Announcement of the ALPHORN call


1 lipca 2019 r.

Scientific coordinators announce the ALPHORN international bilateral call for Polish-Swiss research projects. The ALPHORN call shall be carried out by the National Science Centre (hereinafter referred to as the “NCN”) jointly with the Swiss National Science Foundation, hereinafter referred to as the “SNSF”, in line with the Lead Agency Procedure (hereinafter referred to as the “LAP”). The call is addressed at Polish research teams that will apply jointly with Swiss research teams for funding of research projects. The principal investigator at the Polish research team must be at least a PhD holder.

Funds may be obtained in the ALPORN call to cover remuneration for the research team, scholarships for students and PhD students, purchase or manufacturing of research equipment and for other costs relevant to the research project.

Proposals shall be submitted to two electronic submission systems:

  • mySNSF (SNSF's web platform) for joint proposals submitted to the SNSF by Swiss research teams;
  • ZSUN/OSF (Zintegrowany System Usług dla Nauki /Obsługa Strumieni Finansowania) for NCN proposals (to which joint proposals will be attached), submitted to the NCN by Polish research teams.

The NCN call is open to NCN proposals to which joint proposals are attached, prepared by Polish research teams in cooperation with Swiss research teams, in compliance with the SNSF’s requirements set forth in the SNSF Project Funding programme.

NCN proposals shall be submitted as soon as possible following the submission of the joint proposal to mySNSF, within a maximum of 7 days (subject to availability of the proposal form in ZSUN/OSF). Joint proposals shall be submitted to the SNSF by 1 October 2019. NCN proposals shall be submitted to the NCN by 8 October 2019.

NCN proposals in ZSUN/OSF shall be submitted in compliance with the proposal submission procedure.

PLN 7,000,000 shall be allocated for the tasks to be performed by Polish research teams.

Please read the call documents provided in this announcement. The proposal form in ZSUN/OSF and guidelines for drafting proposals will be made available at a later date.

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Who may apply for NCN funding?

Proposals in the call may be submitted by the following entities specified in the Act on the National Science Centre (NCN):

  1. Higher Education entity,
  2. federation of science and HE entities,
  3. research institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences operating pursuant to the Act on the Polish Academy of Sciences of 30 April 2010 (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1475),
  4. research institute operating pursuant to the Act on Research Institutes of 30 April 2010 (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 736);
  5. international research institute established pursuant to other acts and acting in the Republic of Poland,

5a)      Łukasiewicz Centre operating pursuant to the Act on the Łukasiewicz Research Network of 21 February 2019 (Journal of Laws, item 534);

5b)      institute operating within the Łukasiewicz Research Network,

  1. Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences,
  2. other entity involved in research independently on a continuous basis,
  3. group of entities (at least two entities mentioned in sections 1-7 or at least one institution as such together with at least one company),
  4. research centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences laid down in the Act on the Polish Academy of Sciences of 30 April 2010,
  5. scientific library and
  6. legal entity with registered office in Poland.

Who may act as the principal investigator?

A principal investigator at the Polish research team must be at least a PhD holder at the proposal submission date.

Are there any restrictions on submitting proposals for research projects under the NCN calls?

What is the subject-matter of the call?

Proposals may be submitted to the call covering basic research in any of 25 NCN panels within the core areas: HS – Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; ST – Physical Sciences and Engineering; NZ – Life Sciences. The principal investigator shall select the panel. If an incorrect panel is selected, proposals may be rejected.

Please note that new amended NCN panels applicable to the calls have been in place since 14 December 2018.

What is the project duration?

In the call, research projects may be planned for a period of either 24 or 36 months.

How should the project budget be planned?

Creating a project budget is one of the most important aspects in the project planning which aims at identifying the required resources and estimating the costs. The project budget must be justified as regards the subject and scope of research, based on reasonable calculations and must specify the expenditures to be covered by the NCN (eligible costs).

Costs in the project include direct costs and indirect costs.

Direct costs include:

  1. salary:
  • full time remuneration: funds for full-time employment of the principal investigator or post-doc(s),
  • additional remuneration for members of the research team,
  • salaries and scholarships for students and PhD students,
  1. purchase or manufacturing of research equipment, devices and software,
  2. purchase or of materials and small instruments,
  3. outsourced services,
  4. business trips,
  5. visits and consultations,

(Please note! The costs of consultations and visits of Swiss partners who at the same time receive project funding from the SNSF are not eligible),

  1. compensation for collective investigators and
  2. other costs relevant to the research project which comply with the Types of costs in research projects funded by the National Science Centre (annex to the LAP Regulations).

Indirect costs may not exceed 40 per cent of direct costs excluding costs of purchase or manufacturing of research equipment, devices and software. During the project, the host institution shall arrange with the principal investigator for the distribution of at least 25 per cent of the indirect costs’ value.

When developing the budget, it is necessary to consider the following:

  1. NCN proposals shall specify the budget for tasks to be performed by the Polish team; a joint proposal – for the tasks of the Polish and Swiss team;
  2. the budget in the NCN proposal shall be specified in PLN; in the joint proposal – in EUR;
  3. the budget planned for the Polish team in the joint proposal must be consistent with the budget in the NCN proposal;
  4. the EUR exchange rate to be used to calculate the budget of the Polish part of the project in the joint proposal: EUR 1 = PLN 4.2610 (exchange rate as at 13 June 2019);
  5. the minimum funding for the Polish part of the project throughout its performance: PLN 150,000;
  6. the maximum funding: not specified (the costs must be justified as regards the subject and scope of research) and
  7. limits of remuneration and scholarships are specified in the Annex to the LAP Regulations.

The budget planned for the tasks to be performed by the Polish research teams must be compliant with the regulations concerning the costs planned for the project, including the costs for the budget for remuneration and scholarships, specified in the Types of costs in research projects funded by the National Science Centre (Annex to the LAP Regulations).

PLEASE NOTE!

  • where unjustified costs are planned, the NCN Director may allocate less funds for research projects to be carried out by Polish research teams under the ALPHORN call than planned in the NCN proposal or may refuse to allocate any funds;
  • in the case of any discrepancies between the costs of projects to be carried out by Polish research teams in the NCN proposal and the joint proposal, the proposal may be rejected at the stage of eligibility check;
  • the costs of publication of monographs (as defined in §10 of the Regulation on evaluation of the quality of research activity issued by the Minister of Science and Higher Education on 22 February 2019 (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 392) relying on research projects shall not be deemed qualified costs until positively reviewed in the NCN review process.

Are there any restrictions on the size of the research team?

The terms of the call do not specify the minimum or maximum number of research team members. However, the rationale of involvement of individual members of the research team in the project shall be evaluated by the expert team. The proposal form in ZSUN/OSF must include the description of competencies and tasks to be performed by individual members of the Polish research team. The detailed information on the budget for remuneration and scholarships can be found in the Types of costs in research projects funded by the National Science Centre (Annex to the LAP Regulations).

Please note that NCN scholarship recipients or persons employed as post-docs in the project must be selected in an open call.

Can proposals in this call include application for state aid?

No, state aid will not be granted under the ALPHORN call. Detailed information can be found in the State aid section.

What is the proposal evaluation procedure?

Proposals are subject to an eligibility check and merit based-evaluation.

Eligibility check is carried out at the NCN by the coordinators and covers:

  • verification of formal criteria specified in the call announcement;
  • verification of whether the joint proposal attached to the NCN proposal is identical to the joint proposal submitted to the lead agency by the Swiss research team;
  • compliance of the data in the joint proposal with the data in the NCN proposal.

Only complete proposals that comply with all the requirements of the call announcement shall be accepted for merit-based evaluation. Proposals successfully evaluated during the eligibility check by both the NCN and SNSF are subject to merit-based evaluation.

Joint proposals shall be subject to merit-based evaluation carried out according to the rules set forth by the lead agency. The SNSF shall deliver the results of merit-based evaluation to the NCN along with the list of research projects recommended for funding. The list shall be subject to approval by the NCN Director. The NCN Director shall award funds for research projects to be carried out by Polish research teams.

If the lead agency in the ALPHORN call does not verify whether the costs are justified as regards the subject and scope of research, NCN proposals may be evaluated in this respect by the NCN. Where the costs planned in the NCN proposal are deemed unjustified, the NCN Director may allocate less funds for research projects to be carried out by Polish research teams than planned in the NCN proposal or may refuse to allocate the funds.

Polish-Swiss research projects shall be funded if the NCN awards funding for research projects to be carried out by Polish research teams and SNSF awards funding for research projects to be carried out by Swiss research teams. If either agency fails to allocate funds, the project will not be carried out even in the part for which funds are allocated by the other agency.

Information on the proposal evaluation procedure at the SNSF can be found at SNSF’s website.

What is reviewed in the merit-based evaluation of proposals?

Merit-based evaluation of proposals shall be performed in compliance with the principles for the Swiss agency’s SNSF Project Funding programme. If the lead agency in the ALPHORN call fails to assess whether the costs are justified as regards the subject and scope of research, NCN proposals may be evaluated in this respect by the NCN. Where the costs planned in the NCN proposal are deemed unjustified, the NCN Director may allocate less funds for research projects to be carried out by Polish research teams than planned in the NCN proposal or may refuse to allocate the funds.

PLEASE NOTE:

Since the 33rd call edition, the proposal form in ZSUN/OSF has included a questionnaire regarding ethical aspects of the project. In the case of research projects recommended for funding by both agencies under the ALPHORN call, the NCN will enter into an agreement with the Polish institution and principal investigator at the Polish research team provided that copies of documents confirming the receipt of required approvals, opinions, permissions and permits are delivered to the NCN within 4 months of delivery of the NCN Director’s funding decision. 

If the documents are not delivered within the time frame specified above, the funding agreement shall not be entered into. If the funding agreement is not entered into for reasons attributable to the host institution or principal investigator, the NCN cannot be requested reimbursement of expenses incurred until the date of the NCN Director’s funding decision becoming final.

Since the 34th call edition, information on the data management plan (DMP) concerning data generated or used in the course of a research project must be included in the proposal form in ZSUN/OSF. Such information in ZSUN/OSF must be identical to information in the joint proposal. In the ALPHORN call, the data management plan shall be subject to evaluation by the SNSF, in compliance with the SNSF’s requirements.

Who performs the merit-based evaluation of proposals?

Merit-based evaluation of proposals shall be performed in compliance with the SNSF’s principles. The terms of the SNSF’s calls shall be set forth in the documents required for the SNSF Project Funding programme.

When and how will the results be announced?

The call results shall be announced on the NCN’s website and communicated to the applicants by way of a decision by the NCN Director by the end of June 2020.

Where can additional information be found?

Should you have any questions, please contact:

Coordinator for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences:

dr Aneta Pazik

e-mail: aneta.pazik@ncn.gov.pl

tel.: +48 (12) 341 91 57

Coordinator for Physical Sciences and Engineering:

dr Anna Wieczorek

e-mail: anna.wieczorek@ncn.gov.pl

tel.: (12) 341 91 64

Coordinator for Life Sciences:

dr Magdalena Niziołek-Kierecka

e-mail: magdalena.niziolek-kierecka@ncn.gov.pl

General affairs:

Wawrzyniec Banach

e-mail: wawrzyniec.banach@ncn.gov.pl

tel.: +48 695 211 475 (contact time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

dr Magdalena Godowska

e-mail: magdalena.godowska@ncn.gov.pl

tel.: 48 668 385 353 (contact time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.) 

Contact person at the SNSF:

Division I

Paul Pignat

e-mail: div1@snf.ch

tel. +41 31 308 22 22

Division II

Jana Segmehl

e-mail: leadagency.div2@snf.ch

tel. +41 31 308 22 22

Division III

Barbara Schellenberg

E-Mail: div3@snf.ch

tel. +41 31 308 22 22

Call schedule

Read our Call Schedule and Schedule of International Programs for 2019 and to follow news on our website: https://www.ncn.gov.pl/

Useful information

If you are intending to submit a proposal to the ALPHORN call:

  1. read all call documents included in the call announcement, in particular:
    1. Resolution on the terms of the ALPHORN call;
    2. Regulations on awarding funding for research tasks funded by the National Science Centre under international calls carried out as bilateral cooperation pursuant to the Lead Agency Procedure;
    3. SNSF’s guidelines concerning joint proposals – in the SNSF Project Funding programme;
  2. learn about the NCN proposal submission procedure;
  3. decide how long the project is to be: 24 or 36 months (this is the first piece of information required by ZSUN/OSF that cannot be changed later);
  4. obtain data from the host institution that is required to complete the proposal and learn about the internal procedures of the host institution that may affect the proposal and project performance (cost planned in the project, procedure for acquiring signature(s) of authorised representative(s) of the institution to confirm submission of the proposal);
  5. draw up:
    • a joint project description (Research Plan), in compliance with the SNSF’s requirements (in English);
    • CV with a list of publications by principal investigators at the Polish and Swiss research teams, in compliance with the requirements of the SNSF Project Funding programme (in English);
    • research project’s abstract for the general public (in Polish and in English) and
  6. when the proposal is submitted by a group of entities on the Polish part, draw up an Agreement on collaboration for the purposes of completion of the research project.

Before submitting an NCN proposal in the ZSUN/OSF system:

  1. make sure that all information in and annexes to the proposal are correct. Please note that the Sprawdź kompletność [Check completeness] in ZSUN/OSF provides information that all sections of the proposal have been completed. It does not, however, guarantee that all information entered is correct and/or required annexes have been attached;
  2. make sure that the joint proposal submitted to the NCN is identical to the joint proposal submitted by the Swiss partner to the SNSF;
  3. generate the final version of the NCN proposal and
  4. download the confirmation of proposal submission to be signed by the principal investigator and authorised representative(s) of the host institution.
  5. upload the signed confirmation of proposal submission in the ZSUN/OSF system.

Once the proposal is completed and all required annexes are attached, use the Wyślij do NCN [Send to NCN] button to submit the proposal to the NCN electronically via ZSUN/OSF.

Upon the end of the call for proposals:

  1. eligibility check of proposals shall be carried out by the NCN and the SNSF;
  2. merit-based evaluation shall be carried out by the SNSF;
  3. experts evaluating proposals at the SNSF shall select projects recommended for funding;
  4. the SNSF shall provide the NCN with the list of projects recommended for funding;
  5. funding decision of the NCN Director, concerning a research project to be carried out by a Polish research team, shall be delivered;
  6. the NCN shall sign a funding agreement with the Polish institution and principal investigator at the Polish research team provided that copies of documents confirming the receipt of required approvals, opinions, permissions and permits are delivered and
  7. the project shall be carried out pursuant to the funding agreement and Regulations on the implementation of research projects, fellowships and scholarships.

The rules of appeals under the ALPHORN call are set forth in Articles 36-38 of the Regulations on awarding funding for research tasks funded by the National Science Centre under international calls carried out as bilateral cooperation pursuant to the Lead Agency Procedure.