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Swiss researchers can now also fully participate in the IMI programme

Swiss researchers and organisations can now fully participate in the whole Horizon 2020 programme, including IMI, on equal terms with entities from EU Member States and other associated countries.

Switzerland became fully associated to Horizon 2020 on 1 January 2017 following the country’s ratification, on 16 December 2016, of the Protocol extending the EU-Switzerland Free Movement of Persons agreement to Croatia. From December 2014 to December 2016, Swiss scientists could only receive funding under parts of Horizon 2020 (not including IMI).

‘Switzerland has now fulfilled the EU's condition on free movement of people and can be fully associated to Horizon 2020,’ said Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. ‘This is good news for Switzerland, and good news for the EU. It will further strengthen our scientific communities and our very substantial cooperation in research and innovation.’

The Swiss have already nominated an IMI States Representatives Group (SRG) member – Isabella Beretta. Among other things, SRG members can provide advice to local researchers on applying for IMI funding and help them to find partners.

For more information, please refer to the EC's fact sheet. 

Sources: Euresearch, SERI

Updated Information on Submission of Horizon 2020 Proposals

The Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) provides an updated factsheet on the participation in Horizon 2020 by Swiss research entities.

Since 01 January 2017, Switzerland is fully associated to the entire Horizon 2020 programme. In accordance with the latest information published by the European Commission, researchers in Switzerland must prepare and submit their project proposals for all calls as participants from associated countries using the ‘Participant Portal’ for Horizon 2020.

For more information on the participation of Swiss research entities in Horizon 2020 please see the updated factsheet by SERI.

For frequently asked questions (FAQ) to the new status of Switzerland as associated country in Horizon 2020 please visit the Euresearch Website.

Source: Euresearch

IMI2 Call 10 open now

IMI2 has launched its 10th Call for proposals under the IMI2 programme, with 8 topics:

Topic 1: Understanding hypoglycaemia: the underlying mechanisms and addressing clinical determinants as well as consequences for people with diabetes by combining databases from clinical trials

Topic 2: How big data could support better diagnosis and treatment outcomes for prostate cancer (part of the Big Data for Better Outcomes programme)

Topic 3: Improving the care of patients suffering from acute or chronic pain (this topic includes three subtopics on patient reported outcomes; biomarkers; and chronic pelvic pain)

Topic 4: Creation of a pan-European paediatric clinical trials network

Topic 5: Biomanufacturing 2020: development of innovative high throughput analytical tools and methods to characterize cell culture fluid during development and commercial cell culture processes

Topic 6: Unlocking the solute carrier gene-family for effective new therapies (unlock SLCs)

Topic 7: Patient perspectives in medicines lifecycle

Topic 8: Personalised medicine approaches in autism spectrum disorders

The deadline for short proposals is 28 March 2017. Details of all topics and information on how to apply can be found on the IMI website..

Horizon 2020: Switzerland fully associated from 1 Jan 2017 on

Switzerland has ratified the protocol that extends the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons to Croatia, thus opening the door for Switzerland's full association to Horizon 2020.

On 16 December 2016, the Swiss Parliament adopted the application law for Art.121a of the Constitution, respecting the Bilateral Agreements with the EU in all aspects. On the same day, the Swiss Federal Council ratified the protocol extending the free movement of persons to Croatia, thus fulfilling the necessary condition for Switzerland’s full association to Horizon 2020 as of 2017. As a consequence the status of Switzerland for the EU Framework Programme "Horizon 2020" (2014-2020) will change from partial to full association.

The negotiations with the European Union on the association of Switzerland to Horizon 2020 had been suspended following the adoption of the popular vote against mass immigration on 9 February 2014. Meanwhile, an agreement with the European Commission (EC) providing a partial and provisory association to Horizon 2020 had been found. The agreement offered companies, researchers​ and institutions in Switzerland access to priorities 'Excellent Science' and 'Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation' as well as to activities falling under EURATOM and International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) until the end of 2016.

The condition to be fully associated to Horizon 2020 as of 1 January 2017 was the ratification of the protocol extending the free movement of persons to Croatia. With this condition fulfilled, Swiss researchers and institutions will as of 1 January 2017 be able to participate in all parts of Horizon 2020, under the same conditions as Member States of the EU and other Associated Countries.

For more information and updated fact sheets on Swiss participation in H2020, please refer to the related Euresearch news.

Sources: Swisscore, Euresearch

Unit costs for clinical studies: More flexibility now

The European Commission has just published a revised Decision On Unit Costs For Clinical Studies. 

Changes in the possibilities of using unit costs for clinical studies concern:

- The introduction of the possibility to use different reimbursement methods (actual or unit costs) for the different categories of eligible costs included in the Commission decision;
- The definition of the conditions under which the unit costs can be modified during the implementation of the action;
- An update of the scope of the decision by mentioning the new Clinical Trial Regulation EU No 536/2014 and more consistent use of the term 'clinical study';
- More consistent use of the term 'patient or study participant', thereby taking into account that healthy volunteers (in accordance with EU rules and international practice) take part in certain clinical studies;
- More consistent use of the terms 'beneficiaries and third parties'.

In particular the first two changes introduce significant additional flexibility into the use of these unit costs, which will facilitate the use of unit costs for clinical studies:

- Applicants can now decide for most cost items whether they want to be reimbursed on the basis of unit costs or actual costs. Only for the costs of personnel directly assigned to the conduct of clinical studies, each beneficiary may only choose one form - unit costs per patient or actual costs - with the exception of personnel costs for horizontal tasks, such as study monitoring or study coordination, which can always be charged as direct costs.

- The rules now specify that the unit costs can be amended (through a formal amendment) when changes in the protocol or errors occurred in the identification of costs recorded in the beneficiary's certified or auditable accounts for year N-1 or in the application of the methodology to calculate these unit costs.

Sources: EC, Euresearch

    ERC to re-launch Synergy Grants in 2018


    After a thorough assessment of the ongoing projects funded through the pilot calls in 2012 and 2013, the ERC Scientific Council decided to reinstate the Synergy Grant funding scheme in 2018. 

    The objective of the Synergy Grant is to enable a small group of principal investigators and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address research problems in free-spirited ways, potentially leading to major breakthroughs that scientists would not be able to achieve working alone. The funding scheme intends to promote substantial advances at the frontiers of knowledge, and to encourage new productive lines of enquiry and new methods and techniques, including unconventional approaches and investigations at the crossroads of established disciplines.

    In 2012 and 2013, the ERC opened two competitions for Synergy Grants on a pilot basis. An assessment of the 24 projects funded in these calls, including visits to the research teams by Scientific Council members, came to the conclusion that such grants would be a valuable addition to the main ERC funding schemes - part of the EU's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation - which are targeted at individual researchers.

    Full ERC press release


    H2020 so far

    The European Commission published the second annual monitoring report of Horizon 2020 and made a comparison between the findings from 2014 and 2015.

    From this comparison, one can observe that the number of applications increased by 23% between 2014 and 2015. Since the start of Horizon 2020, more than 39% of all applications came from university candidates, 35.2% from the private sector and 18.4% from research organisations. In overall, 49% of the participants are newcomers. Additionally, the EC emphasizes that the quality of the applications has been remarkably high, which would have required an additional €41.6 billion to fund all deemed excellent proposals.
    Looking into detail, applications from associated countries rose by 42.6%, whereas applications from Switzerland even increased by 62% from 2'133 to 3'418 submitted applications. As a result, Switzerland remains leading associate country before Israel and Norway. The number of applications from EU-13 (Member States joining the EU since 2004) increased by 29.6% and the EU-15 (Member States before 2004) by 20.6%. Leading Member States are the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Third countries also submitted more applications with an increase of 53%.
    Therefore, one can argue that this increase in applications shows the attractiveness of Horizon 2020, both to the public and private sector. The results of the National Contact Point (NCP) Survey, presented in the comparison report, underline this statement. The fast majority of the 415 participating NCPs (19% coming from associated countries) agrees that Horizon 2020 (1) provides sufficient opportunities for cooperation between science and business, (2) adds value compared to national funding programs by supporting cross-border collaboration and (3) widens participation.
    However, due to the inflating number of high quality applications, the success rate decreased from 13.2% in 2014 and 10.7% in 2015. The overall success rate from two years of Horizon 2020 at 11.8% indicates that the oversubscription is a key issue to tackle in the Horizon 2020 interim evaluation. The EC points out that the decline in the success rate is due to the increase of eligible applications, rather than a decrease in funding available. In the light of the Horizon 2020 interim evaluation, various stakeholders have already suggested to look into solutions such as more two stage application procedures, clearer defined calls and work programmes, better definition of the expected impact within the calls or a higher quality of evaluations.
    Nevertheless, despite the low success rates, both associated and third countries slightly improved their share of participation. Associated countries increased their share from 6% to 7.4% whereas third countries optimised their share from 1.7% to 2%. Nevertheless, further improvements for stronger international cooperation are required to reach the targeted 3% participation share of third countries.
    Finally, looking at the time-to-grant, the EC has signed 90.6% of the cases within the set target of 245 days (8 months). The average time to grant was 201.7 days, with 206.6 days in 2014 decreasing to 184.9 in 2016. This is a clear decrease compared to FP7, where the average time was 303 days.

    Source: Swisscore Synopsis Nov 2016

    System Learning and Visual Analytics - New CHIST-ERA Calls


    EURESEARCH informs that the CHIST-ERA 2016 call is now open. It will address the ICT topics "Lifelong Learning for Intelligent Systems" and "Visual Analytics for Decision Making under Uncertainty".

    Swiss entities are eligible for participation and funding in this programme. The submission deadline is 17 January 2017, 17:00.

    The CHIST-ERA ERA-Net is a cooperation activity of national research funding organisations, among them the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The aim is to reinforce the transnational collaboration in challenging multidisciplinary research in the area of ICST with the potential to lead to significant breakthroughs (see http://www.chistera.eu/).

    Detailed questions from Swiss participants can be sent to chistera@snf.ch. 

    Have your say on Horizon 2020

    Mr. Robert-Jan Smits, Director General of Directorate General for Research & Innovation kindly invites all Horizon 2020 beneficiaries to participate in the public stakeholder consultation in the context of the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020.

    The consultation will be open until 15 January 2017.

    Project Submissions for Participants from Switzerland

    The Euresearch head office reminds Swiss participants in Horizon 2020 that they have to submit their projects as participants from associated countries and thus claim their budget from the European Commission.

    In its announcement as of 17 August 2016, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) clarified the current rules of proposal submissions from Swiss participants in Horizon 2020. The State Secretariat advised researchers in Switzerland to prepare their project on the basis of Switzerland’s full association in 2017 and therefore submit project proposals for all calls as participants from an associated country. In its detailed recommendations, SERI mentioned that exceptions for participants from Switzerland submitting projects as a Third-Country participant would be considered only for calls with deadlines earlier than 30 September 2016.

    This means that since 30 September 2016 Swiss participants in Horizon 2020 have to submit their projects as participants from associated countries and thus claim their budget from the European Commission.

    SERI understands that specific problems can be encountered in case of two-stage project submissions. If at the first stage, Swiss project partners submitted its budget as a Third-Country participant (EC contribution = 0), SERI accepts that the Swiss partner submits its budget as a Third-Country participant at the second stage too.

    Please visit for further information the SERI Website on Horizon 2020.
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