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The Swiss innovation journey amidst Horizon Europe’s evolving landscape

Why Switzerland

Swiss-based entities are still very much engaged in collaborative projects, maintaining their valuable contributions even with Switzerland’s new status in relation to the Horizon Europe program.

Horizon Europe: The story of a funding program

Horizon Europe, the European Union’s primary funding program for research and development, plays a significant role in the innovation landscape. From 2021 to 2027, a budget of €95.5 billion is allocated to EU member states and partner countries. Researchers, innovators, and research organizations from these countries and associated countries have the opportunity to apply for funding, particularly in the form of grants. Eligible projects are selected through open calls for proposals, ensuring equal opportunities for research and innovation actors in Europe.

Switzerland, an associate partner of Horizon Europe

Under the previous program, Horizon 2020, Switzerland had a direct association. However, from 2021 to 2027, Switzerland is no longer officially associated with Horizon Europe. This change may have raised concerns about the participation of Swiss researchers in the program. Nevertheless, it should be noted that researchers and innovators based in Switzerland can still participate in the majority of projects funded by Horizon Europe.

To mitigate the negative effects of Switzerland’s non-association, the Swiss government has implemented transitional financing measures, facilitated by Innosuisse and the Swiss National Science Foundation. These measures aim to compensate for the subsidies previously provided by Horizon Europe. Swiss entities now participate as “associated partners” with their funding ensured by the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation (SERI). This situation also presents an advantage: Swiss partners can contribute their budget in addition to the project funding provided by Horizon Europe, giving them a privileged position in some cases compared to projects without Swiss partners.

Grant application procedures for entities based in Switzerland

Currently, Swiss-based entities participating in projects must submit their project proposals as non-associated third-country participants on the Funding & Tenders Portal. Unlike project partners from EU member states, funding for Swiss partners is not awarded by the European Commission but by SEFRI through a direct funding process. Once a positively evaluated project receives a signed Grant Agreement from the European Commission, the funding application can be submitted to SEFRI.

For an overview of current and planned measures regarding Switzerland’s participation in Horizon Europe and related programs and initiatives, a dedicated chart can be found on the Swiss federal website. In case of specific inquiries regarding Swiss participation in particular projects, Euresearch provides valuable assistance and guidance.

While the application procedures have been adapted, Switzerland maintains a vibrant and active presence in Horizon Europe projects.