BRIDGE Discovery: less pesticides – barrier-free documents

For the fourth time, the SNSF and Innosuisse are funding excellent research projects that show economic and social potential. In total, they have awarded grants worth 10.8 million francs.

In the context of the fourth BRIDGE Discovery call, 79 proposals were submitted and evaluated by a panel composed of experts in applied research and research implementation. 20 applicants were invited to an interview, where they presented their research project. At the end of the evaluation process, the SNSF and Innosuisse selected nine excellent projects with an overall budget of 10.8 million francs. This corresponds to a success rate of 11 per cent.

Diversity of research

The funded projects cover a wide range of disciplines, from life sciences to information and communication technology to environmental sciences. The range of topics is impressive, despite the fact that BRIDGE Discovery was so far limited to technological innovations.

One of the projects is led by Jean-Pierre Wolf (University of Geneva) in collaboration with Pierre-Henri Dubuis (Agroscope). They want to reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture by detecting grapevine pathogens and their spread early. To achieve this, they perform an automated image analysis relying on machine learning. This analysis is then linked to weather data in order to model the spread of a pest. The innovation should allow farmers to reduce both environmental impact and production costs.

Alireza Darvishy and Thilo Stadelmann (Zurich University of Applied Sciences) want to make scientific articles that are published in PDF accessible to people with a visual impairment. For this purpose, they are developing a semi-automated system based on content analysis. It will be able to convert conventional PDFs into a barrier-free document. Not only texts but also graphs, mathematical formulae and tables will become accessible.

The project of Antonia Fettelschoss-Gabriel (University Hospital Zurich) is the first BRIDGE Discovery project in veterinary medicine. The aim: to develop a vaccine to attenuate the allergic reactions of horses after insect bites. In tests, the first agents have shown promising results. It is likely that the study will also lead to new developments in human allergy research.

For all disciplines

The fifth call for proposals for BRIDGE Discovery was launched in January 2021. For the first time, it is open to all disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences. Until 1 March 2021, researchers can submit a letter of intent. Proposals can be submitted until 17 May 2021.