Innovation Parks in China and Switzerland Seek to Work Together Closely
Tens of thousands of companies have moved into China’s large science and innovation parks. Some of these Chinese high-tech companies will expand to one of Switzerland’s innovation parks, working in close collaboration with Swiss universities to drive innovative projects forward. A corresponding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Switzerland Innovation and the Chinese Torch Center (Ministry for Science and Technology) on June 4, 2021. Swiss State Secretary Martina Hirayama and the vice-minister of the Chinese Ministry for Science and Technology both attended the digital signing, underscoring the significance of the MoU. The Federal Council’s new China strategy emphasizes the importance of such initiatives that deepen and expand the collaboration between stakeholders in the science and research community and the private sector.
In matters related to high-tech innovation and start-ups, the Chinese Ministry for Science and Technology’s Torch Center is considered a successful innovation initiative. The Torch Center coordinates around 170 high-tech development zones. These zones are large science and innovation parks that attract high-tech companies and capital and aim to establish innovation networks. Thus, Torch has a function in China similar to the one Switzerland Innovation has in Switzerland.
Successful Negotiations – Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding
Following numerous meetings and rounds of discussion between Switzerland Innovation and the Torch Center in 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was worked out over the course of 2020. The MoU is intended to promote an exchange between the high-tech development zones and Switzerland Innovation’s innovation parks.
On June 4, 2021, all the hard work paid off: With State Secretary Martina Hirayama of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the vice-minister of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology in attendance, a digital ceremony was held to sign the MoU between Switzerland Innovation and the Torch Center. The two partners decided to hold a digital signing ceremony since the agreement could not be signed in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advantages of the Collaboration
In the view of Switzerland Innovation, the collaboration will help attract new and exciting Chinese R&D projects and research teams to Switzerland Innovation from the high-tech development zones. At the same time, these zones will be the ideal opportunity for Swiss companies located in one of Switzerland Innovation’s innovation parks to gain a foothold in the Chinese market. “As a result of the MoU with Torch, we expect there to be additional research investments in Switzerland based on joint projects between Swiss universities and Chinese high-tech companies. This will further strengthen Switzerland as a center of innovation,” says Raymond Cron, CEO of Switzerland Innovation.
In Line with the Federal Council’s China Strategy
The MoU is the first step toward implementing a collaboration between Switzerland and China in research and development as part of the Federal Council’s China Strategy 2021–2024. After the EU and the US, China is Switzerland’s third largest trading partner. Some 1,000 Swiss companies are active in China. The Federal Council works to ensure that these companies can work under secure and fair conditions.