200 people wanted to learn more about Innosuisse, the successor organization of the former Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and joined the event at the University of Basel, on March 22nd. The top-class event was introduced by the president of the University of Basel, Andrea Schenker-Wicki, who emphasized its impact on society and introduced two members of the Innosuisse Executive Committee, Annalise Eggimann and Dominique Gruhl-Bégin as well as Trudi Hämmerli of the Board.
How to receive non-dilutive funding, project support and startup coaching in the future and what will continue of the old CTI and what will be new? These questions were probably on everyone’s mind of the well-occupied lecture room. (Find more answers here.)
The University of Basel hosted this event to increase its impact on society as Andrea Schenker-Wicki noted. True is that the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland, FHNW, traditionally has a much stronger connection to the industry and receives significantly more fundings from CTI – pardon, Innosuisse – than the University. Unsurprisingly, Innosuisse organized a Roadshow at the FHNW in Olten already. Obviously, the University strives to participate more in applied research.
The short summary of the insights: Most of the former CTI funding principles remain the same for Innosuisse. There are subtle differences, though, with potentially big effects, and the managing organisation is completely new. The director of Innosuisse, Annalise Eggimann, highlighted that every year 200 Million Swiss Francs are available for projects and support for science-based innovation. As before, only universities and institutes receive project money and participating companies have to match the expenses by own contributions plus a small cash contribution. The innovation council and additional experts decide about the quality of the project proposals.
More independence, more money
Dominique Gruhl-Bégin, Head of Start-ups and Next-Generation Innovators division, focused on innovation projects, KTT (knowledge and technology transfer) and programmes. Research and implementation partners need to be independent from each other to receive grants which allows a better governance, but is more restrictive than before. For example, it will be difficult to have a research assistant at the university who is also part of the startup team that applied for the Innosuisse grant. Funding for the innovation projects remains more or less the same, but some calculation rules change. The innocheck, a first feasibility grant, is doubled to 15’000 Swiss Francs which is good news. It should still be relatively informal and has an approval rate of 72 percent.
Startups which are eligible for coaching, can now choose their own coaches. They can trade in vouchers for services of accredited coaches. This is a significant change with more freedom for the startups, but also much weaker connections of the coaches to the Innosuisse organization. Time will tell which effects this will have.
The eleven National Thematic Networks and innovation mentors continue the KTT. The European Enterprise Network (EEN) is newly integrated into Innosuisse. Additional fundings are available via the Bridge program and the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER ).
Some unanswered questions and critical issues were raised during the question and answer session. “40 percent of all swiss exports depend on the Life Sciences Industry – why is no biologist or chemist in a leading role at Innosuisse?” Truly a valid question from a national, and especially from the Basel perspective. The answer was vague, but at least there are still four open positions at the Innovation Council which might be filled with specialists from the Life Sciences.
The interaction with local innovation agencies like BaselArea.swiss remained unclear as well. Innosuisse is a national organization, but collaboration with local innovation agencies would greatly benefit the purpose to increase innovation. Obviously, this is still an open topic of the young organisation, but there seems to be an openness for more intense collaborations.
Find the presentations here.