The FWF has switched the administration of project funding for most funding programs to PROFI mode, which means that funding is now administered through the research institutions. PROFI mode simplifies the funding process in many respects, while also ensuring researchers’ autonomy. Below we have put together an overview of the most important changes.

By the end of 2023, the FWF will gradually have converted its funding programs from the ad personam funding mode to PROFI (project funding via research institutions) mode (a switch from § 26 to § 27 or § 28 of the Universities Act). This means that the principal investigator’s research institution is the FWF’s contractual partner. Individual, ad personam funding will then only be available in a few selected programs, like the FWF’s Stand-Alone Publications – Book Publications program or the Erwin Schrödinger abroad phase.

Aims and key points of PROFI mode

The FWF takes its responsibilities very seriously, both in guaranteeing freedom in research and in handling the research funds it is entrusted with. These principles also apply to the switch to PROFI mode. Managing project funding on an institutional level preserves researchers’ freedom. At the same time, they have the support of their research institution as a competent partner when applying for funding and implementing their project. The use of the funding provided continues to be based exclusively on scientific needs and is decided by the principal investigators in compliance with the research institutions’ policies.

This type of funding administration is a common practice in research funding on an international scale. Comparable organizations for the funding of basic research (DFG, SNF, NWO, EU, etc.) have already completed the transition.

What changes does PROFI bring?

  • The application process (using the application portal elane) remains basically the same, only instead of the previously required signed declaration of consent from the research institution, the research institution now has to approve the application for submission on the application portal. The manual submission of a cover sheet is no longer required.
  • Administering funding for personnel has been made much easier for researchers, as in the future this will be handled exclusively at the research institution and not, as was previously the case, at both the FWF and the respective institution.
  • The principal investigator is no longer personally liable for the transferred research funds, liability now lies with the research institution. In the grant agreement, the research institution explicitly confirms that the the principal investigator is solely responsible for the use of funds and the content of the research. As previously applicable, any change of principal investigator or research institution requires the approval of the FWF Executive Board.
  • Principal investigators no longer need to submit payment requests, as the approved funds will be paid out according to a predefined installment plan. This means researchers can turn to their research institutions when they need funds, and the money will be there for them.

In the event of any conflict between principal investigators and research institutions, it is up to the FWF to apply scientific needs and the freedom of research as benchmarks for reaching balanced solutions in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

The following programs will be remaining in ad-personam mode

  • Erwin Schrödinger
  • Book Publications, Digital Publications, Academic Journals
  • International – Joint Seminars
  • DFG Collaborative Research Centres and DFG Research Units, if a pre-proposal has already been submitted in ad-personam mode
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