Solution-oriented research for development programme (SOR4D programme)

New insights and innovative approaches are needed to reduce poverty and implement the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development in lower and lower-middle income countries. Joint efforts of Swiss researchers, development actors and researchers from the Global South/East can make a difference. The SOR4D programme brings these actors together in order to provide research results answering the pre identified practical need of development actors and thus serve poor, marginalized and vulnerable population groups. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Sector not specified
01.10.2021 - 31.12.2027
CHF  21’800’000
Background Numerous threats resulting from adverse social, economic and environmental conditions need to be urgently addressed. In order to succeed in the necessary transformation set out in the 2030 Agenda, the contribution of research is expected. SDC’s reoriented research programme TRANSFORM 2020-2030 aims at accelerating the valorisation of knowledge and technology by promoting research for the direct benefit of concrete needs of development actors. As part of this overarching programme, the SOR4D programme focuses on mobilizing a diverse range of Swiss researchers to co-design, co-create, co-deliver and co-implement together with development actors and researchers from the Global South solution-oriented (utilizable) knowledge which advances the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in lower and lower-middle income countries. The programme benefits from and builds on the longstanding and extensive experience of the partnered collaboration between the SDC and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
Objectives The overarching goal of the SOR4D programme is that researchers and development actors from Switzerland and the Global South/East produce better knowledge, solutions and innovations by needs-driven, transdisciplinary research that opens up new ways to advance sustainable development and reduce poverty in lower and lower-middle income countries.
Target groups

Programme level:

Research community in Switzerland (any recognized or accredited Swiss higher education institution) and in ODA-eligible countries;

Development actors (policy and practice actors, interested and involved in societal, environmental or economic development of the countries in the Global South/East, being part of the public (government or civil society) or private sector;

Beneficiaries at project level:

Poor, marginalized and vulnerable population groups in lower and lower-middle income countries;

Medium-term outcomes

1) Researchers and development actors jointly generate and validate in the respective contexts needs-based, solution-oriented knowledge that contributes to poverty reduction and sustainable development in lower and lower-middle income countries;

2) Project partnerships and networks test and/or scale research results with potential for innovation (pilot testing, valorisation);

3) Researchers and development actors enhance their competences (skills and know-how) in conducting solution-oriented transdisciplinary research in partnership on systemic and complex development challenges; 


Expected results:  

● Identified research questions arise from a societal demand and practice; = co-design with development actors

● Approaches to tackle the identified challenges are developed jointly by the partnerships; = transdisciplinary co-creation

● New methods, methodologies, techniques, technologies, products, tools, or approaches are documented and discussed; = publications, presentations

● Relevant national and international stakeholders are aware of approaches and solutions and inspired to validate results in practice; = stakeholder involvement throughout

● Findings respond to the development challenges identified; = pilot testing initiatives, spill-overs, follow-up projects

● Research results are examined for their potential to become relevant beyond original contexts; = scaling-up, replication, standardization

● Results are tested and valorised by partnerships under diverse conditions; = pilot testing initiatives, spill-overs, follow-up projects

Results from previous phases:  

This is the first phase of the SOR4D programme. However, the SDC and the SNSF can build on extensive partnerships dating back to the 1990s in terms of fostering research in and with lower and lower-middle income countries. The most important reference is considered to be the experience within the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d programme), a joint funding initiative of the SDC and the SNSF from 2012 to 2022.

While the r4d programme has been successful in many respects and is considered innovative by international comparison, the SOR4D programme aims to address and overcome its identified constraints. In particular it seeks to have research for development being at the service of the needs from practice and strengthen the accessibility and potential use of results in practice.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
Swiss Academic and Research Institution
  • Swiss National Science Foundation
  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

Coordination with other projects and actors

Coordination with the initiatives of the SNSF (SPIRIT programme and implementation networks) mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding between the SDC and the SNSF regarding the Partnership 2020-2030 signed in February/March 2020;

The SOR4D programme is part of the SDC’s TRANSFORM programme, thus good coordination and use of possible synergies with other TRANSFORM initiatives are important;

Coordination at SOR4D project level with any research or other project or programme of the SDC (especially in SDC/SECO priority countries) or partners may arise and shall be ensured whenever appropriate and useful;

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    21’800’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    13’200’000
Project phases Phase 7 01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027   (Current phase) Phase 5 01.10.2021 - 31.12.2027   (Current phase) Phase 4 01.10.2021 - 31.03.2032   (Current phase) Phase 3 01.12.2020 - 31.12.2024   (Current phase) Phase 2 01.03.2021 - 28.02.2026   (Current phase) Phase 1 01.12.2020 - 31.12.2025   (Current phase)