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University of Basel

Swiss Participation in Horizon 2020 after Immigration Vote

Switzerland will be handled as a third country in calls for project proposals. What does this mean for Basel researchers? Edwin Constable, Vice Rector for Research at the University of Basel, has some answers.

27 February 2014

What are the consequences for researchers at the University of Basel?

The position as of today is very clear. Switzerland will have the status of a “third country” within Horizon 2020. Researchers at Swiss Universities will be able to participate in most Horizon 2020 actions on the same basis as researchers from any other non-associated industrialised third country.

What does this mean?

Swiss researchers are not automatically eligible for funding and will not count towards the minimum number of participants required for a project. In this rapidly changing situation, the funding mechanisms for Swiss researchers in successful projects are not yet clear, but I am confident that a good working solution will be found in the next months. This is a problem that will only become critical with the calls that come later this year and I am optimistic that mechanisms will be place by this time.

Is there any hope that our researchers will be able to participate in ERC Grants in the near future?

Where would we be without hope! The official position as of today is that Swiss researchers can apply for ERC grants but not to be held at Swiss Universities. This will be critical for the submission deadline in March 2014. Nevertheless, the situation is changing so rapidly that I would encourage researchers who have already committed time and effort to preparing a proposal to continue with their plans. Even if they end up in a later submission round, the time will be well-invested.

Many researchers were counting on the grants from the ERC – will the Swiss government fill this gap with supplement money for research in Switzerland?

I sincerely hope and believe that this will be the case.

What about the running ERC Grants at Swiss universities: Will the EU suspend these projects? Or is this announcement only valid for future proposals?

The announcement is only valid for future projects under the Horizon 2020 scheme. All running projects under FP7 are unaffected.

Can you speculate on the impact this will have for the University of Basel and the research landscape in Switzerland in general?

In the mid- to long-term I am confident that we will reach an accord with the European Union. I am also confident that we will find an interim funding mechanism to maintain the involvement of Swiss researchers in European projects. In the context of the University of Basel, we will certainly see a short term impact on funding of projects, but that is secondary to the damage to Switzerland's reputation as a scientific powerhouse and driver of innovation. In particular, I think that the attractiveness of Switzerland as a place to perform world leading scientific research has been damaged and that we have a very real danger of losing some of our best talents.

State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation's SERI leaflet regarding Horizon 2020 [PDF, 72 KB] >

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