Published on 12.12.2023

New Spark Grants for 9 Unifr Researchers (And soon for you?)

The SPR is pleased to announce that a total of nine Spark grants have been awarded to researchers at the University of Fribourg. We congratulate Fabio Francescangeli, Ruiwen He, Marilyne Lavergne, Premysl Marsik, Jovana Milic, Anasua Mukhopadhyay, Saurabh Thapliyal, Jules Valentin, and Viola Vogler-Neuling on this success! The grantees will now spend between six and twelve months working on the testing or development of promising yet unconventional ideas in order to assess rapidly if they might lead to scientific breakthroughs in their fields. 

The Spark funding instrument was introduced by the SNSF in order to encourage novel and unorthodox research for which there might not be any preliminary findings available (high-risk) and which, therefore, might not be funded in other schemes.Spark can fund project costs as well as salaries and is open to all researchers with a PhD. It features a double-blind evaluation process in which proposals are entirely anonymised before being read by reviewers. This appears to have interesting effects on funding outcomes, with researchers younger than 40 years having had slightly more success with their proposals than their elder colleagues in this year’s call (see here). The University of Fribourg grantees of this year’s call all conduct research in the natural sciences in disciplines ranging from physics over genetics to biochemistry. However, the Spark call is open to researchers from all disciplines. For the 2024 call (deadline 4 March), the SPR, therefore, particularly encourages those working in the Humanities and Social Sciences to consider whether they might benefit from short-term funding for the exploration of an unusual idea. Irrespective of your field, we are pleased to hear from you if you are thinking of writing a Spark proposal in the New Year!