Many Swiss companies and research institutions have continued to focus on innovation during the coronavirus crisis. They are supported by Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency. In the first six months of 2020, Innosuisse was able to support 208 innovation projects with a total funding amount of CHF 63 million.
With the support of Innosuisse, Swiss companies and universities maintained their science-based innovation activities during the first half of the year. By the end of June 2020, 359 applications for innovation projects had been received. 385 were evaluated by Innosuisse and 208 were approved, with a total funding volume of CHF 63 million (excluding the overhead contribution of CHF 9 million). This figure is a good 60% higher than the figure for the first half of 2019, which was admittedly still weak. Swiss companies also submitted 354 innovation cheques to Innosuisse; here too, there was a growth rate of around 38 % compared with the first half of 2019. The innovation cheques enable SMEs to test the feasibility of their innovation ideas with a research partner.
Annalise Eggimann, CEO Innosuisse: “In April and May, we recorded the highest number of applications for innovation projects received so far this year, despite the lockdown. We very much hope that this trend will continue, because innovation will help to overcome the crisis. Innosuisse hopes to be able to support many sound innovation projects in the second half of the year as well. We are ready for it”.
532 applications for coronavirus-related changes to innovation projects
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delays and additional costs were incurred in many ongoing innovation projects. Innosuisse offered help in these cases with targeted easing of conditions. By the submission deadline at the end of June 2020, Innosuisse had received 532 applications for coronavirus-related changes to innovation projects. About half of them have now been decided upon. The additional costs for Innosuisse in this respect should ultimately amount to around CHF 15 million.
In the first half of 2020, Innosuisse also issued 257 mentoring credits to 204 Swiss SMEs. These allow SMEs to call on an innovation mentor as an advisor to help them set up their innovation project and thus strengthen their innovation work.
In spite of the coronavirus crisis, the coaching services offered by Innosuisse also met with a slight increase in demand in the first half of the year compared with the figure for the first half of 2019, which was already very strong: 240 start-ups applied for coaching at Innosuisse; 140 were accepted, 98 of which were for initial coaching and 42 for core coaching.
Innosuisse strengthens the innovative capability of Swiss companies and their competitiveness
For Annalise Eggimann, the demand for innovation funding is an encouraging sign: “The coronavirus crisis is changing the economy and society on a lasting basis. Innovation is the key to actively shaping this change. Through our funding instruments we sustainably strengthen the innovative capability of Swiss companies and their competitiveness. We are very grateful that we can also count on the support of politicians in these difficult times. This can be seen, for example, in the Council of States proposal in June to increase our funding budget by CHF 130 million in the years 2021–2024.”
Innosuisse is the Swiss Innovation Agency. Innosuisse’s role is to promote science-based innovation in the interests of industry and society in Switzerland. Among other things, Innosuisse covers up to 50 % of the costs of science-based innovation projects carried out by Swiss industrial partners, SMEs, start-ups and private or public organisations together with a research partner.