Interview: Innosuisse simplifies funding conditions

Innosuisse’s Innovation Council has approved a range of measures to simplify the process for submitting an application. The changes focus primarily on costings and on IP agreements. Innovation Council Chairman Bernhard Eschermann explains what is new and what exactly this means for project partners.

Bernhard Eschermann, Vorsitzender des Innovationsrates

Mr Eschermann, one of the new features relates to calculating and specifying salary costs when submitting an application. What has changed?

We will now use hourly rates calculated by the research institutions themselves. These must be confirmed by the research institution’s finance department and be available when the first application is submitted at the latest. We will then enter these amounts in our online tool, Innosuisse Analytics, and use them to calculate the expected project contribution.

Why was this change made?

Previously, the maximum hourly rates set for each staff category in the implementing provisions were automatically used for Innosuisse’s reimbursement. As the actual rates at most research institutions were lower, the implementation partners’ own contributions and cash contributions calculated as a percentage differed from reality.

What happens if a research centre cannot yet provide approved hourly rates?
The maximum hourly rates will be used in this case.

What happens with the salaries actually paid to the project team members?

In their financial statements, research centres can declare their actual expenses in one of two ways, using either the rates they calculated or the actual payroll statements. With the first option, the rates for the staff categories used by the relevant research centre are to be applied, as long as they do not exceed the maximum rates set by the Innovation Council (Article 5 of the implementing provisions). Innosuisse receives the applicable rates and staff categories from the research centres once a year.

What happens if the actual gross salaries in the financial reports are higher than the contribution calculated in the application?

A ceiling for personnel expenses based on the maximum rates for the different staff categories is established at the same time as the expected project contribution. It must not be exceeded. However, the expected project contribution established originally can be increased up to this cost ceiling in certain cases. The situations in which this is permitted are listed in Article 11 of the implementing provisions.

Let’s move on to the subject of IP. Previously, the project partners had to naje an agreement concerning intellectual property before the funding agreement could be signed. To what extent has this rule changed?
Innosuisse wants to enable project partners to start working on the project as soon as possible. The “IP agreement” used to be part of the “preparatory work” stage. However, situations arose in which the affirmative funding decision had been made long before, but no funding agreement could be signed because the IP agreement was not yet available. The IP agreement will now be included as a condition in the funding agreement, meaning that there is now nothing in the way of getting the agreement signed and the project launched.

Are there any regulations concerning the IP agreement?
The legal requirements concerning the IP agreement can be found in Article 41 of the Research and Innovation Promotion Ordinance RIPO. They contain certain guidelines regarding what is to be regulated in the first place, including a few rules about the content. For example, they require the implementation partner to have at least non-exclusive access to the intellectual property created during the project. This is necessary to facilitate the transfer of scientific findings to the market – which is, of course, our main responsibility. Apart from the regulations in the RIPO, however, the contracting parties are free to draw up their own agreement.

Does the IP agreement have an impact on the funding payment?

Innosuisse pays out 50% of the funding when the project starts. The second instalment is not paid until the parties have entered into an IP agreement and confirmed this to Innosuisse in a signed statement.

Are there any deadlines when submitting an application?

No. Project partners can submit applications whenever they choose throughout the year. They can normally expect to receive a decision within eight weeks at most.

Is there an upper limit on funding or the duration of the project?

No, not really. Based on the application, the Innovation Council decides whether the requested contribution and the project duration are understandable and sensible. The cost/benefit ratio and research risk are also evaluated. Regarding the project’s duration, only projects with no implementation partners are assigned upper limits. These are 36 months for projects in the energy sector and 18 months for other projects.

Last modification 19.11.2019

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Questions & answers

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The implementing provisions for innovation projects

The implementing provisions for innovation projects govern the way in which Innosuisse funds innovation projects in practice. The amendments adopted by the Innovation Council came into force on 1 July 2018. You can find the implementing provisions on the “Legal basis” page.