UK-Swiss ERI relationship: A rising tide lifts all the boats

Lutz-Peter, our Head of Science & Innovation at the Embassy in London, outlines the recent developments that can deepen the UK-Swiss ties, the ways in which his team is currently aiding the network’s mission, and the ways in which you can join them.

Shaping Swissnex
in London

For the Swissnex team at the Embassy in London, signing a UK-CH Memorandum of Understanding on collaboration in science and innovation adds a new dimension to our work. We have a long track record of running projects and events connecting science and innovation stakeholders (for example, we piloted Embassy-run startup camps). But now, we align our Swissnex activities more with the Embassy-style political dialogue – the best of both worlds!

Since the UK and Switzerland have similar strengths, we support collaboration in quite a few sectors. We like trending themes like quantum or molecular systems engineering. But, we also make sure we pay attention to the “evergreens” which tend to have the biggest economic importance – so Life Sciences and Fintech, for example, feature strongly again this year. In our startup internationalization programme, we currently see a Medtech trend since the UK health system is very attractive for Swiss entrepreneurs.

We follow the Swissnex motto of #ConnectingTomorrow: On the “tomorrow” side, we always try to address future challenges and opportunities within sectors. Examples of this year’s activities are 2D materials within quantum or the ethics of engineering life sciences. To optimize the “connection” part, we often focus on communities and networks rather than individual labs or startups. For example, we just ran a delegation visit for Deeptech Cluster managers who will carry the word about Swiss strengths and opportunities back to their regional communities. And there is another aspect: the Swissnex network is getting better at working together to connect our stakeholders to curated partners from multiple countries rather than merely bilaterally (e.g. Swissnex’s “Project Quantum”) – this is clearly the way forward, and the Swissnex team at the Embassy in London is happy to be a part of it.

Based on the government MoU, we are becoming more strategic about aligning the interests of different stakeholders towards common goals. I think this will give the small country Switzerland a bigger critical mass to connect with impactful partners in the UK around common challenges like health, climate change, etc. When I speak to people in Switzerland, most are interested in the UK. Now is a good time to check in with us to see how everyone’s particular interest might fit into the intensifying the overall UK-CH relationship, which, like the rising tide, may benefit several Swiss stakeholders.


Lutz-Peter Berg

Head of Science & Innovation - Embassy of Switzerland in London