Launch of National Research Programme on Digital Change

Bern, 21.09.2018 - At its meeting of 21 September, the Federal Council launched a new National Research Programme into Digital Change. The main aim of this programme is to increase our understanding of the opportunities and risks of digitalisation for society and the economy. There are three core research modules: Education, Learning and Digital Change; Ethics, Reliability and Governance; and Digital Economy and the Labour Market. The programme will run for five years and has a budget of CHF 30 million. It forms part of the Action Plan on Digitalisation in Education, Research and Innovation for the years 2019 to 2020.

The new National Research Programme (NRP) addresses the interrelationships and concrete effects of digital change in Switzerland. The programme sets out to understand what needs to be done to face up to the challenges of digitalisation. Research will be carried out into the opportunities and risks that digital change poses for society and the economy in Switzerland. This will provide a basis for developing possible ways of making full use of the opportunities, and mitigating any negative effects. Finally, the NRP will provide a basis upon which to develop an optimum framework for effecting digital change in society, including the know-how required by a range of institutions and sectors. 

The NRP has three aligned research modules:

  • Education, Learning and Digital Change: This module looks at the impacts of digitalisation on education (content, skills and skills transfer), at life-long processes and at the institutions pertinent to education. It aims to identify the opportunities and challenges, and develop strategies for developing the education system at all levels. Research in this module may pertain to all facets of learning and education.
  • Ethics, Reliability and Governance: Central to this module are the ethical, organisational, legal and technical challenges involved in ensuring and building trust in digital infrastructure and digital services. These challenges will be addressed with regard to specific fields and in the light of the latest technological developments such as blockchain, Internet of Things and cybersecurity.
  • Digital Economy and the Labour Market: This module addresses the key interactions and effects of digital change on the economy (Swiss productivity and competitiveness). It will look at new digital markets, organisational forms and business models, and the effects of these on the world of work, the organisation and content of our work, and regional development in Switzerland, in order to identify the opportunities and risks involved.

As part of its Action Plan on Digitalisation in Education, Research and Innovation for the years 2019 to 2020, in July 2017 the Federal Council commissioned the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research to report on an NRP series into digital change in the economy and society, and to submit a proposal for the launch of this NRP by 31 December of this year.

The National Research Programmes are a federal instrument to promote research projects which address current issues and challenges of national importance. They are run by the Swiss National Science Foundation. NRPs run for five years and the results are made public.