Horizon2020: Less funding for Swiss researchers

22.01.2016 08:24

Since the launch of Horizon 2020, Swiss participation in the EU Framework Programmes has declined for the first time since 1987. For political reasons in connection with the acceptance of the mass immigration initiative in early 2014, Switzerland is only partially associated with Horizon 2020.

Participation in the EU’s Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation is one of the priorities of Switzerland’s science and innovation policy. Researchers from Swiss higher education institutions and the private sector including start-ups have been participating in these programmes since 1987.

Horizon 2020, the current programme, runs for a seven-year period, from 2014 to 2020. Switzerland is only partially associated for the time being (until the end of 2016). It is associated with the first pillar of Horizon 2020 (Excellent Science) and with Euratom, but only has third-country status for the second (Industrial Leadership) and third (Societal Challenges) pillars. Swiss researchers can also participate in European collaborative projects in these areas, but do not receive any direct EU funding.

So far, Switzerland has 318 project participations (1.8% of all projects to date) in Horizon 2020, for which contributions amounting to CHF 172.4 million have been awarded (2.2% of all contributions). Due to the partial association, these funds originate either from the EU or the Confederation (81.5%). As Horizon 2020 has only just got under way and therefore not much data is available, it is not yet possible to put a financial figure on Switzerland’s participation.

The available data show that, since the launch of Horizon 2020, Swiss participation in the Framework Programmes has declined for the first time. The clearest indicators of this are the decline in Swiss participations from 3.2% (4269) of total participations in FP7 to 1.8% currently (318) in Horizon 2020; the marked decline in Swiss coordinations from 3.9% (972) to 0.3% (15), and the reduction in contributions to Swiss research institutions from 4.2% (CHF 2482.1 million) to 2.2% (CHF 172.4 million) of all contributions committed so far under Horizon 2020.

The Federal Council is still working on implementing the decision of the Swiss electorate regarding the initiative against mass immigration on a coordinated basis and in the interests of the persons concerned, whether Swiss or EU nationals The stated aim remains Switzerland’s full association with Horizon 2020 from 2017 onward.

The figures regarding Horizon2020 contrast with the Swiss participation in the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research (FP7; 2007-2013). With 4269 participations, including 972 project coordinations, CHF 2482.1 million, or 4.2% of all contributions were committed to Swiss research institutions. In return, the Confederation paid the EU a total of CHF 2263.1 million, which results in a positive net return flow of CHF 219 million. This is according to a report published by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

Switzerland participated in FP7 as an associated country and therefore had access to all parts of the programme. Of the total contributions awarded by the EU totalling CHF 2482.1 million, CHF 973.5 million (39.2%) benefitted the institutions of the ETH Domain, 28% the universities and 3.2% the universities of applied sciences. CHF 543.7 million (21.9%) were awarded to Swiss companies, including CHF 321.3 million to small and medium sized enterprises and start-ups (SMEs). The FPs are therefore the second most important source of funding for researchers in Switzerland after the Swiss National Science Foundation, and therefore also the most important for companies and SMEs. On the whole, research applications involving at least one Swiss research institution are characterised by excellent quality.

More information about Horizon2020 on the website of Euresearch.


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