In June 2016, the Swiss Parliament approved the Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency, or Innosuisse Act. The Innosuisse Act provides the legal basis for the CTI to become an institution under public law. On 9 December 2016, the Federal Council appointed the Innosuisse Board made up of seven specialists from the realms of science and business. This board will play a key role in Innosuisse’s success.
The Federal Council appointed André Kudelski, Président Directeur Général (CEO) of Kudelski Group in Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne, as President of the Innosuisse Board. Further members of the board are:
- Prof. Edouard Bugnion, Professor at the EPFL, Laboratoire de Théorie de l’Information in Lausanne
- Dr. Thierry Calame, Partner and Co-Head of the Intellectual Property Expert Group at Lenz & Staehelin in Zurich
- Trudi Haemmerli, CEO and Director of UK-based PerioC and Managing Director of TruStep Consulting in Basel
- Prof. Martina Hirayama, Director of the School of Engineering, Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur
- Marco Illy, Managing Director and Head of Swiss Investment Banking at Crédit Suisse in Zurich
- Nicola Thibaudeau, CEO of MPS Micro Precision System in Bienne
- The Federal Council selected the board members on the basis of a requirement profile drawn up by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER). The newly appointed board is tasked with setting up Innosuisse to begin operations by the end of 2017, and with creating a sound basis for the agency’s future activities.
The board’s tasks include issuing Innosuisse’s organizational regulations and ordinances and approving a multi-year program, budget and annual report. The board also decides on appointments to the management team of the Innosuiss Secretariat, appoints members of the Innovation Council, and is responsible for overseeing these bodies. Furthermore, it is responsible for implementing and reporting on the Federal Council’s strategic objectives.
CTI Special Measures 2016
The 2016 CTI Special Measures to mitigate the effects of the strong Swiss franc, put in place by the CTI on behalf of the Federal Council and Parliament, have now come to an end. Under these measures, in addition to the regular CTI funding, 161 special innovation projects out of 335 applications involving export-oriented small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were approved in the period July to December 2016 (approval rate around 48%). These projects received a total funding of CHF 60.3 million.
The facilitated conditions of the CTI Special Measures (i.e. the reduction of cash contribution from business partners and the reduction of the minimal own contribution of the business partners from 50% to 30%) were welcomed by Swiss SMEs. SMEs were also keen to make use of the CTI’s Innovation Mentors, who advised and supported the companies with their project applications.
The CTI Special Measures federal funds were distributed across the CTI’s funding areas as follows:
- Engineering Sciences: CHF 24.0 million for 68 projects
- Micro- and Nanotechnologies: CHF 17.0 million for 42 projects
- Enabling Sciences: CHF 7.0 million for 22 projects
- Life Sciences: CHF 12.3 million for 29 projects
New funding instrument BRIDGE
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the CTI have jointly set up the new program BRIDGE to complement the support they already provide for Swiss science and innovation. BRIDGE aims to better exploit the economic and societal potential of scientific research by promoting the transfer from scientific knowledge to innovation.
BRIDGE will facilitate cooperation between universities, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, research institutes and universities of applied sciences. Two funding types are implemented:
- Proof of Concept: 12 to 18 months funding for young researchers.
- Discovery: up to four years funding for experienced researchers, either as individuals or in a consortium
CTI’s international activities
The CTI acts as the Swiss funding organization for innovation-oriented, bilateral or multilateral, international or European R&D cooperation programs. Despite the fact that the legal status of Switzerland in EU research programs was unclear throughout 2016, the CTI continued its efforts to secure the participation of Swiss scientists and companies in ERA Cofund activities. Happily, Switzerland’s status as a fully associated country within Horizon 2020 was confirmed as of 1 January, 2017.
Within life sciences the main focus for the CTI ERA-Net activities was the participation in the ERA-Net Cofund on Biotechnologies (ERA CoBioTech). The first call for ERA CoBioTech projects was announced on 1 December 2016. 18 funding organizations from 18 countries are involved in this call with a total available budget of EUR 36 million. The deadline for preproposals was 2 March 2017 and for full proposals 20 July 2017.
Following the first and second successful calls in 2015 and 2016, the Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT) and CTI launched a third call for joint innovation projects between Switzerland and South Korea on 8 March 2017. The call covered biotechnology, medtech and ICT. The aim is to encourage companies and research institutions to carry out joint science-based innovation projects that benefit both countries. It is targeted at Swiss and South Korean companies which recognize the two countries as major markets and research locations and are interested in taking advantage of the KIAT and CTI joint funding programme.
CCOS – success based on collaboration
The idea of creating a national culture collection for Switzerland popped up around 2007. It was triggered by national need and supported by several groups of stakeholders such as
the Swiss Industrial Biocatalysis Consortium (SIBC), the Swiss Academy of Technical Sciences (SATW), the Swiss Biotech Association (SBA) and the biotechnet Switzerland.
The joint efforts led to a CTI-funded project running from 2009 to 2011 with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Wädenswil (led by Prof. Martin Sievers and Dr. Gottfried Dasen) as the research partner and SBA representing the Swiss biotech industry. Additional funding from the Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN) was granted to cover biodiversity aspects.
As a result of the CTI project, the Culture Collection of Switzerland (CCOS), located in Wädenswil, was registered as a limited liability company in 2010. The CCOS is now the official national collection of microorganisms in Switzerland. It plays a major role in dealing with Switzerland's obligations towards the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention and the Nagoya Protocol. It offers secure storage bank services for microbial strains, animal and human cell cultures and other samples of biological origin.
Today, CCOS is a member of the World Federation of Culture Collections (WFCC) and a member of the European Culture Collections Organization (ECCO). In addition, the CCOS is ISO 9001 certified and now manages more than 2500 strains.