Without Horizon Europe, Switzerland Risks 'Isolation', Says Future EPFL President

(MENAFN- Swissinfo) The incoming president of the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Anna Fontcuberta i Morral, is concerned about Switzerland's exclusion from the Horizon Europe research programme, especially as "many technologies are becoming strategic", she told Swiss public radio RTS.

This content was published on April 21, 2024 - 12:02 3 minutes RTS

“I was very worried,” said Fontcuberta i Morral on the radioExternal link on Saturday.“We're excluded from anything strategic, like quantum technologies, although we can take part in certain programmes.”

Fontcuberta i Morral, who will take over as head of the EPFL in January 2025, pointed out that the current period is marked by the development of technologies such as artificial intelligence, which are“becoming strategic”. She fears that Switzerland will“isolate itself too much” by being excluded from this programme dedicated to research and innovation.

However, she said she was“hopeful that the negotiations will turn things around, that we'll come back and that things will be fine”.

+ Swiss researchers regain access to certain European programmes

Switzerland was excluded from Horizon Europe (2021-2027) in 2021, after negotiations on a framework agreement to manage bilateral relations with the European Union were abandoned.

A threat for Swiss companies' access to European market

Fontcuberta i Morral gave the example of quantum technologies, which are“the cutting edge of technology”. She believes they will“revolutionise [...] communication” and make it“more secure”.

Fontcuberta i Morral insisted that these discoveries are made through exchanges. Not being able to take part in them prevents Switzerland from being at the cutting edge, she explained:“It cuts scientists off, but it also cuts companies off.”

+ Switzerland and EU want to negotiate, but optimism is limited

According to her, many companies develop thanks to money from the programmes.“But we don't have an equivalent in Switzerland,” she said.“So these companies that are in the process of being formed, that are in the process of setting up, no longer have any funding. This hampers their progress and their access to the European market too.”

The Spanish-Swiss national adds that even if Switzerland is excellent in this area, it must not rest on its laurels.“Just because we're the best today doesn't mean we will be tomorrow,” she said.“It's something we have to work on every day.”

Translated from French by DeepL/gw

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