In view of increasingly multidisciplinary research projects and technological advances, the need for high-performance and freely accessible research infrastructures is growing in all scientific disciplines. In its funding policy, the federal government draws a distinction between national and international research infrastructures.
In many disciplines, research infrastructures are a key prerequisite for gaining new scientific knowledge, developing disciplines or opening up new areas of research. The construction of new research infrastructures and the expansion of existing ones has become increasingly important in recent years, leading to a growing need for funding. In addition, large research infrastructures of national or international importance require medium- and long-term coordination at national and international level.
In its funding policy, the federal government draws a distinction between national and international research infrastructures. In Switzerland, construction and maintenance is mainly the responsibility of cantonal universities and research institutions within the ETH Domain. The Federal Council expects the latter to run and further develop key research infrastructures of national and international importance and to make them available to the scientific community. The infrastructures maintained by cantonal universities are mainly funded by the institutions themselves with basic subsidies from the Confederation provided under the Higher Education Act (HEdA).
At international level, the federal government builds and operates large research infrastructures in cooperation with other countries. These provide scientific and technological momentum that draws attention worldwide. Switzerland's targeted participation in these facilities, which are based on international law, serves the purpose of strengthening Switzerland's position in a given research area. Researchers from Switzerland thus gain access to the infrastructures that they require for their research but would otherwise not be feasible to build and operate at national level.
The following two articles focus on both levels: the first article describes the Swiss Roadmap for Research Infrastructures and the second covers the remarkable news from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble (France), in which Switzerland is involved.