Innosuisse's funding business was highly successful in 2019. At the end of the year, over 800 applications for innovation projects were submitted to Innosuisse, 65 percent more than in the previous year. Some 480 start-ups applied for coaching.
"The funding business for innovation projects really took off starting in May 2019," stated Annalise Eggimann, Director of Innosuisse. The Innovation Council of Innosuisse approved 404 innovation projects (2018: 239 projects) and 400 innovation cheques (2018: 308 innovation cheques). An additional 44 projects were supported under the digitalisation impulse programme.
Most of the innovation projects approved came from the Engineering (32 percent) and Life Science (24 percent) sectors. Fifteen percent of projects were approved in each of the fields of Energy & Environment, ICT and Social Sciences & Business Management. "In 2019, we identified a thematic focus for the approved applications in the fields of medtech and advanced manufacturing."
"As the aim of our offers is primarily to boost the innovative capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises, I am very pleased that the SME share of approved innovation projects has risen to 82 percent over the previous year (77 percent)," says Eggimann. At 56 percent, the number of companies involved in innovation projects for the first time is also higher than in the previous year. Most projects (54%) continue to be carried out with universities of applied sciences as research partners (Federal Institute of Technology 20%, universities 16%, others 11%).
Over 300 start-ups benefit from Innosuisse coaching
Eggimann also notes that "The funding business for our coaching programme for start-ups has done just as well". "477 start-ups applied for coaching at Innosuisse in 2019. This means that we have more than doubled the demand for our coaching programme compared with demand during CTI times". In 2019, 243 start-ups were accepted for Initial Coaching, 96 for Core Coaching and 16 for the newly launched Scale-up Coaching. Eggimann: "If a start-up is to contribute to the overall prosperity of Switzerland and to creating high-quality jobs, it needs to grow. This is why Innosuisse launched the new Scale-up Coaching offer for start-ups with above-average growth potential in autumn 2019”.
There was also a great deal of interest in offers for setting up companies and start-ups. More than 3,500 participants attended a module of the start-up training in 2019, 58 start-ups were accepted to take part in an internationalisation camp. Eggimann: "The camp offering was further expanded in 2019. Innosuisse now offers start-ups intending to expand globally a new location in Guangzhou, near Shenzhen in China. In addition to London, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Bangalore and Shanghai, a total of nine destinations in five countries are available to choose from".
SMEs can apply for credits from Innosuisse which enable them to obtain support from innovation mentors to flesh out their innovation projects. Demand for these vouchers also rose significantly in 2019: 330 SMEs received one or more vouchers for innovation mentoring in 2019. The innovation mentors accredited by Innosuisse and the national thematic networks each assisted with more than 200 submissions of innovation projects. “In addition to the submission of numerous high-quality applications, our activities in the field of knowledge and technology transfer are largely responsible for the fact that 56 percent of the innovation projects involve companies that have never submitted a project to Innosuisse before”.
International programmes at Innosuisse
Since the beginning of January 2019, Innosuisse has also been responsible for the innovation-oriented European partnership programmes with the EU – Eurostars, Active and Assisted Living (AAL) and Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL) – and for the market-oriented research NS development initiative, EUREKA. Annalise Eggimann points to a positive first year: "193 applications for support for international projects were submitted in 2019, 66 of which were approved. These figures are proof that there is a great deal of interest in our international activities”. Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) Switzerland helps SMEs and start-ups develop cooperation partnerships, implement innovation and research projects, and enter new markets in Europe and beyond. In 2019, EEN arranged 260 contacts to potential project partners and supported 120 companies in their search for international coaches.
Within the framework of the BRIDGE programme, which is being implemented jointly with the Swiss National Science Foundation, 30 proof of concept projects and 10 discovery projects were approved for some CHF 14 million. Eggimann: "A multitude of concrete results are now available three years after the programme's launch. A total of 121 projects were supported, and 47 start-ups were founded. This shows how much demand there is for the BRIDGE programme".
Under the Energy Funding Programme, the eight Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research received CHF 31 million. Almost 1,400 researchers are involved in the SCCER. Eggimann: "Particularly encouraging is the large amount of third-party funding garnered by SCCER: In 2019, in addition to direct contributions from Innosuisse (CHF 31 million) and the universities’ own funds (CHF 41.7 million), they generated 39 percent of the funds from competitive federal funding and industry (CHF 46.9 million)".
Project funding as the most important instrument
Innosuisse awarded a total of CHF 243.3 million in funding contributions in 2019 (excl. overheads). “Our main instrument – financially speaking – remains the funding of innovation projects,” explains Eggimann. Innovation projects with and without implementation partners were funded to the tune of slightly more than CHF 144 million (excluding overheads and the Digitisation impulse programme, and including international projects).
Almost CHF 12 million was approved for the funding of start-ups (training coaching, camps, trade fairs) and around CHF 7 million for activities in the area of knowledge exchange and networking (innovation mentors, National Thematic Networks and specialist events). Funding of some CHF 22 million went to international activities (international programmes, EEN and bilateral cooperation, etc.).
Innovations as an investment in the future
Especially in times when the economy risks grinding to a halt, as is currently the case with the threat posed by the coronavirus, Innosuisse can help: It helps to strengthen on a sustainable basis the innovative capacity of Swiss companies and their competitiveness, as well as to generate added value for the economy and society. Annalise Eggimann stresses: “In times of economic difficulty, it is doubly worthwhile to invest in innovation and thus in the future. We are happy to help SMEs and researchers with this. Innosuisse looks forward to every application!"
Last modification 26.03.2020