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ETH Zurich and EPFL have launched Future Food – A Swiss Research Initiative together with Bühler, Givaudan and Nestlé (the first partners on board) to further expand research and education in the area of food and nutrition sciences. The Future Food Fellowship is a major pillar within this framework. It aims to bring together competences from academic and industrial research in the fields covered by the initiative. The overarching goal is to develop solutions that address grand challenges such as affordable nutrition and sustainable packaging.

A successful fellow must demonstrate the willingness to engage in scientific or economic issues across the frontiers of food and nutrition sciences. The programme supports research projects at the postdoctoral level, and is structured around annual calls for applications. The Fellowship provides personal research funds for three years to enable fellows to work on their projects in a research laboratory. The programme is co-managed by the World Food System Center at ETH Zurich and the Integrative Food Science and Nutrition Center at EPFL.

Call Topics

The Call 2021 is open to any outstanding proposal that fits the criteria. Special preference will initially be given to projects that address the following areas:

  • Plant based nutrition – protein and beyond
    Eligible examples: Dairy analogues, meat analogues, sustainable proteins, technologies for wholesome raw materials, improving organoleptic properties, product functionality and nutritional aspects, special focus on bioactives, micronutrients, healthful lipids and carbohydrates.
    Not eligible: Projects that uniquely address proteins, as such and as enriched fractions.
  • Microbiome
    Eligible examples: Concrete applications.
    Not eligible: Longer-term, fundamental research.
  • Climate change mitigation
    Eligible examples: Spot between nutrition and climate change aspects (GHGe reduction, land use, water use, etc.), holistic solutions (including digital and AI) to integrate nutritional aspects and climate change impact (i.e. sustainable diets), sustainable diets in low income countries, nutrients that might be impaired by climate change, as well as by a shift to lower climate impact diets (e.g. plant-based diets impact on nutrient availability and absorption).
    Not eligible: Packaging, sustainability, projects that focus on GHGe reduction but neglect nutritional / technological aspects.
  • Healthful nutrition for low income populations
    Eligible examples: Energy intake and appropriate ratio of macro-/micro-nutrients (protein, lipids, fibers and micronutrients) at affordable prices for both developed and developing economies, practical solutions to improve nutritional status of populations, process and ingredient technology enabling significant cost reduction while achieving appropriate protein, lipid and micronutrient quality and quantity, valorization of local raw materials, development and/or optimization of supply chains, leverage of solutions across geographies.
    Not eligible: Clinical trials, dietary intake research, nutrient profiling.
  • Sustainable processes and food design
    Eligible examples: Development of food structures, modelling of flavor profiles and their implementation, modelling of stability, formulation of new food products, etc., processes to extract and/or produce active ingredients, plantcell agriculture, efficiency improvement of fermentation processes etc.
    Not eligible: Clinical trials, dietary intake research, nutrient profiling, consumer apps, dietary recommendations, manufacturing technologies or optimization.

For all subsequent calls, the topics for research projects will be announced on a yearly basis.


To submit a proposal within the framework of the Future Food Initiative, the following eligibility criteria must be fulfilled:

  • Citizens of any nationality may apply; there are no restrictions concerning age.
  • Applicants must hold a doctorate or will complete their doctorate until 30 September succeeding the interview date. Applicants with completed doctorate must have obtained it a maximum of three years prior to the submission deadline.
  • Applicants must not have been affiliated for studies, research, employment or other activities (with or without payment) at either ETH Zurich or EPFL during the 12 months that immediately precede the submission deadline.
  • Applications will not be forwarded for evaluation if applicants already hold or have held a faculty-equivalent position (e.g. assistant professor) in a higher education institution in Switzerland or abroad.
  • Applications and supporting documentation must be written in English.
  • The prospective research project must also comply with the applicable ethics regulations and adhere to the principles of research integrity valid at the host institution (ETH Zurich or EPFL). Relevant ethical, legal and social considerations should be included in the proposal.

Find the full Guidelines here and the Fast Facts for Applicants here.


The Future Food Fellowship is awarded in the form of a three-year research contract. At the end of the second year, a review is conducted to evaluate the project, its continued originality and the productivity of the fellow.

During the three years, fellows are encouraged to seek faculty or industry positions. Success in doing so will not necessarily result in termination of the Fellowship – the decision will be made by the Decision Board on the recommendation of the Evaluation Board.


Available funds will only be exhausted if the quality standards of the programme are fulfilled. The maximum duration of funding for each postdoctoral fellowship is three years. The funding will be granted to cover the fellow’s salary in accordance with the host institution’s standard conditions plus annual funds for project costs directly related to the approved project. Upon project approval, funds will be allocated at the start of the project for the entire duration of the project to the hosting laboratory, which will manage its usage in conformity with the rules of the hosting institution. The total funds per fellowship may not exceed CHF 390’000 for the entire three-year grant, including social security contributions.

Application Material

Full proposals must be submitted electronically using the online submission tool provided at a link during open calls. Please make sure to adhere to the page limits assigned to each section of the proposal.

The proposal should consist of:

  1. A letter of motivation including a statement explaining why the planned research is original and a justification for why the candidate is qualified for the fellowship and the proposed research, including a brief description of the candidate’s research achievements (max. 2 pages, please use this template for the letter of motivation)
  2. An abstract of the research proposal (max. 200 words)
  3. A detailed research proposal, including the state of research to date, the research plan and expected milestones. The research plan should include sufficient scientific and technical details to enable the evaluation of the proposal as a whole for originality, depth, impact potential and organisation. The scientific proposal should not exceed four pages (A4, single line spacing, 11-point Arial font or equivalent), excluding references (please use this template for the research proposal).
  4. A letter signed by at least one host ETH Zurich or EPFL professor, stating her/his support of the project and detailing the level of independence and the scientific autonomy that will be granted to the fellow in the event of acceptance. Additionally the letter must confirm that the host professor is willing to:
    1. integrate the fellow in her/his laboratory at the research institution
    2. provide the fellow with a workplace and access to the infrastructure required to successfully complete the proposed research work during the approved funding period
    3. share potential additional research expenses of the applicant (e.g. for material, equipment, personnel, travel, etc.)
  5. The applicant’s curriculum vitae including a list of publications (max. 2 pages excluding publication list), diplomas (including a copy of the doctoral degree) and grade transcripts from all higher education institutions attended by the applicant
  6. A list of five names of potential external reviewers (name, affiliation, and email address). Suggested reviewers should be free of conflict of interest, (i.e. they should have no personal or professional relation with the applicant and should receive no funding or other benefit as a result of the project, please use this template for the list of external reviewers)
  7. A list of three names of potential authors of recommendation letters for the candidate with a a signed and dated statement from the candidate that she/he waives the right to read or receive copies of recommendation letters collected for the application. Recommendation letters should not be requested or submitted upon application. They will only be requested once the applicant has been short-listed (please use this template for the authors of recommendation letters)


Template research proposal

Template letter of motivation

Template authors of recommendation letters

Template potential external reviewers


All proposals will be assessed by the Evaluation Board, which includes representatives of the universities and industrial partners. Additionally, external reviews may be solicited to appropriately evaluate the proposals.

The assessment procedure comprises two phases. Phase 1 consists of a preselection of applicants to be admitted to Phase 2 for assessment by the Evaluation Board. Applicants who do not qualify for Phase 2 are informed in writing.

In Phase 2 the applicants are invited for an interview where they present their research project and career plans and answer questions from the Evaluation Board. The host professor is expected to cover the travel expenses associated with the interview. In certain circumstances (e.g. long distance travel or exceptional scheduling difficulties), the interview may be held as a video conference.

The Evaluation Board will make its funding recommendation to the Vice President Research & Corporate Relations at ETH Zurich and the Vice President for Research at EPFL, who make the final funding decision consensually.

Notification of the decision will usually be given within three to four months of the submission deadline. Projects may start immediately after approval, and in general no later than six months after receiving the decision letter.

The decision on funding is based on a strict, quality-based evaluation process that has been established in accordance with the existing standards and the usual procedures of internal research funding at ETH Zurich and EPFL, appropriately adapted to the specific targets of the Future Food Initiative.

The main criteria include:

  1. The project proposal’s strategic fit to the topics specified in the call
  2. The project’s relevance and practical impact with respect to the industry partners
  3. Scientific excellence assessed in terms of:
    • Originality/novelty of research objective and/or research plan
    • Suitability and quality of research approach/ work method
    • Competence and experience of the applicant in the field of the proposed research
    • Added value of the collaboration between the applicant and the host professor (including industry partners, if applicable)
    • Feasibility of the project with respect to resources, management and organisation.


The following timeline applies for the 2021 call for applications:

  • 1 December 2020: Call opens
  • 31 March 2021, 23:59 CET: Final deadline for applications via the online form
  • May 2021: Notification and invitation for face-to-face interview sent to the final selection of candidates. A notification is sent to candidates whose application has been rejected.
  • 10/11 June 2021: The candidates are interviewed by the Evaluation Board in Bern, Switzerland; final evaluation of fellows
  • Second half of June 2021: Formal decision on fellows is made and communicated
  • October to December 2021: Commencement of Fellowships

How to Apply

The overarching goal of the Future Food Initiative is to develop solutions that address grand challenges, including sustainable packaging (for example the elimination of plastics) and affordable nutrition (for example combatting deficiencies and starvation globally). A successful fellow must demonstrate the willingness to engage with scientific or economic issues across the frontiers of food and nutrition sciences.

The programme is structured around annual calls for proposals for research projects at the postdoctoral level. The Fellowship provides personal research funds for three years that enable fellows to work on their projects in a research laboratory with a host professor at ETH Zurich or EPFL and, in certain instances, in industry (under conditions to be agreed upon).

Before applying or contacting us, please read the Fast Facts for Applicants and the Guidelines carefully.

Full proposals must be submitted electronically using the online submission tool. Please make sure to adhere to the page limits assigned to each section of the proposal. Apply here.

Deadline for applications: 31 March 2021, 23:59 CET

For more information please open this link

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