Federal Council appoints Martina Hirayama as new SERI State Secretary

Bern, 04.07.2018 - On 4 July, the Federal Council appointed Martina Hirayama as the new State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation at the request of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER. On 1 January 2019 she will succeed Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, who reaches official retirement age in November 2018.

Martina Hirayama has been president of the Institute Council of METAS, the Federal Institute of Metrology, since 2012. She has also been vice president of the board of Innosuisse, Switzerland’s Innovation Promotion Agency (up to the end of 2017 the Commission for Technology and Innovation) since 2011 and a member of the Swiss National Science Foundation’s Foundation Council since 2016. Since 2011 Ms Hirayama has been dean of the ZHAW School of Engineering, with 13 institutes and centres, nine degree programmes and 620 staff, and is a member of the ZHAW’s Executive Board. Since 2014 she has also been Head of International Affairs.

Martina Hirayama studied chemistry at the University of Fribourg, at the ETH Zurich and at Imperial College London, obtaining a doctorate in technical sciences from the ETH. She later took a postgraduate degree in economics at the same institution. Following her doctorate she was group leader at the Institute of Polymers at the ETH Zurich, from 1995. During this time, Ms Hirayama co-founded a start-up in new coating technologies, and was CEO of the company until 2008. In 2003 she began lecturing in industrial chemistry at Zurich University of Applied Sciences Winterthur ZHW, where she developed and headed the field of polymer materials and obtained her professorship. From 2007 to 2010 she developed the Institute of Materials and Process Engineering. Ms Hirayama is a citizen of both Switzerland and Germany.

With such wide-ranging experience in research, teaching, entrepreneurship, management and administration, Ms Hirayama is very well equipped to head the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. She has impressive expertise at the interface between science and business. The Federal Council has chosen a person with huge initiative and creativity, with a broad network in the field of education, research and innovation as well as politics, public administration and the private sector.

Ms Hirayama perfectly meets the exacting requirements of this position of State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation. The important task of equipping Switzerland’s excellent ERI system for the digital future falls to the state secretariat she will now head. The Confederation, cantons, professional organisations and other players must work together to continue to strengthen both vocational and professional education and training and academic education, and to maintain Switzerland’s position as a world leader in research and innovation.

The position was advertised for a month. The recruitment procedure was conducted by a selection committee led by EAER Secretary General Stefan Brupbacher. A total of 48 applications were received from across all Swiss language regions and included ten female candidates. The selection committee conducted a multi-stage selection procedure involving external assessments and subsequently provided Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann with a shortlist of candidates. After interviewing the candidates the head of the EAER formally submitted the name of Martina Hirayama to the Federal Council for the post.

The Federal Council takes this opportunity to thank the current state secretary, Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, for his great services to the Swiss ERI system. He has headed both the former State Secretariat for Education and Research, and SERI following its merger with the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology, with considerable skill and commitment.

Address for enquiries

Noé Blancpain,
Head of Communications, EAER,
Tel. 058 462 20 07,


The Federal Council

Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research

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