BRIDGE strengthens link between research and implementation

Innosuisse and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) have been collaborating together on the BRIDGE programme since 2017.

The BRIDGE programme bridges the gap between basic research and applied research and subsequent implementation in society and/or on the market. It supports researchers in rapidly transforming their findings into products or services. The programme consists of the two funding lines Proof of Concept (PoC) and Discovery. Proof of Concept is aimed at young researchers, while Discovery is aimed at experienced researchers across all disciplines.

The external evaluation by econcept and AIT (Austrian Institute of Technology) led to the following two key results:

BRIDGE is clearly positioned

The evaluation shows that BRIDGE is clearly positioned along the research and innovation chain. The instrument addresses an existing gap between basic research and science-based innovation.

A high degree of relevance for the research and innovation landscape

The evaluation assigns BRIDGE a high degree of relevance for the collaboration between the SNSF and Innosuisse. The joint work for the Swiss research and innovation promotion landscape is strengthened by BRIDGE. Implementation of the programme is efficient and appropriate. At the same time, there is a need for optimisation at the operational level, e.g. regarding the visibility of both sponsoring organisations and expertise on the evaluation panels.

Recommendations are included

The evaluation provides insights into the future development and positioning of BRIDGE and the optimisation of the implementation of BRIDGE by its committees. The evaluation team has drawn up recommendations, some of which have already been incorporated at Innosuisse and the SNSF for the 2021–2024 period and will also be included in future considerations.

Impact of BRIDGE: Facts and findings on the 2017–2020 pilot phase

For the 2017–2020 pilot phase, the following facts and findings about the impact of the two funding lines can be noted:

BRIDGE Proof of Concept (PoC) is aimed at younger researchers who want to develop an application based on their research findings (e.g. with the aim of entrepreneurial activity) or implement it together with a partner.

Discovery is aimed at experienced researchers who want to identify, explore and implement the innovation potential of their research findings that are at an earlier stage.

  • Huge demand, particularly for Discovery projects

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    In the Discovery funding line, promising projects had to be rejected in the pilot phase due to a lack of resources.

  • Proof of Concept funding line: Bridging the gap between research and implementation succeeds in many projects

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    Impact of PoC: The majority of the funded PoC researchers have succeeded in developing a business idea. 80 start-ups have emerged from the projects of the 2017–2020 pilot phase. Almost 60% of the funded researchers have completed their doctorate, 26% are PhD candidates, 13% are at Master’s level, and 4% at Bachelor’s level.

  • Discovery funding line: Projects open up career prospects

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    Impact of Discovery: Almost 80% of Discovery researchers plan to continue with their project. Approximately 30% would like to submit an application to Innosuisse for this purpose, and just under 10% of the researchers plan to submit an application to the SNSF. 90% of the funded researchers surveyed collaborate in their Discovery project with researchers from other universities or research institutions, and one third already collaborate with one or more implementation partners. At the time of the evaluation, the Discovery projects had not yet been completed.

  • Representatives from universities of applied sciences are unterrepresented

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    Researchers from universities of applied sciences submitted fewer applications for PoC and Discovery during the pilot phase than the two ETHs and universities. Their applications were also comparatively less successful. Reasons for this may lie in incentive structures that are oriented differently and in the lack of basic funding for universities of applied sciences.

  • Only a quarter of fewer applicants are women

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    The results show that the proportion of women is comparatively low at one quarter, although PoC is open to all scientific disciplines. In contrast, the proportion of women in Discovery is comparatively high, although the instrument was reserved for technical innovations in the pilot phase.