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Sustainable Impact Program

With the Sustainable Impact Program, the ZHAW promotes outstanding and impactful initiatives by students and employees as well as young entrepreneurship in the field of sustainable development.

Submission deadlines 2024

Applications for new projects can be submitted until the following submission deadlines: 

  • SDG Award: 7 July (for students only)
  • 1 October (for students only - funding decision on 14 November)
    • Important: There is no more funding for research and teaching projects in 2024, the submission deadlines for 2025 will be announced soon.

SDG Award: Students can submit their Bachelor's or Master's thesis for the SDG Award until 7 July.
The award will be presented on 27 August as part of the Swiss Green Economy Symposium.

For students

CHF 5,000 for your project idea at the ZHAW or in the region

The key points for your submission: 

You can submit your project proposal here: 

More information on the application and evaluation process can be found here

Need inspiration? These projects have already been funded. 

Nico Frommherz

"Unsure if your idea meets the criteria? Or do you have questions about the application? Then send me an email."  

Nico Frommherz, Wissenschaftlicher Assistent Nachhaltigkeitsprogramme

SDG Award

Are you writing a paper (e.g. project, Bachelor's or Master's thesis) during your studies that is relevant to sustainable development? Then submit your work by 07.07.2024 at the latest. Monetary prizes totalling CHF 4,500 and a public award at the Swiss Green Economy Symposium await you. 

All papers submitted for examination between June of the previous year and the deadline are eligible. 

More information about the competition and the SDG Awards of the past years can be found here

Impact Entrepreneurship

Does your business idea solve a social or ecological problem? As part of the SIP, the ZHAW also supports young entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in society with their project idea. Impact Entrepreneurship comprises three opportunities: The Sustainability Safari series presents innovative startups with their ideas for sustainability, the Sustainability Booster focuses on developing independent ideas, and the Sustainability Incubation Program promotes concrete startup projects and provides professional support. 

More Information 


For employees

Teaching and Research Projects

The most important details for teaching and research projects: 

You can submit your project proposal here: 

More information on the application and evaluation process can be found here.

Need inspiration? These teaching projects and research projects have already received support. 

Francesco Bortoluzzi

"As a university, we share responsibility for promoting innovative solutions to the challenges of sustainable development through research and knowledge transfer. This starts with our own students and employees: The Sustainable Impact Program enables them to engage themselves with their own project and become part of a sustainability community at the ZHAW and in the region." 

Francesco Bortoluzzi, Head of Sustainability Programs

FAQ about the SIP 

With the Sustainable Impact Program (SIP), the ZHAW aims to promote a culture and community of sustainable development and to contribute to the achievement of the ZHAW Sustainability Strategy and the 2030 Agenda with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Effective contributions to addressing local and global challenges in the area of sustainable development by students and staff are therefore needed. In this way, the programme can also lay the foundations for a living lab at the ZHAW. 

Question Answer
Who can apply to the Sustainable Impact Program? Students can apply their sustainability project at the ZHAW or in the region; impactful work such as assignments, projects, bachelor’s, and master's theses; and new impact business and organisational ideas. Employees can apply for funding for their teaching or research projects to help anchor sustainable development in the curricula and create innovation.
What are the benefits of participating in the Sustainable Impact Program? You’ll get funding and support to realise your idea, and many chances to present it to various audiences through events, be featured in videos, and much more. You can also expand your sustainability network with the help of ZHAW Sustainable. Have a look at how two students turned windfall fruits into cider and learn more about funded projects.
What happens if my project gets selected? Then comes the exciting part! After getting an email from ZHAW Sustainable with practical information, you are free to kick off your project with funding secured according to your project plan.
What is included in the funding? The funding includes any project expenses, ranging from the pen to draw your project plan to the train you take to a crucial meeting. We simply ask you to be transparent and responsible, and keep us in the loop as your project progresses. Flight costs will not be covered, without exception.
How is the funding disbursed? For your Student Project, you can either send their invoices to ZHAW sustainable (processed in 1-2 weeks) or can send an "individual compensation" form for their expenses (processed in 1-2 months). As an employee, you will receive a project number from ZHAW Sustainable and can book on this directly. You are informed every quarter about how much you have booked.
If I apply to this program, can I apply for other funding and opportunities inside or outside the ZHAW? You can apply for other funding and opportunities besides the Sustainable Impact Program. For transparency, you will need to disclose any other funding in the application form. Remember to check the eligibility criteria of other initiatives.
What do you consider a sustainability topic? Sustainability has a wide spectrum; we accept submissions for any environmental, social to economic projects – and every combination in between. We are open to be surprised!
How many projects did you finance? Since the program's launch in 2021 and as of the end of 2023, we have funded 16 student projects, 16 teaching projects and 13 research projects.
Can I submit my project again after rejection? Yes, you can apply again. However, please ensure that you have addressed the feedback you have received on your first application.
How do you decide on what projects get funded? With the support of a diverse Board, we follow a balanced evaluation process, based on a set of transparent criteria.
I am a student, and I need some support with my application. Is that possible? If you need guidance on the application process, need coaching to refine your ideas or something else related to the program, please reach out to and we’ll be happy to support you!
I am not sure I understand the difference between a student project and a startup. Whilst a startup is an endeavour with no clear finish line and evolving deliverables, a project has a clear timeline with a start and a finish and clear deliverables. A startup is usually composed of several projects. So, while your startup belongs to the Impact Entrepreneurship, you can submit any of its projects (e.g., pilots) as student project.
What is a "reallab" at the ZHAW? A reallab offers the opportunity to test possible solutions to problems and challenges at the ZHAW with students and staff.
Which organisations support the Sustainable Impact Program? The Sustainable Impact Program is an initiative of the ZHAW as part of its Sustainability Strategy and is supported by the national funding platform U Change and by the ZHAW foundation (in German only).

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