SPI Exploratory Grants

Call for Proposals

The call for proposals is now closed. We thank you for your submissions. The submitted proposals will be analysed by a scientific panel in order to decide which projects should be prioritised. The applicants will be informed if their project has been selected for funding within 3 months after closure of the call.

About the SPI Exploratory Grant

The SPI Exploratory Grants will support Swiss scientists active in Polar regions (including remote high-altitude regions) by allowing them to launch short-term new ideas (for example pilot projects), fund additional field work or launch new collaborations with financial support for logistics. Collaboration with new teams or across disciplines are particularly encouraged, as well as participation in larger/international activities. The grants can be used to complement the funding of initiatives supported by larger funding schemes (e.g. SNSF, EU, etc.).

Eligible costs and financial support

The grants are destined to cover costs for up to 40’000 CHF per successfully evaluated project. A detailed budget will be requested from each applicant. For the first year (2018), the total budget allocated to SPI Exploratory Grants will be capped at 150’000 CHF.

Eligible costs include:

  • travel costs to scientific stations/infrastructure in Polar regions (including for the performance of technical/maintenance work);
  • shipment of scientific equipment or material, samples;
  • costs for scientific analysis;
  • purchase of small equipment (in duly justified cases) and consumables;
  • rental of scientific equipment or sensing systems;
  • valorisation or integration of datasets.

What the SPI Exploratory Grants will not support:

  • costs relating to salaries of permanent positions and overhead;
  • costs relating to the organisation of workshops and scientific exchange (stay in another lab/research facility);
  • initiatives which are not directly inserted into a research activity (sports, arts, adventure, outreach,…).

Target public

The SPI Exploratory Grants are complementary to the existing Polar Access Fund, which is specifically focused on young researchers. Consequently, eligibility will be limited to established researchers or post-docs (at least 3 years after PhD graduation). The grants are open to all researchers employed by Swiss public research institutions.

Researchers from all fields of research, also fields considered as “non-typical” for Polar sciences (eg. engineering, materials, medicine, humanities and social sciences, etc.), are encouraged to apply if they have a project to be conducted in a Polar context.


Applicants are reminded to study the eligibility rules for this call closely. Ineligible applications will not be submitted for evaluation. To be eligible, proposals must notably respect the call’s general aims, the definition of the call’s target public, eligible costs as well as geographic focus.


A complete application file consists of:

A) Online application form (contact and main information) +

B) Attachments to be uploaded into online form as pdf:

  1. Proposal form in pdf (compulsory – use provided word form)
  2. CVs of the applicant and main partners, incl. publication lists in pdf (compulsory – free format)

All application documents must be uploaded through the online application form. Applications sent by email will not be accepted. Incomplete proposals will be considered ineligible.

Submission information:

The deadline for submission will be 22 October 2018 (12:00 Swiss time). The online submission form will be closed on the deadline date. No late applications will be accepted – no exceptions!

Should you encounter any problem in the submission process, contact: secretariat.spi@epfl.ch. Please note however that trouble-shooting in the last minutes before the deadline cannot be guaranteed and that SPI will not accept applications sent by email.


Eligible proposals submitted before the deadline will be evaluated by an external scientific evaluation panel appointed by the SPI.

The proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Scientific merit of the proposed project;
  • Originality of the project;
  • Feasibility (scientific and logistical);
  • Experience and expertise of the  PI and partners for the proposed project;
  • Impact of the requested budget on the overall project.

Evaluation results will be transmitted to applicants at the latest 3 months after the application deadline. Successful applicants will receive a grant agreement (contract) from SPI specifying the grant’s conditions (reporting, payments, etc).

For any additional information or clarification, please contact: secretariat.spi@epfl.ch.