The revised Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA) will enter into force at the beginning of January 2023. The Federal Council is expected to approve the corresponding Innosuisse funding ordinance in the autumn. The revision concerns various funding offers from Innosuisse. In an interview, Annalise Eggimann, CEO of Innosuisse, explains the upcoming changes for funding clients.
Why was there a need to revise the law?
The RIPA revision increases Innosuisse's room for manoeuvre and flexibility. This is important for our funding activities. For example, this makes national and international innovation projects even more attractive in particular for Swiss SMEs. The revision also provides the basis for targeted new funding offers.
What specifically will change in Innosuisse’s funding offers from 2023?
There will be changes in various offers. First, in innovation projects, the core of our funding, the division between the participating companies’ own contribution and Innosuisse’s funding will become more flexible. Second, funding conditions will change for international innovation projects. Third, we will slightly adjust the process of the start-up coaching. And finally, there will be a new funding offer for start-ups: the start-up innovation projects.
Let’s have a look at all the points in order. How will contributions be distributed for innovation projects from 2023?
Innovative organisations such as SMEs, large companies, start-ups, or other private or public organisations develop new services and products together with Swiss universities and research institutions as part of innovation projects. At present, as implementation partners participating companies must pay 50 per cent of the project costs themselves. Innosuisse covers the other half, thereby covering the costs of the Swiss research institutes. From January 2023, this own contribution by implementation partners for new innovation projects can be between 40 and 60 percent. The project partners will jointly define the repartition of the contributions. Innosuisse will continue to cover only the direct project costs incurred by Swiss research institutions.
In addition, Innosuisse will simplify the calculation of the various contributions in the project budget. The overhead contribution of the research partner will be defined as a percentage of the total project contribution of Innosuisse and no longer only on the contribution to the personnel costs of the research partner. We will publish a guideline for the allocation and calculation in the project application in late autumn.
Are the thematic areas for innovation projects restricted?
No, Innosuisse co-funds projects in all thematic areas. This is already the case today. However, the new funding rules explicitly mention both technical and social innovations. The revised funding ordinance also strengthens the topic of sustainability in Innosuisse funding activities.
The funding conditions for international innovation projects will also change from 2023: what awaits funding customers here?
From 2023, Swiss implementation partners, such as SMEs or start-ups, will be able to receive direct funding within the framework of international innovation projects, even if the international project cooperation does not take place within the framework of Eurostars or the thematic EU partnerships.
This is common practice abroad. Without this possibility of direct financial support, Swiss companies have so far been at a slight disadvantage compared to their foreign project partners. This change means that Innosuisse can also enter into bilateral collaborations with partner organisations in countries such as the USA, Brazil, South Korea, Israel or Sweden and contribute to direct project costs of Swiss companies in jointly financed projects from 2023. We will communicate more information on contributions in late autumn and list them in more detail in the 2023 calls for projects.
What changes will there be in regard to start-up coaching from 2023?
To simplify the process and further increase the quality of coaching, start-ups will first have to participate in the Initial Coaching to apply for the Core Coaching starting in 2023. Only after successful completion of this first phase can start-ups apply for the Core Coaching programme. In the latter, the start-up companies receive support from coaches for a maximum of three years, on the one hand in general terms and on the other hand regarding questions in specific important areas such as intellectual property, financial planning, legal aspects or fundraising, in order to develop the company. Furthermore, not only founders as individuals, but also start-up companies as organisations may submit an application. Thus, the coaching services will be available for the whole team.
The support for start-ups will be further expanded: why is the new funding instrument «start-up innovation projects» needed?
Until now, start-ups that want to develop science-based innovations and bring their innovations to market have not been eligible for direct financial support. However, the revised RIPA will allow Innosuisse to directly fund science-based innovation projects from start-ups starting in 2023. Such projects with significant innovation potential must prepare the first market entry of the start-up companies. No research partner will be needed for those projects. Innosuisse will cover a maximum of 70 percent of the start-ups’ eligible project costs. The aim is to support start-ups in the difficult phase leading up to market entry and to accelerate this process.
The start-up innovation projects will not be covered by the budget for standard innovation projects, but an additional funding budget will be available. We will communicate further information on this funding offer in late autumn, and details on the start-up innovation projects will be published in January 2023.
How do the new start-up innovation projects differ from the Swiss Accelerator projects?
The Swiss Accelerator for Swiss SMEs and start-ups, which we were already able to launch in spring 2022, is a transitional measure for Horizon Europe. This measure is based on an emergency clause in the revised RIPA. In this context, Innosuisse funds very innovative projects with direct contributions to Swiss start-ups and SMEs.
From 2023, the Swiss Accelerator will only be open to companies that are already established in the market. Before entering the market, start-up companies can submit a start-up innovation project. Innosuisse is likely to issue calls for projects for the Swiss Accelerator until Switzerland is again associated with the European Union’s Framework Research Programme. As soon as Swiss SMEs and start-ups can apply again for the EU’s EIC grants, the Swiss Accelerator will be discontinued.
Changes from 2023 at a glance
Last modification 17.10.2022