Brussels, 18 Nov 2004
The Head of International Affairs at the Swiss Science Agency, Claudio Fischer, was in Brussels, Belgium, on 17 November to explain how and why Switzerland is creating outposts for Swiss science in the US and Asia.
Switzerland has already created three Swiss Houses abroad and is planning on opening a third in a couple of years. The initial target was the US, with houses being opened in Boston in 2000 and in San Francisco in 2003. Now Switzerland is looking towards Asia. Singapore hosts the region's first Swiss House, while Shanghai is the target for the second.
The principal aims of the initiative are to create networks to reinforce the presence of Swiss higher education, science and technology in very dynamic regions and to multiply and structure cooperation between institutions in Switzerland and the host region. The houses also act as a point of contact for Swiss scientists abroad and organise and host events to promote Swiss science internationally.
The houses are a joint initiative of the Swiss Federal Science Agency and the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs. Around one third of the necessary funding comes from public money, while two thirds come from sponsors in Switzerland and the host region. All houses share a common strategic advisory board.
Each Swiss House is different, and is branded according to what is expected to be successful in each region. The San Francisco entity is known as Swissnex, while the Boston version is known as SHARE (Swiss House for advanced research and education) Boston.
The success of each Swiss House is judged by the income from private sponsors, the number of events and projects initiated and the number of visiting delegations. Each indicator so far suggests that the houses have been well received, both at home in Switzerland, and in their host locations.