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Collaboration with the ZHAW in Research and Development

We attach great importance to the transfer of knowledge and technology to society and business. Thus we offer companies and public institutions various ways in which they can collaborate with us in research and development.

The ZHAW works closely with companies and public institutions in various research areas and it develops new and practical solutions for its partners. Through this close collaboration, the results of the research quickly flow into business and society. The ZHAW carries out over thousand research and development projects annually. Approximately half of the research costs are provided by our business partners and public institutions. This financial outlay underlines the direct benefit that our partners receive from working with the ZHAW.

Advantages for you and for the ZHAW

As a partner of the ZHAW, you profit from the expertise of various experts and you gain access to the superb infrastructure of the ZHAW. In return, the ZHAW benefits from market-oriented assignments. These then form part of classwork and teaching, and the students’ training is thus very practical. Companies can find solutions to problems as they work together with the ZHAW, or they can mandate the ZHAW to undertake particular research or development functions or services for them. Our researchers know how to develop pioneering ideas and how to implement them successfully in practice, and they are also aware of financing possibilities. Clear contractual agreements ensure that there is legal protection and security as regards intellectual property.

Type Advantages for the company Typical timescale Typical costs
Student projects/theses Low costs; highly qualified professional supervision Several weeks to several months depending on timetable Cost sharing of approx. CHF 0 to 3,000
Mandated research, services Rapid results; carried out by experienced experts Depends on client Market prices according to size, approx. CHF 1,000 to 75,000
R&D cooperation, often funded Partly financed by public funding; long-term collaboration Up to several years Usually support from public funds. Project volume: CHF 50,000 to 1 million

Forms of collaboration

Companies and public organisations can gain access to the specialist knowledge at the ZHAW in a number of different ways. The initial situation of each project and the type of financing determine how the scientific results can be used. You can find detailed information on this in our Guide to knowledge and technology transfer. There are basically four different ways in which the ZHAW and a company or other kind of organisation can work together:


The partner researches an area or topic together with the ZHAW and, with ZHAW specialists, develops a practical solution. Cooperation is then generally supported by public funds, for example, Innosuisse. The ZHAW can make a valuable contribution by gaining funding (see Research funding). Cooperation is financed by both parties and both parties have rights to the results.

Mandated research

The partner gives the ZHAW clearly defined specifications – for example, it commissions the development of a prototype. The project is completely financed by the partner. The partner usually has all rights to the results.


The ZHAW provides the client with specific services, such as reports, tests or analyses, and uses already established methods and tools. For this reason, there are usually no legal rights involved when such a service is provided. The client provides full costs and is thus entitled to the results, but not to newly discovered methods and other intellectual property.

One of the ZHAW’s strengths is its interdisciplinary teams. These teams develop new products, for example, or solve complex problems. Highly qualified research assistants and a modern, well established infrastructure ensure efficient handling of the project.

Guide to knowledge and technology transfer

Sponsorships and endowments

External parties can also (part-)finance R&D projects at the ZHAW by sponsoring. A sponsor is kept informed about the project and is named, but basically has no rights to the results of the project. Other ways to support work carried out at the ZHAW are making a gift or donation, establishing a foundation, or financing grants. Here too, the donor or financial backer is named, but has no right to anything else in return.

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