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Sustainable Impact Programs: Student Projects

The ZHAW encourages and supports its students to turn the campus and the region into a Real-Lab for sustainability projects. Funding helps to realise the most promising ideas.

With the first pillar, the Sustainable Impact Program preferably supports interdisciplinary individual or group student projects that contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and a sustainability culture and community at the ZHAW. The projects can relate to education, research, knowledge transfer and services for the region or for the ZHAW - in the sense of a Real-Lab.

The call for projects takes place on a rolling basis. Successfully applied projects are funded for a period of six to twelve months, preferably within one calendar year. Each project is funded with up to CHF 5000. The completion of the project includes a report including information on the use of funds and a contribution to the ZHAW sustainable Blog.

Submission deadlines 2023

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

  • 01.03. (funding decision will be made on 06.04.)
  • 14.06. (funding decision will be made on 14.09.)
  • 25.09. (funding decision will be made on 02.11.)

Which projects will be considered?

The projects do not necessarily have to be related to studies at the ZHAW. However, it is of course also possible to submit a project that is carried out as part of a module - for example, as part of a scientific essays, paper or project work - during studies at the ZHAW.

For an accepted project that is carried out outside of a module, there is the possibility of receiving two to three consulting hours from ZHAW sustainable and the SIP Board.

The projects are divided into three categories corresponding to the three dimensions of sustainable development: ecological, social, and economic. The projects submitted will be evaluated according to the evaluation criteria below. The funded projects should be evenly distributed among the three categories with their core topics.

SIP projects can also benefit from cooperation with the Zurich Knowledge Center for Sustainable Development (ZKSD), a research-oriented cooperation platform for sustainable development between the cantonal universities of Zurich. The ZKSD offers a venue for inter- and transdisciplinary networking and exchange as well as coworking spaces that can also be used by students. For more information, please contact

Evaluation criteria

  • Impact for sustainable development: Potential of the project to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and possibly to contribute to the promotion of a culture of sustainability at the ZHAW.
  • Innovation: Novelty, originality, and scalability of the project in its own context.
  • Interdisciplinarity: Exchange, inclusion of or collaboration with representatives of other ZHAW Schools or universities, civil society, the private or public sector.
  • Diversity: Consideration of and reflection on diversity aspects in relation to project participants and target groups, e.g. recognition of different cultures, awareness of unconscious bias, existence of access privileges for the project, inclusion of intergenerational or gender perspectives.
  • Visibility: Dissemination and communication of the application (e.g. advertising, media, reports, and if relevant publications and knowledge transfer) internally and externally through channels relevant to the target groups.
  • Feasibility and efficiency: Feasibility of the project (project management) and management of the budget (use of funds).

Evaluation process

  1. The ZHAW sustainable team collects applications through project calls and then formally preselects projects according to the evaluation criteria. The exclusion criteria include: Lack of clear link to sustainability, absence of clear link between funding request and project design (no general start-up funding is granted), over-similarity with already funded SIP project (no repetitions), non-transparency or hard to follow budget plan. Support for entrepreneurial/start-up projects is offered through Impact Entrepreneurship (SIP Pillar III).
  2. The SIP Board evaluates the approved projects, draws up a ranking list and selects which projects are to be supported. If necessary or requested, the SIP Board can call in further experts from science, industry, or civil society for the evaluation.
  3. The ZHAW Sustainable Development Committee, as a microcosm of all the ZHAW, reviews and approves the final selection of projects to be supported.

Mentoring services

Students can request support with the application process or forward their application idea to ZHAW sustainable. Information events are also organised on a regular basis. Students can also benefit from Focus Sustainability’s skill-building activities.

If a project is accepted by the SIP, the project team can also request two to three hours of mentoring. Depending on the team’s needs, ZHAW sustainable, the SIP board or another ZHAW expert will provide coaching.

Need some inspiration?

Here you can find an overview of all student projects funded by the Sustainable Impact Program so far.

Contact persons