The UK and Switzerland have announced an agreement to deepen their research and innovation relationship, with a focus on ‘deep science’ and ‘deep tech’.
The memorandum of understanding comes at a time when political tensions with the EU continue to exclude the two nations from the Horizon program.
“Research is fundamentally collaborative, and this will be another key step in realising the UK’s ambitions to deepen international R&D partnerships with leading laboratories, countries and industries around the world,” said George Freeman, UK minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation.
“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.”
“Swiss Ministers and I are clear we want to drive deeper tangible co-operation”
Switzerland and the UK are home to 10 of Europe’s top 20 research universities, and shared principles, values and scientific excellence make the countries “natural partners”, head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Guy Parmelin, added.
“In line with Switzerland’s goal to strengthen bilateral cooperation in research and innovation with competitive countries worldwide, the MoU with the UK will provide an excellent framework to further develop our partnership,” Parmelin said.
Specific forms of cooperation the agreement mentioned include: coordinated or joint initiatives, programs or projects; meetings and workshops; information and documentation exchange; mobility, visits and delegations; and strategy and coordination meetings.
There are also plans for a regular annual Anglo Swiss Research Collaboration Council to be convened by ministers to oversee activities.
“This bilateral deal is a positive statement of our ambition to work ever more closely with researchers and institutions in Switzerland,” Jamie Arrowsmith, director of Universities UK International, said.
“However, the interests of the UK, Switzerland, and the EU – and 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 – as the Stick to Science campaign has repeatedly called for.”
The campaign, led by UUKi, EPFL, ETH Zurich and other major education groups, has pushed for UK and Swiss association to the €95.5 billion Horizon Europe since its launch in February.
The UK set out transitional measures in July, along with a “preliminary vision” for a long term, alternative program to Horizon if association is not possible.
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