Recently the NCCR Digital Fabrication hosted representatives of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and its Review Panel for its 4th Annual Review. During the two-day visit, the panel of international experts evaluated the NCCR’s progress and discussed its future research plans. In the upcoming months, the SNSF Research Council will decide upon the NCCR’s future funding.

All NCCRs are evaluated annually by renowned scientific experts from academic disciplines associated with the NCCR’s field of research. The two-day visit is a significant milestone in the NCCR’s annual calendar, as it is both an important event to receive expert feedback and a great occasion for internal exchange.

A look back at the first four years
This year’s review was of particular importance, since it marked the NCCR’s transition from its first four-year funding phase to the next one. In light of this, NCCR Director Philippe Block opened the first the day of the panel’s visit with a review of the NCCR’s major accomplishments since its official initiation in June 2014: the on-site fabrication of a Mesh Mould wall for DFAB HOUSE with the In situ Fabricator, the successful build-up of the full-scale HiLo roof prototype, or the construction of the new pavilion of the Vidy Theatre, to name just a few. Everyone present was visibly impressed by the wealth of projects that have already resulted from the NCCR’s strong dedication to collaborative research.

An outlook to future research
After a presentation by NCCR Deputy Director Robert Flatt on the measures the NCCR has taken to address the panel’s feedback after last year’s visit, the remaining part of the first day focused on the NCCR’s research plans for its second funding phase (2018 to 2022), which the NCCR’s direction and investigators elaborated upon in an intense collaborative process over the past half year and which the NCCR presented to the SNSF and the panel in a written proposal earlier this year. During an interactive science fair with short presentations, posters and physical prototypes, the NCCR researchers and panel experts enjoyed a lively exchange about the proposed research projects.

Strong dedication to work across disciplines
The second day of the review featured presentations by the NCCR’s management and its four action plans: Education, Knowledge and Technology Transfer, Equal Opportunities, and Communications, and a presentation by the ETH Vice President Research and Corporate Relations Detlef Günther, who reinforced ETH Zurich’s present and future commitment to the NCCR as its home institution.

After two intense days of review, the expert panel expressed its pleasure with the NCCR’s progress over the first four years. In particular, the panel congratulated the NCCR’s members on their dedication to work across disciplines.

Details about the NCCR’s future research visions will be released later this year. The Full Proposal document together with the panel members’ individual evaluation reports will now be reviewed by the SNSF Research Council, who will make the final decision and assign the NCCR its resources for the years to come – either 80%, 100%, or 120% of Phase 1 funding – as part of a competitive funding process amongst all running NCCRs that were launched four years ago.