International research collaboration and networking

International research collaboration is a top priority for Switzerland. In addition to participating in numerous international research organisations and programmes, it cooperates bilaterally with selected priority countries. Through its Swissnex science network, it promotes Switzerland's international standing as a science hub. 

Glass door with the Swissnex logo on it and people at a meeting in the background
Switzerland's network for education, research and innovation is supported abroad by Swissnex. © swissnex

Its international network makes Switzerland one of the world's most appealing and successful research environments. Around half of all doctoral students and professors in Switzerland come from abroad. International research collaboration is a top priority and receives strong support. Switzerland participates in numerous international research organisations and programmes. 

Trailblazing research projects

Geneva-based CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is one of the world's largest and most renowned laboratories. CERN undertakes basic research in physics, in particular by using particle accelerators. Its research focuses on the composition of the universe and the laws that govern it. CERN is known for its contribution to the 'birth' of the internet in 1989 and for its Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator that led to the discovery of the Higgs boson, among other things.

The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) has been running IBM Research, a major research institute near Zurich, since 1956. Researchers working at this institute were honoured with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 and 1987. In 2011, IBM Research, together with ETH Zurich, established the Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Centre.

EPFL, for its part, led one of the world's largest research projects, the Human Brain Project. Over 400 institutions, mostly European, were involved in the project, which probed the human brain. Their results are recorded in the vast EBRAINS database, set up as a permanent research platform.

Almost all Swiss universities are involved in research projects in the field of space travel. The diverse projects range from astronomy to human physiology and climate research. The products they have yielded are equally diverse: structures, optical, mechanical and electronic components, scientific instruments and ground equipment, to name but a few. Switzerland is a founding member of the European Space Agency (ESA), contributes around CHF 200 million annually and is involved in programmes ranging from Earth observation and new telecommunications technologies to exploration and space launchers. 

Top-notch research goes hand-in-hand with international networking

In education, research and innovation, Switzerland is represented abroad officially by science advisers at Swiss embassies and by Swissnex representatives, who together form part of a global science diplomacy network. Swissnex's mission is to support Swiss higher education and research institutions, as well as research-based start-ups, in their internationalisation efforts and to actively participate in the international exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent. The Swissnex representations are located in the world's most innovative spots: San Francisco, Boston, New York, Shanghai, Bengaluru, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Osaka.