The Swiss Federal Foundation for Promotion of the National Economy through Scientific Research financially supports and furthers the founding of Swiss technology start-ups.
The purpose of the foundation
The foundation was created in 1918 by Swiss industrial firms. The foundation’s purpose is to promote the Swiss economy through innovation. The foundation strives to transfer know-how and technologies developed at Swiss institutions of higher learning and their associated research facilities, into private enterprises. The intent being that these technologies or knowledge applications are subsequently commercialized to achieve an economic gain. This transpires through the process of founding new companies (university spin-offs). Generally speaking, the foundation promotes applied research that is subsequently exploited in promising commercial applications. Promoting basic research is not the purpose of the foundation.
The structure and legal form
The foundation is led by a board of between 20 and 30 Trustees of whom the majority must be legal residents of Switzerland. The board is comprised of individuals coming from various backgrounds such as industry, politics, research and teaching, or are successful entrepreneurs themselves.
Within the framework of its purpose, the foundation operates exclusively in Switzerland but throughout all of Switzerland.
The foundation does not seek to make a profit or pursue any financial gain.
Operating under the name «Eidgenössische Stiftung zur Förderung schweizerischer Volkswirtschaft durch Wissenschaftliche Forschung» this legal body is set up as a foundation under Art. 80 of the Swiss civil code of law headquartered in Zurich. The foundation is listed in the Register of Commerce of the Canton of Zurich and is under federal supervision by the Swiss federal council.
Nature of support
To fulfill its purpose, the foundation supports innovative university graduates and young entrepreneurs in their endeavor to substantiate their innovative business ideas, generally originating from their basic research, with the objective to secure a first round of financial support from early stage investors and support organizations. Supporting a business for market entry or to purely accelerate growth is not the objective of the foundation. This later market development stage should be financed through investors, venture capital, banks or other financial institutions. The initial business development phase is crucial for a nascent venture. At such an early stage, investors will only engage and be willing to consider a financial investment into a venture based on tangible results, prototype development or other achievements. It is the foundation’s focus to bridge the financing gap typically occurring in the critical early phase of a start-up before market entry. It is at this point that business and product options are assessed, permitting an evaluation of the potential of a product (proof of principle). The foundation’s loan should support the development of a realistic business model resulting in an attractive and strong business case.