The two new funding initiatives from Innosuisse launched at the beginning of 2021 have got off to a successful start. Within the framework of the impulse programme “Innovative Power Switzerland”, SMEs together with research institutes have already submitted 224 innovation projects. In the case of the Flagship Initiative, following an initial evaluation, Innosuisse recommended that 33 consortia submit a complete application by mid-August. At the same time, Innosuisse’s regular funding business remains very brisk.
Annalise Eggimann, Director of Innosuisse, is pleased with the launch of the two funding initiatives: “The past year has already shown us that Swiss companies are pushing ahead with their innovations, even in a time of crisis. I’m pleased to see this drive for innovation continuing this year.” This is also urgently needed, Eggimann adds, because the crisis in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic has massively accelerated the need for structural changes and, in particular, for the digitalisation of the economy.
Positive interim balance after half a year
After just six months, it is already clear that there is a great need among Swiss companies for the impulse programme. With this programme, the Federal Council aims to stimulate science-based innovation projects of SMEs with up to 500 full-time positions in a targeted manner dur-ing the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first half of 2021, the Innosuisse Innovation Council approved 72 impulse innovation projects totalling CHF 33.1 million.
Demand has been especially strong for the first special measure, which provides for a reduction in an SME’s own contribution as an implementation partner from 50 % to 30 % as well as the possible waiver of the cash contribution. A wide range of projects is supported here. For example, Innosuisse supports the development of a “sharing potential accelerator” in the field of social sciences and business management, which uses analyses to identify individual, temporarily unused objects and then attempts to rent them out. The “VocalHUM” project in the ICT field is developing an intelligent system that will improve communication between caregivers and bedridden patients by increasing their speech intelligibility in real time.
CHF 226 million reserved for impulse programme
There has been less demand for the second measure. Innosuisse wants to use this to support innovation projects of SMEs that address pandemic-related structural change or that have the potential for disruptive or radical innovations. In addition, these innovation projects require the specific knowledge of a specialised third-party provider.
In the field of life sciences, for example, Innosuisse has approved a project that aims to maximise the potential of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines by developing a novel vaccine delivery system to improve efficacy, stability and cost efficiency. It is still possible to submit innovation projects under the impulse programme until the end of 2022. A total of CHF 226 million has been reserved for the funding of the impulse programme.
78 pre-proposals for flagship projects submitted
The Flagship Initiative is also attracting a great deal of interest. Innosuisse launched this programme in January 2021 to provide impetus for systemic innovation given the current economic and social challenges facing Switzerland. In the first invitation to tender, 43 pre-proposals were submitted under the thematic focus “Coping with the accelerated digital transformation prompted by COVID-19” and 35 under the thematic focus “Improving the resilience and sus-tainability and reducing the vulnerability of society, infrastructure and processes” (details can be found in the graphic in the factsheet).
Following an initial evaluation, the Innovation Council has recommended that 33 consortia submit a full proposal by 13 August 2021. The final decision will be made at the beginning of October. After this, the first flagships will be able to start.
Regular funding business is on track
Innosuisse’s regular funding business was also very brisk in the first half of 2021. The current figures for national and international innovation projects, the start-up coaching programme and the mentoring option can be found in the factsheet.