ERI Dispatch 2025-2028: SNSF wants to secure innovation and tackle new challenges

© CC-BY-NC-ND, Pok Yin Victor Leung

In its statement on the draft ERI Dispatch, the SNSF is calling for total federal funding of 5.17 billion francs for the 2025-2028 period, corresponding to real growth of 3.5 per cent per year.

The Federal Council wants to cut spending on research and innovation in the next few years. For the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), it proposes "nominal growth of 2.7 per cent" in its draft ERI Dispatch 2025-2028. Full adjustment for inflation is not currently envisaged and cuts are already planned in the federal budgets for the next few years. Therefore, the federal government's proposal for the SNSF as a whole does not constitute growth; on the contrary, it implies cutbacks in the SNSF’s services.

The SNSF is fully aware of the Confederation’s delicate financial situation. However, it has become more difficult for Swiss research to maintain its leading position because of its exclusion from important parts of the world's largest research programme, Horizon Europe, about two years ago. In addition, federal contributions to national research funding have stagnated in recent years due to inflation and will effectively be back at 2021 levels by 2024.

To avoid jeopardising its social and economic progress – and hence also its above-average innovative strength – Switzerland must invest sufficient funds in research and innovation at the national level.

SNSF calls for real growth of 3.5 per cent

For this reason, the SNSF is calling for total funding of CHF 5.17 billion in its statement on the draft ERI Dispatch 2025-2028, which corresponds to an average real growth of 3.5 per cent per year. The SNSF intends to continue investing the majority of its funds in projects proposed by the researchers themselves. At the same time, it can implement its planned new measures, which will help to ensure that Swiss society, the economy and politics are fit for current and future challenges and crises and can play an active part in ongoing societal and technological change. For example, the SNSF intends to implement targeted measures to advance sustainability research and digitalisation.

Another priority is to strengthen international networking and competitiveness. With this in mind, the SNSF aims to counteract the impending isolation of Switzerland as a research location and, for example, to attract young talent from abroad to Switzerland. In addition, the SNSF wants to exploit the full potential of research so that society and the economy benefit more rapidly and extensively from research findings in the future. This will be balanced by the discontinuation of some of the SNSF's current funding schemes.

Tackling skills shortages

By funding researchers, the SNSF also trains urgently needed highly qualified specialists and managers for the knowledge economy and administration. In so doing, it is helping to combat the shortage of skilled workers. Highly qualified specialists are also a crucial factor in international companies’ choice of Switzerland as their domicile. This creates jobs and hence prosperity for future generations too.

The SNSF passes on the federal funds it receives to researchers and their projects, which are selected in a fair competitive procedure. It thereby ensures that the best and most innovative projects are promoted. Most of the funds go to researchers working at Swiss universities, universities of applied sciences or universities of teacher education. This benefits not only the researchers and the institutions, but also the cantons in which they are based.

Overview: The key points

  • Research funding needs real growth of 3.5 per cent to ensure innovation in the long term and to address current challenges. This will enable our country to remain productive and fit for the future.
  • Nominal growth of 2.7 per cent would force the SNSF to cut back its services. It would no longer be able to finance numerous innovative projects. Switzerland would risk losing the best brains to other countries as well as its leading position in research – with serious consequences for economic and social progress.
  • If Switzerland invests too little in research and innovation, it will be putting its above-average innovative strength at risk. Switzerland is thus endangering its own prosperity.
  • Switzerland urgently needs a well-qualified workforce – also for the international companies that choose to be domiciled here. Only with sufficient funding can the SNSF help to combat the shortage of skilled workers and create jobs. Upcoming generations will also benefit from this.
  • Without strong research funding, Swiss society, its economy and its political structures will not be equipped to deal with current or future challenges and crises, and will not be able to play a part in ongoing societal and technological change.
  • Investing sufficient resources in research and innovation is in Switzerland's best interests. Only in this way will it still be able to play in the top leagues internationally, for example in key areas such as artificial intelligence.