Swiss-Austrian exchange of views and information on higher education, research and innovation

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Bern, 08.02.2017 - On 8 February, the second bilateral exchange of views and information took place between the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW). State Secretary Mauro Dell?Ambrogio led the Swiss delegation for the talks on developments and cooperation in higher education, research and innovation at the BMWFW. At the invitation of Reinhold Mitterlehner, vice chancellor and minister for science, research and economy, the meeting was followed by a working lunch.

Austria is a strong and important partner for Switzerland in the field of education, research and innovation. The working meetings between SERI and the BMWFW, which take place every two years, are intended to further strengthen the existing partnership. The delegations are composed of high-level representatives from the respective ERI institutions, along with other experts.

The delegations discussed current ERI-related developments, particularly at EU-level, as well as ERI budgets and current programmes and initiatives. In the field of research, the focus was on cooperation in a European and multilateral context. The discussions also covered the role of universities of applied sciences and cooperation between higher education institutions and the private sector, as well as competitive research funding.

Research cooperation with Austria primarily takes place directly between researchers. It is funded through competitive research funds, particularly those of the EU framework programmes, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Austrian Science Fund. Between 2011 and 2016, the SNSF allocated almost CHF 140 million towards around 110 projects involving Swiss and Austrian researchers.

Austria is an important partner for Switzerland, especially regarding the EU framework programmes, and above all in the areas of research infrastructure, information and communications technologies, and climate and health sciences. The Human Brain Project is a prime example of outstanding interdisciplinary cooperation. The figures illustrate the extent of research cooperation: under the seventh framework programme (FP7) (2007-2013) there were around 600 Swiss-Austrian project partnerships with a funding volume of over EUR 5.4 billion.

Joint research is also conducted in major international research organisations such as CERN, ESA and ESO, of which Switzerland and Austria are both members.

In addition to collaboration in the EU framework programme, Horizon 2020, close partnerships also exist between Austrian and Swiss research institutions and firms under the EUREKA innovation initiative and the ‘Active and Assisted Living Programme’, which focuses on innovations for an ageing society.

The next working meetings is due to take place in Bern in 2019.