The Flagship Initiative – a new funding instrument from Innosuisse


Our society is faced with increasingly complex challenges that cannot be solved merely by individuals alone. Innovations to answer these challenges must come from close interdisciplinary collaboration between several partners from industry and research. This is a herculean task. Consequently, we need incentives to promote initiatives that benefit the Swiss population. Innosuisse is launching a new funding instrument in January 2021 – the Flagship Initiative. Alois Zwinggi, Chairman of the Innovation Council of Innosuisse, explains what it is and at whom it is targeted.

Why did Innosuisse create this new funding instrument and how does it differ from existing innovation projects?

With this instrument Innosuisse intends to create incentives for researchers to address more topics that are of particular interest for the future well-being of the Swiss population. The aim is to promote innovation in areas that are relevant to a large part of the Swiss economy and/or society. Digitalisation and globalisation, to name but two examples, are responsible for a reality that is becoming increasingly complex and interwoven. The resulting challenges for the economy and society must therefore be viewed holistically and require innovations with a systemic approach. For this reason and in addition to the innovation projects, a funding instrument is needed that promotes transdisciplinary project cooperation along the value chain. Flagships are more comprehensive than regular innovation projects and are likely to be designed for the longer term.

What does Innosuisse aim to achieve with this new funding instrument?

Innosuisse intends to use this instrument to promote solutions for current and future challenges that affect several actors and/or can only be mastered via their close cooperation. In the process, special attention is paid to systemic innovation. This refers to the promotion of projects which are not intended so much to make selective improvements to an existing system but rather to change a system in the long term. For this reason, the Flagship Initiative is designed to bring together partners from industry and research from different disciplines to promote innovation through a series of interlinked and interdependent sub-projects. The resulting innovation is greater than the sum of the results of the individual sub-projects.

Who is the target audience for the Flagship Initiative?

This new funding instrument is aimed at consortia consisting of several industrial and research partners from different disciplines who are jointly implementing a flagship project. The involvement of partners from different disciplines and the participation of industry and research from the very beginning leads to a holistic view of the challenge. This close cooperation between partners from different disciplines promotes a holistic view of the solution to be developed and strengthens the systemic approach. Consequently, in addition to systemic innovation, the transdisciplinary approach is an essential component of a flagship.

Last modification 09.04.2021

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