Strong Swiss franc: Research money helps cushion the effects


The final reports of the transfer projects launched to mitigate the effects of the strong Swiss franc indicate that the projects are having a positive impact on the participating industrial partners.

As part of the measures aimed at cushioning the effects of the strong Swiss franc, the federal government provided the National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs) with 10 million francs to finance the transfer projects. In early 2012, 52 applications were submitted from the 27 NCCRs that were ongoing at the time, 34 of which were approved by the SNSF. These all involved application-focused cooperation projects between NCCR research groups and partners drawn mainly from industry. The federal funding could only be used for the direct costs of cooperation and did not go to the participating companies, which were also expected to contribute funds.

Wide range of incentives for the companies involved

The final reports of the projects now show that the researchers succeeded in triggering a wide range of incentives for the participating companies and thus for the Swiss economy. Most smaller companies were able to consolidate their market position by using innovations either for new products or to drive the ongoing development of existing products (86 prototypes, 49 processes/products). In 17 cases, the innovations were protected by patents. 10 licences had been concluded by the time the final reports were published.

Market position maintained or even expanded

Most reports state that the partners were able to maintain or expand their market positions, that existing products were improved or new ones launched, or that solid foundations were laid for future product developments. It is also mentioned that smaller companies in particular envisage increasing their headcount. The strong franc projects allowed young researchers to establish important contacts with the private sector. It is anticipated that some of them will find a job at the partner companies. Several final reports announced that cooperation between the academic and industrial partners is set to continue even after the end of the project.

The 10 million francs that were made available for this project were supplemented by funding provided by the industrial partners, which amounted to 8.3 million Swiss francs. In addition, a further 5.4 million francs came from the participating research groups. The federal government approved the package of measures aimed at mitigating the effects of the strong franc in 2011 as a way of helping the Swiss economy to adapt to the new currency situation and the flagging global economy.


Division Programme
Stefan Bachmann