National activities in space
SERI support for national research activities in the space sector is intended to achieve three objectives: strengthen the position of researchers at Swiss universities and non-commercial research institutes outside the higher education sector; advance Swiss Space Policy; and optimally prepare Swiss stakeholders for participation in ESA programmes or other international programmes.
By providing support for Swiss participation in space programmes and projects, the federal government makes it easier for Swiss-based institutions to work with the European Space Agency (ESA). At the same time, this support enables the Swiss research community to take part in future calls for proposals for institutional European programmes. Finally, it facilitates the operational deployment of Swiss scientific instruments for space missions, when this is not already funded by ESA programmes.
The Federal Act of 14 December 2012 on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA, SR 420.1) and the Ordinance of 17 December 2021 on the Promotion of National Activities in the Space Sector (NASO, SR 420.125) form the legal basis for national research activities in the space sector.
The following activities qualify for federal funding:
- Preparation for or participation in international space programmes and projects
- Follow-up on participation in space programmes and projects, and
- Information, consultancy and networking activities of institutions and organisations involved in the space sector
University research institutes and non-commercial research institutes outside the higher education sector are eligible to apply for and receive funding from SERI.
The requirements for activities and applications, assessment criteria and application process are described below.
Applicable requirements for activities and applications
The following requirements apply for activities and applications:
- With this legal basis for the support of national research activities in the space sector, the federal government is able to provide funding for projects falling into one of the three categories mentioned above.
- Project funding is provided for a maximum of five years. This period may be extended upon request to SERI. The procedure for obtaining an extension is based on the application procedure described here.
- Project funding is awarded if the project is of interest to Switzerland as a whole and if Swiss participation would not be possible without federal funding.
- Applicants must also demonstrate that they can provide their own adequate funding to the project in question.
The appropriate template must be used for submitting applications and the financial report (see box at the bottom of the page).
Applications must contain the following mandatory information:
- Names of the applicants
- Name of the institution or organisation for which funding is to be awarded
- Description of the project including projected budget
- The amount of funding requested from the federal government
- Information regarding the amount of funding to be provided by the applicant for the given project together with other sources of funding and contributions from third parties
- Justification for Swiss participation, in particular information regarding the scientific value and importance for Switzerland
- Objectives and main results anticipated
SERI will assess applications on the basis of various criteria, which are broken down into three areas:
- Level of relevance to Switzerland's research, innovation and space policy: extent to which the planned project is geared towards preparing, implementing or following up on participation in international space programmes and projects as well as the amount of emphasis placed on research excellence and improved competitiveness of research activities.
- General criteria for federal funding (subsidies): cost-effective, efficient and appropriate use of federal funds, an adequate funding commitment from the applicant, relevance of the project for Switzerland as a whole and determination of whether the project cannot be adequately funded by any other means and whether Switzerland's participation would not be possible without federal funding.
- Technical/substantive criteria: Importance of the project for the space industry in general and for Switzerland in particular as well as criteria applicable for projects under the ESA's development programme PRODEX.
Applicants may contact SERI's Space Office for guidance and information regarding national activities in the space sector that qualify for federal funding and to clarify any questions that they may have regarding the preparation and submission of applications (see contact box to the right).
Applications may be submitted at any time. Depending on the scope and complexity of the application, it will take at least 2-9 months from the time of submission for the application to make it through the process of examination, assessment of merits and possible signing of a performance agreement (see below).
Applications (in German, French, Italian or English) may be submitted to SERI only in electronic form to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
SERI will examine the form and content of applications in accordance with the assessment criteria described above. Once this assessment is complete, SERI or the EAER will decide, pursuant to Art. 49 of the V-FIFG, whether the funding request should be approved/denied and, depending on the amount requested, how much federal funding will be awarded.
Applicants will be notified of SERI’s decision. If the funding request is approved, SERI will sign a performance agreement for larger-scale projects with the applicants. In particular, this performance agreement covers the details of implementation, reporting requirements and the terms of payment of the federal subsidy. In the case of smaller projects, no such performance agreement is needed. The terms of the federal subsidy will be laid out in SERI's decision directly.
The federal government is under no obligation to award subsidies.