Switzerland's participation in the EU programmes for research and innovation

Researchers and innovators in Switzerland have been participating in the European Union's Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation since 1987. A new report presents the figures on Swiss participation in the Horizon 2020 package (2014-2020) and the current Horizon Europe package (2021-2027).

Authors: Brita Bamert, Catrina Diener, Giuditta Rusconi
A workers handles a folding solar roof in a factory
The Swiss SME dhp technology has developed a novel folding solar roof. The Horizon 2020 project was coordinated by the Swiss partner dhp technology and was funded with almost 2.5 million euros. Photo: Oliver Oettli

SERI reports regularly on Switzerland's participation in the EU programmes and initiatives for research and innovation as mandated by the Swiss Parliament. The current report presents the most important facts and figures on Switzerland's participation in the following two packages:

  • The Horizon 2020 package over the entire duration from 2014 to 2020: this includes the 8th EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, the Euratom Programme for Research and Training (Euratom PFA) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) research infrastructure. 
  • The Horizon Europe package from January 2021 to October 2023: This includes the current 9th EU Framework Programme Horizon Europe, the Euratom PFA, ITER and the newly launched Digital Europe Programme, or the Swiss transitional measures for these programmes and initiatives.

International collaboration

Swiss project partners collaborated with researchers and innovators from 136 of the about 180 participating countries under Horizon 2020. Most joint projects were carried out with Germany, France and the United Kingdom. In Horizon Europe, Germany, Italy and France have so far been the most frequent partners in collaborative projects.

Two maps of Europe show Switzerland's projects and European partners in yellow (Horizon 2020) and green (Horizon Europe)
Geographical overview of the number of projects involving partners from both Switzerland and the respective country. Only selected partner countries are shown. Sources: EC and SERI.

Switzerland's participation in the Horizon 2020 package

Switzerland was the associated country with the most project participations in Horizon 2020 (4967). With CHF 3.043 billion in committed funding, it was ranked 8th overall and 1st among the associated countries.

Two yellow bar charts show the number of participations and the committed funds in CHF million per country
Left side: The bars are labelled with the number of participations per country. Right side: The amount of committed funding for each country is shown next to the bars. Only countries with at least 1000 participations are shown. Sources: EC and SERI.

Participation of Swiss institutions

The higher education sector (ETH domain, universities and universities of applied sciences) accounted for slightly more than half of all Swiss participations in Horizon 2020 and received almost two thirds of the committed funding. More than a third of Swiss participations in Horizon 2020 can be attributed to the private sector (SMEs and industry).

Number of Swiss participations by type of institution as a bar chart
The bars are labelled with the number of participations by type of institution in Horizon 2020, while the x-axis indicates the relative share. Sources: EC and SERI.

Swiss success rates by programme area

In Horizon 2020, most of the participations by Swiss institutions were in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), the European Research Council (ERC), as well as the Information and Communication Technologies and Health programme areas. In almost all programme areas, Swiss participants were more successful than the international average. They particularly excelled in the ERC recording the highest success rates across all participating countries.

Bar chart showing the success rates for applications from Switzerland and overall by program area
We show the success rates per programme area for proposals from Switzerland and proposals from all participating countries. The success rate is defined by the number of proposals chosen for funding divided by all eligible and evaluated project proposals in each programme area. Sources: EC und SBFI.

Participation in the Horizon Europe package and transitional measures

Due to the non-association to the Horizon Europe package, transitional measures are being implemented. A total of CHF 1.851 billion was available for the years 2021-2023, of which CHF 1.072 million was allocated to direct funding of collaborative projects and CHF 779 million to measures for non-accessible programme parts. Direct funding enables Swiss partners to continue participating in accessible EU calls, with the Swiss partners being funded directly by the Federal government. This direct funding is used widely and participation in collaborative projects is comparable with the participation in the predecessor programme Horizon 2020. SMEs account for the majority of Swiss participations, followed by the ETH domain. The participation figures for Horizon Europe are still provisional and should be interpreted with caution.

The national calls for proposals for the non-accessible parts of the programme are also met with great interest, however they cannot replace the international competition.

Bar chart showing the number of participations and committed funds by type of institution
The graph on the left shows the share of participations in Horizon Europe for each type of institution. On the right the relative share of committed funding by type of institution is shown. The bars are labelled with the number of participations (left) and committed funding in million CHF (right) respectively. Sources: EC and SERI.

Catrina Diener, SERI Scientific Advisor, International Research and Innovation Programmes Unit catrina.diener@sbfi.admin.ch +41 58 467 39 86

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