Pioneer Fellowships

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Pioneer Fellowships are an instrument awarded to an individual or groups of individuals intending to independently develop a highly innovative product or service to be exploited commercially and/or for the benefit of society.

They are the result of a competitive process to ensure the innovation potential of the successful application. The fellowships are not awarded for basic research, but must be based on the applicants own, previous research.

Pioneer Fellowships are jointly funded by the ETH Zurich, the ETH Zürich Foundation and the Hasler Foundation ("Hasler Innovation").

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Detailed information on requirements for Pioneer Fellowship Applications is given in the guidelines. Applications not complying with the guidelines (PDF, 176 KB) will be rejected on formal grounds.

Submission procedure

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must have been awarded a master or a doctoral degree from the ETH Zurich at the time of the proposed starting date of the fellowship. Candidates may submit up to 6 months ahead of their graduation, but proposals must be submitted no later than 6 months after obtaining the MSc or PhD. In expectional cases candidates are considered who have completed a postdoctoral stay at the ETH Zurich and whose application is based on work accomplished during the stay. Applications have to be made jointly by the candidate and their host who must be an ETH Zurich Professor.

The Pioneer Fellows are expected to start their fellowship at latest six months after the submission of the application. If they can not adhere to this set date, an approval for a later start must be asked at the Office of Research.


Applications should be submitted electronically using the dedicated on-line system. Information on the submission procedure is provided in the detailed submission instructions.

The cover sheet of the online-application does not need to be uploaded, but a signed copy must be sent to the Office of Research, Room HG E32.1, 8092 Zurich.

Submission deadlines

There are two Pioneer Fellowship competitions per year. The corresponding submission deadlines are March 1 and Sep 1.


After an initial pre-screening, applicants will receive an invitation for an interview approximately 4 weeks before the interview dates specified below. The jury for the interviews is headed by the Vice President Research and Corporate Relations (VPFW) and consists of members of the Research Commission, the ETH Transfer and Industrial Partners of the ETH. Applicants cannot choose the interview date and have to be available on all days indicated, until they have been assigned an interview date.

During the 20-minute interview, the candidates can first briefly present their project idea and their personal motivation and background, then they will be asked questions about their proposed projects.

Interview dates
March 1, 23:59, 2015 May 18 and May 20, 2015
September 1, 23:59, 2015 Nov 16 and Nov 18, 2015

When to expect a decision

Notification of decisions made by the Vice President of Research and Corporate Relations will normally be sent to applicants within 3 months after the submission deadline.

Annual salary costs for Pioneer Fellows (valid 2015)

Please use the following standard rates as a maximal base of the budget for the application:

After MSc (percentage of employment: 100)

  • first year kCHF 89.0
  • second year kCHF 92.0

After PhD (percentage of employment: 100)

  • first year kCHF 98.4
  • second year kCHF 103.3

The rates given above include approx. 14 % social security overhead to be paid by the employer (ETH) and must be used for budgeting.

Successful Pioneer Fellowships will be awarded a lump sum based on the salary costs valid at the time of approval. Any extra costs associated with salary scale increases coming into effect during the funding period must be born by the host professorship.

The total fellowship may not exceed kCHF 150 for the duration of 18 months and may not be subsidized by other, third-party funds.

Further information

For further information on the Pioneer Fellowship program, please contact .

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