ETH Zurich Foundation, Information for ETH professors

Information for ETH professors


The ETH Zurich Foundation is an independent, private and non-profit foundation that aims to promote teaching and research at ETH Zurich. It forms partnerships with committed individuals, businesses and foundations and acts as an enabler between donors and the supported projects or people.

Donations made to the ETH Foundation by private individuals, businesses and foundations allow ETH Zurich to fast-track important projects and inject fresh momentum into the targeted development of research and teaching and the expansion of the required infrastructure.

By providing starter funding for professorships, donors enable the university to establish new, promising research areas at ETH Zurich and specifically strengthen strategic research interests.

Questions and answers

What kinds of projects does the ETH Foundation support?

The ETH Foundation primarily prioritises projects that are referred by ETH Zurich’s Executive Board. As a result, it cannot accept direct applications from professors or principal investigators (PI) to support their research.

However, researchers and teaching staff at ETH Zurich are very welcome to reach out to the ETH Foundation at any time in case of questions or if you have exciting news to share with regard to your research.

Many donors have an interest in specific subjects that are not covered or only partially covered by the official funding projects. This often leads to unexpected funding opportunities, where the ETH Foundation will be happy to approach you as a PI.

The focus of the funding provided by the ETH Foundation is on teaching and research at ETH Zurich. As a rule, the ETH Foundation and its donors do not fund running costs, deficit guarantees or costs for one-off events.

What should I do if I am looking for funding for my project?

If you are considering approaching the ETH Foundation for funding for a research or teaching project, we recommend that you contact Dr Jürg Brunnschweiler, Chief of Staff to the President of ETH Zurich (

Use the factsheet below to outline the key facts about your project so that an efficient assessment can be made.

I’m already in talks with partners: can the ETH Foundation support me?

The ETH Foundation can take care of all administrative work associated with a donation, in particular processing the transaction, investment and managing relations with the donors.

In doing so, we also ensure that the donations are made in accordance with ETH Zurich’s guidelines.

What are the official rules and guidelines when it comes to accepting donations?

The basic principles covering donations at ETH Zurich are set out in the following documents:

The most important thing is that our academic principles are not compromised by any donations that are made – whether to a project or an individual. This means:

  • Freedom of research, teaching and publication is assured at all times.
  • Donations do not confer on the donors any right of ownership or entitle them to publish or make use of the research findings.
  • The autonomy and independence of ETH Zurich remain untouched, i.e. aside from specifying the purpose of their donation, donors have no influence, particularly with regard to staffing and procurement decisions taken by ETH.

A distinction is to be made between donations and research contracts that are agreed between researchers at ETH Zurich and industry. Negotiating these contracts is the responsibility of ETH transfer.


Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions about donations.

Lena Serck-Hanssen | ETH Zurich Foundation, Information for ETH professors

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Lena Serck-Hanssen
Scientific Writer
+41 44 632 38 84

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