Greater support for knowledge and technology transfer needed for start-ups

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Greater support for knowledge and technology transfer for start-ups can be achieved by improving the regulatory framework. This conclusion was drawn in an assessment report of test mandates, which was submitted to the Federal Council on 22 June 22. Proposed measures include clear policy guidelines on the handling of intellectual property at universities, providing start-up financing to cover patent-related costs, and including entrepreneurship training in university study programmes.

Start-ups are playing an increasingly important role in boosting the innovative capacity of countries. They are key drivers when it comes to tapping the innovation potential of research and are instrumental in developing and applying new technologies. With this in mind, the Federal Council instructed the EAER in August 2021 to examine ways to accelerate the transfer of research findings within the start-up ecosystem. The results were reported to the Federal Council on 22 June 2022.

The assessment report by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) highlights various areas in need of improvement. Technology transfer enhancements are proposed as a way to reinforce the start-up ecosystem. These include clear policy guidelines on the handling of intellectual property at universities, encouraging universities to acquire patent expertise and providing start-up financing to cover patent-related costs. Support could also be provided to universities to help them include entrepreneurship training in their study programmes.

The decisions on how best to implement these measures lie with the universities themselves. The relevant committees will consider whether federal and cantonal project funding provided under the Higher Education Act constitutes an adequate framework for corresponding funding in the Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation for the period 2025-2028.

The recently adopted revision of the Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation is another step taken to improve Switzerland’s appeal as a location for start-ups pursuing activities in the area of education, research and innovation. The revised act will enable Innosuisse from 2023 onwards to provide direct funding for innovation projects by start-up companies preparing their market debut.

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