Aim and scope

WASP and DDLS announce a joint call for NESTs (Novelty, Excellence, Synergy, and Teams) projects that span across the thematic profiles of DDLS and WASP. A NEST should address a specific strategic high-priority research challenge with international impact and visibility that requires the gathered competence of a multidisciplinary team of investigators in order to be solved. The added value from collaboration between WASP and DDLS, but also within each of the programs, should be clearly emphasized. Scientific novelty, originality and impact, as well as their relevance to Swedish industry and/or society are important.

Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) is Sweden’s largest individual research program, and provides a platform for academic research and education, fostering interaction with Sweden’s leading companies. The program addresses research in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and software as enabling technologies for the development of systems acting in collaboration with humans, adapting to their environment through sensors, information, and knowledge, and forming intelligent systems of systems. WASP strengthens, expands, and renews the national competence through new strategic recruitments, a challenging research program, a national graduate school, and collaboration with industry. The program is conducted in close cooperation between leading Swedish universities with an aim to promote the competence of Sweden as a nation within the area of AI, autonomous systems, and software.

The SciLifeLab and Wallenberg national program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS) Data-driven life science (DDLS) uses data, computational methods and artificial intelligence to study biological systems and processes at all levels, from molecular structures and cellular processes to human health and global ecosystems. The SciLifeLab and Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS) aims to recruit and train the next generation of data-driven life scientists and to create globally leading computational and data science capabilities in Sweden. The program is funded with a total of 3.1 billion SEK (about 290 MUSD) over 12 years from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg (KAW) Foundation. The DDLS program will recruit 39 high-profile young group leaders, and launch over 210 postdoctoral positions and establish a research school for 260 PhDs, including industry PhDs and postdocs. The DDLS program has four strategic areas: cell and molecular biology, evolution and biodiversity, precision medicine and diagnostics, epidemiology and biology of infection.

Who can apply

A NEST should consist of a team of 3-5 principal investigators. The project should be led jointly by one WASP main PI and one DDLS main PI. Additionally, co-PIs from either program should participate. Given the multidisciplinary nature of a NEST, it can be an advantage to have several departments or partners involved. In this case, a plan for how to bridge the geographical distance should be provided.

An applicant can be involved in a maximum of one proposal as a main PI and maximum of one proposal as co-PI.

The WASP PI and co-PI should be employed at one of the WASP partner universities CTH, LiU, LU, KTH, UmU, or be part of Affiliated Groups of Excellence at ÖrU, UU or LTU and have their research focus within AI, Autonomous Systems or Software. Please note that it is not necessary to be a formal WASP faculty (who has signed a WASP affiliation agreement) in order to apply for this call. Funded project participants from the WASP area should be/become employed at one of the partner universities as described above.

To be considered a DDLS PI, or co-PI in the context of this NEST grant application, the PI (and co-PIs) should work in the field of life science (linked to the four DDLS research areas) with a data or computational angle and be affiliated with a Swedish university or the Swedish Museum of Natural History. The applicants do not need to be previously funded by DDLS or be SciLifeLab group leaders.

Additional collaborators from industry, governmental organizations, health care and other organizations are encouraged to be part of the consortium, through in-kind contribution.


The funding available for this call is 90 MSEK which covers funding for 3 NESTs à 30 MSEK.

For each NEST the following applies:

  • The budget should be divided into two parts where a maximum of 15 MSEK should come from WASP and a maximum of 15 MSEK from DDLS.
  • The maximum funding that can be applied for is 3 MSEK per year for 5 years from WASP and 3 MSEK per year for 5 years from DDLS.
  • The main PIs should be able to devote at least 10% of their time to the NEST. The main PI and most of the co-PIs should spend at least 50 % of their position and working time in Sweden.

The intention is that the NEST funding should be used as flexibly as possible, and the major part of the budget should be allocated to salary costs. If the annual maximum limit is not exceeded the funding can, e.g., be used for:

  • Salary costs for academic personal
    • New PhD students. These students should participate in the respective programs’ graduate school/research school.
    • Existing PhD students currently not funded by WASP or DDLS, PhD students to be funded by WASP are required to be a part of the WASP graduate school (exceptions from this rule can be made on a per case basis). PhD students to be funded by DDLS should be part of the DDLS Research School.
    • Postdocs, if funded by DDLS should participate in the DDLS research school.
    • Existing faculty, including the PI and co-PIs.
    • Research engineers.
  • Industrial PhD students and postdocs. Same conditions as for counterparts regarding participation in graduate/research school.
  • Equipment necessary to perform the project.
  • Running costs

The WASP and DDLS Programs are funded by KAW and each has distinct KAW donation letters that specify the funding conditions unique to each program. The funding provided does not cover the full cost, and there may be a need for co-funding based on the funding conditions specified for each program as outlined below.

  • DDLS Program (KAW donation letter 2024.0159)
    • A maximum of 52.5% of personnel costs are funded for payroll taxes and social security contributions.
    • A maximum of 20% of the awarded grant can be allocated to indirect costs and premises.
  • The following applies to the WASP funding (KAW donation letter 2022.0009):
    • Salaries can include a maximum of 50% LKP (lönekostnadspåslag/social fees)
    • Overhead costs are covered with a maximum compensation of 23,4% divided as 18.4% for indirect costs and 5% for premises costs.
    • Standard WASP funding packages for PhD students and postdocs
    • The funding will be received according to the WASP standard process for requisition.

Evaluation criteria

The main evaluation criteria are:

Scientific quality and impact

The scientific and technical merits of the proposed research and its scientific impact. The potential for the research, if successful, to significantly advance fundamental understanding in the topic area. Relevance to the research areas of WASP and DDLS.

Novelty and Originality

To what extent does the proposed project define new, interesting scientific questions? To what extent does the proposed project use new ways and methods to address important scientific questions?

Merits of the investigators

It is the collected merits of the team of investigators that are evaluated, and the academic age of participants is taken into account to enable a fair assessment of academic accomplishments. It is important that the main PIs both have time and the potential to take on the academic leadership of the project.

Relevance to Swedish society and industry

The short- and/or long-term relevance to Swedish industry and/or society (such as health care, governmental agencies or other organizations) should be explained. It is an advantage if industry and/or health care is actively involved in the project in-kind.


The project should involve PI and co-PIs with complementary skill sets with a base in the WASP and DDLS domain but with possible extensions into other fields.


In addition, the following criteria are considered as advantages but not requirements:

Alignment and added value to the programs

The application should address and demonstrate the requirement for inter-program collaboration.

Plan for NEST environment(s) and additional resources

One intention behind the NEST concept is to create several strong WASP and DDLS research environments. It is also an advantage if additional resources can be associated with the NEST. This includes both other resources funded by WASP and/or DDLS, e.g., existing PhD students, postdocs, and other recruitments, and resources funded from other sources, e.g., university funding, Swedish Research Council, VINNOVA, Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, etc.

Age and diversity

It is an advantage if the NEST is diversified with respect to age and gender in regard to the applicants as well as other project participants.

Proposal Structure/Format

The proposal should contain:

1.Popular Science Description (1 page)

2. Scientific Program (6 pages)

The program should contain the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Research challenge and chosen approach
  3. State-of-the-art and international outlook
  4. Research program
  5. Impact
  6. Collaborations with industry and other organizations

References can be added in addition to the stipulated 6 pages.

3. NEST Environment description (2 page)

  1. Closely related projects and activities in the environment
  2. Forms of collaboration (within and between sites)
  3. Interdisciplinary added value
  4. Communication outreach and visibility plan
  5. Staffing (Directly funded and in-kind)
  6. Infrastructure needs

4. Budget motivation and budget according to template (1 page)

  1. Suggested funding from WASP and DDLS
  2. In-kind university and or industrial funding
  3. Synergy with other available funding for the NEST

5. CV for PI and co-PIs

Description of merits:

  1. Max two pages CV for PI and each of the co-PIs
  2. List of 10 most relevant publications + Google Scholar link

The above sections 1-5 should be submitted as a single PDF file.

6. Support letters

  1. Hosting universities (according to template)
  2. Industrial and other partners
  3. Other WASP and DDLS partners

7. Letter of commitment from PI and co-PIs (according to templates)

At least the main PIs should be able to devote at least 10% of her/his time to the NEST.


Submit your application



2024 June Call opens
2024 October 30th 15:00 Call closes
2025 February Decision communicated
2025-06-01 Expected project start

Possibility to explore cross-program collaborations

The Disruptive Role of Data and AI in the Life Sciences

A Joint Conference between DDLS, WASP and WASP-HS.

Dates: September 24–25, 2024
Wallenberg Conference Center, Gothenburg, Sweden

The conference will focus on different aspects of research where collaboration over scientific domains is essential and will explore the following topics:

  • How data- and AI-driven research is shaping the future of life science
  • Development of new approaches to human-in-the-loop technologies and their use
  • The need for studies at the intersection of society, AI, and data driven life sciences

Participants will have the opportunity to network, be inspired by excellent international keynote speakers, and take part of the latest research in Sweden. In addition to plenary keynotes, the program will offer a panel discussion, a poster session and ample time for mingle.

View all calls
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