Science & Innovation needs Funding!

Doing research, inventing and pushing innovation is impossible without funding. Researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs need funds! We  share insight into fundraising for science & innovation to researchers as well as (startup) companies. This information shall enable completely new innovations that go beyond previous scientific or business activities. Our aim is to use tax payers and private money to secure competitiveness of university research and the creation and survival of innovative companies, and therwith contribute to wealth in civil societies. 

 

Most research institutions have access to a basis of funding from their own income, from the public sector or from foundations. This basic financing (first and second funds) makes it possible to maintain daily operations and to maintain certain basic tasks such as independent research activities, teaching and company operations. In addition, money is needed for special projects or new innovations. It is the duty of the researchers and business developers to raise such additional PROJECT FUNDING, INVESTMENTS and SCHOLARSHIPS (third-party funding).

 

Third-party funding projects usually involve cooperation with outsiders (third parties). Approximately 75% of third-party funding for R&D projects comes from private industry. Government funds account for only about 25%. However, because government funds enable free basic research and do not require companies to share profits, they are still very much in demand. The share of third-party funding at universities and in the research budget of companies varies between 10-40%.

A shower of money from a single source is the dream of every researcher and every inventor and entrepreneur. Forget it! Money always comes from a variety of sources. Maybe it is just as well! So we have to learn to come up with good ideas, to convince, to write good project proposals and to present them excellently to a variety of sponsors or Research Funding organisations (RFO).

Surf on our page through different sources of funding and set up your own strategy and protfolio of funding. May your innovation fly!

  

How to find the right funding instrument?

In general, there are public-sector Research Funding Organizations (RFO) for basic research and others for applied research. In addition, there are national funding agencies that predominantly allocate their funds to researchers in their own country. International funding agencies, as the EU-Horizon2020, promote transnational cooperation. Each RFO offer a variety of funding instruments, like program or project funding, fellowships, or research support actions.   

You will find the right funding instrument firstly by knowing the RFOs and secondly by knowing exactly the purpose and award criteria of the respective institutions.

We provide you with an overview of the most important RFOs and their funding instruments on this website. You can also book our trainings or a coaching targeted to your fundraising needs. 

 

It should be noted for startup/private companies that there is no prospect of obtaining third-party funding from the public sector for the genuine operational activity. This can be covered, for example, through venture capital, private equity or bank loans. The public sector only offers money to companies in order to enable completely new innovations that go beyond the previous business activities. The aim is to use tax money to secure the competitiveness and survival of the company and jobs. Most investors however welcome a co-financing from the public sector and personal contributions from the companies' founders.  

How to write a winning proposal?

The research proposal differs significantly from the scientific paper or a business plan. Scientific papers describe what was the PAST state-of-knowledge and what was PRESENTLY observed. With a research proposal, on the other hand, we suggest FUTURE experimental work. The experts (donors) must come to the conclusion that they rather fund your project and not that of other competitors. This is why you need to present your research in the most exemplary light or selling your project. The marketing of research never deviates from what is theoretically feasible. This would be counterproductive. But at the beginning of any good proposal stands the discourse of an extremely ambitious goal.

 

Good science creates new knowledge, the more the better! The methodology or the special approach of how this knowledge - your invention - can become reality with the greatest possible probability, must be adequately described and at the same time novel, special and original. How you plan, organize and monitor your research must be described in detail in the application. Our project management courses are focused on research and work with examples from successful R&D projects. Our trainers are IPMA certified and collaborate with the Swiss Association for Project Management. Project management knowledge makes you and your projects more successful.

Please consider further training in this area. And give us a call: +41 44 271 33 33.

Research generates new knowledge with the means of the public or industry. Therefore, the researcher is accountable to the sponsor, the knowledge community or the industry partner. The reporting or publication of results must be included in the planning and formulated during the application phase. Research is naturally full of surprises. You must have concrete ideas on how to deal with unforeseen results or circumstances (=risk scenarios). If several research partners are involved in the project, they will be adequately involved, confidentiality and obligations will be settled, and the application letter will be coordinated by you. Check the quality of the project partners - also with regard to their personality profile. Project partners must be willing to cooperate, discuss differences and write successes as a group. Ideally, the competences complement each other. If cooperation has proven its worth over many years, this will be well formulated in the proposal. By naming previous achievements (previous publications relevant to the topic) and preliminary studies, you show that you and your partners have the competence to bring the research to success. Your institute profile indicates the qualitative and quantitative equipment and infrastructure of your working environment. 

Order the document for free: How to write a sales pitch for a research proposal: (...)

Who evaluates 

research proposals?

You write research proposals in order to convince the experts of your project and thereby receive funding. Experts are usually scientists who are 180% involved in science, politics, as reviewers of journals and many other expert committees. Expert of a funding organisation is a part-time job. They are selected by administrators of the funding institutions who are responsible full-time for the smooth processing of calls for proposals and the evaluation of applications. They are instructed to allocate the money strictly in accordance with the mandate and objectives of the funding organisation. You are associated with your research topic, but not necessarily the best in the field. As an applicant, you may be much more knowledgeable about your own field of knowledge. This should be taken into account when writing your application. You must not assume that the experts are absolutely in the picture, e.g. as far as "the state-of-art" is concerned.  Also, experts will not search the Internet for publications that you have misappropriated or read between the lines, which is literally not to the point. It cannot be ruled out that experts will let their own interests flow into the assessment. It is therefore also permissible for you to declare to the research funding agency who you wanted to exclude as an expert.

Experts often receive several dozen applications for evaluation. It is therefore advisable to work with attractive overview graphics and to submit short, concise proposals of no more than 20-60 pages. Please also take into account the page or sign restrictions of the respective research funding organisations.  

Why proposals fail?

1. Conflict of objectives between the content of the research / interest of the researcher and the mission of the funding organisation.

2. Insufficient relevance:

  • Not recognized as important

  • Does not provide new insights

  • Too little original / ambitious

  • Unrealistically ambitious

  • Too broadly diversified

  • Database research incomplete

3. Organisation and implementation:

  • Objectives of the project unclear

  • Project plan missing or not convincing

  • Organizational structure not in relation to project size

  • Responsibilities not regulated

  • Measure budget entitlement

4. Curriculum of the researcher:

  • Own commitment too low (limited to organisation / < 30%)

  • Lack of group support

  • Infrastructure inadequate

  • First application > 40 years 

  • Missing data

  • Lack of competences (education / publications in               relation to age / experience abroad)

5. Formal errors:

  • Submission deadline not met

  • Application guidelines not followed

  • Missing data / empty fields

  • Too extensive

  • Ethical aspects not considered

  • Missing patent search

Procedure in case of rejection of a proposal:​

​¨Do not give up after the first rejected application!  A rejection rate of 50%-80% is quite normal depending on the funding instrument. Study the evaluation comments carefully. Take the criticism seriously and improve the application and submit it again to the same institution or possibly to others. You may be allowed to get in personal contact with the responsible body or an expert and to learn further details about the assessment in the expert committee. A request for reconsideration or an appeal is only worthwhile if formal errors can be proven in the evaluation. Stay persistent and learn from setbacks how to spell correctly and acquire additional skills to write even more successful applications in the future. Or attend one of our motivating courses in places that inspire, e.g. in the Swiss Alps. The current training programme or on request by telephone +41 44 271 33 33

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