„We should develop a scientific culture that focuses on social and economic challenges“

Anna Valente is leaving the Swiss Science Council SSC after four years. At the SSC, she learnt about best practices in research policy both in Switzerland and worldwide, she says.

Anna Valente, what issues did you particularly champion on the SSC?

The most important dossier for me was mission-oriented research and innovation. It’s a sensitive issue, especially in an R&I ecosystem like Switzerland’s, which is very bottom-up oriented. Together with my colleagues on the council, I analysed international research strategies and funding instruments.


What conclusions did you come to?

Preserving bottom-up research, both basic and applied, is crucial to ensuring excellence. However, it is equally important to develop a scientific culture that focuses on societal, economic and industrial challenges. These should be defined with key performance indicators to be targeted by measures at national level. With targets in place, public and private sector stakeholders working in both natural and social science disciplines can join forces.

Anna Valente was a member of the Swiss Science Council from 2020 until 2024

You have been involved in several EU research projects. What are the differences between these projects and the funding provided here by the SNSF or Innosuisse?

I have been coordinating large EU projects in the field of product manufacturing for many years, and I have also supported the European Commission in the development of programmes to promote innovation. Compared to the Swiss programmes, which give priority to bottom-up research, the European projects usually target a specific need for top-down actions. Research in this sense means achieving a series of objectives that have an impact and relate to indicators. Universities, SMEs and large companies enter into strategic partnerships which, at the end of the project, are likely to result in business collaborations aimed at achieving the innovative solutions developed within the project. The European funding initiatives ensure the participation of all countries, including those that do not have access to bilateral programmes. Certainly, the large projects leave little room for flexibility, which can sometimes be crucial in the dynamic context of research and innovation. Apart from the modalities of funding, the Swiss structure is lean and versatile. It meets the needs of the applicants.


You are now a member of the Innosuisse Board of Directors. What experience from your time at the SSC will you benefit from in your new role?

Thanks to my experience, I have a good understanding of Switzerland’s rich and heterogeneous research and education ecosystem, also for the disciplines that differ from mine. These include the humanities and medicine, for example. I got to know the local scientific culture, the best practices of research policy both in Switzerland and worldwide, as well as many research organisations that are supposed to ensure excellence and the development of research concepts and their implementation. It was a great pleasure to get to know the members of the Council and to work in an open-minded and dynamic team for several years. The experience was extremely valuable, both professionally and personally. I am very grateful for that.



Anna Valente is Professor of Industrial Robotics, Head of the Laboratory for Automation, Robotics and Machines at the University of Applied Sciences of Italian-speaking Switzerland SUPSI (Institute of Systems and Technologies for Sustainable Production ISTePS) and a member of the Board of Directors of Innosuisse. Her research specialises in the design, construction and development of prototypes for industrial solutions. She holds a PhD in Manufacturing Technologies and Production Systems from the Politecnico di Milano and a post-doctorate in Interoperability for Adaptive Factories from the University of Bath in England. Since 2006 she has been collaborating with research organisations and industrial players active in the manufacturing sector. Valente has authored two books and over a hundred research papers. She is an associate member of „CIRP − The International Academy for Production Engineering“. In 2019, she was awarded with the Woman-Led Innovation and the Grand Prix for Innovation by the European Commission. In 2021, she received the Swiss DINNO Award from the President of the Swiss Confederation, Guy Parmelin. Valente was a member of the Swiss Science Council from 2020 to the beginning of 2024.