Mobilizing Swiss Research in Asia

08.06.2017 | News

By:  Marianne Lucien

ETH Zurich to serve as the Leading House for Swiss Science and Technology programme in the Asia-Pacific region. Leading Houses establish and manage international research collaboration instruments on behalf of the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

Lino Guzzella und Mauro Dell’Ambrogio
ETH President Lino Guzzella and Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation Mauro Dell’Ambrogio signing the agreement making ETH Zurich the Leading House for the Asia-Pacific region. (Image: SERI)

In the Swiss capital, Bern, ETH Zurich President, Lino Guzzella and State Secretary for Education, Research, and Innovation, Mauro Dell’Ambrogio signed a mandate today that designates ETH Zurich as the Leading House for the Swiss Science and Technology programme in the Asia-Pacific region. The mandate entrusts ETH Zurich with the management and fair allocation of a 3.5 million Swiss franc budget over a 4-year period from 2017 – 2020. The funding supports universities and other higher education units throughout Switzerland to explore bilateral science and technology cooperation in Asian countries.

State Secretary Dell’Ambrogio commented, “Relying on Leading Houses to test new collaboration instruments has proved to be an effective model. ETH Zurich has been acting as Leading House since 2008 for China, Japan, and South Korea significantly contributing to enhance and facilitate the cooperation with some of the most dynamic countries in the region. This new mandate expands the role of the university to the entire Asia-Pacific region with the exception of the Indian subcontinent.”

Mobilizing exchanges and opening doors

“ETH Zurich is honoured to serve as an official representative of the Swiss higher education landscape in the role of Leading House for the Asia-Pacific region. The State Secretariat of Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) programmes enable the mobilization of knowledge and open doors to international agencies with an established level of trust,” commented ETH President Lino Guzzella.

Rahel Byland, who co-manages ETH Zurich’s Leading House activities, along with Barbara Becker, indicated that this new phase offers greater flexibility to react to opportunities in science and technology throughout Asia. Focusing on mobility and bilateral exchanges that open doors – two of four programme pillars – this phase expands collaboration opportunities for Swiss researchers and their counterparts in Asia.

Byland clarifies, “In the new phase we want to promote Swiss science, technology and innovation abroad in order to get people to look at Switzerland as a first priority when seeking cooperation. We do that by helping Swiss researchers engage in projects and conferences or present their results at bigger events, such as the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.”

Innovation builds bridges that span the globe

The Asia-Pacific region is currently among the most dynamic regions of the world with megacities like Shanghai and Jakarta requiring innovative solutions to keep pace with their expanding infrastructure. Peter Edwards, Director of the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) – ETH’s research hub in Southeast Asia explains, “In this globalized world, it is in the interests of ETH and other universities in Switzerland to understand how rapidly Asia is developing, and to establish links with Asian academic institutions.”

Since Switzerland consistently ranks highly among the most innovative nations in the Global Innovation Index, SERI adopted “Innovation” as a new pillar in this phase. ETH Zurich plans to work with agencies such as: The Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) (Innosuisse from 2018), the swissnex network, and local partners to allocate funding support for innovative Swiss students; start-ups that stem from Swiss research; and strategic networking between Swiss researchers and industry partners in Asia.

Successful projects that received SERI seed funding during past phases will now be eligible for bridge funds – the fourth programme pillar. Bridge funding supports researchers as they prepare for Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) or European Union Grant applications that represent longer-range funding support for larger research projects with a potential for significant scientific outcomes.

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26.06.2017
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