Model projects at universities of applied sciences

2017 call for projects: Social Innovation

01.11.2017 – The finalists of the call 2017 are selected.

Under the banner of "BREF – Brückenschläge mit Erfolg" Gebert Rüf Stiftung promotes model research and development projects that play a part in enhancing the potential of Swiss universities of applied sciences as R&D partners. The sum of CHF 1.5 million p.a. is reserved for this purpose.

The BREF funding programme, which is implemented in close collaboration with "swissuniversities – chamber of universities of applied sciences", has been focusing on the topic of social innovation since 2011. The annual calls for projects are aimed at members of universities of applied science who develop strong ideas that can also serve as models for new and promising cooperation ventures with partners from business and society. Thanks to their strong basis in practical application, universities of applied science have the specific potential to leverage social innovations.

The calls are published in January, the closing date for submissions is in summer, and decisions on grants are made in autumn.

After six years in succession, 2017 marks the last time that the programme is to be launched with the thematic focus on social innovation. From 2018 Gebert Rüf Stiftung will be continuing the BREF funding programme over the medium term with a new thematic focus to be defined in the current year in consultation with "swissuniversities – chamber of universities of applied sciences".

Programme description (german)

The winners of the call 2017

5 finalists out of 51 submissions

  • Un dispositif d'écoute musciale dans les chambres de soins intensifs en psychiatrie, Prof. Dr. Angelika Güsewell, Haute Ecole de Musique Lausanne
  • Vieillir avec les drogues, Dr. Maria Caiata Zufferey, Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana, Dip. Economia aziendale, sanità e sociale
  • Partizipative ethische Entscheidungsfindung, Dr. Corinne Wohlgensinger, Fachhochschule St. Gallen, Zentrum für Ethik und Nachhaltigkeit
  • Réseau d’informations et de sensibilisation à propos des droits sociaux, Dr. Cédric Gapsoz, Haute école de gestion Arc
  • Vaud Integration Vulnerabilities REsponses, Dr. Bhama Steiger, Haute école de travail social et de la santé

Call 2017: Social innovation

Launch in January 2017

  • In January 2017, swissuniversities and Gebert Rüf Stiftung write jointly to all universities of applied sciences, locations and faculties and provide them with the relevant documentation.
  • The programme is to be launched for the last time with the thematic focus on social innovation and subsequently renewed in view of the call in 2018.
  • Project managers interested in participating are recommended, prior to drafting an application, to contact the BREF coordination office and/or the management of Gebert Rüf Stiftung.


  • Launch: January 2017
  • Deadline: 13 August 2017
  • Decisions: November 2017

Essential requirements

The project
  • is based at a university of applied sciences and has the express support of the university management;
  • is geared to concrete needs and relevant problems;
  • satisfies the standards of quality of the respective R&D field;
  • is set up in a cross-functional and interdisciplinary way;
  • entails the active involvement of "bridge" partners from the practical, social and business domains – the preparation of platforms alone does not satisfy this requirement.

Support criteria in terms of content

Under the heading of social innovation, exemplary projects are sought which are designed to establish novel and successful bridges between the university of applied sciences and partners in the field and which strive to generate new know-how and achieve transfer gains.

Particular project requirements include
  • establishing new R&D cooperation ventures between the university of applied sciences and partners in the field;
  • improving communication between universities of applied sciences and business in terms of services offered and demand for those services;
  • building up specific R&D competencies at university of applied sciences level;
  • forming focal points and networking within the university of applied sciences sector;
  • contributing to the promotion of young scientists at universities of applied sciences.

Formal support criteria

  • Applications will only be accepted in the form of a single PDF file containing all application documents.
  • Funding support can be awarded both to project groups already working on the respective scientific topic and to new project groups.
  • Joint projects with partners from various universities of applied sciences are possible.
  • Preference is given to projects with a maximum budget of CHF 300,000 and which are intended to run for no longer than two years.
  • Funding is used primarily to cover salary costs. The use of university funds is welcomed. Infrastructure, equipment and material should in any case be provided by the university.
  • Projects can also be co-sponsored by third parties (e.g. federal government, cantons, foundations, business); however, the object of this programme is not to plug funding gaps.
  • Concrete plans should also be in place regarding financing after expiry of the grant funding period.

Project evaluation and project monitoring

  • Project applications will be evaluated by the programme's jury members. Gebert Rüf Stiftung and swissuniversities – chamber of universities of applied sciences jointly appoint members to the BREF jury. Additional external peer reviews will be obtained if necessary.
  • Gebert Rüf Stiftung's Board of Trustees will decide in November 2017 which projects are to receive support. All applicants will then be notified of the decisions and the list of approved projects will be published on this website.
  • Applications for re-examination or reconsideration will not be accepted; no correspondence will be entered into on the subject of negative grantmaking decisions.
  • A support agreement setting out details of the milestones, funding tranches, reporting and monitoring of the project will be concluded with the project managers whose applications are approved.
  • All copyrights will be retained by the projects.


Members of the BREF jury

  • Prof. Dr. Richard Bührer, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Dr. Katja Gentinetta, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Prof. Franco Gervasoni, Director, Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI), Vice-President of the chamber of universities of applied sciences and member of the Board of swissuniversities
  • Prof. Dr. Rudolf Marty, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas D. Meier, Rector, Zurich University of the Arts (ZFH/ZHdK)
  • Prof. Dr. Peter Voll, Head of the Institute of Social Work, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO)
  • Prof. Monika Wohler, former Vice-President of the University of Applied Sciences St.Gallen (FHO/FHS)


Call 2016: Social innovation

Decisions on the award of grants were taken at the beginning of November 2016. Out of 52 project applications, the following 6 finalists were selected:



Gesuche nach FH-Regionen

Berner Fachhochschule 6, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz 4, Fachhochschule Ostschweiz 9, Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse occidentale 15, Hochschule Luzern 4, Kalaidos Fachhochschule 1, Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana 4, Zürcher Fachhochschule 8

Page BREF en français

avec toutes les informations

Programmseite auf deutsch

mit allen Informationen

Deadlines of call 2017

- Launch: January
- Deadline: 13 August
- Decisions: November

Quicklinks projects

Projectlist area of activity

Dossier Schweizer Monat

«Wie innovativ sind die Schweizer Fachhochschulen?»

Research report by the Think Tank W.I.R.E

Commissioned by SNSF on the significance of social innovation for research and practice.

Broschure 2014

Mit redaktionellem Schwerpunkt auf dem Thema «Soziale Innovation»:
Programme Review 2014
Revue du programme 2014

Picture Credits Header

Christoph Läser Photograph AG Basel