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National Institutions for Research and Innovation Promotion

The Research and Innovation Promotion Act (Federal Act of 7 October 1983 on the Promotion of Research and Innovation RIPA) designates the Swiss National Science Foundation and the four academies of science as institutions promoting research.


These institutions receive federal credits through the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), which are granted on the basis of framework agreements and the annual setting of objectives relating to the promotion of research. The CTI is the federal innovation promotion agency. It supports applied research and development (aR&D), the promotion of entrepreneurship and the development of start-ups.

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) will receive a federal credit of around CHF 3720 million between 2013 and 2016. The SNSF is the most important federal instrument for promoting research and nurturing the next generation of scientists. The private foundation, which was set up in 1952, supports scientific research at universities and independent research institutes. The main thrust of the SNSF's activity is the financing of high-quality individual projects in the sphere of independent basic research. The promotion of young scientific talent is achieved through grants for future and advanced researchers as well as exchange programmes with various partner countries. The SNSF has also been assigned by the Federal Council and Parliament to carry out various research programmes:

Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI

The Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI is the Confederation's decision-making body for all matters pertaining to the promotion of innovation.

The CTI's R&D Funding is in principle open to science-based innovations in all disciplines. Project applications are submitted according to the bottom-up-principle. The decisive factors for obtaining funding are the innovative content of a project and its market potential.

The CTI offers customised training modules in its "CTI Entrepreneurship" programme to help entrepreneurs-to-be, providing them with the tools and methods to successfully turn a brilliant business idea into a new company. Young entrepreneurs can also apply for professional coaching. Support is given to knowledge-intensive and technology-based companies with great market potential.

The CTI supports the transfer of knowledge and technology between universities and industry in a targeted and performance-oriented manner. The professionally run national thematic networks (NTN) offer services to SMEs for technology transfer with universities and for solutions to specific company needs. The NTN also offers innovative Swiss companies and researchers opportunities to develop their potential through access to international programmes and networks, such as EUREKA, ERANet and EU-FP7 and the European Technology Platforms (ETP).

Academies of sciences

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences is the strategic association of the four academies of sciences in 2006 (Swiss Academy of Sciences SCNAT, Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences SAHS, Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences SAMS, Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences SATW). This association aims to share the academies' expertise and resources to jointly coordinate and process the following core tasks:

  • Early identification and communication of socially-relevant developments in the areas of education, research and innovation, and on their potential consequences;
  • Efforts to raise awareness of ethically based responsibility both in the production and practical application of scientific knowledge;
  • Fostering dialogue based on a partnership between science and society with the aim of promoting mutual understanding;

The association is complemented by the centres of excellence TA-SWISS and Science et Cité, which specifically carry out tasks in the area of foresight and dialogue between science and society.

The academies perform a bridging function between science and society. They promote the public understanding of scientific issues, foster cooperation with the relevant institutions abroad and international organisations, conduct studies and research on science and science policy and support research work by providing scientific assistance.

The academies also coordinate specific medium- and long-term scientific projects (companies, commissions, forums), including the ones listed below:

  • Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (HDS): The HDS was established by the SAHS and has been funded by the Confederation since 1988 on the basis of the Federal Research Act. This reference work, which is produced in the national languages German, French and Italian, as well as in Romansh, covers the main topics of Swiss history from early history until today. It is publicly available on the internet and regularly updated with new articles.
  • SAHS companies, commissions, forums
  • SCNAT companies, commissions, forums
  • SAMS companies, commissions, forums
  • SATW companies, commissions, forums

The academies and centres of excellence will receive federal funding amounting to CHF 120 million between 2013 and 2016.


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