Delegations from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research met in Bern on 26 and 27 October for the 15th time. The meeting focused on cooperation between the two countries on education, research and innovation, and was led for the first time by State Secretary Martina Hirayama and Parliamentary State Secretary Jens Brandenburg.
The high-level delegations included representatives from higher education institutions, umbrella organisations and innovation promotion agencies. Discussions centred on developments in education, research and innovation (ERI), such as the impact of current political events on international research cooperation and topics relating to higher education in both countries. Also on the agenda were the European Research Area and Switzerland’s possible future association to Erasmus+ and to Horizon Europe, the European framework programme for research and innovation. The talks also highlighted the numerous direct collaborations between universities, researchers and research infrastructures, and commended the extensive bilateral cooperation in the ERI sector. Various possibilities to further intensify scientific cooperation were also explored.
Alongside the official talks, a science meet-up provided participants with the opportunity to discuss contemporary issues in research and innovation policy with scientific experts, students and researchers. The event was rounded off on 27 October with a company visit, providing delegates an opportunity to speak directly with VET students and gain an insight into innovation transfer and the shortage of skilled labour.
Germany is Switzerland’s most important partner by far in the education, research and innovation sector. Around 2,000 German-Swiss cooperation projects are funded through the Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) EU research and innovation framework programme, reflecting the countries- many significant collaborations and the excellent networks among their researchers and research and innovation institutes. Between 2017 and 2021, the Swiss National Science Foundation provided funding for more than 4,500 projects by Swiss researchers with German participation. German students comprise the largest group of international students in Switzerland, with 12,300 students in the 2021/22 academic year (foreign-educated students only). Some 3,700 Swiss students studied in Germany in 2019/20.