Federal funding for research facilities of national importance

In preparation for the ERI budgetary period 2021-2024, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), Guy Parmelin, has set the funding allocations for research facilities of national importance. Over the next four years, the Confederation will provide a total of CHF 460 million to thirty-one research facilities, covering a wide range of disciplines. These facilities generate added scientific value and complement the research activities pursued by cantonal universities and institutes within the ETH Domain.

Palaeontological school excavation organised by the Auxiliary Geoscience Service (SSAG) of the JURASSICA Museum. The excavation site is located in the marly levels, which were formed in the Canton of Jura during the Upper Jurassic period. A group of Swiss and European students are part of this scientific project, which combines their interest in preserving Swiss geological heritage while at the same time acquiring the knowledge and skills needed for their future profession. The SSAG has received federal funding since 2015. Credit: Patrick Röschli Comment, JURASSICA Museum.

Article 15 of the Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA) gives the Confederation the possibility of funding high-quality research facilities outside the higher education sector. This support is subsidiary to funding contributions from the cantons, cantonal universities, the private sector and public institutions. RIPA draws a distinction between three different categories of research facilities:

  • Research infrastructures: help to advance research in their field by facilitating scientific and technical information and documentation.
  • Research institutes: generally focussed on highly specialised research fields; some are associated with higher education institutions and usually align themselves with corresponding cantonal ERI strategies.
  • Centres of technological excellence: operate on a non-commercial basis; their aim is to foster knowledge and technology transfer by creating synergies between the private sector and the research activities pursued within the Swiss higher education sector.

Reinforcing centres of technological excellence
For the budgetary period 2021-2024, a total of thirty-nine research facilities submitted funding applications to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), which was responsible for examining them. The initial selection phase was entrusted to the Swiss Science Council (SSC), which sent its appraisal to SERI for consideration. SERI then submitted a proposal containing the list of eligible recipients to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER). At the end of 2020, EAER head Guy Parmelin announced the definitive funding allocations to individual research facilities. These funding decisions were also based on the priorities set out in Federal Council Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation for 2021-2024 as well as on budget proposals approved by the Federal Assembly.


Die inspire AG betreibt Forschung für die Maschinen-, Elektro- und Metallindustrie (MEM). Sie entwickelt modernste Technologien, Methoden und Prozesse, beispielsweise bei additiven Fertigungsverfahren für grosse metallische Bauteile (Bild). Die inspire AG mit ihren 100 Mitarbeitenden ist strategischer Partner der ETH Zürich. Der Bund unterstützt die inspire AG in den Jahren 2021–2024 mit 18 Millionen Franken.
Bild: inspire AG

The order of priority for the new budgetary period has remained unchanged with respect to the previous budgetary period, namely top priority is given to reinforcing centres of technological excellence, followed by research infrastructures and then research institutes. centres of technological excellence are at the top of the list because they play a pivotal role as an interface between the private sector and the research activities of the Swiss higher education sector, thereby ensuring knowledge and technology transfer. Acting in a non-commercial capacity, they also help to close the gap between laboratory results and industrial applications. In doing so, they consolidate public-private partnerships between universities, federal research facilities and the private sector. Their emphasis on research and development and cooperation with the private sector also helps to improve Switzerland’s competitive position as a business location.

Five newly supported facilities
At total of thirty-one of the initially submitted funding applications were approved. For the current budgetary period, the Confederation will allocate a total of around CHF 460 million in Article 15 RIPA funding. This amounts to an increase of CHF 38 million over the previous four-year period (i.e. from CHF 422 million to CHF 460 million). The distribution of funding is as follows: CHF 190 million for centres of technological excellence, CHF 140 million for research infrastructures and CHF 70 million for research institutes. The remaining federal funds will be used in particular for the national personalised medicine initiative

Of the research facilities qualifying for Article 15 RIPA status in 2021-2024, twenty-six had already begun receiving federal funding in the previous budgetary period. New additions include two technology transfer centres (Swiss m4m Center and ANAXAM) and three research infrastructures (the Gosteli Foundation, EuroTube and the Swiss Polar Institute).

Research institutes (yellow points)
Federal subsidy
(in CHF million)
Biotechnology Institute Thurgau (BITg), Kreuzlingen 3,1
IDIAP Research Institute, Martigny 15,4
Institute for Cultural Research Graubünden (ikg), Chur 2,2
Institute of Oncology Research (IOR), Bellinzona 1,0
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), Bellinzona 8,0
Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF), Davos 5,2
Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPF), Nottwil 2,2
Swiss Vaccine Research Institute (SVRI), Lausanne 2,5
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Basel 32,0
Swiss Peace Foundation swisspeace, Basel 3,0
Total 74,7

Research infrastructures (red points)

Federal subsidy
(in CHF million)
Fondation Jean Monnet pour l'Europe (FJME), Lausanne 0,5
Solar Research Institute (IRSOL), Locarno 1,0
Swiss Association for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK)
and Swiss Paediatric Oncology Group (SPOG), Bern
Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology (SCAHT), Basel 10,0
Swiss Clinical Trial Organisation (SCTO), Bern 17,2
Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), Lausanne 46,5
Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA), Zürich 12,9
Swiss Social Archives (SSA), Zürich 5,7
Geoscience Auxiliary Scientific Service (SSAG), Porrentruy 2,2
Swiss Research Centre for Stained Glass and Glass Arts
(Vitrocentre Romont), Romont
Swiss 3R Competence Centre (3RCC), Bern 5,2
EuroTube Foundation, Collombey-Muraz 6,1
Gosteli Foundation, Worblaufen 2,3
Swiss Polar Institute (SPI), Sion 4,0
Total 142,9
Centres of technological excellence (blue points)
Federal subsidy
(in CHF million)
Balgrist Campus AG, Zürich 15,7
Fondation Campus Biotech Geneva (FCBG), Geneva 14,0
Centre suisse d’éléctronique et de microtechnique (CSEM), Neuenburg 128,7
inspire AG for mechatronic production systems and manufacturing technology, Zurich 18,0
Swiss Institute for Translational and Entrepreneurial Medicine (sitem-insel), Bern 5,6
Analytics With Neutrons And X-Rays For Advanced Manufacturing (ANAXAM), Villigen 3,2
Swiss Center of Manufacturing Technologies for Medical Applications (Swiss m4m Center), Bettlach 4,4
Total 189,6
Other measures Federal subsidy
(in CHF million
Personalised medicine initiative CHF 37.3 million and provision for projects during the period 49,8