National and international cooperation in the ERI sector

Mit einem klugen Verhältnis von Kooperation und Wettbewerb wird die Leistungs- und Innovationsfähigkeit des Schweizer BFI-Systems gesichert. © Adobe Stock
© Adobe Stock

A smart balance between cooperation and competition ensures the performance and innovative capacity of the Swiss ERI system. Switzerland utilises the synergies of cooperation between national players and a variety of complementary instruments of international cooperation. National and international cooperation is therefore a key feature of the 2025–2028 ERI Dispatch (in german).

National cooperation

At a national level, the Confederation, cantons, communes and private-sector players share tasks and objectives in the ERI sector. The many forms of cooperation between publicly and privately financed ERI players create synergies and ensure that funds are used efficiently and effectively. Responsibilities and management (in german) (PDF, 589 kB, 22.02.2024) are closely coordinated. There are different structures for national coordination and cooperation:

  • The Federal Constitution states that the Confederation and the cantons shall jointly ensure a high level of quality and accessibility of the Swiss education system within the scope of their powers (Art. 61a). To achieve this, every four years they define joint long-term goals for the Swiss education area.
    They also have a joint strategy for exchange and mobility, with Movetia, the Swiss Foundation for the Promotion of Exchange and Mobility, promoting national and international exchange and mobility activities.
  • VPET is the responsibility of the Confederation, the cantons and professional organisations and is based on the principle of sharing responsibility. These three network partners are committed to providing high-quality vocational and professional education and training. They also strive to ensure that a sufficient number of training places and educational programmes are available in Switzerland. They cooperate in various bodies, for example within the framework of the Tripartite Vocational Training Conference, in committees for professional development and at inter-institutional level.
  • The Confederation and the cantons work together to coordinate the higher education system. This is done on the basis of a cooperation agreement and the transfer of some powers to joint bodies. For example, the Swiss Conference of Higher Education Institutions (SHK) coordinates higher education policy throughout Switzerland. It draws up overarching strategic priorities for all HEIs, who nonetheless retain their autonomy.
  • In the area of research and innovation centralised coordination bodies are required. These include the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Innosuisse and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. Research and innovation (R&I) requires large and cost-intensive infrastructures. It is therefore crucial for Switzerland to coordinate the construction of such infrastructures at national level and to select research infrastructures in which it can participate at international level in the interests of all R&I players. This is the purpose of the Swiss Roadmap for Research Infrastructures.

Further aspects of national and international cooperation are listed in the 2025–2028 ERI Dispatch.

International cooperation

All ERI areas in Switzerland are involved in international activities in one way or another. The task of the federal government is to create and promote optimal framework conditions. This is achieved in particular by concluding international agreements or declarations of intent, and by establishing and maintaining institutional contacts around the globe. For example, this is the role played by swissnex, the global Swiss network for education, research and innovation. Swissnex helps its partners to establish international contacts and contributes to the global exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent.

Multilateral organisations such as the OECD, UNESCO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) play an important role in further developing general conditions.

In the 2025–2028 ERI funding period, the federal government has set the following goals with regard to international cooperation:

  • regain association to the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation and Erasmus+;
  • diversify international ERI partnerships with targeted prioritisation of certain topics;
  • create 'swissnex in Switzerland' and thus easier access to the swissnex network, as well as boost its visibility and increase its reach;
  • maintain and further development Swiss participation in internationally coordinated research infrastructure networks with the ERIC legal form to promote networking among national research infrastructures;
  • intensify cooperation between Switzerland and ESA, for example with the European Space Deep-Tech Innovation Centre based at PSI.


SERI, Johannes Mure 
Head of Strategy and National Relations
+41 58 464 64 04