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National Institutions for Research and Innovation Promotion

The Research and Innovation Promotion Act (Federal Act of 14 December 2012 on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA)) designates the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, and the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) as the organs responsible for promoting research in Switzerland. These organs receive federal subsidies through SERI for their activities in promoting research and innovation.

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 Swiss Confederation's promotional body for science-based innovation. Its mission is to build bridges between research and the market with the aim of supporting and accelerating innovation processes. It works as a catalyst for innovation by bringing companies into contact with research institutes via innovation projects. Its tasks also include supporting science-based entrepreneurship and founding and establishing science-based companies. The CTI also supports the utilisation of knowledge and the transfer of knowledge and technology between institutes of higher education, business and society.

Innovation projects
Promoting innovation projects is the CTI's most important instrument. It participates in the funding of projects that are submitted to it and sponsored by university research institutes or non-commercial, non-university research establishments and companies acting as implementation partners on the basis of the bottom-up principle. Implementing partners from the private sector and civil society benefit from the expertise of tertiary-education-level and non-commercial research institutes but no not receive direct subsidies from the CTI. Projects are selected on the basis of their potential for innovation in the market.  The applications are assessed by the Commission members, who come from the research and business sectors and are active within CTI in a supplementary capacity.

Promoting entrepreneurship
As part of its efforts to promote the foundation and establishment of science-based companies, the CTI helps prospective companies in the ‘CTI Entrepreneurship' programme through training modules tailored to meet their particular needs. These provide the candidates with the knowhow and methodology to successfully translate a bright business idea into a new company. Young entrepreneurs can also acquire professional coaching. CTI promotes technology-based companies with high levels of knowledge and high market potential.

Knowledge and technology transfer
The CTI supports the targeted transfer of knowledge and technology on a performance basis between institutions of tertiary education, business and civil society. The promotion instruments, ‘innovation mentoring', ‘national thematic networks‘ and ‘theme-specific platforms', provide SMEs with services in the transfer of innovation expertise from institutions of tertiary education and suppliers of solutions for the specific needs of companies. In addition, innovative Swiss companies and researchers are offered development opportunities through access to international programmes and networks, such as EUREKA and ERA-Net.

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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