New Innosuisse funding instrument on the horizon


As of this January, the revised Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation will be enacted. Among the changes is the direct funding for science-based innovation projects by startups before market entry. The funding instrument aims to support research and development projects with significant innovation potential.

The Federal Council approved the corresponding Innosuisse Funding Ordinance in October 2022, resulting in the revised Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA) initiative. The revision affects various support offers from Innosuisse, with the most important change being the enabled direct support for startups with significant innovation potential that are not yet ready for market launch when the application is submitted but can be launched quickly on the market after project completion. These innovations must be based on application-oriented research.

The startups receive funding to implement science-based innovation projects to accelerate the market launch of new products and services. In the case of projects, only the startup is supported – no research partners are needed. Innosuisse covers a maximum of 70 per cent of the direct project costs, and funding is available for projects in all subject areas. 

Eligible for the support are startups that have not yet launched their products or services on the market. Startups with prototypes or testing facilities in customer operation are also considered “before market entry”. The startup must be based in Switzerland with less than 50 full-time equivalents founded less than five years ago (up to 10 years in exceptional cases).

The application process
Applications for the startup innovation projects will be assessed in accordance with the criteria set out in Article 8 of the Innosuisse Funding Ordinance. In addition, the evaluation committee will assess whether the startup company has the financial capacity to make its planned contributions during the project. The results of an initial analysis of intellectual property rights conducted by the startup must show that there is no obvious conflict with existing patents when the application is submitted that would prevent the startup from entering the market.

As of 22 February, the application tool will be open for the submission of applications. The first applications are likely to be accepted continuously from the end of the first quarter of 2023. The first projects are expected to start at the end of summer 2023. Funding for startup innovation projects is going to be a permanent Innosuisse funding instrument with project submissions accepted on an ongoing basis. There won't beany specific calls or tenders.

In a webinar on 23 February, the Innosuisse staff will provide all the important information about the start-up innovation projects and  will answer questions.

Swiss Accelerator for startups with revenue
Startups with existing products or services on the market can apply for the Swiss Accelerator, a competitive funding offer that was launched in April 2022. It is a transitional measure for Horizon Europe, as Swiss startups and SMEs currently do not have access to the Accelerator Grants of the European Innovation Council (EIC). In 2023 there will be another call for the Swiss Accelerator. This instrument will likely disappear should Switzerland be associated with Horizon Europe again. Due to the defined criteria, it is impossible to submit simultaneous applications to the Swiss Accelerator and the Start-up innovation projects.