SNSF funds 1000 projects on digitalisation

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Thanks to computer-calculated arches, the floors designed by Philippe Block use

Thanks to computer-calculated arches, the floors designed by Philippe Block use 70 per cent less concrete. ©snsf, photography: Stéphanie Borcard/Nicolas Métraux

Only science can provide us with the insights needed to tackle technical, ecological and societal challenges. 5750 projects were under way at year-end 2019 -1000 of them on digitalisation.

Philippe Block, Professor of architecture and structure at ETH Zurich, exudes an air of confidence. "The building industry is responsible for more than a third of all carbon emissions. Until now, it has made only very limited use of the possibilities offered by digitalisation. Our work will help change this," he says. Together with his team, he has designed floors that use three times less concrete. Their carbon footprint is six times smaller.

Arches to reduce the pressure

The secret lies hidden in plain view - in the arches of Gothic cathedrals. A network of pointed arches stretches across the concrete floors, calculated and optimised by a computer. "A homogeneous floor always bends in the middle," Block explains. "This creates tensions in the concrete that can only be held in check through steel reinforcements. Because of the integrated arches, our floors are rigid. This reduces the pressure and we can achieve the same solidity using 70 per cent less material." He stresses the importance of the SNSF grant. "It allows us to conduct long-term research, which is something that the building industry itself would never do."

Independent projects on important topics

Philippe Block’s is one of around 1000 projects on digitalisation funded by the SNSF in 2019. In all, 5750 SNSF projects involving 18,900 researchers were under way at the end of last year.

The financial support from the SNSF allows researchers to conduct independent projects and study topics that are relevant to society and the economy, but without directly pursuing any commercial goals. Digitalisation, climate change and healthcare are just some examples. Through such projects, SNSF-funded research delivers insights that are crucial to tackling the challenges we face today and will face in the future.

3365 new projects

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) promotes scientific research on behalf of the Swiss government. In 2019, the SNSF evaluated 6852 grant applications. Applying strict criteria, it awarded 3365 new research projects more than a billion francs in total. 37 per cent was allocated to biology and medicine, another 37 per cent to mathematics, natural and engineering sciences, and 26 per cent to the humanities and social sciences. The grantees are researchers employed at various institutions in the higher education sector as well as in other sectors.

Detailed key figures are now available on our new, interactive data portal

Pandemic - the SNSF responds with two calls

In March 2020 the SNSF launched a special call for coronavirus research and in April 2020 the National Research Programme "Covid-19" (NRP 78), which was initiated by the Swiss government. The projects are expected to make a substantial contribution towards studying the virus and tackling the pandemic and its fallout.