Origins

The current CTI funding areas were set up in response to the needs of the CTI’s target groups. They have been developed in an ongoing process on the basis of discussions, (external) inputs and the CTI’s own initiative.

The CTI’s origins go back to 1943, when the Federal Council set up the Commission to Promote Scientific Research (Kommission zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung) in order to help prevent a possible recession by promoting applied research and development. In 1954, federal innovation promotion was established in the Federal Act on the Preparation of Crisis Management and Job Creation (Bundesgesetz über die Vorbereitung der Krisenbekämpfung und Arbeitsbeschaffung). Today’s title, “Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI)” was introduced in 1996. At that time, the Commission’s legal status was that of an extra-parliamentary commission. However, because it did not have any decision-making powers, as a Federal Administration commission it had a solely advisory function.

When the Federal Constitution was revised in 2006, Article 64 expressly stated that the Confederation would promote innovation in addition to scientific research. This led to the Federal Council Dispatch of 5 December 2008 to amend the Federal Research Act. With the partial revision of this law, the CTI’s status was raised from advisory committee to an executive commission with decision-making powers [1]. Since then, the CTI has formed part of the decentralised Federal Administration, with the autonomy to make decisions in its field of activity and responsibility. However, as an extra-parliamentary commission, it is not an independent legal entity.

Experience has shown that the structures of the current organisation do not always meet the CTI’s innovation promotion requirements. When the executive commission was set up, the aim was to give the CTI more autonomy; now, however, the organisational challenges that this legal form involves are preventing the CTI from functioning as well as it might. For example, there is no clear distinction between strategic and operative tasks, nor are there any independent checks and balances. If the CTI is to fulfil its role of innovation promoter to the full and be well equipped for future challenges, it needs to have the status of an institution governed by public law.

The CTI is the federal agency responsible for innovation promotion. Its work is based on Article 64 (Research) of the Swiss Constitution. “The Confederation shall promote scientific research and innovation.” Since 1 January 2011 the CTI has operated as an independent federal commission with its own secretariat. It is affiliated to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER).

[1] The title of the law was also changed, to the Research and Innovation Promotion Act (RIPA). The RIPA came into effect on 1 January 2011.

Further information

Last modification 17.05.2016

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