On 10 November 2022, Switzerland and the UK, two nations outside the EU, signed an agreement deepening the relationship between the two nations’ research and innovation communities.
The agreement was signed by UK Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation, George Freeman MP, alongside Federal Councillor Parmelin, Head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, at a ceremony in London.
According to the UK government, the two nations together have 10 or Europe’s top 20 research universities. In addition, Switzerland has a number of world class research laboratories and companies such as Roche and Novartis, and commercial space and satellite technology companies, making it a natural partner for the UK, it said.
The agreement aims to deepen a bilateral relationship in areas of mutual interest across 3 key pillars: deep science, industrial commercialisation and international standards and regulation.
The memorandum outlines the principles of the relationship, and specific forms of cooperation, which include coordinated or joint initiatives, programmes or projects, meetings, workshops, conferences or symposia, exchanges of information and documentation, mobility, visits and delegations strategy and coordination meetings and plans for Ministers to convene a regular annual Anglo Swiss Research Collaboration Council to oversee activities.
Signing the MoU, Minister of State, George Freeman, said that Switzerland is home to world class research in life science – especially neuroscience and vaccines, quantum, space, fintech and cleantech – and with longstanding links with the UK, it is a key strategic partner for us. This agreement is more than a piece of paper. Swiss Ministers and I are clear we want to drive deeper tangible co-operation in research fellowships, industrial innovation and regulatory standards in new technology sectors, said Freeman.
However, there are concerns in the UK that the government may decide to cut GBP 15 billion ear marked for a hoped breakthrough and readmission to the Europe Horizon programme. The UK was cut out of the programme after Brexit and Switzerland was dropped after walking aways from negotiations with the EU in May 2021.
The head of Universities UK International, Jamie Arrowsmith, told the BBC that he welcomed the Swiss deal but said the interests of everybody including global science would be “best served by all parties agreeing to remove political impediments, and proceeding to ratify UK and Swiss association to Horizon Europe”.
UK government press release (in English)