PILOT PROJECTS

Highly innovative and promising projects, 1998–2018

From its very beginnings, Gebert Rüf Stiftung has supported pilot projects open to all scientific fields as a way to manage the grant-making gap between the Swiss National Science Foundation and today's Innosuisse, between basic research and the market. After 20 years and the commitment of a total of CHF 70 million, this gap was successfully closed through the establishment of the BRIDGE programme. Adopting its proven strategy of focussed promotion in a promising gap area with huge potential, GRS can now reposition itself and continue to reinforce Switzerland's status as a top location for business and as a place to live.

Objective achieved: gap closed, bridge built

Since its founding in 1997, Gebert Rüf Stiftung has addressed the long-familiar funding gap between the Swiss National Science Foundation and today's Innosuisse (formerly: CTI), known as the «valey of death», where the funding chain breaks down for many innovative projects, no more basic research funding is available and venture capital is not yet accessible. By pursuing a support strategy based on areas of activity, Gebert Rüf Stiftung achieves a more sustainable impact than would be possible if the same resources were channelled into the kind of diversely scattered support typical of grant-making foundations.

The «Pilot projects» programme created by GRS in 1998 was a support vehicle with no topic restrictions for particularly original, innovative and surprising projects of a proven pilot nature with Swiss-wide significance. Initial funding was used to realize multiple small-scale beacon projects offering groundbreaking qualities, major potential and a conduit for developing thematic areas of activity.

The launch of the BRIDGE funding programme jointly managed by the SNSF and Innosuisse marked the closure of this gap after 20 years. GRS has thus met its objective: the bridge has been built. This allows GRS to turn its attention away from promoting pilot projects and instead to channel resources into the «InnoBooster» programme to address a new and promising gap area with huge potential. GRS remains faithful to its role as initial funder: Wissenschaft.Bewegen (making science effective) is now also a key feature of the foundation's visual identity.

Impact achieved

The following figures testify to the impact achieved with the «Pilot projects» programme:

  • 94% of projects closed a critical gap in terms of innovation/startup momentum
  • 82% had an impact on society and business 
  • 30% of projects resulted in the launch of a startup
  • 75% helped trigger a partnership with industry/service providers/the public sector
  • GRS funding has an average leverage factor of 14.

Approved projects pilot projects

Picture credits

Christoph Läser Photograph AG Basel