Strengthening research cooperation

Bern, 28.11.2014 - The first meeting of the Swiss-Australian joint committee for cooperation in the area of science, research and innovation was held in Canberra yesterday. At this meeting, the umbrella organisations representing the interests of Swiss and Australian universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at encouraging the exchange of researchers working on joint research projects.

A high-level scientific delegation travelled to Australia this week for a joint mission involving the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) and the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), both part of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER). The delegation was led by the State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch.

The scientific delegation, led by SERI, was comprised of representatives of swissuniversities, the umbrella organisation representing the future “chambers” of Swiss  higher education institutions, research funding agencies − i.e. the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) – the cantonal universities of Basel, Geneva, Neuchâtel and Zurich, as well as the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH).

The visit by the Swiss delegation is a direct follow-up to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by these two countries in 2013 to encourage cooperation in the area of science, research and innovation. This MoU is intended to favour the emergence of new contacts by strengthening ties between higher education and research institutions and supporting international exchange instruments such as the federal excellence scholarships and specific programmes sponsored by the SNSF.

During the visit, discussions were arranged with the heads of several top-notch Australian research organisations. These discussions gave rise in particular to cooperation initiatives in the area of life sciences, medical research and technologies. This is an area where the Australian government intends to double its expenditure between now and 2020 and strongly encourage international partnerships as well as cooperation with the private sector.

Among the various institutions visited were the University of Queensland, the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Mater Childrens’ Hospital, all located in Brisbane; the University of Sydney, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the University of Technology Sydney and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in Sidney; the Australian National University of Canberra as well as the Walter and Eliza Hall medical research institute and the Monash University of Melbourne. Exploratory discussions to assess the potential of closer ties between the main research funding agencies, in particular the SNSF and the Australian Research Council (ARC), also took place.

Several meetings were held with Swiss researchers based in Australia and Australians working with Switzerland, in particular members of the Swiss Australian Academic Network (SAAN). The delegation also met with representatives of the private sector, which enabled them to assess the potential of future development of cooperation between the two countries. 

These different aspects were addressed in Canberra at the first meeting of the joint committee established by the Swiss-Australian MoU on scientific cooperation as well as at the meeting between State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, Ambassador Mauro Moruzzi, SERI, and Australian Deputy Secretary of the Department of Industry Subho Banerjee.

After these meetings, a MoU was signed by swissuniversities and Universities Australia, the two umbrella organisations representing the interests of Swiss and Australian universities respectively. This document is intended to encourage and facilitate the exchange or researchers who are working on joint research projects, with a shared view to intensify scientific dealings between renowned Swiss and Australian partners.

Address for enquiries

Mauro Moruzzi
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI,
Ambassador, Head of International Relations Division
T: +41 79 659 99 10

Dani Duttweiler
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI,
Deputy Head of Communication
T: +41 58 462 45 60


State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation