22 June - 11 August 2020
Project grant for cross-disciplinary collaboration between China and Sweden on corona and virus research
The Covid-19 pandemic has developed as a public health emergency of global proportions. Intensified research and development efforts on how the coronavirus affects human diseases are urgently needed. The Swedish Research Council and National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) now launch a call to support collaborative research projects from cross-disciplinary teams to study the current crisis and prepare for future pandemics.
The call is part of the Sino-Swedish Joint Research Programme that was initiated in order to promote long-term basic research collaboration between researchers from Sweden and China as well as supporting research of the highest scientific quality. The grants are financed by the Swedish Research Council and the NSFC on the principal of reciprocity and parity.
The Swedish Research Council and NSFC have joint administration of the call and make a joint decision by using a panel consisting of both Swedish and Chinese evaluators.
Support form: Project support
Subject area: Humanities and Social Sciences, Medicine and Health, Natural and Engineering Sciences
Focus: Collaborative research on coronaviruses from cross-disciplinary teams to study the current crisis and prepare for future pandemics
Applicant: Individual researcher active in Sweden in collaboration with at least one Swedish participating researcher and a Chinese research team with key members from different disciplines active in China.
Grant period: 3 years
Grant amount: 3 000 000 SEK per year (Swedish part) and 1 000 000 CNY (Chinese part) per year and collaboration project.
Budgetary framework: A total of 4 collaboration projects may be funded within the call.
Start of grant period: January 2021
17 June 2020 (14.00/2 p.m. in Sweden, 16:00/4 p.m. in China) –
11 August 2020 (14.00/2 p.m. in Sweden, 16:00/4 p.m. in China
Publication of grant award: No later than the start of Novemer 2020
Contant - swedish applicants
Telephone hours are weekdays excluding public holidays 9.00-16.00 up to the call deadline
+46 (0)8 546 44 173
Contant - Chinese applicants
+86 (0)10 62327017
+ 86 (0)10 62327014
Specific instructions for the call
In addition to reading the call text, you also need to consult our Guide for applicants.
The collaborative project research grant is open to a joint application made in collaboration between a Swedish project leader and one or more participating researchers in Sweden and Chinese research team with key members from different disciplines based at Chinese universities or other research institutions in China. The researchers should have complementary skills within the transdisciplinary areas for the call with at least one of the Swedish researchers within the area of Medicine and health.
The Swedish project leader submits the application in Prisma (the application system used by the Swedish Research Council). It is the Swedish applicant’s responsibility to ensure the application is complete. The Swedish participating researcher(s) and the Chinese researchers shall be involved in the planning of the collaboration and the elaboration of the application. The Chinese project leaders shall submit a parallel application to NSFC according to the instructions given at the NSFC website.
Please note that the Swedish principle of public access to official records applies to all research applications submitted to the Swedish Research Council.
The following requirements must be fulfilled in order to be eligible to apply for the grant. We carry out checks, and reject applications that do not fulfil the requirements.
Please note that “Swedish” and “Chinese” in this call text refer to the researcher’s country of affiliation and not nationality.
The focus of the call is cross-disciplinary research on covid-19 and pandemic viruses. Research efforts across the entire spectra are necessary: from developing rapid and precise diagnostic methods to the development of novel treatments including antiviral drugs and vaccines, to mapping how the genetic material of the virus changes over time, and to study how the immune system is involved in both protective mechanisms of animal-derived viruses and how the immune system is involved in Covid-19 disease. The call also includes aspects on public health management, health delivery sciences, and social and behavioral aspects of emergency public health response.
The Swedish applicant for the project grant must be an individual researcher in a joint research collaboration with at least one participating researcher from Sweden and at least two Chinese researchers. You shall be the project leader and have scientific responsibility for the project. The time you set aside for the project (your activity level, that is the percentage of a full-time equivalent) must be suited to the task and its implementation throughout the grant period.
You must hold a Swedish doctoral degree or an equivalent foreign degree, awarded no later than the deadline for this call. The degree award date we use is the date you fulfilled all the requirements for a doctoral degree, such as mandatory courses, oral defence and an approved doctoral thesis. For applicants with Swedish doctoral degrees, the award date listed in Ladok applies.Grants from the Swedish Research Council shall be administered by a Swedish university or HEI or another Swedish public organisation that fulfils our criteria for administrating organisations. The Swedish applicants organisation must therefore be approved as an administrating organisation for you to apply. The administrating organisation must sign your application in Prisma no later than 7 calendar days after the deadline for this call.
If you are awarded a grant, you must be employed by their administrating organisation at the start of and throughout the grant period and any additional availability period, unless the Swedish Research Council approves an exception from this requirement. The employment must cover no less than 20 per cent of a full-time equivalent. You do not have to be employed by the administrating organisation at the time of applying.
For requirements for the Chinese project leader, please see the NSFC website.
Number of applications and previous grants
The requirements described in this section only apply to Swedish applicants (project leaders).
What grants may I apply for simultaneously from the Swedish Research Council?
You may only submit one application for this grant under this call. On the other hand, you may apply for undirected project grants, or project grants with a different focus (for example 3R, Development Research or Artistic Research), but for another project concept. Other restrictions relating to the grants you may apply for in the same year are shown in the table below.
What eligibility criteria apply if I already have a grant from the Swedish Research Council?
There are no restrictions for applying for this project grant if you are the project leader of a grant already awarded and ongoing (where the grant period/payment period from the Swedish Research Council overlaps the grant period of the grant this application covers), provided your application is for another project concept.
What applies for applications to or grants from other funding bodies?
If your application to the Swedish Research Council relates to the same project concept as a grant you have already been awarded by, or are applying for to another funding body, please describe this.
The application shall include a minimum of one Swedish participating researcher, that is to say one researcher with a doctoral degree or corresponding competence, whose scientific competence will be cross-disciplinary to the Swedish project leader and therefore crucial for the implementation of the proposed research.
Participating Swedish researchers shall provide the necessary information themselves in Prisma, and upload these to the application. Any further collaborating partners and their roles shall bedescribed in the research plan (please see instructions under “Research plan” below).
Costs and grant amounts
The grant covers the Swedish and Chinese budgets separately. The part of the grant covering the Swedish budget costs will be financed by the Swedish Research Council and the part of the grant covering the Chinese budget costs will be financed by NSFC.
Grants may be applied for to finance all types of project-related costs, such as salaries (including salary, however no more than corresponding to the activity level in the project), premises, running costs (such as consumables, travel including stays at research facilities, publication costs and minor equipment), and depreciation costs. Grants may not be used for scholarships. If a doctoral student participates, project funds may not be paid out as salary for the period when the doctoral student is teaching.
The grant is awarded in a standard amount of 3 000 000 SEK per year, including indirect costs.
The Chinese project leaders may apply for maximum 1 000 000 CNY per year. For other rules
and regulations regarding costs and grant funding for the Chinese project leaders, please see the NSFC website.
The grant period is 3 years, starting from January 2021. The first payment will be made during January 2021 at the earliest.
Please refer to the application form in Prisma in parallel with reading the instructions below, which describe the call-specific content of the application. More information on what to do in practical terms is available in our Guide for applicants.
Since this is an international collaboration project call and the application is made in parallel in Sweden and China, and will be evaluated by both Swedish and Chinese expererts, please submit the application in English.
Sections of the application
The application form includes the following tabs:
- Descriptive information
- Research description
- Budget and research resources
- CV (Chinese researchers)
- Relevance for the call
- Administrating organisation
- CV (other researchers)
The information we request under each tab is described below.
In the abstract, please describe in brief the following:
- What is to be done: purpose and aims
- How will the research be carried out: project organisation, time plan and scientific methods
- What is important about the planned research: the impact and added value of the collaborative research
The abstract shall provide a summary picture of the purpose and implementation of the research activities within the collaboration. Please use wording to ensure persons with another subject specialisation can understand the information.
The description may cover a maximum of 1 500 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one third of an A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Popular science description
Describe the project in such a way that a person who is not familiar with the subject can understand it. Describe what is to be done, and why. Explain also in what way the new knowledge may be important.
The popular science description is an important tool when we inform about the research funded by the Swedish Research Council. If we grant your application, we reserve the right to use the description for information purposes.
The description may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Note: The popular science description must be written in Swedish, unlike the rest of the application.
The national ethical regulations/legislation which are the strictest, shall apply for the research collaboration as a whole. Describe the ethical issues raised by your project or equivalent. You must also describe how you plan to address ethical dilemmas that may arise. Please justify why the research should be carried out against the background of the ethical issues you have identified. How do your research questions and expected results measure up in relation to the ethical issues? Please also state whether the research involves any handling of personal data, or experiments on animals or human subjects. If no ethical issues are raised, please justify this.
The justification may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Sex and gender perspectives
Please state whether sex and gender perspectives are applicable in your planned research collaboration, and justify your decision. Please note that we are not asking for information about the composition of the research team (men/women). Read more about sex and gender perspectives in research content.
The following applies:
- If you answer “Yes”: Justify your answer, and describe also how you take account of sex and gender perspectives in the research plan (see further instructions under “Research plan”). If you have stated that sex and gender perspectives are applicable, but still choose not to include them in your research plan, you will need to justify this here.
- If you answer “No”: Please justify your answer.
The justification may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Research and collaboration plan
The research plan shall be forward-looking and consist of a brief but complete description of the joint research task. It shall cover a maximum of 10 page-numbered A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins, including references and any images.
The research plan must include the following headings and information, listed in the following order: Please note that all partners (the Swedish and Chinese project leaders and participating researchers) shall all be involved and responsible for the research and collaboration plan.
- Purpose and aims: State the overall purpose and specific aims of the research collaboration
- State-of-the-art: Summarise briefly the current research frontier within the field or area covered by the project. Please state key references.
- Significance and scientific novelty: Describe briefly how the project relates to previous research within the area, and the impact the project may have in the short and long term. Describe also how the project moves forward or innovates the current research frontier
- Preliminary and previous results: Describe briefly your own previous research and pilot studies within the research area that make it probable that the project will be feasible. If no preliminary results exist, please state this.
- Project description: Describe the project design under the following headings:
- Theory and method: Describe the underlying theory and the methods to be applied in order to reach the project goal.
- Time plan and implementation: Describe summarily the time plan for the project during the grant period concerning travel, joint seminars and workshops, joint publications, etc. and how the project will be implemented.
- Project organisation: Clarify how all of you researchers will contribute to the implementation of the project. Explain in particular how the time allocated by you (that is, your activity level) as project leaders and participants are suitable for the task, including the relationship with your other research undertakings. Describe and explain the competences, the cross-disciplinarity and roles of the participating researchers in the project, and also any other researchers or equivalent who are important for the implementation of the project.
Provide the following information also. If a heading is not relevant to your application, please state this under the heading.
- Data analysis and statistics: Modern methods often generate complex data. Describe how you plan to analyse data collected in the project, and the statistical methods you will be using. If the project covers clinical studies, please include a power analysis.
- Equipment: Describe the basic equipment you have at your disposal for the project.
- Need for research infrastructure: Specify the project’s need for international and national research infrastructure. In the first instance, Swedish researchers should use the research infrastructures supported by the Swedish Research Council, which are open to all. Please justify the need to use other infrastructures (also applies for local research infrastructure).
- Other applications or grants: If you are applying for or intend to apply for other grants from the Swedish Research Council, please clarify the relationship between the projects. This applies also if you are receiving ongoing grants from the Swedish Research Council with grant periods that wholly or partly overlap with the grant you are now applying for. You should also justify why you are submitting one or several further applications. Describe also the relationship with other applications to or grants from other funding bodies for the same project idea (from one of you or another researcher).
1. Research areas/Sub focus
Describe how your project is relevant for the sub focus area covid-19 and pandemic viruses (see the definition in the introduction to the call text) and how the project is cross-disciplinary.
Please note that the relevance to the research area constitutes an absolute requirement for this call, as well as the cross-disciplinarity of the application.
2. Added value from the research collaboration (complementarity)
Please describe how the expertise and capacity of the participating researchers and HEIs cooperate to benefit the quality of the research. How will the collaboration generate mutual added value to the research of the applicants? In which ways is the collaboration based on equal participation and how will it lead to mutual exchange of knowledge? In the event the gender balance among the project participants is unequal, please explain how this will not impact negatively on the quality of the research.
The description may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one A4 page in Arial, font size 11.
Budget and research resources
State the activity level (per cent of a full-time equivalent) of all personnel active within the Swedish project, that is to say the project leader, participating researchers and any other researchers and other personnel.
Joint budget plan
Please attach the joint budget plan containing the information below. The document shall cover a maximum of 4 A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins.
A. Joint budget
State a joint budget for the total grant period for the Swedish and the Chinese partners according to the template below. The Swedish partners budget shall be presented in SEK and the Chinese partners budget shall be presented in CNY.
Example of common budget plan:
B. Justification of the budget applied for
Please provide a brief justification statement for each item in the proposed project budget.
C. Other funding
Please state your or any other researcher’s funding for the project over and above what is applied for in this application.Indicate the type of grant, status, funding source, grant awardee/project leader, funding period and the relevant amoounts accordin to the example below.
Example of other funding description:
Type of grant
Grant awadee/Project lead
Total amount (SEK or CNY)
3 000 000 SEK
50 000 CNY
CV (Chinese researchers)
Attach the CVs of the Chinese researchers (project leaders and any other participating reserachers), joined up into one file. Each CV must not exceed 2 A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins.
The following information must be sumitted in each CV under the numbered headeings below, int the given order (leave not applicable fields empty):
- Higer education qualification(s): year, subject field and HEI
- Doctoral degree or equivalent: year, discipline/subject field, HEI titleof the theses and the name of the doctoral supervisor.
- Postoctoral positions: year and location.
- Qualification required for appointments as a docent:
- Current position: term of appointment and research portion
- Previous positions and period of appointment: type of position and appointment periods.
- Supervision: Doctoral and postdoctoral students that you have supervised in the capacity of main supervisor; (name(s) and years).
- Interruption in research: In this section, you may describe nay longer interruption in your active research time, which has affected your qualifications opportunitites, e.g. interruptions due to parental leave, medical internships or medical residencces (applies to clinically active professionals), positions of trust, or similar circumstances. Specify the extent of each interruptioln.
- Other information of relevance to the application.
Attach the publication lists drawn up according to the headings and information below (Swedish and Chinese project participants sorted separately). The list for each researcher shall cover a maximum of 5 A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins.
Please sort the publications in each list under each heading in reverse chronological order, so that the latest publication is at the top of the list. Please only include articles or equivalent that are published or accepted for publication at the time of applying. The author name order shall be identical to that of the published work. The application cannot be supplemented with publications after the deadline for the call.
1. Selection of publications. List the 10 publications of greatest importance to your application. Describe how you contributed to each publication, and its relevance to the research project described (maximum 4 lines per publication). Highlight your name in bold in the author list.
2. Relevant publications from 2012-2020. In this part, the publications listed under Item 1 shall also be included if they have been published during the period in question. Sort the publications, with your name highlighted in bold in the author list, under each heading (publication type) in the following order:
- Peer-reviewed original articles
- Peer-reviewed conference contributions, the results of which are not included in other publications.
- Peer-reviewed edited volumes
- Research review articles
- Peer-reviewed books and book chapters
- Patents, please state date of registration
- Open access computer programs or databases you have developed
- Other publications including popular science books/presentations
Please state the Swedish administrating organisation and project site.
Here the Swedish applicant invites the Swedish participating researchers and any participating administrators to the application. Please note that this does not include the Chinese researcher(s)!
CV (other researchers)
Under this tab, the Swedish applicant and the Swedish participating researchers shall upload relevant CV information from their personal accounts in Prisma.
The following information (where available) must always be included in each CV:
- Education: First, second and third cycle higher education and specialist degrees.
- Work: Current employment (including employment form) and longer relevant employment held, postdoctoral visits (also included as employment if relevant), research exchanges relevant to the research described and any longer interruptions in the research that have impacted on your opportunity to gain merit as a researcher.
- Merits and awards: Docentship/associate professorship, supervisees (postdoctoral and doctoral students; state the number of persons in each category and list the names of the up to 10 most relevant to you), up to 10 of your most relevant grants awarded in competition, up to 10 of your most relevant prizes and awards, and up to 20 other merits relevant to the application.
- Intellectual property rights: For example, patents and open access computer programs developed by you; state up to 10 of your most relevant.
Scientific quality is the fundamental criterion the Swedish Research Council (VR) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) uses when awarding grants. Proposals to Research collaboration China-Sweden will be evaluated with regards to scientific quality as well as relevance to the goals of the call. Scientific quality is the principle assessment criteria, provided that the research project meets the relevance criterion. The Swedish Research Council promotes gender equality in research collaboration and research projects.
All applications are assessed by a review panel composed of Swedish and Chinese researchers, who scientifically evaluate and delivers a ranking of the applications. The grants will be formally approved by decisions at VR and at NSFC. When both these decisions are made the grants are finally approved.
The assessment of the scientific quality of an application is made using five quality components, known as basic criteria (Novelty and originality, Scientific quality of the proposed research, Merits of applicants, Feasibility, Complementarity of the research (the added value and synergy of the research collaboration). Several components are used in order to arrive at a comprehensive assessment.
The five basic criteria are weighed together into an overall grade, which reflects the evaluation panel’s overall assessment of the scientific quality of the application. In addition, the panel will evaluate the relevance of the application to the program objectives/the interdisciplinarity.
Novelty and originality (1-7)
- Does the project convincingly challenge prevalent opinions and practice?
- Does the application define new, interesting interdisciplinary scientific questions?
- Is there potential for the creation of new knowledge, exciting new ideas and approaches, directions for research and understanding of the research field?
- Does the project include use of novel technologies/methodologies, or innovative application of existing methodologies/technologies in new areas?
Scientific quality of the proposed research (1-7)
- Is the project scientifically significant?
- Does the overall design of the project, its research questions and hypotheses meet the standards of highest quality?
- Are the scientific/intellectual merits of the proposed research clear, convincing and compelling?
- Does the proposed project have the character of thoroughness, e g in its definition of the problem and proposed solutions, and review of the state of the art?
- Do the research questions aim to develop innovative interdisciplinary research and is the design of the project of sufficient quality to reach or significantly approach this goal?
Merits of applicants (1-7)
- Do the applicants have sufficient research experience, expertise, level of independence and scientific network for implementation of the proposed project?
- Of what merits are the previous publications and other scientific achievements (e.g. supervisor experience, external funding) in relation to stage of career and active time for research: do these show a distinct and independent line of research or in case of a researcher in his/her early career stage, the potential of such? Focus is on the most relevant and important reports, with emphasis on quality rather than quantity.
- Is there ability to successfully disseminate research findings?
- Do the project participants have experience of supervision of doctoral students (in case the application includes doctoral students)?
Feasibility (1-3: 1.Not feasible 2. Partly feasible 3. Feasible)
- Is the general design, including time schedule, optimal for implementing the proposed project?
- Does the project aim to establish long-term research collaboration and contain a realistic plan for how to raise funds for such collaboration?
- Does the proposed project collaboration include the availability and accessibility of relevant personnel, skills, equipment, facilities/infrastructures and other necessary resources?
- Has the applicant obtained the permits required (if any) to implement the project, or is there a description of how the permissions will be obtained?
- Is the division of labour and cooperation between the project participants clearly described?
- What is the balance between the project's feasibility and risks and its potential gains? (high risk/high gain)
Complementarity of the research (the added value and synergy of the research collaboration) (1-7)
- Is there appropriateness of the team members in terms of availability and complementarities of all the relevant expertise, and in how the different roles and responsibilities are distinguished?
- Does the cooperation bring mutual added value to the research; compared to if the partners were not working together?
- Can the cooperation lead to transfer of knowledge between applicants?
- Can support for the proposed research collaboration lead to the establishment of a long-term research partnership?
- Is the collaboration based on principles of co-design, mutual benefit and equality?
- Does the project partnership have an appropriate gender balance?
- Will the proposed project strengthen and enhance the quality of research in the research area in question at the higher education institution(s), as well as in Sweden and in China and internationally?
Overall grade (1-7)
The various component criteria being used in the assessment are weighed together to an overall grade (1-7), which reflects the overalls assessment of the scientific quality of the application by the review panel. The overall grade is not the same as an average grade or a summary of the subsidiary evaluations; instead, it shall reflect the scientific quality of the application as a whole. It is not a condition that the quality concept covers all aspects of the various criteria, nor that they have the same relative weight for all applications. In normal cases, however, a strongly positive evaluation of only one criterion cannot outweigh other weaknesses of an application when weighed together. For Interdisciplinary Research Environment grants, the Novelty and originality- and Added value and synergy-scores should be given a greater weight in the overall grade.
Relevance to program objectives/interdisciplinarity (1-3: 1.Not relevant 2.Some relevance 3. Relevant)
Relevance to the program objectives is evaluated separately from the scientific quality, and is not included in the overall grade. The grant should strengthen knowledge exchange and research collaborations between Swedish and Chinese researchers. The research should be of relevance for the research area covid-19 and virus pandemics. It is important that the interdisciplinary nature of the application is clearly stated.
The grade primarily reflects the relevance to development of long-term research partnerships and the general relevance to the objectives stated in the call.
Development of long-term research partnerships and interdisciplinarity
- Can support for the proposed research collaboration lead to the establishment of a long-term research partnership?
- Does the collaborative research contribute to the establishment of new researcher-to-researcher relationships within interdisciplinary fields?
- If principal investigators have collaborated before, is the proposed collaboration based on a new interdisciplinary research topic? What were the experiences of that previous collaboration?
- Can additional funding lead to new collaborative research proposals with realistic ideas how to obtain funding?
- Does the application refer to a new interdisciplinary group of researchers, with genuinely different scientific backgrounds?
- Does the applicant describe convincingly how the combination of theories, methods, expertise and/or data from the different disciplines can be expected to lead to groundbreaking knowledge?
The process of evaluating the applications to the Sino-Swedish joint research programme on the Swedish side.
Each application is evaluated on the Swedish side by one rapporteur and two reviewers. The Swedish panel consists of one chair, one vice chair and of panelists within the area of the call.
This Swedish panel meets and makes a joint pre-evaluation of the applications. They agree on a mutual grading for each application according to the criteria’s above.
The rapporteurs from this meeting then concludes the Swedish panels result in a Preliminary assessment.
Some of the Swedish panelists will then go to the joint committee meeting with the Chinese panelists. Those panelists will represent the Swedish panels result. Together with the Chinese panelists, they will come to a mutual decision of which of the applications that will receive funding. The Swedish panelists will then summarize the joint meetings assessments of the applications and these will be sent to the Swedish applicants together with the decision.