Here you can find answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about grant submission.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about European Commission (EC) funding, including the framework programme Horizon 2020 , European Research Council (ERC) and Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).
General Horizon Europe
Current status and recommendation
The rules of participation are still in discussion on European level. Switzerland is interested to be associated to the programme. SERI regularly publishes information on the programme and the Swiss status. SERI recommends researchers in Switzerland to already take part in the first calls for proposals.
How does Horizon Europe look like?
The discussion on the programme (strategy, rules of participation) and the financing are ongoing. The European Commission asked around 100 bio Euro for Horizon Europe. Commission, Council and Parliament found a partial agreement on the structure of the programme and the main areas.
The programme is structured again in 3 pillars like in Horizon 2020: Excellent Science, Global challenges and Industrial competitiveness, Innovative Europe. There is also a horizontal line called widening participation and strengthening of the European Research Area.
What is new in Horizon Europe?
- The European Innovation Council: one-stop shop to bring the most promising ideas from lab to real world application and support the most innovative start-ups and companies to scale up their ideas. It will provide direct support to innovators through two main funding instruments, one for early stages and the other for development and market deployment.
- EU-wide R&I missions: ambitious, bold goals to tackle issues that affect our daily lives. Examples could range from the fight against cancer, to clean transport or plastic-free oceans. They will be co-designed with citizens, stakeholders, the European Parliament and Member States.
- Open Science will become the modus operandi of Horizon Europe. It will go beyond the open access policy of Horizon 2020 and require open access to publications, data, and to research data management plans.
- A new generation of European Partnerships: Horizon Europe will streamline the number of partnerships that the EU co-programmes or co-funds with partners like industry, civil society and funding foundations.
- Simpler rules: This will increase legal certainty and reduce administrative burden for beneficiaries and programme administrators.
(taken from Euresearch Webpage)
More details: Euresearch HE page
What will be the status of Swiss researchers in Horizon Europe?
The rules of participation are still in discussion on European level. Switzerland is interested to be associated to the programme. SERI regularly publishes information on the programme and the Swiss status.
More details: SERI
- What is the status of Switzerland and Swiss researchers in H2020?
- Where can I find specific FAQs for Marie Curie Actions?
- Where can I find specific FAQs for questions related to the ERC?
Who do I have to contact for questions about intellectual property rights?
Mr. Jean-Marc Brunner, TechTransfer, University of Fribourg. He also comments on the Consortium Agreements of European Projects.
Can I request incentive funds to help me prepare my EU project?
If you are a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) you can get funding from the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) Incentive Grant. Application forms are available in French and German. Coordinators can also profit from this grant. If you are a researcher from the University of Fribourg, you can apply for support from the Research Pool, which supports advanced researchers in the setting up of larger projects. Deadlines are 1 February and 1 August each year.
What does a H2020 Proposal look like?
Each proposal consists of Part A and Part B. Part A is administrative forms, including an abstract and a budget. Part B is the description of your project work. On the H2020 Calls page of the European Commission's Participant Portal you can find the relevant Guide for Applicants and register.
- Who can help me fill in the administrative part (form A1-A3)?
What do I need to consider while preparing my budget?
Every budget consists of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are salaries, cost of consumables, equipment, travel and perhaps subcontracting. Indirect costs are overhead linked to the project. Usually 100% of the costs are covered. The Research Promotion Service can help you prepare the budget.
- What other help can I get to prepare my budget?
- Where can I find information on salary ranges valid for the University of Fribourg?
- What percentage of funding can I expect for which type of project and activity?
- Are there any private companies offering help in project submission and administrative management?
- How can I find partners for my projects?
How do I proceed with submitting my proposal?
On the European Commission's Participant Portal, you first need to identify the open call to which you would like to submit your application. You then need to register. Important: your proposal is submitted only if you push the submission button.
What administrative information do I need to apply as a participant from the University of Fribourg?
- Legal Entity: UNIVERSITE DE FRIBOURG
- PIC: 999855728
- Contact point: main scientist or team leader
What administrative information do I need in order to start negotiating my contract (Grant Agreement) with the European Commission?
- Authorised representative: Prof. Astrid Epiney, Rector
- Person in charge of administrative, legal and financial aspects: Monique Bersier
- Person in charge of scientific and technical aspects: Main scientist or team leader
- LEAR (Legal Entity Appointed Representative): Doris Kolly, Research Promotion Service/Euresearch Fribourg
Who can sign for an EU project?
The Rector of the University of Fribourg is the "authorised representative to sign the grant agreement or to commit the organisation". As a result, the "Grant Preparation Forms", "Grant Agreement" and "Consortium Agreement" require the Rector's signature.
How do I get an EU Login account?
The Entry Point is the European Commission's Participant Portal. There you can register for an EU Login account and afterwards log in to your project. EU Login accounts are linked to different roles in the project and depending on your role, you will have different access rights for the project documents (negotiation, scientific and financial reporting).
Which account from the University do I have to mention in the negotiation phase?
FP7 and H2020 projects are administered centrally by the Financial Services of the University (contact: Ms N. Angeloz, S. Demont). The University has a Euro account and this is the account you have to list on the forms. Details are available from the Research Promotion Service or Financial Services. For the internal administration of your project, you open a “Drittmittel / Source externe” account.
Project running phase
I am now starting my project, how can I record the time spent on the project?
If you are working on a European project, you will need to use a timesheet to record the time spent on the project.
For FP7 two models were available, for Coordination projects or Coordination and Support Actions. For H2020 one model fits all.
Please contact the Service Promotion Research.
- Who do I have to inform at the University if I become a partner in an H2020 project?
- Where can I find FAQs specific to finances?
What type of contract will I get for a Marie Curie Fellowship?
The Host Institution can recruit the fellow either under an employment contract with full social security coverage or a fixed amount fellowship with minimum social security (Type B). The University of Fribourg offers an employment contract.
When do I have to write a report?
Read the Grant Agreement very carefully. There you will find the fixed periodic reports. A Coordinator can ask for additional internal reports.
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
Below are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funding.
- How can I choose the right funding instrument for me?
- How does the SNSF evaluate my project?
How should my research plan be structured?
In mySNF under "Information/Documents", you can find a template for your research plan which will help you in the setup of a project. Usually information is also provided about the research plan, the CV and publication list.
Where do I find information on salary scales valid for the University of Fribourg in order to prepare my budget?
The SNSF sets salary scales for doctoral students (in French and German only) within basic research projects. Scholarships for prospective and advanced researchers are also regulated by country of residence (in French and German only). The applicable salary scales for PhD students and postdocs are provided by the UNIFR Financial Service. Concrete simulations for salaries can be requested from the Personnel Service (Mrs Estelle Krattinger, email@example.com).
Does the main applicant receive funding?
For career funding, the grants are individual and fund the main applicant. For basic research projects, the main applicant is not funded but the salaries for his/her collaborators (doctoral students, postdocs, technicians) are covered, as well as materiel and travel costs.
- How much can I budget for travel costs?
How do I submit my proposal?
All applications have to be submitted online via the mySNF platform. We recommend that you create an account in mySNF as soon as possible, since a lot of the necessary information is provided in the platform itself. The guide and FAQs will also help you in the setup and management of your mySNF account.
Do I need to send a copy of my proposal to the SNSF Local Research Commission at the University of Fribourg?
No, since the second semester of 2011, a copy of your application is sent automatically to the SNSF Local Research Commission via your submission in mySNF. The Commission will send then an institutional declaration from the University of Fribourg to the SNSF.
Can I look at previously submitted proposals?
The Research Promotion Service cannot provide you with such a service but can give you advice on your research plan. We recommend that you contact a colleague who has already had experience with SNSF grants for further advice.
- What should I do to prolong my project?
University of Fribourg
Below are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about University of Fribourg funding.
- I would like to prepare an SNSF or EU project. Can I get financial support from the University of Fribourg?
Can I publish information on my project to make it visible?
You can list your project in the FUTURA database, which contains information related to research activities (projects, publications, presentations) at the University of Fribourg. FUTURA is part of researchportal.ch, a joint research data portal connecting several Swiss universities, including the University of Fribourg. Project results can also be communicated to the Communication and Media Service in order to prepare a press release and article.
How can I publish my thesis electronically in order to support the Open Access Principle?
Please consult the instructions on our website, which contain information related to the electronic publication of your documents. You can find more information about the Open Access support provided by the university and its libraries under its dedicated website only available in French and German. You can also get answers to your questions in the specific Open Access FAQs.
Is there any fund provided by the University in order to invite visiting students or researchers?
Yes, the International Relations Office of the University grants twice a year scholarships for visiting students or researchers living abroad (3-4 semesters for students, 4-6 months for researchers at PhD level and 1-3 months for Post-PhD level).
Do and Don't - when writing a recommendation letter
Things to Avoid When Writing a Recommendation Letter
Aside from the immediate awkwardness of having to articulate how we think and feel about another person’s work, figuring out how to write a letter of recommendation often induces anxiety that a poorly written letter will weaken your contact’s chance at success.
Writing a letter of recommendation in a second language can be tricky, whether you are writing a letter for an employee, co-worker, or student, there are some essential Do’s and Don’ts. These basic guidelines will ensure that for whatever recommendation letter you are writing, you’ll be putting your best foot forward and doing right by the person requesting the recommendation.
Avoid These Common Mistakes.
1) To whom it may concern
Address your letter to a real person. If you cannot find that person’s name, send a professional recommendation to the “Hiring Manager” and an academic recommendation to the “Admissions Committee.”
2) Don’t forget to introduce yourself.
Do explain who you are and your relationship to the person you’re recommending.
In order for your recommendation letter to carry weight with the recipients, you need to provide context. Otherwise, your recommendation may as well have been written by a stranger.
At a minimum, you need to explain:
- Who you are
- What your title is
- How you know the person you’re recommending
- What the nature of your relationship is/was with that person How long you have known this person
3) Don’t generalize.
Do adapt your recommendation to the job description and the job application.
If you agree to write a reference letter for someone, make sure you understand what it is you are recommending them for and that you are the best person to assess their abilities for that opportunity.
To this end, make sure you ask for and review:
- The job description or education program
- The applicant’s cover letter and resume or CV
- Any additional application materials that could help you understand how the applicant is positioning their skills
- Even if the applicant cannot provide a job description—as in the case of applying to multiple jobs in a similar field or a LinkedIn recommendation—make sure you have a clear idea of kinds of positions or skills this person will be using. Be specific about how this person is the best fit for the job.
4) Don’t exaggerate.
Do write positively and honestly.
When someone toots their own horn too loudly, people respond with skepticism, frustration, and sometimes hostility. The same slew of emotions are provoked when a well-meaning reference sings praises for someone else too enthusiastically.
To avoid misleading or triggering negativity, apply the same balance you would use positive self-promotion to your letter of recommendation. Focus on honesty, positivity, and clarity rather than “the best ever" superlatives and “very helpful” intensifiers.
Here’s a tip: Rather than gloss over or ignore weaknesses of an amazing person, discuss the weakness openly–including how the person you’re recommending has learned from or overcome it.
5) “Think and believe"
Rather than write that you “think” or “believe” someone will be a good fit or has a certain quality, use facts to tell your reader a brief story. Facts are more convincing than opinions. If you think Bianca has strong public speaking skills, recall a great speech she gave and what made it memorable. Anecdotes and concrete words always persuade a reader faster than thoughts and feelings.
6) Clichés such as quick learner, organized, team player, creative, passionate, and dedicated
These descriptors are so overused they have become meaningless. Rather than use one of them to describe your candidate, write a quick story that illustrates that word. Instead of using team player to describe Ahmed, write a sentence that describes his working 18-hour days during a strike to provide the media with the company’s up-to-the-minute information. This will make your letter fresh and original, your recommendation clear and meaningful.
7) Comments referring to the person’s age, sex, disability, race, national origin, or religious beliefs
Colleges and businesses may not discriminate, but an innocent comment in a letter of recommendation that alludes to someone’s race, age, nationality, sex, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion might trigger unconscious bias affecting a reviewer’s opinion. Rather than mention the mission of the organization where Jordan volunteered, highlight the work she did for the organization.
8) Don’t ignore formatting and editing.
Do format your letter professionally and remember to proofread.
Depending on the field, formatting can make or break one’s perceived professionalism. In general, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and keep it traditional. This means making sure that you format the heading and address the recipient correctly, then cover your bases in terms of content.
Once you have the letter written, absolutely make time to proofread. If you don’t already have a proofreading routine in place, here are our best proofreading tips. If you are going to have a third-party review and edit the letter, for ethics purposes you should remove any mention of the person you are recommending.
9) Don’t agree to write a recommendation you can’t give.
Do tell the person that you cannot write the recommendation or serve as a reference for them.
Yes, we know it’s awkward to tell someone you can’t write a reference letter for them, but it’s the right thing to do. Maybe you aren’t familiar enough with their work or you don’t feel like you can in good faith write a glowing recommendation. Either way, attempting to spin your perspective into an actual recommendation is dishonest. Give the person in question an opportunity to find someone who will happily write the reference for them.
What if they ask you why?
If you’re uncomfortable stating exactly why you cannot write the letter, here are some soft explanations that might fit your situation:
- If you don’t know them well or are unimpressed with their work→ explain that you don’t feel like you know their work well enough to write the letter.
- If you know them well but are unimpressed with their work→ explain that you don’t feel you are the best person to give them a recommendation and, if possible, suggest a better fit.
10) How to write a letter of recommendation basics
In the end, writing an effective letter of recommendation comes down to a few basics:
- Being prepared
- Being honest
- Being clear
- Being professional
- Being willing
- Being ethical
By approaching your letter-writing with these fundamental ideas in mind, you’ll deliver an effective reference without compromising yourself or the person you’re recommending
ABSOLUTE NO-GO: Making generalizing comments about Nationalities or Races, Religions, sexual orientations or disabilities. Even not if they are meant to be “funny”. Be professional and ethical.
European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)
If you do not find the answer you are looking for, please contact the Research Promotion Service.