Evaluation of Switzerland’s bilateral cooperation programmes in science and technology

Summary

IRIS Group has evaluated the Swiss bilateral cooperation programmes in science and technology. For more than ten years, the programmes have supported research cooperation bestween Switzerland and scientific hotspots outside the EU, North America and Australia. The key instruments of the bilateral programmes are: 1) Small grants supporting pilot activities in research and innovation; and 2) Larger bilateral research projects carried out in cooperation with partner funding agencies in eight countries with whom Switzerland has signed bilateral agreements.

The evaluation is based on a number of complementary data sources. They include a survey of applicants and grant recipients, interviews with grant beneficiaries, interviews with programme managers, and interviews with high-level representative at Swiss universities, as well as bibliometric data. Additionally, programmes in three other countries have been mapped and compared with the Swiss programmes through desk research and interviews with programme managers in these countries.

Key findings include:

  • Nine out of ten research grant beneficiaries indicate that they have strengthened existing scientific relations with the partner institutions as a result of the grants. And 80% have developed new relations and networks.
  • The vast majority of research grants deliver scientific output. In all, 85-90% of grants are expected to lead to scientific publications in international journals.
  • Almost 70% of the small projects and 40% of the larger projects have led to, or are expected to lead to, new proposals for larger collaborative projects.
  • More than 50% of the projects have led to student exchanges, even after funding came to an end.
  • The bilateral programmes complement existing funding mechanisms and respond to the needs of Swiss researchers, but follow-up funding is an issue.
  • Improvements could be made by harmonising instruments and making communication more coherent.

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