Innosuisse Annual Magazine 2022

Addressing challenges through innovation

The energy crisis, climate change and digital transformation are driving innovation. The multifaceted crises of 2022 show that these upheavals call for innovative solutions. André Kudelski, President of Innosuisse, and CEO Annalise Eggimann look back on the past year and emphasise the importance of innovation, especially for Swiss SMEs.

Innovation means constant adaptation

Helping SMEs to bear the risks of innovation

Maintaining competitiveness through innovation

Innovation is a recipe for Switzerland’s success. There is no magic formula. The factors are well known: our world-renowned universities, stability, the dual education system and a strong entrepreneurial tradition featuring SMEs and companies whose performance is matched by their innovation. The upheavals that continued into 2022 are conducive to innovation because in an ever-evolving world you cannot rest on your laurels. You need to respond to the new expectations and needs of society and a changing economy.

Innovation helps companies and especially SMEs stay competitive, in particular if they are active at the international level. However, investments in innovation are costly and entail risks. It is important that companies do not forgo promising projects because they are unable to bear the risks on their own. With that in mind, Innosuisse supported numerous innovations by traditional SMEs, by world-leading “hidden champions” or by start-ups in 2022 by covering a portion of these risks. Thanks to this funding approach, Innosuisse has been able to induce positive innovation momentum.

2022: a year of change

The year was marked by the Multi-Year Programme 2025–2028, in which we set ourselves the goal of developing our funding activities at the strategic level and contributing to future technological and societal changes by promoting Swiss innovation. The Innosuisse team prepared the changes to implement the partial revision of the Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA). These include greater flexibility with regard to contributions for Swiss innovation projects, the revised funding rules for international innovation projects or the new start-up innovation projects. These changes took effect at the beginning of 2023, while one RIPA provision was enacted early in urgent response to Switzerland’s non-association with Horizon Europe. This meant that Innosuisse was able to launch the Swiss Accelerator as early as April 2022. The transitional measure heralds a real paradigm shift for Innosuisse. For the first time, we are able to provide direct financial support to SMEs and start-ups for highly innovative projects. With 752 applications, the interest was overwhelming.

Innovation projects and other support measures well on track

Innovation projects remain the core focus of Innosuisse’s funding. The demand for Swiss innovation projects in 2022 was high, with Innosuisse receiving 896 project applications. The impulse programme “Swiss Innovation Power”, launched in 2021, entered its second year. Compared to the 376 impulse applications received in 2021, 395 applications were submitted for such innovation projects in 2022 with an application volume of CHF 186.5 million. These applications for impulse projects thus account for 44 percent of all applications for Swiss innovation projects in terms of number, and 48 percent in terms of requested funding amount.

Innosuisse experienced strong demand in the other funding areas as well. While the Start-up Coaching was down versus 2021, the decline is likely akin to normalisation following the spike in demand in previous years due to pent-up demand. For their part, the internationalisation camps for start-ups experienced strong and encouraging demand. In the international domain, and irrespective of Switzerland’s status as a third country, projects submitted under Horizon Europe partnerships also gained in importance, particularly in the area of “Key Digital Technologies”.

Contribution to a net-zero world

At the end of 2022, Innosuisse was able to announce a call for proposals under the Flagship Initiative thanks to additional funds from the budget envelope for transitional measures for Horizon Europe. This call for proposals aims to support disruptive solutions for the transition to a net-zero world through systemic and transdisciplinary innovation.

Cooperations intensified

Not only did Innosuisse work closely with the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), it also continued to intensify cooperation with the partners within the regional innovation systems (RIS) and to expand bilateral partnerships, particularly with South Korea and Canada.

Innosuisse sustained its efforts in 2022 to promote research and development in all sectors so that many Swiss companies continue to rely on innovation. Because we are convinced that it is in our country’s interest if companies can harness innovative solutions to improve their competitiveness, while at the same time making a contribution to addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow at the global level.