Bridging the gap to innovation

Next submission deadline: 01.09.2018

Gebert Rüf Stiftung supports innovative projects at Swiss institutions of higher education which succeed in combining design with application-oriented technology, research and educational practice in an exemplary manner. The sum of CHF 1.4 million p.a. is reserved for this purpose.

Objective: enabling new interfaces

Gebert Rüf Stiftung defines «design» as the systematic examination of the form and function of products and their effect on potential users. Design connects aspects that, although not the main focus of scientific teaching and research, offer interfaces for productive collaboration.

The objective of the «DesignPlus» area of activity is to reinforce the importance of incorporating design knowledge and methods as an integral part of specialist scientists’ work as early as possible. The support is aimed at researchers and teachers in the fields of science, technology and education who believe that an interdisciplinary exchange with designers will provide added value. They must be willing to enter into a dialogue between equals.

Grants in this area of activity will be directed at application-oriented R&D and educational projects in which design – from conception to implementation – is central and not merely an add-on. The scientific research and education should also include questions of requirements, form and use of products at an early stage. The contextual considerations provided by the design side should challenge the project and, ideally, enrich it.

The finance takes the form of complementary funding that specifically enables cooperation between scientists and designers with all the related budget implications. Small projects with a short duration and a budget of up to CHF 50,000 will be considered alongside larger projects extending over two to three years and with funding requirements of up to CHF 300,000. The area of activity includes neither design theory nor disciplinary basic design research.


Grants are aimed at project groups from the science and technology sector willing to plan their R&D and educational projects with designers from the very outset, thus moving away from narrow scientific preconceptions. In principle, calls for submissions are directed to all faculties and disciplines. Projects are selected on the basis of the following criteria:

Content-related support criteria

  • Clear project identity with goal, duration, thematic unity and result;
  • Product focus based on problem definition and an application-based approach to finding solutions;
  • Complete integration of design factors into the scientific, technical or economic development process;
  • Design makes a substantial contribution to the project identity, innovation and communication;
  • Proof of the impact of this integral cooperation as an independent and innovative method;
  • Project innovativeness and excellence.

Formal support criteria

  • A large part of the basic scientific funding is assured.
  • The support application concerns additional costs for salaries and materials.
  • Funding support can be awarded to project groups already working on the respective scientific topic as well as to new project groups.
  • Projects can also be co-sponsored by third parties (federal government, cantons, foundations, business).
  • The object of this programme is not to plug funding gaps.
  • The project has to be rooted at a Swiss university or research institution (ETH domain, cantonal university, university of applied sciences).
  • No infrastructure or overhead costs are financed, but only salaries and material costs related to the project.

Project submissions

  • Projects may be submitted to Gebert Rüf Stiftung by one of the quarterly deadlines (1 February, 1 May, 1 September, 1 December) in accordance with the general requirements.
  • The submission procedure has two stages.

Project evaluation

Projects for the «DesignPlus» area of activity may be submitted at any time. For ongoing calls for projects the selection process lasts approximately six months, from submission of the project proposal (step one) to the decision on the project application (step two). The board of trustees reaches the grant-making decision at its quarterly plenary meeting on the basis of the support criteria and the strategic objectives of the area of activity.

Approved projects DesignPlus