Implementing mission-oriented research and innovation in Switzerland

Mission-oriented research and innovation has taken on ever greater significance in recent years. This development is driven by initiatives such as the European Union's Green Deal and the US Inflation Reduction Act. In Switzerland, mission-oriented R&I has played a rather minor role over the last 50 years. Recently, however, a range of funding instruments aiming to specifically promote projects which address societal challenges have emerged. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy's SWEET programme and Innosuisse's Flagship Initiative are examples of such instruments. However, there are no mission-driven funding agencies in the style of the US Advanced Research Projects Agencies (ARPAs). ARPAs recruit highly qualified scientists, who often have considerable experience in industry, for a period of several years. These scientists initiate and support research and innovation projects and have a high degree of autonomy in managing them.

Against this background, the Swiss Science Council SSC addresses the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics of mission-oriented research and innovation and how does it function?
  • What mission-oriented funding instruments already exist in Switzerland and how are they applied?
  • What are the opportunities and risks of mission-oriented research and innovation for the Swiss ERI landscape, especially with regard to the ARPA approach?


The results of this project will be incorporated into the SSC's recommendations for the 2025–28 ERI Dispatch. They also form the basis for a stand-alone report on mission-oriented research and innovation in Switzerland, which is due to be published in autumn 2023.

Postdoctoral researchers at Swiss higher education institutions

Under this topic, the SSC set itself the objective of identifying areas in which the Swiss ERI system could be made more efficient. Among the factors that could generate inefficiencies, the SSC chose to focus on the postdoc population in Switzerland. There are several indications that this population is growing and will continue to do so. However, while the hiring of postdocs may be a perfectly rational decision at the 'micro' level (laboratories, institutes, SNSF, etc.), the result at an overall system level is not necessarily efficient. Furthermore, there is the issue of job insecurity experienced by some researchers at the postdoctoral level.

The main aim of the SSC study is to quantitatively document this population of postdocs, its evolution over time and its socio-demographic and professional characteristics. This type of data has so far been lacking. The quantitative results have been discussed by a representative sample of postdocs at three workshops. The study also addresses the subsequent careers of these researchers. The aim is to describe and analyse these career paths, in particular whether these postdocs go on to obtain employment in the field of research (public or private), or whether they move into less specialised professions.


Report (PDF, 3.9 MB): Executive summary and recommendations in French, German and English. Report in French and German

Flyer (PDF, 1.7 MB): in French and German