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Switzerland and Britain boost scientific ties

Britain and Switzerland want to build closer scientific ties

Switzerland and Britain have signed a strategy paper on future science and technology cooperation.

The aim is to enhance the position of both countries as European and global leaders in such areas as bio- and nanotechnology.

The agreement was signed on Friday by Switzerland’s State Secretary for Science, Charles Kleiber, and Britain’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King, in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

The Swiss Science Agency and the British Embassy in Bern said in a joint statement that the main aims of the strategy paper were to step up cooperation and foster contact on scientific matters between the British and Swiss governments.

“The governments’ mutual objectives [are] to facilitate and optimise the building of networks between British and Swiss business and researchers.

“The aim [of the agreement] is to benefit wealth creation through increased trade, direct investment and commercial partnering,” the statement added.

Fostering ties

Claudio Fischer of the Swiss Science Agency said Britain, with its top-quality universities, was an important partner for science and technology in Europe.

“It is important to have dialogue and regular exchange, also in view of the European Union’s seventh framework research programme,” Fischer told swissinfo.

Switzerland has already concluded an accord with neighbouring Italy and engages in dialogue on scientific matters on a less formal level with both France and Germany.

Fischer said Switzerland was also hoping to move towards more cooperation with Austria.

Biotech conference

Switzerland and Britain say they are keen to organise joint events in the spheres of biotechnology, life sciences, micro- and nanotechnologies as well as general scientific policy.

Coordination between the two countries is to be assessed by yearly ministerial meetings which will evaluate progress and outline the future agenda.

Activities already planned for next year include a second biotechnology conference in London, and a series of debates on ethical, safety and health standards at the Nanofair 2005 in the Swiss city of St Gallen.

A seminar on climate change focusing on emissions in Swiss cities is also planned.

swissinfo, Urs Geiser

Switzerland has already concluded a formal accord with Italy on science and technology cooperation.
Cooperation with Britain is based on a strategy paper.
There is also regular institutionalised dialogue on a political level with France and Germany.

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