Who is SATW? – Questions and answers

The Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences SATW was established as an association under the Swiss Civil Code in 1981 and, pursuant to the Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA, Article 11), has the following tasks:

  • Conducting and promoting the early identification of topics relevant to society in education, research and innovation;
  • Encouraging dialogue between the world of science and society; promoting studies on the opportunities and risks of innovations and technologies;
  • Coordinating activities with the other three academies in the context of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences and, in particular, ensuring collaboration with higher education research centres;
  • Promoting collaboration among scientists and experts in specialist bodies, commissions and other suitable organisational forms and using these to perform its tasks;
  • Supporting international scientific collaboration by funding or running suitable institutions, in particular national coordination platforms and scientific administrative offices for internationally coordinated programmes in which Switzerland participates.

SATW has 372 individual members who have made outstanding achievements in the fields of science and technology and 53 member organisations with technical backgrounds. Almost half of the individual members of SATW are active in industry – the other half in academia.

Who does SATW represent – does it also represent universities and universities of applied sciences?

SATW represents the technological and scientific interests of Switzerland as a whole and therefore does not represent individual groups with individual interests. Against this background, SATW is one of the few organisations that can be neutral, objective and exclusively dedicated to technology and science. SATW could therefore be described as a “lobby organisation acting on behalf of all Swiss citizens”.

This is also reflected, for example, in the composition of the Executive Committee: Three members of the Committee work at Swiss universities, three work at universities of applied sciences and five have a background in industry.

 

What can SATW do?

SATW comments on all important issues related to technology and science, without pursuing its own purposes. SATW perceives itself as an honest information broker as it does not act on behalf of any interest group. It is able to function in this way thanks to its solid network of experts in the engineering sciences and in industry, supported by the expert knowledge of its 372 members, its 53 member organisations and over 100 experts on their various topical platforms, all of whom with proven excellence in their respective fields.

For this reason, SATW plays an important role in shaping opinions on scientific and technological matters in politics and administration, in the public, in education, as well as in Swiss industry.

What can the Industrial Advisory Board do?

SATW’s Industrial Advisory Board may not perform any tasks that are already covered by the different industry associations. SATW strives to lead the way on technological and scientific matters which are also of key relevance for value creation, basic provision of services and prosperity in Switzerland and therefore affect a significant portion of Swiss industry. These matters may relate to regulations, education, scientific policy or infrastructure, such as the lack of digitalisation in Swiss public administrations, inadequate protection against cybercrime and insufficient levels of self-sufficiency in terms of energy, raw materials, food, essential intermediate synthesis products, steel, medication and semi-conductor chips.

SATW’s Industrial Advisory Board is therefore charged with recognising Switzerland's main socio-political challenges at an early stage and tabling such matters for discussion, provided that there are perceived to be technological or scientific solutions to these challenges that are to be made public and discussed at the national level and are intended to contribute to adding value in Switzerland.

Which role does SATW play in the Switzerland-wide R&D Network?

The last few years have shown that SATW has the rare, yet essential “convening power” at its disposal. As a neutral and objective organisation dedicated exclusively to technological and scientific excellence, SATW manages time and again to bring together all of the stakeholders involved in a key topic and moderate discussions among them in a pertinent way.

This is thanks in part to the fact that SATW cultivates high-quality connections with politics, public administrations, universities, member organisations, industry organisations and national and international academies and does not represent any one group as a lobby organisation. Drawing on the dynamic Industrial Advisory Board, the aim is to include even more information from Swiss industry and involve key persons from industry in discussions.

What does the international network of SATW look like?

SATW is a member of Euro-CASE, an organisation of national academies of engineering, applied sciences and technology from 23 European countries:

Thanks to personal connections, contact has been especially fostered with certain European academies, in particular the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), the British Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA).

SATW is also a member of CAETS, the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences.

Furthermore, one of the members of SATW’s Executive Committee is the Vice-President of one of the largest European technology platforms in Brussels, resulting in direct personal connections with the European Commission and the European Parliament.

SATW currently has almost 30 individual members, active not only in Switzerland, but also in nine other countries around the world.

Which roles do associations with lobby functions play, in particular Swissmem?

SATW cultivates close connections with a wide variety of industry organisations and associations. It also collaborates with larger organisations to carry out or agree on joint projects and studies, such as investigations into Switzerland's innovative strength coordinated with Swissmem.

Which role does SATW hope to play in conjunction with ETH Zurich and EPFL?

Many SATW members are from ETH Zurich and EPFL, including the presidents of ETH Zurich and EPFL (Prof. Joël Mesot and Prof. Martin Vetterli). Owing to its neutral position, SATW never acts on behalf of the individual interests of individual universities – by contrast, SATW can represent the collective interests of all universities.

One example of this is “3D Manufacturing”, an initiative launched as a result of the convening power of SATW and in which all universities and universities of applied sciences have had the opportunity to participate. By working together, the participants in this initiative managed to arrange the release of special federal funds for this ground-breaking area with a wide range of possible applications.