International collaboration in the area of research is a major priority for Switzerland, which is involved in numerous international research organisations and research programmes. Furthermore, it engages in bilateral research cooperation with selected priority countries. Through its science network swissnex, Switzerland reinforces its international position as a centre of research.
International Research Collaboration and Networking
Its international networking makes Switzerland one of the most attractive and successful research environments; around half of all PhD students and professors in Switzerland hail from abroad. International research cooperation is a major priority and as such is fostered by Switzerland, which is involved in numerous international research organisations and research programmes.
Groundbreaking research projects
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (otherwise known as CERN), headquartered in Geneva, is one of the world's largest and most renowned research laboratories. CERN conducts fundamental physics research, in particular by means of particle accelerators. The composition of the universe and the laws that govern it are focal points of research. CERN is well known for its contribution to the birth of the World Wide Web in 1989 and for its Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator which, among other things, led to the discovery of the Higgs boson.
The global information technology company IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) has maintained a renowned research laboratory near Zurich since 1956. Researchers from this laboratory were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1986 and 1987. In 2011, IBM Research Zurich, together with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), opened the Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) leads the Human Brain Project – an ambitious European research project that aims to simulate brain activity on a computer with a view to better understanding how the brain works. Some 135
institutions, most of which are European, are involved in the project. The total cost of the project comes in at just under EUR 1.2 billion.
Almost all Swiss higher education institutions are involved in research projects in the field of space. The varied projects range from astronomy to human physiology and climate research. The resulting products are equally diverse and include structures; optical, mechanical and electronic assemblies; scientific instruments; and ground equipment. Switzerland is a founding member of the European Space Agency (ESA), contributing approximately CHF 170 million each year, and is particularly involved in Earth observation programmes.
Cutting-edge research means international networking
Switzerland is officially represented abroad in the area of education, research and innovation by embassy counsellors and swissnex – a network of diplomatic scientific representations. The mission of swissnex is to support Swiss higher education and research institutions as well as research-oriented start-up companies in their internationalisation efforts. There are five swissnex representations: Boston, San Francisco, Shanghai, Bangalore and Rio de Janeiro.