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Ideas take off: The new 1,000 Ideas Programme of the FWF helps researchers whose projects are still at an early stage.

Researchers can now receive funding for completely new, daring or particularly original research ideas that extend beyond the current scientific understanding in a first call for proposals launched by the FWF. The key aim is to investigate future-oriented ideas with high scientific and transformative potential.

The new FWF funding programme announced in June 2019 is now being implemented. The call for proposals is open from 14 November 2019 to 2 p.m. on 15 January 2020 (deadline for submissions). The main objective of the programme is to address novel, forward-looking themes with high relevance for science and research. The chances of successfully implementing these ideas are not as important as having the “courage to fail,” which is an integral component of the programme. The projects should have the potential to transform existing research domains and/or fundamentally challenge established paradigms in science and research. At the same time, the proposal should present a convincing and coherent plan for the methodological realisation of the research project.

"The new comes into the world when researchers can try out unconventional approaches and ideas. We would like to offer this freedom with the 1000 Ideas Programme. The aim is to turn particularly courageous ideas into scientific successes," says Klement Tockner, President of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, describing the innovative potential of the new funding programme.

Open to all scientific disciplines

Project funding is limited to a maximum of 150,000 euros. It should be regarded as seed funding for daring, innovative research ideas at an early stage, i.e., before these ideas have been fully developed in order to have good chances of being funded within the framework of existing programmes. The 1,000 Ideas Programme is open to all scientific disciplines and is aimed at all researchers who have or will have a connection to an Austrian research institution.

"With the 1000 Ideas, we are responding to a request expressed by many researchers. For the first time, unconventional or daring ideas can be tested for their feasibility. The new offer complements our established funding portfolio for research approaches at a particularly early stage," explains Uwe von Ahsen, Head of National Programmes at the FWF.

Innovative elements in the evaluation of proposals and the selection for funding

In order to take into account the specific nature of the programme, the FWF is also exploring new avenues for the submission of proposals. For example, the description of the project idea and its planned implementation are to be written anonymously on no more than six pages and also include a self-assessment by the researcher on the high-risk aspects of the project and on possible learning effects in the event of failure.

The FWF will use a double-blind selection procedure to identify projects worthy of funding based solely on the project idea and the logical and coherent description of its realisation. Therefore, usual evaluation criteria such as the researcher’s reputation or publication track record are not taken into account in order to avoid a possible bias in the evaluation of the research idea.

Due to these and other special features of the programme, the FWF will hold information events on the submission of proposals in November and December 2019. The exact dates will be published on the current FWF calendar. At the same time, the FWF would like to point out that the proposals received will be checked very rigorously with regard to form and anonymity, and proposals that do not meet the requirements will be excluded.

A jury will discuss the proposals in June 2020, i.e., a funding decision is to be expected around this time.

Further information on the 1000 Ideas Programme can be found here.

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