Model projects at universities of applied sciences, 2009 – 2017

Under the title «BREF – Brückenschläge mit Erfolg» Gebert Rüf Stiftung supported exemplary research and development projects in the field of social innovation from 2009 to 2017. The program was aimed mid-level research and teaching staff of universities of applied sciences who develop strong ideas that can also serve as models for new and promising cooperation ventures with partners from business and society. BREF contributed significantly to increasing the potential of the «soft» disciplines of universities of applied sciences as R&D partners. The sum of CHF 1.5 million was available annually for this purpose.


The BREF funding program, which was implemented in close cooperation with «swissuniversities -– chamber of universities of applied sciences», focused on the topic of «social innovation» since 2009. The six annual calls triggered 269 applications, of which 31 were approved. About three quarters of these projects were in the fields of social work, health/nursing, music and theatre, and economics. Over the entire program period, funding amounted to CHF 9.03 million, with an average of CHF 291,000 in start-up funding for the projects. Thanks to their strong practical relevance, the implemented UAS projects helped a large number of social innovations to achieve a breakthrough. In addition to a variety of effects in research and practice, the BREF projects generated follow-up financing of CHF 4.6 million.

The strategic goal of establishing «social innovations» as a funding theme was achieved in exchange with the federal funding agencies Bridge and Innosuisse. The jointly organised event in October 2019 initiated a discussion between researchers, partners in practice and funding agencies on how funding conditions and structures for social innovation projects should be designed in future.

Applications were open to cross-departmental and interdisciplinary projects that – with the active participation of bridge partners from practice, society and business – addressed specific needs and relevant problems.

BREF jury

The BREF jury consisted of the following persons:

  • Prof. Dr. Richard Bührer, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Dr. Katja Gentinetta, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Prof. Franco Gervasoni, Director, Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI), Vice-President of the chamber of universities of applied sciences and member of the Board of swissuniversities
  • Prof. Dr. Rudolf Marty, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas D. Meier, Rector, Zurich University of the Arts (ZFH/ZHdK)
  • Prof. Dr. Peter Voll, Head of the Institute of Social Work, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO)
  • Prof. Monika Wohler, former Vice-President of the University of Applied Sciences St.Gallen (FHO/FHS)

Approved projects BREF – Social Innovation