Switzerland’s participation in European research infrastructure networks


Internationally coordinated research infrastructure networks with the ERIC legal form serve as a network for national research infrastructures. These networks are hosted at higher education institutions and research institutions, and arise in a bottom-up fashion. ERICs work within their scientific fields to coordinate research activities, services and knowledge exchange, which facilitates research collaboration at European level. Switzerland is active in various ERICs and continually examines the potential for new participations and memberships.


Internationally coordinated research infrastructure networks are composed of national nodes that are hosted by higher education and research institutions. They standardise and coordinate services, resources (e.g. research data) and instrument use. These international networks exploit synergies and economies of scale. Switzerland participates in numerous ERICs, which allows research communities in Switzerland to make active and sustainable use of these research infrastructures while also coordinating the further development of their scientific fields.

The European Union created the ERIC legal form (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) in order to simplify the process of founding and operating internationally coordinated research infrastructure networks. It lies within the Federal Council’s remit to make decisions on Swiss membership of an ERIC. SERI provides guidance to national research infrastructures as they take the necessary steps towards membership. Parliament is informed of new accessions in the context of the message on the promotion of education, research and innovation (ERI Dispatch).

Switzerland is a member of the following six ERICs since summer 2023:

  • BBMRI ERIC (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure):
    Swiss node: Swiss Biobanking Platform SBP
  • CESSDA ERIC (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives):
    Swiss node: Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS
  • DARIAH ERIC (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities):
    Swiss node: Swiss National Data and Service Center for the Humanities DaSCH
  • ECRIN ERIC (European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network):
    Swiss node: Swiss Clinical Trial Organisation SCTO
  • EPOS ERIC (European Plate Observing System):
    Swiss node: ETH Zurich / Swiss Seismological Service SED
  • ICOS ERIC (Integrated Carbon Observation System):
    Swiss node: ETH Zurich / ICOS-CH

Switzerland also holds observer status in fourERICs:

Swiss membership in ERICs: Procedure and criteria

The Federal Council decides whether Switzerland should become a member of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). The procedure to join such a legal entity can be broken down into four steps:

1. Periodic assessment of research infrastructure networks and prioritisation (Swiss Roadmap for Research Infrastructures)

Every four years, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) updates the Swiss Roadmap for Research Infrastructures. During this process, the universities and research institutes hosting the national node of an existing or emerging ERIC submit an application for Swiss participation.

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) examines the scientific merits of these applications as a complement to the evaluations carried out at European level.

2.  SERI review

Once the SNSF has completed its scientific evaluation, SERI will consider the following criteria:

Mandatory criteria:

  • The international research infrastructure network must be established and legally structured as an ERIC, or the pre-existing consortium of the given research infrastructure network intends to become an ERIC.
  • A national node has been designated and the interested Swiss research community is sufficiently well organised.
  • The participating research institutes have already allocated medium-term funding for the Swiss node and the infrastructure in Switzerland.
  • Switzerland's interests must be sufficiently safeguarded if it joins the ERIC.

Other criteria relating to prioritisation:

  • The ERIC's activities require international cooperation and cannot be managed effectively through nationally organised cooperation.
  • The ERIC's activities relate to a field in which Switzerland has a clear interest.
  • The ERIC is a good addition to other international research infrastructure networks that Switzerland takes part in.
  • The activities of the research infrastructure network justify a state-level commitment.

SERI bases its assessment on the Annex to the ERIC Dispatch with the criteria of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) contained therein.

3. Request in ERI Dispatch for funding to cover membership costs

SERI generally pays ERIC membership contributions. The Federal Council submits a corresponding funding request to the Federal Assembly in its Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation (ERI Dispatch). The appropriation bill lists the funding already allocated to current ERIC memberships and indicates the additional funding required to join one or more prioritised ERIC networks. The Federal Assembly then discusses the ERI Dispatch and may comment on the Swiss membership proposal(s).

4. Federal Council decision and submission of membership application

Once all four of the aforementioned steps have been completed, the Federal Council makes a decision and may then apply for membership to the corresponding ERIC.

Swiss membership can then be voted on by the ERIC’s General Assembly.

Periodic review of Swiss membership

The SNSF and SERI review Swiss membership in ERICs every four years, as part of the roadmap process for research infrastructures. The SNSF reviews scientific aspects according to its own criteria, while SERI conducts its reviews in accordance with the ERIC’s criteria catalogue.