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Vice-Rectorate Research
The University of Bern wants to generate knowledge and share it with society.
Prof. Dr. Hugues Abriel

β€œIt is important to prioritize those innovations that have the potential to change entire branches.”

Executive Board

Supporting innovative researchers

The University of Bern wants to generate knowledge and share it with society. To do this, it promotes the innovative spirit and entrepreneurship of its members – among other things through the successful establishment of the Innovation Office.


By Prof. Dr. Hugues Abriel, Vice-Rector for Research

By the University, for society

One of the main tasks of the University of Bern is to generate new knowledge for the advancement of science, society and business. The many activities carried out by the scientists and staff at the University of Bern are aimed toward this generation of knowledge. We are proud that the University of Bern is a place where the diversity of backgrounds and ways of thinking and acting are an essential part of generating practical knowledge. Many members of the University have a pronounced sense of entrepreneurship or are at least prepared to share their knowledge in society.

Innovation has many different facets. A proven concept is the innovation chain, which starts with basic research and eventually leads to applications or commercialization in society. The University of Bern is familiar with the upstream parts of this chain, and has also made efforts in dealing with the downstream application of the chain in recent years. This has already resulted in several success stories such as Alveolix AG, a spin-off of UniBE that won the SwissMedTech Award in the past year.

However, the University of Bern still has a lot more untapped innovative and entrepreneurial potential to offer. As a result, there has now been an Innovation Office in place at the Vice-Rectorate Research for over a year, which is tasked with promoting the dynamic innovation community at the University of Bern even more strongly. The Innovation Office increases awareness and supports students, researchers and professors with new ideas and inventions, thus reinforcing the transfer of innovative research into business and society. The focus here is on personal advice, and answering questions such as: How can I develop a sustainable business model? How can I finance my innovation project? The first year has laid some crucial foundations: In addition to setting up the Innovation Office, we also launched the UniBE Venture Fellowships, organized the first founder's forum, and focused on entrepreneurial researchers for the first time at the Swiss Startup Days. Together with other players in the field of promoting innovation, such as the Entrepreneurship Center and technology transfer organization Unitectra, the Innovation Office makes an important contribution toward a diverse support system for academic entrepreneurs.

From the laboratory to business

Nonetheless, challenges remain. One of the most important challenges for any university that wants to promote innovation is the fact that the academic world primarily measures success through the release of publications and the securing of grants. However, an increasing number of researchers want their research to also have a tangible impact on society, and also want to play an active role during implementation. In order to support researchers with an entrepreneurial drive, a culture has to be created within the organization that values both top academic performances and the desire to make an impact in the real world. This could be in the form of financial incentives such as scholarships or awards to mark the successful implementation of research results, training courses, or supporting researchers in developing their entrepreneurial skills.

The professors also take on a central role here by exploring innovative research topics and by encouraging young talents from the non-professorial teaching staff to put their findings from research into action in business while establishing inter- and transdisciplinary connections.

Innovations in the service of society

Innovation comes in a wide variety of different forms – from gradual improvements to existing products and services through to groundbreaking discoveries that can change entire branches. Of particular importance here are those innovations that have the potential to overcome current and future challenges in society. The University of Bern is well prepared here.
Close collaboration with stakeholders from all areas of society is essential in identifying those areas where innovations are required most urgently.

It is important that the University benefits fully from the innovative and entrepreneurial ideas of its members. We now have better structures in place and people who are dedicated to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Bern. We should build on this further by creating a culture that values academic excellence and the aspiration toward practical effects. In this way, we can contribute to maintaining the leading position of the University of Bern in knowledge generation and innovation.