Swissmem calls for Swiss participation in Copernicus

10 May 2024 13:11

Supporting partner

Zurich - Swiss companies could suffer long-term if Switzerland does not participate in the European Copernicus earth observation programme. Swissmem has called on the Federal Council to stand by its original decision on Switzerland's participation in the EU programme.

Space data is an area of technology with great potential for Swiss universities and companies. However, the Federal Council's decision on 1 May to withdraw its participation in the European Copernicus earth observation programme for now due to budgetary reasons has led to backlash.

Shortly before the decision was announced, Swissmem sent a letter to the Federal Council urging it to adhere to the decision made in 2022 regarding Switzerland's participation. The industry association underlined that the federal government, universities and Swiss companies had invested large sums, totalling millions, which were now at risk of being lost. In particular, companies that received support from the European Space Agency (ESA) during the prototype phase would be affected by exclusion from future projects. According to the programme criteria, they would have to relinquish know-how and intellectual property.

Swiss companies are threatened with long-term damage, according to Swissmem. They could be forced to relocate activities abroad, thus jeopardizing Switzerland as a business location, it writes.

Copernicus aims to observe the Earth's surface in detail using a network of satellites and ground stations. The data will be used in areas such as environmental protection, disaster prevention and security. The first satellite was launched in 2014. Twenty will be stationed in orbit by 2030. 

The universities of Bern and Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne and Zurich, and companies including APCO Technologies, Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG) and Thales Alenia Space Switzerland are all involved in the Copernicus projects to date. The companies involved in space technology are united under the umbrella of the Swiss Space Industries Group, one of around 25 industrial sectors of Swissmem. ce/stk

Supporting partner

Swiss Pavilion Digital