State Secretary for Education, Research and Development, Martina Hirayama, met with Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation, Diana Morant Ripoll, in Madrid on 16 May 2023 to discuss Swiss-Spanish cooperation in research and innovation.
State Secretary Martina Hirayama and Minister Morant Ripoll explored ways to strengthen bilateral research and innovation cooperation beyond the already numerous cooperation initiatives between both countries. They also discussed the European Research Area and Switzerland’s efforts to attain associated country status in Horizon Europe as quickly as possible. This is the EU’s latest framework programme for research and innovation (FP9). During the previous one, Horizon 2020 (FP8) from 2014-2020, Swiss and Spanish researchers worked together on around 1,400 different projects, making Spain Switzerland’s fifth main partner country.
All things considered, Switzerland considers Spain to be a key partner in the ERI domain. Between 2011 and 2021, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) supported over 1,000 projects having a cooperation component in Spain, making Spain the SNSF’s ninth main partner country. In the intergovernmental initiative EUREKA, which supports international cooperation projects where R&D is pursued for commercial purposes, Swiss and Spanish researchers have worked together on around 90 programmes thus far.
State Secretary Hirayama also visited the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Villafranca del Castillo, which is near Madrid. This facility is run by the European Space Agency (ESA). Ms Hirayama was welcomed by the Director of Science and ESAC Head, Dr. Carole Mundell. The two discussed ongoing and future missions in which Switzerland is a key partner.
Switzerland is a founding member of the ESA, contributing a total of CHF 195 million each year to help fund the programmes and activities of this organisation. This funding contribution allows Swiss universities and industry to take part in ESA space missions. Scientific excellence, technological innovations in the national space sector and close cooperation between research institutes and companies are important drivers of economic growth. Switzerland contributes to European space activities as a founding member of the ESA and through its participation in EU programmes. It has built a solid international reputation as a reliable partner in this sector.