Why does the Swiss Confederation (Federal Office of Transport) fund research and innovation?

Each year, the Swiss Confederation spends almost CHF six billion on public transport and rail freight transport. It is the Federal Office of Transport's task to manage this expenditure as constructively and efficiently as possible in respect of maintaining assets and expanding the rail infrastructure, providing grants for regional passenger transport and funding freight transport.

By funding research and development, the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) seeks research findings that help to optimize costs and boost safety, energy-efficiency and environmental compatibility in its areas of responsibility. Funding research means that the Confederation is able to perform its duties as economically and effectively as possible. The knowledge generated, supported by carry-over effects, benefits the whole economy and makes it more productive.

For this reason, FOT devotes around CHF 10–15 million each year, approximately 0.2 percent of its overall expenditure, to research and innovation. FOT funds research and development via subsidies and as part of contract research.

What is research and innovation?

  • Research generates new knowledge by means of scientific methods. It is novel, creative, systematic, transferable and reproducible, and its results are uncertain. Funding research is an important governmental task.
  • Innovation means the development of new products, methods, processes and services in industry and society through research. Innovation is primarily a task for industry and should only be funded by the state occasionally in predefined areas.
  • Federal government research is research for which the results are needed by the Federal Administration or by federal policy makers to fulfil their tasks, or which is in accordance with the special legal provisions and strategies of federal agencies.

What other sources of funding exist for research and development (Confederation/EU/third-party countries)

Fact sheet