Evaluation confirms value of swissnex network for Swiss education, research and innovation players

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The specialised knowledge company Oxford Research has evaluated the swissnex network at the request of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. The evaluation describes swissnex as a customer-oriented, flexible and dynamic organisation that offers significant added value to its publicly funded and private partners. Without the support of swissnex, most universities, researchers or start-ups would not be able to achieve their internationalisation goals to the same extent. Among the recommendations made by the evaluation are a greater swissnex presence in Switzerland, a stronger focus on long-term projects and a more targeted exchange between the individual swissnex locations.

Almost twenty years after swissnex was founded in Boston, USA - the first science consulate in the world in such a form - Oxford Research attests that the swissnex network plays an extremely valuable role in the internationalisation activities of Swiss players in education, research and innovation (ERI). Their evaluation concludes that the five swissnex locations in Bangalore, Boston, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco and Shanghai are strongly anchored in their respective local ERI systems. They are well informed about the latest trends, and this brings direct benefit to all partners. Thanks to their decentralised organisational model, the swissnex locations combine a high degree of flexibility and interdisciplinary creativity. They adapt their strategic priorities to the given location and can thus offer partners appropriate and tailor-made services to help them achieve their internationalisation goals. Coupled with a visible and accessible local presence, this organisational model is one of swissnex’s strong points, especially compared to similar instruments that other countries have.

Over 80% of the swissnex ERI partners who responded to the survey conducted by Oxford Research are either satisfied or very satisfied with the services they receive. 70% would not have been able to achieve their goals to the same extent without the support of swissnex, and 75% intend to continue working with the network or to work more closely with it.

The partnership with swissnex gives higher education institutions, individual researchers and young entrepreneurs direct access to a broad local network and insight into how this operates and the opportunities it presents. 30% of Swiss higher education institutions have concluded long-term cooperation agreements with partner institutions thanks to support from swissnex, 24% of start-ups have developed commercial activities locally and 16% of individual researchers have launched research activities with local players. Thanks to the physical presence and the events held by swissnex in these ERI hotspots - some of which are open to the general public - Switzerland is seen as a leading location for education, research and innovation.

The evaluation also identifies improvements that could be made to the network, namely the creation of a joint internet infrastructure. This would allow swissnex to raise its visibility both in Switzerland and abroad. In Switzerland in particular, it can still do a lot to market its services. Furthermore, the swissnex locations could do more to exchange information on useful practices and formats and so create synergies. The evaluation also suggests that the swissnex locations should focus to a greater extent on long-term projects with greater impact.

swissnex is the Swiss international network for education, research and innovation. It helps its partners to form international networks for the exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent. The five swissnex locations and their branch offices can be found in some of the world’s most lively innovation hubs. Along with around 20 science councillors based at Swiss embassies, swissnex promotes Switzerland’s influence as a global innovation hotspot.

The swissnex network is an initiative of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation and forms part of the Confederation’s network abroad under the management of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Based on a cooperative approach, the swissnex network activities involve both public and private partnerships and funding.

Documents

  • Evaluation of the swissnex Network, Evaluation report by Oxford Research for the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation