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Call for COVID-19 related proposals 2020

In March 2020, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW) granted SciLifeLab a total of 50 MSEK to be used for research related to COVID-19. SciLifeLab then launched a national call, open for researchers nationwide, with the hope to create a comprehensive program to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The call contained three focus areas: 

  • Project plans to facilitate coordination of samples, studies and data. Support was available for joint efforts to collect and share samples and data, in order to facilitate clinical, translational and epidemiological research on the corona pandemic. Coordination of initiatives and studies was central in order to increase efficacy and avoid burden on the health care system. Shared study designs were critical to also achieve data integration and sharing.
  • Project plans for technology development. Support was available for technology development projects with a clear relevance for battling COVID-19, including diagnostic and therapeutic tools and data/bioinformatic capabilities or work that would facilitate and support such developments (e.g. protein production). 
  • Project plans for research projects and broad research collaborations. Support was particularly targeted for translational, clinical and epidemiological research. These could involve national or international collaboration (including facilitating the participation of Sweden in key international consortia). Data-driven and data science initiatives were welcome.

Proposals were to mainly address one of the focus areas, be placed in an international context and contribute to open science when possible. Applicants were welcome to participate in several proposals. 

The application process was rapid (one-page application, rapidly evaluated) and funding to be granted primarily for short-term (2020) initiatives. Funding was mainly meant to cover research costs, such as development of technologies or use of SciLifeLab infrastructure and data capabilities. In exceptional circumstances, personnel costs could be considered, but with the expectation that the work starts soon and does not depend on new people being hired. 

The call was closed on March 30 and a total of 285 proposals were submitted, with applicants ranging, from Swedish universities and hospitals, to industry organizations both in Sweden and abroad. See distribution of submitted projects (%) below.

Figure 1. Submitted projects per university. 

The SciLifeLab management group
evaluated all proposals individually, but also considered synergies and grouped proposals into thematic areas when relevant. Besides scientific impact, the evaluation criteria considered were relevance and impact on tackling COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities created by the SciLifeLab infrastructure and potential for synergies and collaborations. 

On May 4, 2020 the SciLifeLab Board approved to fund a total of 67 projects (24% of all eligible applications) using the KAW COVID-19 research grant made available for this purpose and an additional 12 MSEK of national SciLifeLab funding to support COVID-19 research capabilities within SciLifeLab infrastructure and community. More information, and a full list of awarded projects, can be found in the SciLifeLab Board Meeting document Minutes from board meeting no 43, 4 May 2020 (per capsulam)See distribution of awarded projects by university (%) below.

Figure 2. Approved projects per university. 

During evaluation,
it became evident that the projects could be grouped into defined research areas, allowing the projects to benefit from shared expertise. A total of 9 research areas were formed and each of these will be provided with a coordinator to facilitate collaboration, team science and synergies to be formed within and across each area.   

  • Biobanks for COVID-19 research 
  • Diagnostics for virus 
  • Viral sequence evolution 
  • High-throughput and high-content serology
  • Biomarkers and systems immunology
  • Host cell systems biology and targets 
  • Drug discovery and repurposing of drugs 
  • Environmental virus profiling 
  • Data-driven research – models and AI


Application procedure

Please note, the call is no longer open for applications. The procedure that was employed during the call is presented below. 

Who can apply?

The call is open to all researchers or infrastructure staff scientists in Sweden (SciLifeLab/non-SciLifeLab), affiliated to a university or institute.

Key overall goals with impact on criteria for evaluation

  • Scientifically sound and high-quality in international comparison
  • Clear short-term and medium-term impact in combating the COVID-19 epidemic
  • Synergy with other proposals and overall goals of the SciLifeLab Corona-plans
  • Commitment to open science, sharing data and resources, and real-time sharing of breakthroughs towards the community and in health care


The funding can cover: costs for critical reagents, consumables and materials, and cost from the use of SciLifeLab infrastructure. Personnel costs are allowed in exceptional cases. We typically expect that you have funds available to support your staff. Please confirm that you have the personnel needed for this. The overall funding available for this call is expected to be in the range of 20-25 MSEK, where we expect to fund a few bigger proposals in area 1 and 3 and many smaller ones across all areas. Exact amounts are not yet defined. We expect that the community would get together to fight COVID-19 and use other personal, departmental and university funds to help in this.

Evaluation process and timeline

The call is open from March 25 to March 30.

All applications submitted by March 30 at 23:59 will be considered in this first evaluation round, starting March 31, 2020. The 1-page proposals will be processed by SciLifeLab management representatives in consultation with external experts when needed and interacting with the applicants when required.

Decisions on funding of project proposals will be taken shortly after the deadline. Projects are expected to be initiated as soon as possible.

How to apply 

You apply by filling in the application template (incl. budget and collaborators tables), below, and submitting it, together with a CV or biosketch for the responsible researcher, using the link below. One person can apply to several projects.

Please note: to allow for rapid processing of the applications, the applications template (excl. tables) and CV/biosketch are limited to 1-page each. Only applications adhering to these rules will be evaluated. 

For questions regarding the call, please use


External Calls

MAX IV Laboratory: Rapid Access Call for Proposals: SARS-CoV-2 and urgent (e.g. health-related) research

In order to support science towards understanding the SARS-CoV-2 virus, MAX IV would like to offer its instrumentation and beamtime – on a short notice base – to facilitate efforts to discover more about the virus and bring us closer to an effective vaccine, diagnostics or treatment. Read more: MAX IV website.