Innosuisse launched its new Flagship Initiative in 2021. With this funding initiative, the Swiss Innovation Agency aims to give a boost to systemic and transdisciplinary innovations that are central to current economic and social challenges in Switzerland. In the first call for Flagships, Innosuisse approved 15 applications. In total, 85 Swiss research partners and 221 implementation partners, such as companies and non-profit organisations (NPOs), are involved.
Overview of the thematic focus of the Flagships
The following Flagships are ongoing
Advanced geothermal systems have the potential to make the Swiss energy system more resilient by providing decarbonised and decentralised domestic heating and electrical power. This helps consolidate an increasingly solar and wind-based Swiss energy supply system, improving its resilience. While the Flagship focuses on developing novel and advanced geothermal systems, it also considers techno-economic, environmental, societal and life-cycle-assessment aspects of all primary energy sources, thus leading to geothermal systems development, energy policy recommendations for Switzerland and new energy business models.
In order to achieve the overarching goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, a paradigm shift towards a circular economy for carbon must be established. This Flagship aims to provide society with a viable case study for the CO2 circular economy as applied to the chemical industry. The exemplary technology proposed, which relates to carbon capture and utilisation technology, will reuse fossil CO2 emissions to produce higher alcohols, in particular isopropanol and 2-butanol. These chemicals are highly significant for the chemical, pharmaceutical, fragrance and flavours industries.
Hands-on training on patients is no longer compatible with today’s requirements and technical possibilities. Most training of this kind had to be discontinued during the pandemic, leading to an almost complete interruption of surgical education. In this Flagship, novel surgical training curricula are defined and innovative training components ranging from online simulation, augmented box trainers and high-end simulators, to augmented reality-enabled open surgery and immersive remote operation room participation, will be developed in order to set new standards both in Switzerland and abroad.
Decarbonisation of cities and regions is one challenge that needs to be addressed in order to achieve the Net Zero Target by 2050. In an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary setting, the Flagship DeCIRRA addresses the following questions: How might we decarbonise cities and regions? How might we make best use of local resources and existing infrastructure? What role can energy distributors and renewable gases play in the transition towards an energy system without net emissions of CO2?
DeCIRRA is a platform bringing together practitioners from many sectors and will focus on critical aspects of sector coupling and relevant options of the production of renewables gases, including Power-to-Gas. Different Carbon Capture and Storage and biological negative emission options will be compared, as they are necessary for achieving the Net Zero Target.
Communication is an essential requirement for social participation. Digital transformation and the pandemic have increased the digital divide with respect to access to information and communication for persons with disabilities. The aim of this Flagship is to develop ICT that provide access services for these target groups. The Flagship radically changes the production workflows: a human-assisted machine scenario is followed for processes that have hitherto been human-based, and semi-automatic processes are fully automated. It targets text simplification, sign language translation, sign language assessment, audio description and spoken subtitles.
Buildings are a major source of Switzerland’s CO2 emissions. The existing stock will represent the overwhelming part of the sectorial energy demand for several decades to come. The challenges presented by large-scale and efficient retrofits are numerous, interrelated and transdisciplinary. The RENOWAVE Flagship addresses building retrofit in a process of co-construction between researchers from various fields and implementation partners representing the various stakeholders involved in the complex process chain of renovation.
Tourism is a global phenomenon: the pandemic hit the sector very hard in Switzerland. The pandemic accelerated the inevitable digital transformation that the sector would have to face in order to optimise local supply offerings and international demand allocation. This Flagship has been designed to proactively respond to the challenges of digital transformation by empowering the travel sector in general with reliable data, new business models, processes and experience as well as tools for designing resilient tourism systems, while fostering the cross-fertilisation of communities of practice.
The pandemic has revealed more than just the need for digital transformation in the health sector in Switzerland. A multitude of technological solutions is coming up against inconsistent data silos, lack of responsibility and inefficient organisations. Using hospitals as an example, this Flagship demonstrates how digital transformation can be implemented with industry partners based on a novel technology, data and knowledge platform. The Flagship aims to use this platform to create a blueprint for the digitalisation of healthcare as a whole.
Cities suffer from too much traffic, leading to air and noise pollution. The increased popularity of e-commerce is intensifying these challenges. The Flagship aims to develop a future urban logistics concept that is sustainable, resilient and city-friendly. It also reduces the need for freight traffic in cities, focusing on deliveries and returns for parcels and other goods while increasing the quality of life for city residents. The Flagship introduces a “co-opetitive” approach, in which competitors naturally cooperate in a smart urban multihub and deliver with a white-label approach. This increases logistics efficiency through the bundling of activities, while reducing costs, vehicle kilometres and CO2 emissions.
This Flagship addresses the feasibility and the enhancement of a circular economy for electric vehicle batteries. Numerous innovations and transdisciplinary collaborations in the different life stages of the batteries need to be developed and implemented to close such a loop. This includes the extension of use in first life applications with better battery life prediction models and removing the barriers to second life usage of EV batteries. The Flagship also addresses the improvement of economic and technical performance of battery recycling, remanufacturing technologies and upcycling, and assesses the viability of recycled materials in the battery cell production process and the sustainability of this process.
While automation continues and skills gaps are growing, value creation in vocational education is increasingly happening outside Switzerland. The Flagship’s vision is therefore a circular economy for skills and competencies. The initiative will enable individuals to obtain fair access to upskilling and reskilling courses and to develop future-proof competence portfolios, give companies a platform to identify and close skills gaps, and provide education providers with sustainable training design concepts and a new course creation access.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed not only the vulnerability of society to infections, but also its capacity to respond. The SwissPandemic AMR-Health Economy Awareness Detect Flagship will leverage lessons learned to address the steadily worsening, silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), with potentially 10 million deaths per year globally by 2050. The Flagship will assess and use machine learning and artificial intelligence for risk analysis and stratification, together with optimised, timely diagnostics and reporting, as well as increased, direct citizen involvement to improve cost-effective responses to AMR in a wide range of clinical settings. Optimal practices will result in greater systemic resilience to emerging infections.
Cities are home to most of the world’s population and major contributors of pollution-related issues to the climate crisis. The Blue City Project is a transdisciplinary consortium aiming to map a city’s multi-layered, interconnected flows and design a responsive, urban “Digital Twin”. Integrating artificial intelligence with data-rich representations, this open platform will assist citizens with evidence-based, collective decisions to improve urban wellbeing, sustainability, resilience, and ecological value. Such a platform could revolutionise industry along the value chains of real estate, design and city management.
Addressing the challenges arising from the increasing prevalence of neurological disorders in an ageing society, the Flagship SWISSNEUROREHAB will develop and validate an effective and efficient model for neurorehabilitation along the continuum of care. This model will specify the clinical, operational and economic needs for the treatment of sensorimotor and cognitive deficits after stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. Therapeutic programmes, leveraged by digital therapies, will be validated and incorporated into the clinical routine by Swiss centres of excellence. An intercantonal economic model will validate the reimbursement of the new model within the Swiss healthcare system and estimate the return on investment for healthcare providers and medtech companies.
The WISER Flagship proposes a systemic innovation for Switzerland: to become a world leader in environmental accounting. Building on transparency and accountability, as well as Swiss strengths in research excellence, a digital ecosystem will be created in which public and private stakeholders can contribute and share knowledge about greenhouse gases. By making different data sources and frameworks comparable, understandable and verifiable, the Flagship lays the foundations for organisations to take targeted measures to improve their decarbonisation efforts. It provides assessment frameworks and tailored visualisation tools, making it easier to analyse the carbon footprints of supply chains.
Last modification 07.10.2022