Switzerland's exclusion from the Horizon Europe research scheme is having a sizeable impact on the overall level of funding of Swiss science projects, new statistics show.
This content was published on June 27, 2022 - 12:24 June 27, 2022 - 12:24 Keystone-SDA/sb
According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the federal authorities awarded CHF2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) towards research and development initiatives in 2021. This represents a CHF413 million decrease, or 16% less, compared with 2019, the last year observed. This comes after years of growth in Swiss research funding.
Switzerland's status as a non-associated third country in Horizon Europe – the largest research and innovation-funding programme in the world, worth €100 billion – has had a strong impact on overall Swiss government R&D funding, the FSO said.
“This decline in federal R&D expenditure in 2021 is mainly due to the cessation of payments to the European Commission for the framework programme for research and innovation,” the statistics office said in a statementExternal link on Monday.
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Switzerland is not a member of the European Union. But Bern and Brussels share longstanding and successful cooperation ties in research and innovation. After Switzerland broke off talks to govern long-term political and economic relations with the EU a year ago, Brussels downgraded Switzerland's participationExternal link in Horizon Europe to non-associated third country, restricting access to grants and scientific projects.
Under this new status Switzerland has a transitional funding arrangement whereby money initially earmarked for contribution to the EU research scheme is now funnelled directly to Swiss participation in science projects.
But this change has created a“time lag” in funds being dispensed, as money is allocated to Swiss researchers as their projects progress, says the FSO.
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The federal government's financial support of research is made up of a combination of national and foreign contributions. Contributions abroad fell sharply from CHF850 million in 2019 to CHF292 million in 2021. At the same time, national contributions to research projects rose 8% from CHF1.5 billion to CHF1.6 billion. This still resulted in an overall drop of CHF413 million in combined funding.
The largest share of national funds - CHF149 million – was allocated to farming-related research, FSO said.
In June, the Swiss government said it wantedExternal link to 'step up' exploratory talks with the EU aimed at resolving differences concerning future bilateral relations. Switzerland has already put forward a set of proposalsExternal link for the EU. Among the various issues, the government wants to prioritise full access to EU research programmes, such as Horizon Europe.
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Articles in this story
- Swiss and UK research chiefs urge EC president to depoliticise science
- Swiss government again plugs gaps for European research funding
- Science in Switzerland: the women driving change
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