US military funding projects in Swiss universities

The main building of the University of Zurich with the city of Zurich in the background. © KEYSTONE / CHRISTIAN BEUTLER

Under the Trump Administration, significant amounts of US dollars have been flowing into research projects in the top Swiss federal technology institutes in Lausanne and Zurich, reports the Luzerner Zeitung.

This content was published on November 24, 2018 - 15:46

Almost $1.6 million (CHF1.59 million) in funding to the Lausanne-based EPFL and almost CHF600,000 to the ETH in Zurich since 2016: these are the figures quoted by the Swiss daily, which says that the money comes primarily from the US Army and the Pentagon.

Asked about the projects in question, both technology institutes declined to give specific information, but said that the funding also supported research “that doesn’t necessarily have military goals”.

For their part, American authorities say that the funding is simply destined at maintaining their technical superiority.

Reactions by politicians in Switzerland have been mixed, according to public broadcaster RTS. It quotes social democrat deputy Anita Fetz, who worries that “if the Americans are pouring in money, it’s so as to serve their own interest.”

Liberal green politician Isabelle Chevalley is more sanguine: “it doesn’t shock me in the slightest that the EPFL receives private donations, whether from the US army or elsewhere, because with the budget cuts they’re constantly seeing, they are pushed to seek funding from the private sector.”

Of course, this is also not wholly new, writes RTS: the US has long funded research projects in Swiss universities. These include investments by the US Department of Health in funding research towards cancer treatment.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly captioned the picture as the main building of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

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