Acting under a mandate from the Federal Assembly, SERI has maintained a controlling system since 2010 to examine the cost-effectiveness and impact of Swiss participation in the EU’s framework programmes (FPs). So far, there have been three reports, the first two in 2010 and 2014 and the most recent one in 2018. Based on the results, it can be said that Switzerland’s contribution to the FPs has improved Switzerland’s position as a location for research and innovation in various respects. The latest results are also in line with those of the two previous reports.
More than merely financial support
Swiss participation in FPs is a substantial and complementary portion of the range of available research and innovation support mechanisms.
- A total of 40% of the Swiss respondents taking part in the survey for this report stated that the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) was the main source of funding for their research and innovation projects. A total of 35% of respondents indicated that FPs were the main source of funding.
- FPs are a significant driver of international cooperation initiatives, which fall outside the scope of the national support mechanisms provided by Swiss agencies that provide funding for research and innovation (SNSF and Innosuisse).
- Access to research funding is an important motivating factor for Swiss participants in FPs. Equally important are the possibility of working with European partners, improving competitiveness and gaining international prestige.
Swiss participation in FPs improves the competitiveness of the Swiss economy and creates new jobs.
- Around 30% of the instances of project participation by industrial companies and SMEs led to an increase in sales and approximately 10% led to the creation of new companies.
- Swiss participation in FP projects generate an average of one new job per instance of project participation.
- Generally speaking, when Swiss companies take part in innovative FP projects, the result is a patent 50% of the time as well as an innovative and marketable product or service roughly 70% of the time.
Swiss participation in FPs encourages the production and exchange of knowledge between higher education institutions and favours competitive dynamics between them.
- Swiss participation in FP projects tend to result in research publications (i.e. depending on the programme, an average of five publications per project). In particular, Swiss participants tend to co-author publications with their foreign colleagues when research partners from several countries work together.
- Participation in FPs is also an important means of training young researchers involved in Swiss research and innovation activities: on average, each time a Swiss partner is involved in an FP project, the result is at least one Master’s degree and one PhD.
- Participants from higher education institutions felt that participation in an FP project was a major springboard for their individual careers. A similar sentiment was expressed, albeit to a lesser degree, by private sector participants. According to the survey, European Research Council grants in particular had the greatest impact on the respondent’s career.
Swiss participation in FPs have positive effects for Swiss companies.
- Participation in FPs have economically relevant effects such as the development products and services based on new technologies (e.g. 5G, Internet of Things, quantum computing).
- The knowledge gained from participation in FP projects forms a solid basis for policymaking (e.g. climate scenarios or the mapping of natural hazards).
Doris Wohlfender, SERI
Scientific Advisor, Research and Innovation Division