Key Swiss institutions in development research

In 2015, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) funded scientific research to the tune of some CHF 51.3 million in the form of framework credits. This is part of its mandate. The annual benchmark for development research is CHF 50 million. Of this, the biggest amount is invested in international agricultural research. Just how much money flows into development research in Switzerland as a whole is difficult to determine. Besides the SDC, universities, foundations, NGOs and other organisations also invest in this sector.

(From "Horizons" no. 111 December 2016)​​​

r4d programme

In the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (the r4d programme), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the SNSF together support transnational research partnerships with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The programme replaces traditional North-South research and is intended to provide funds for global sustainable development. Between 2012 and 2022, almost CHF 98 million is being provided. Researchers have to apply for monies from the rd4 programme in a competitive process. Up to now, 225 research partners in 41 projects across 42 countries have participated.

Swiss TPH

The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel (Swiss TPH) was founded in 1944. It is recognised across the world as a leading institution in the fields of tropical diseases and public health. In competitive tenders, the TPH regularly competes successfully against consulting companies. At present, the TPH employs over 700 people from more than 60 countries. Just under half of its 2015 expenditure of CHF 76.7 million was spent on research.


Almost all Swiss universities are involved in development research. The best-known example is the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) of Geneva, which researches in areas such as peace-building, the environment, trade, migration and health (also under the auspices of the United Nations). Another example is the International Graduate School North- South (IGS) at the Center for Development and Environment at the University of Bern, which emerged out of the former National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South. Its aim is to establish an international research network. Currently, over 100 people from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe are studying at the IGS.


The two Federal Institutes of Technology, ETH Zurich and EPFL, are heavily involved in development research. The UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development has been located at the Cooperation and Development Center (CODEV) of EPFL since 2007. Besides engaging in technological innovations for countries in the Global South, such as in the fields of risk reduction and urban planning, EPFL also runs innovative massive open online courses (MOOCs). At ETH Zurich, development research is carried out in the most diverse areas, from the Mobile Health Systems Laboratory to NADEL, the Center for Development and Cooperation.

KFPE (Commission)

In Switzerland, the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE) is a point of contact for researchers. Its goal is to make a contribution to solving global problems through fair, sustainable research. The KFPE is financed by the SDC, SNSF and SCNAT.


Several networks are active in development research. For example, there is SFIAR, the Swiss Forum for International Agricultural Research, which links interest groups in agricultural research for development. SNIS, the Swiss Network for International Studies, has been promoting interdisciplinary research since 2008. And the Development and Cooperation Network of swissuniversities, SUDAC, is being built up in answer to the universities' increasing activities in the field of development research. Its goal is to improve the framework conditions for research and teaching in cooperation with partners from the Global South.


There are further important funding organisations such as foundations, some of which have been set up by companies, and the NGOs. It is difficult to estimate how much of their expenditure flows into development research.