New three year research program

Hasler Responsible AI

In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has achieved remarkable technological breakthroughs with machine learning, primarily caused by the development of complex statistical models and algorithms based on large amounts of data and ever improving computational capacity. Well-known examples of successful applications are language translations, machines that can conduct conversations with people, autonomous vehicles or image recognition software that is now in part superior to humans. As a basic technology, AI has the potential to change almost all areas of our society and offers considerable innovation and growth potential. 

Trustworthiness is a necessary condition for broad acceptance of AI in society, in particular if systems that use machine-learning algorithms provide information to human decision makers or even operate and decide autonomously. Typical sensitive applications are, for example, hiring decisions, jurisdiction support, autonomous driving, credit rating, law enforcement, medical diagnosis and therapy. Unfortunately, exactly those algorithms that are responsible for the current high expectations also show strong weaknesses in terms of predictable and transparent behavior. Well-known keywords that describe these deficiencies are robustness, adversarial attacks, traceability of decisions, discrimination, and bias. Resolving these deficiencies without impairing the efficiency of AI is a complex scientific endeavor that entails the formalization of the various aspects of responsible and trustworthy behavior, their consideration in algorithm design, and assertions that the information and actions provided by the AI system satisfy conditions for a responsible decision.

Goals of the Research Program

The Hasler Responsible AI program will support research projects that investigate machine-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence systems whose results meet requirements on responsibility and trustworthiness. Projects are expected to seriously engage in the application of the new models and methods in scenarios that are relevant to society. In addition, projects should respect the interdisciplinary character of research in the area of Responsible AI by involving the necessary expertise. 

Particular research subjects include but are not restricted to

  • technical robustness and safety, providing formal guarantees
  • transparency of decisions, explainable AI, interpretability, understandability, traceability
  • fairness, bias, discrimination, causality
  • disinformation, fake news, ethics of AI

Advances in information and communication technology as well as in computer science must be at the center of all projects in the Hasler Responsible AI research program.

Potential Applicants and Project Partners

We solicit project proposals from professors or senior researchers from a research institution within the higher education sector or at a non-commercial research institution outside the higher education sector, following the general implementation regulations of the SNF. Joint proposals of two or more partners are particularly welcome. Industrial participation in the proposed project is appreciated, however industrial partners must cover their own expenses.

Proposals will be evaluated according to their scientific quality and their strategic importance to the overall program’s objectives. These criteria being equal, we will give priority to proposals that increase the diversity of the set of funded projects (e.g., gender balance, classes of institutions, applicants from various language regions). We encourage proposals by newly appointed senior researchers or professors.

Funding Rules

Hasler Foundation applies the funding rules of the Swiss National Science Foundation. It does not cover overhead expenses. The foundation expects that additional project financing will be provided from the participating institutions’ own resources or other sources.

Proposals should be set up for a funding duration of at most 3 years. After 2.5 years, there will be an evaluation as part of a workshop. At this time, there is the possibility to apply for an extension of the funding for at most one additional year.

Submission and Evaluation Procedure

All documents are to be submitted in electronic form to Hasler Foundation will provide the corresponding project forms on its website by (27.11.20).

  1. Submission of short proposals by 24.01.2021
  2. Evaluation of short proposals: Decision on acceptance of short proposals and invitation to a hearing by 12.02.2021
  3. Hearings for invited projects on 01.03.2021 afternoon and 02.03.2021
  4. Decision on invited projects to submit a full proposal by 05.03.2021
  5. Submission deadline for full proposals by 16.05.2021
  6. Final decision on acceptance of projects by 23.09.2021
  7. Start of project funding from 01.10.2021

The following criteria will guide the evaluation of projects: contribution to the international state of the art in the field; expected impact; potential to improve Switzerland’s position in information and communication technologies (in society, academia, or industry); originality of the research questions and approach; adequacy of the methodology; track record of the applicants in the area of the proposal; feasibility, organization, and financial planning of the proposal.

Structure of Short Proposal

The short proposal should be written in English and should contain the following three sections:

  1. Administrative data (1 page); please download and fill out this form:
    • Title
    • Planned duration of the project
    • Expected amount of funding from Hasler Foundation
    • Indication of own contributions (funded by home institutions or third parties)
    • Full address of the project leader
    • List of other project partners (if any)
  2. Outline of the project (max. 2 pages, no appendices)
  3. Short CV of the project leader including a list of the most relevant publications in the last 5 years

Contact Information

For more information, please contact the management office:

Dr. Matthias Kaiserswerth
Managing Direktor
Hasler Stiftung
Hirschengraben 6
3011 Bern

Phone: +41 31 381 41 41
E-Mail: contact (at)