of 42 NCCRs over the course of 5 series.

No. of NCCR series launched 5
No. of NCCRs launched (Series 1-5) 42
No. of ongoing NCCRs (as of 2020) 22
Federal government investment (2001–2019) CHF 1223 million
Investment by universities and research groups (2001–2019) CHF 1820 million
External funding (2001–2019) CHF 273 million
No. of scientific publications (2001–2019) 34'000
Newly created or re-oriented academic chairs (2001–2019) 197
No. of doctorates obtained (2001–2019) 1780
No. of cooperation arrangements with businesses (2001–2019) 1134
No. of patents (2001–2019) 453
  Source: SNSF

Overview of previous NCCRs

Series 5 (Commencement 2020)

  • NCCR AntiResist:
    New Approaches to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant bacteria

    Home institution: University of Basel
    Field: Medicine and Life Sciences
  • NCCR Evolving Language:
    The Origins and Future of Language

    Home institutions: University of Zurich, University of Geneva
    Field: Social Sciences and Humanities
  • NCCR Microbiomes:
    Microbial Communities in Health and Environment

    Home institutions: University of Lausanne, ETH Zurich
    Field: Medicine and Life Sciences
    Spin Qubits in Silicon

    Home institution: University of Basel
    Field: Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Engineering
  • NCCR Suchcat:
    Sustainable Chemical Processes Through Catalysis

    Home institutions: ETH Zurich, EPF Lausanne
    Field: Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Engineering

Series 4 (Commencement 2014, Completion 2026)

Series 3 (Commencement 2010, Completion 2022)

Completed NCCRs

Series 2 (Commencement 2005, Completion 2017)

Series 1 (Commencement 2001, Completion 2013)

Launch of new National Centres of Competence in Research

The process of launching a new series of National Centres of Competence in Research begins with a public call for proposals by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF. Proposals for a new NCCR can be submitted on a bottom-up basis by all researchers active in Switzerland. The submitted pre-proposals and then the full proposals are subjected to a scientific evaluation by the SNSF and an international panel of experts. The proposals recommended by the SNSF for implementation are then evaluated by the State Secretariat for Education, Researcher and Innovation SERI on the basis of its current research and higher education policy priorities. The decision to launch new National Centres of Competence in Research is ultimately taken by the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER.


SERI, Nicole Schaad
Deputy Head of Research and Innovation Division
T +41 58 463 59 85