Dr Fritz Schiesser (Photo: Elisabeth Real)

ETH Zurich is on a mission to Mars, EPFL is getting paralysed people back on their feet, and Empa is investigating the collapse of the bridge in Genoa. These are just a few of the thousands of media reports from the past year that illustrate the areas of expertise and diversity of the ETH Domain. Year in year out, rankings and studies confirm the high quality of teaching and research, as well as the knowledge and technology transfer of the institutions of the ETH Domain. An analysis of the quality of patents, for example, shows that one third of the patents analysed from the ETH Domain are regarded as world-class. This puts it in third place worldwide and at the very top in Switzerland. These successes are only possible because our country's prevailing conditions are excellent. Policymakers, the business community and the Swiss public are working together to ensure that the ETH Domain has sound financing and sufficient autonomy, and that Switzerland remains an open country.

Leading-edge research, like top-level football, is international. Both rely equally on home-grown and foreign talent to be among the best. The ETH Domain would not be where it is today without students and staff from abroad and without the opportunity to develop international collaborations. The ETH Domain is proud of the many spin-offs that are founded here every year, generating innovations and jobs. More than half of the founders come from abroad. And two thirds of the professors who train our next generation of academics, promote projects with industry and make new discoveries in medicine, nanotechnology or energy are not Swiss passport-holders. Most of the research is based on international cooperation. Obstructing this has adverse consequences. As a result of the temporary exclusion from Horizon 2020, Swiss research institutions were involved in significantly fewer EU projects, received less funding and had fewer opportunities to coordinate projects.

Decisions on Switzerland's relationship with Europe, freedom of research and debates on the budget will continue in the future. Policy-makers, the business community and the Swiss public are therefore required to defend the good prevailing conditions time and time again. For its part, the ETH Domain will continue to make every effort to use its expertise to the greatest possible benefit of our country and to share responsibility worldwide for tackling urgent social challenges.

Bern/Zurich, February 2019
Dr Fritz Schiesser
President of the ETH Board