You will find answers to the most frequently asked questions:
Prepare and submit an application
There is no limit to the project duration for innovation projects with implementation partners. Generally, innovation projects with an implementation partner last between 6 and 36 months.
However, for innovation projects without implementation partner, a project can last a maximum of 18 months.
Provided it is necessary for your innovation project, the cost-benefit ratio is justified and the implementation partner is willing to bear 50% of the project costs, there is no financial limit for innovation projects. This applies to all thematic domains.
Information about this can be found in the fact sheet on independence (PDF, 220 kB, 17.04.2020).
Eligibility for submitting an application is checked using a specific application for funding for an innovation project. Since this institution cannot yet be selected in the online application portal for applications involving new research partners, and no hourly rates for staff have been stored for these applications yet, the research partner must first get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know their request. The institution will then be incorporated in the application platform Innosuisse Analytics.
For the first application, personnel costs will then be calculated provisionally at the maximum hourly rates. The new research institution submits the documents listed in the information sheet (PDF, 107 kB, 17.04.2020) in parallel with the application for funding. If eligibility for contributions is recognised, the research centre must report its notional hourly rates to Innosuisse, and the personnel costs will be recalculated before the contract is drawn up.
In the online application platform, personnel costs are calculated on the basis of the standard notional hourly rates stored for the respective research institutions. Together with the material costs applied for, these make up the project budget. There is also an overhead (percentage calculation on the personnel costs) which is added. This gives you the funding budget. The cost ceiling is calculated taking into account the maximum rates for personnel costs, which are laid down in the implementing provisions (PDF, 444 kB, 04.01.2021).
Project budget: The project budget is calculated using the notional hourly rates determined for personnel and material costs in the application and is considered the planned budget for the project. Including the overhead, this gives you the funding budget.
Cost ceiling: The cost ceiling is calculated by means of the maximum hourly rates for project staff in the application and is stipulated in the funding agreement together with the project budget. The cost ceiling may be used up without amending the funding agreement provided the increase in personnel costs is due to reasonable salary increases, necessary higher contributions to social insurances, measures to compensate for inflation, salary increases due to changes in personnel within the same project function category, minor adjustments to the distribution of estimated working hours among the various personnel functions, or approved changes to key personnel. However, both the financial contribution (cash contribution) and the implementation partner’s own contribution are set in the funding agreement according to the funding budget and are not variable.
Effective costs: The effective costs are the verifiable costs incurred as a result of the project, which must be reported in the project’s final statement of accounts (including the relevant supporting documents). The amount of the final funding instalment and the amount actually paid out is determined on the basis of the final statement of accounts.
The eligible direct project costs are made up of personnel costs and material costs.
Contributions by Innosuisse are not subject to value-added tax as subsidies in accordance with Art. 18 Para. 2 Letter a of the VAT Act, but are counted as non-remuneration. On the other hand, the expenses incurred by the research centres for the project (e.g. costs for a machine) are subject to VAT. This means that the research centre’s expenses and financial cash contribution must be specified in the application and in the statement of accounts, in each case including VAT.
Personnel costs of research partner
They are made up of salary costs and contributions to social insurances.
Only the function-related expenses for the project are eligible.The annual expenditure may not exceed the maximum annual gross salaries pursuant to Art. 5 Para. 1 of the Implementing Provisions (PDF, 444 kB, 04.01.2021) for innovation projects.
At the beginning of each calendar year, Innosuisse sends out a guide, a test certificate and an Excel template. The calculation of the notional hourly rates using an Excel template is roughly as follows: total sum of the annual gross salaries of all research institution staff per personnel function divided by full-time equivalents and annual productive hours.
Innosuisse has sent all research partners who have previously taken part in projects an Excel template for the calculation of the notional hourly rates as well as a guide and a test certificate. If your institution has not received these documents, they can be requested by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
The annual hours that may be allocated to the project are based on the internal guidelines of the respective research institution or implementation partner.
The rule that the salaries submitted for reimbursement may not be funded by other means applies equally to all project staff. The function criterion, or whether or the employment relationship is temporary or permanent, is not relevant.
No personnel costs can be claimed for project staff whose employment is already fully funded by the public sector or other third-party funding. If this is not the case for professors in a given funding application, it is the responsibility of the respective research partner to provide proof to this effect.
In the application, a flat rate of 20 percent based on salary costs is initially calculated to cover contributions to social insurances under the OASIA/InvIA/LECA, OPA and UIA.
No, Innosuisse does not recognise such payments as the relevant salary components of the project partners for project funding.
The hours must be entered according to the employee’s personnel function and his/her salary costs in the research institution and not according to his/her function within the project.
Further costs of research partner
Material costs are eligible provided they are necessary for the realisation of the project, do not relate to the basic infrastructure of a research institution and are not covered by the financial contribution of the implementation partner.
This may include costs for equipment, consumables, third-party services and international travel. Publication of research results and travel within Switzerland are not eligible (these are included in the overhead).
The claimed costs for research infrastructure must be necessary for the implementation of the project and may not be part of the research institution’s basic infrastructure. The rates of depreciation during the lifetime of the project, calculated according to the institution’s internal accounting rules, are eligible.
If the infrastructure (including infrastructure that already exists) is not exclusively used for an Innosuisse project, the actual share of use in the project can be booked to the project. The share of use must be duly verifiable (e.g. through laboratory notebooks) and auditable.
The costs of consumables that are necessary for the implementation of the project and that have been purchased during the lifetime of the project and are not part of the research institution’s standard infrastructure are eligible. The relevance to the project must be clearly documented (e.g. with a purchase receipt).
Project work is normally carried out by parties associated with the project.
The use of third parties must be justified and necessary for the project. This may also involve purchasing services from third parties, for example for computing time and cloud computing. If a research institution abroad has to be commissioned for certain tasks, these costs can be claimed as third-party services.
Travel costs are eligible provided they are absolutely necessary for the implementation of the project, in particular in the case of projects involving travel outside Switzerland. Costs for travel within Switzerland must be covered by the overhead portion and are not reimbursed separately.
Reimbursement of travel costs is based on the FDF’s Ordinance of 6 December 2001 on the Federal Personnel Ordinance.
The equipment and facilities that are part of the research centre’s basic infrastructure and usual operations and are standard cannot be procured at Innosuisse’s expense. Nor can their use be charged to Innosuisse.
Basic infrastructure includes equipment, materials and other items of infrastructure that are part of the standard equipment of a research institution with a comparable research purpose. This includes, for example, standard IT equipment including hardware and software or, in a clinical setting, disposable gloves and syringes. However, if a piece of software is directly related to the project and is essential to the project’s realisation, its costs can be claimed.
Innosuisse pays overhead contributions to all research partners who qualify.
Overhead contributions serve to partially cover the costs incurred by the research institutions as a result of research projects that Innosuisse supports within the scope of its project funding (Art. 33 RIPO).
As a flat-rate percentage based on personnel costs (salary costs and contributions to social insurances).
Parliament sets the maximum flat-rate payment. For the 2021–2024 financial period, this is 15 percent.
Innosuisse sets the applicable percentage relative to the funds that are available each year. For 2021, Innosuisse is paying the maximum 15-percent rate.
The overhead contribution is based on the percentage valid for the flat rate on the date on which the funding application is submitted.
Yes, the percentage of project funding applicable when the application is submitted is valid for the entire duration of the project.
Yes, the overhead contribution is shown separately from the direct project costs in the funding agreement.
The overhead contribution is paid out together with the funding instalments for the direct project costs and divided equally in percentage terms.
The funding agreement or the financial acceptance letter will state the overhead per research centre in the case of projects involving several research centres.
The amount the implementation partners contribute to the project must be at least as much as Innosuisse’s calculated project contributions according to the funding budget set out in the funding agreement. The project contribution not including the overhead portion (i.e. not including the overhead contribution) is decisive here.
The implementation partners’ contribution is made up of in-kind contributions (their own work) and financial (cash) contributions to the research partners. The financial cash contribution is at least 10 percent of Innosuisse’s contribution to the project.
Financial contributions made by the implementation partners to the research partners in order to cover necessary costs incurred by the research partners in the course of implementation of the project (in particular salary and material costs) are counted towards the cash contribution.
The implementation partners’ personnel and material costs that are necessarily incurred due to their participation in the project are counted towards the in-kind contribution.To calculate the personnel costs in the application, the implementation partners use the notional hourly rates of the main research partner as well as a flat rate of 20 percent for contributions to social insurances.
Material costs are counted towards the in-kind contributions, provided that they are necessary for the proper implementation of the project and correspond to the effective costs, i.e. can be shown in the implementation partners’ operating accounts.
No, Innosuisse does not recognise such payments as the relevant salary components of the project partners for project funding.
Sign contracts and start your project
The provisions of Art. 41 of the RIPO apply as a minimum. The project partners are in any case obliged to comply with these regulations when working together. Innosuisse can, however, stipulate that an agreement between the partners going beyond these provisions must be made. Such conditions are required by Innosuisse in the vast majority of approved projects. The project partners must individually negotiate and agree on all arrangements that go beyond the provisions set out in Art. 41 RIPO. Where such a requirement exists, the agreement must be submitted no later than three months after the start of the project.
PLEASE NOTE: As these negotiations are important and can be complex, Innosuisse advises the project partners to deal with this issue at an early stage and to have already reached at least an agreement in principle on this issue by the time the application process is started.
The project partners must submit the requested documents concerning intellectual property rights of use at the latest three months after the start of the project.
If Innosuisse has included such a condition in the funding agreement and communicated it in advance in the information letter about the project having been approved, Innosuisse will pay out 50% of the promised funding upon conclusion of the funding agreement, even if the signed agreement is not yet available. As a rule, the agreement must be in place three months after the start of the innovation project. The detailed provisions are laid down in the funding agreement.
The minimum requirements with regard to content are listed in Art. 41, Para. 2 of the RIPO. The content of any agreement going beyond these provisions is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Art. 41, Paras. 3 to 5 of the RIPO govern the rights that must be granted to the implementation partners as a minimum.
According to the legal requirements, the implementation partners have at least the right to the free, non-exclusive use and commercialisation of the results of the supported innovation project in the area of their goods and services. This is set out in Art. 41, Paras. 3 to 5 of the RIPO.
Yes, project contributions can be reallocated between personnel costs and material costs. For this purpose, a corresponding application must be submitted (Minor Changes form (XLS, 61 kB, 23.04.2020)). The application must be submitted during the course of the project.
In exceptional cases, additional costs beyond the estimated contribution laid down in the funding agreement may be approved in the context of a supplementary application if they are incurred as a result of approved changes to the project or were unforeseeable and not the responsibility of the project partners. The funding agreement is amended accordingly (Art. 11 of the Implementing Provisions Innovation Projects). The application form (XLS, 73 kB, 22.06.2020) must be completed and sent to Innosuisse: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personnel costs may be increased up to the cost ceiling without the need to amend the funding agreement in certain circumstances (for possible reasons, see in the section "Budget and costs of the research partner" the answer to the question “What is the significance of the project budget (target costs), the cost ceiling and the effective costs?”).
Financial interim reports currently only have to be submitted if expressly requested by Innosuisse. This regulation also applies to those projects for which the funding agreement requires a financial interim report.
Notional hourly rates billing method: The notional hourly rates and contributions to social insurances (in %) submitted annually by the research partner and accepted by Innosuisse apply in the calculation. If no new hourly rates and contributions to social insurances have been approved for a year, those that were last approved apply.
Gross salaries billing method: The amount of the personnel costs (salary costs and contributions to social insurances) is effectively charged according to the submitted salary statement.
The material costs as well as the hours worked per year and function must be entered in the “Contributions by implementation partner” document and confirmed by signature.
Notional hourly rates method: The calculation is based on the notional hourly rates submitted by the main research partner and approved by Innosuisse. The calculation is made in the financial report.
Gross annual salary method: The calculation is based on the gross salaries declared by the implementation partner. The salaries must be documented by means of salary statements or extracts from an HR or SAP system, for example. The salaries must be transferred into the financial report.
The implementation partners’ contribution is based on the project budget set out in the funding agreement and therefore remains unchanged.
If the implementation partner’s contribution is less than the amount defined in the funding agreement and no adequate reasons/justification are provided, Innosuisse’s funding may also be reduced accordingly.
Every company operating in Switzerland is assigned a unique company identification number (UID). To ensure that numbers are correctly assigned, managed and used, the UID register is run by the Federal Statistical Office. The UID register can be accessed via the following online address:
The application has to be submitted by the implementation partner.
All research partners listed in the Overview of research centres with approved innovation projects (PDF, 253 kB, 23.04.2020) are entitled to execute innovation cheques. If your research partner is not named, he or she must belong to one of the following categories:
- University research centres in accordance with Art. 4 c RIPA
- Non-commercial research centres outside the higher education sector in accordance with Art. 5 RIPA
- Research institutes commissioned by departments of the federal government in accordance with Art. 16 (3) RIPA which carry out their own research projects for the purpose of fulfilling their mandates
- Federal research institutes in accordance with Art. 17 RIPA
Conclude contract and conduct preliminary study
No, the implementation partner must agree on the legal relationship with the research partner.
Conclusion and final reporting
No additional documents (evidence/records) have to be submitted with the final financial report. Confirmation by signature is sufficient.
Yes, the final financial report must be signed by both project partners.
No, there are no overhead contributions with the innovation cheques.
The research partner can choose either the notional hourly rates billing method or the gross salary method for the innovation cheque. It is important that the amounts indicated can be proven at Innosuisse’s request. This must first be discussed internally with the institution’s finance department.
The hourly rate and employer contribution applicable are those approved by Innosuisse in the year when the application was submitted. If no notional hourly rates for the relevant year have been approved when the innovation cheque is completed, the hourly rates and the employer contribution of the previous year will apply.
Yes, reallocations can be made without the need for approval by Innosuisse. However, if the total amount of material costs exceeds 7,500 Swiss francs, written consent must be obtained from Innosuisse.
The payment is made up of the eligible personnel expenses and material costs.
The amount is automatically transferred to the research partner after the 30-day appeal period has expired and after receipt of the final statements of account. It is not necessary to send an invoice to Innosuisse.
Yes, a one-off extension of six months can be requested by e-mail to email@example.com, indicating the reasons why an extension is required.
Yes, a budget increase can be requested in writing by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if the awarded grant is less than 15,000 Swiss francs.
No, a company can receive a voucher for a preliminary study at most every two years.
During initial coaching, your entire business idea is examined and reviewed. Together with coaches, you work out its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks, determine the next critical steps and receive recommendations on key milestones that are important to the successful development of your business idea. In addition to assisting you with this main activity, the coaches will be on hand to help and advise you.
Core coaching usually builds on the outcomes of initial coaching. More specifically, the action plan developed during initial coaching is implemented in this second stage. With the help of coaches and special coaches, you work on establishing and developing your start-up in a variety of ways. If you successfully complete core coaching, you will also receive an Innosuisse certificate, provided that you successfully pass the final milestone review where the following elements are assessed:
a) your start-up has a solid base and can handle growth in the future;
b) your start-up is prepared to receive external funding if it is needed;
c) your start-up can rely on a professional management team that has the required skills or has access to these skills;
d) your start-up has shown that it has access to the market and is established within the industry;
e) your start-up was founded in accordance with Swiss law.
Scale-up coaching will not be available until the second half of 2019. This type of coaching is aimed at start-ups with very high growth potential and is primarily intended to help them implement their growth strategy. More information will be available in the months to come.
The two first coaching stages can be seen as building on one another, following the timeline of the typical life cycle of a start-up. In terms of the services on offer, these first two coaching stages, initial coaching and core coaching, are especially closely linked. Initial coaching can thus be understood as the stage where you develop the action plan that you will try to implement during core coaching in its original form or a similar form. We therefore strongly recommend that you start with initial coaching, even if your start-up has already progressed further in its development.
However, as a basic principle, you can apply for any coaching stage at any time, and it makes sense to apply for the type of coaching which offers the services that suit the start-up’s stage of development and current targets in terms of their impact. It is also important to note that your start-up cannot participate in different stages of coaching at the same time, which means it is not possible to apply for different types of coaching simultaneously. However, you can apply for another stage of coaching when you are about to complete one.
The initial coaching and core coaching process follows a voucher principle and is based on milestones. If your application for coaching is approved, you will receive a voucher which you can redeem during the coaching process with the coaches in Innosuisse’s list of qualified coaches. Your first step is to choose a “lead coach”. This coach will be your first point of contact throughout the entire coaching process and will help you with activities including planning your coaching programme. During coaching, you can invite additional coaches and special coaches to work with you. Special coaches have specific expertise in one or more areas such as financial planning or managing intellectual property.
Together with your coaches, you try to achieve milestones, some defined by Innosuisse, which are important for the positive development of your start-up.
For each milestone, you will be given a certain amount of the total budget provided by the voucher, which you can share out between different coaches.
You need to submit the relevant application for each coaching stage. The applications are then reviewed by Innosuisse, first against formal requirements and then in terms of their content. For core coaching and scale-up coaching, you will also be invited to present your business case to a jury in Bern after the content of your application has been reviewed
Tip: If you are already participating in initial coaching and intend to apply for core coaching too, you can submit the application shortly before you complete your initial coaching. This will enable you to transfer seamlessly to the next coaching stage if you meet the criteria.
The requirements in accordance with Article 21 of the Federal Act of 14 December 2012 on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA, SR 420.1), Articles 21-24 of the Innosuisse Funding Ordinance of 15 November 2017 (SR 420.231) and the implementing provisions for coaching of 16 November 2017 must be met to participate in coaching. More specifically, the main assessment criteria for the degree of innovation associated with the business idea are the current state of the art, competition within the market, market potential and you and your team’s potential to implement the science-based business idea.
We also require your start-up to be based in Switzerland, or you need to intend to found your start-up in Switzerland. If your start-up has already been founded, it must not have been founded more than five years ago, or more than ten years ago in justified cases (such as for life science start-ups with time-intensive R&D milestones to achieve).
The coaches are experienced entrepreneurs with outstanding practical expertise in a large range of industries and sectors. They have excellent knowledge of the start-up scene and an extremely extensive network. As a special type of coach, special coaches have deep and excellent expertise in one or more specific areas such as intellectual property rights or financial planning.
The qualification criteria for Innosuisse start-up coaches are available in the articles 51 and 52 of the Innosuisse Funding Ordinance of 15 November 2017 (SR 420.231).
In addition, you will soon find a list of all coaches on the Innosuisse website. If you are approved for coaching, you will also have access to a database where you can find a skills profile for each coach and search for specific coach skills via the IT tool provided by Innosuisse (“Innosuisse Analytics”).
If you are granted a voucher, you can search for coaches using the IT tool provided by Innosuisse (“Innosuisse Analytics”). Various search functions and the coaches’ skills profiles are available to help you find a suitable coach for your project. You will also find the coaches’ contact details so that you can enquire about a potential partnership with a relevant coach in advance. As soon as you have found a coach, you can use Innosuisse Analytics to invite this coach to support you during the coaching programme.
When initially being granted a voucher, Innosuisse will assist you in choosing a lead coach by issuing a recommendation to help you begin you coaching programme. Furthermore, at any time in the programme, if you have trouble finding a suitable coach, Innosuisse or your lead coach will be glad to help you.
N.B.: The voucher can only be redeemed with coaches in Innosuisse’s list of qualified coaches.
Coaches are paid for their flexible coaching services on an hourly basis at a standard hourly rate of CHF 200 (all inclusive). Special coaches are paid at set flat rates which depend on the service. This service is typically a bundled package e.g. in form of a clearly defined workshop.
The whole payment process is managed directly and electronically in the Innosuisse Analytics IT tool.
The relationship between you and Innosuisse will be a funding relationship. The associated rights and obligations are set out in the “decision” you will receive when your application has been approved. A „decision” is a legal term for the paper document that Innosuisse sends to the applicants. This document contains the decision as to whether an application for coaching was approved or rejected.
Your partnership with a coach is governed by a standardised contract template provided by Innosuisse. Every additional partnership with another coach or special coach requires a separate contract. You will need to specify a portion of your budget to be assigned to each coach for their services. The budget amount is to be agreed between you and the relevant coach directly. If necessary, the budget can be amended at any time in the “Innosuisse Analytics” IT tool by mutual agreement.
The contract is usually concluded between you and a coach without any involvement from Innosuisse. However, Innosuisse may request evidence that a suitable contract has been concluded. Innosuisse must also be informed by e-mail (email@example.com) if you or the coach wish to amend the contents of the contract template. This is required so that Innosuisse can check whether the amended agreement is still compatible with the legal basis.
The voucher is managed solely via the “Innosuisse Analytics” IT tool provided by Innosuisse. This tool shows your milestones, which coaches you are working with and how much of your budget you have left. You can also use this tool to perform tasks such as inviting more coaches to work with you on your start-up.
Through the Federal Administration’s eIAM system (“electronic identity and access management”), you can apply for access to the application platform Innosuisse Analytics. eIAM manages a user’s access rights. This step is only necessary when registering for the first time.
On the homepage under “My Applications”, enter the code under “Enter Code”. The authorisation code can be used to add new project members to projects.
No. You can submit your application in German, French, Italian or English.
This button is only available for users with the “Project Manager” function.
In eIAM (“electronic identity and access management”), users can edit their account at https://access.eiam.admin.ch/selfservice/myaccount/. In the application platform Innosuisse Analytics, changes can be made under “My Profile”.
PLEASE NOTE: Innosuisse members (members of the Innovation Council, experts, staff of the Secretariat, coaches and mentors) should contact the Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org to make any changes.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is the strategic body of Innosuisse. Its responsibilities are regulated in the SIAA (Art. 7).
In accordance with the SIAA: four years.
The Board Chairman can be re-elected twice.
The members of the Board of Directors can be re-elected once.
It is the expert body of the future Innosuisse. Its responsibilities are regulated in the SIAA (Art. 10)
The law stipulates at least 15 and at most 25 Innovation Council members.
The Board of Directors wants to constitute a committee of genuine volunteers who spend most of their time working outside Innosuisse in a relevant field. The workload is therefore not expected to exceed 20 per cent.
The members are elected for four years. They can be re-elected once.
In accordance with Article 10 Paragraph 2 of the Innosuisse Act (SIAA; SR 420.2), the Innovation Council may put forward experts to the Board of Directors for election who are to evaluate applications within its remit and support project work.The Board of Directors is the strategic body of Innosuisse. Its responsibilities are regulated in the SIAA (Art. 7).
The experts cover the full range of projects funded by Innosuisse with their expertise.
Last modification 05.01.2021