Funding and Support Policy

By supporting and funding research, Switzerland seeks to secure its status as one of the world’s most innovative countries. Public research funding hinges mainly on the proactive work of researchers, the principle of competition and quality-based funding criteria.

Laboratory technician at work
© FDFA, Presence Switzerland

In terms of public research support and funding, the Confederation finances the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Innovation Agency (Innosuisse). It also supports research institutes within the ETH domain as well as non-university research centres. The cantons support research in their role as funding bodies of tier-one universities and universities of applied sciences.

The Federal Council considers education, research and innovation (ERI) to be a priority policy sector. Total planned federal expenditure for ERI over the 2013-2016 period stands at around CHF 26 billion.

In 2017 the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) invested a total of CHF 1,037 million in research. The budget was distributed as follows: 23% for humanities and social sciences; 38% for mathematics, natural sciences and engineering; 39% for biology and medicine.

The largest research programmes are part of the national centres of competence in research (NCCR), which promote research in areas of strategic importance for Switzerland. In 2017 the SNSF invested a total of CHF 514.6 million in 909 NCCR projects. Other SNSF research programmes are the national research programmes (51 projects with an investment of CHF 25.4 million) and Synergia (33 projects with an investment of CHF 70.7 million).

Innosuisse – The Swiss Innovation Agency promotes science-based innovation in the interests of industry and society. It supports innovative projects, provides training and coaching for start-ups, and facilitates the transfer of knowledge and technology.  In 2017, federal subsidies totalling CHF 132.1 million were used to fund 414 projects.