Research infrastructures in Switzerland: strategic national planning model

© CC-BY-NC-ND: Group of Prof. Laura Baudis, experimental particle astrophysics

In a concept and discussion paper, the SNSF is proposing a national strategic planning model for coordinated and sustainable funding and development of research infrastructures.

Access to quality research infrastructures is considered essential for public and private sector research participants. They play a crucial role in gaining new insights, innovative technological developments and training of scientists. Sustainability is vital for their operations. However, they are faced with many challenges, such as the need to constantly adapt to scientific needs, the high costs of their cutting-edge services, internationality, or the explosive growth in data.

The situation in Switzerland

Switzerland, which hosts international-class infrastructures such as CERN, has numerous infrastructures of national or local importance. The main responsibility for infrastructures lies with stakeholders in the field of education, research and innovation (ERI). Every four years, a roadmap is produced in collaboration with the ERI stakeholders prioritising research infrastructures of national importance. However, their funding depends on the short- and medium-term strategic planning of the various ERI stakeholders and is not coordinated or guaranteed over the long term.

How can infrastructure funding be assured over the long term?

With a vision of an integrated and coordinated research infrastructures landscape, the SNSF is proposing that Switzerland set up a national governance body bringing the ERI stakeholders together to assure its coherence and sustainability. It recommends a single, flexible strategic plan, based on an inventory and analysis of existing infrastructures, the needs of the research communities and the institutions’ strategies, and coordinated by the national body. This will result in a long-term national roadmap which will prioritise the different investment areas for the ERI stakeholders and provide transparency in selection and funding processes.

Seizing the opportunity presented by the review of the process for creating the national roadmap, with its model the SNSF is seeking to stimulate a dialogue on a new model to assure long-term strategic support for the infrastructures and make a substantial contribution to the competitiveness of research and innovation in Switzerland.