Research at USI: overview

Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) engages in many national and international research programmes, in a network with partners in several countries.

Research at USI is marked by ambitious projects seeking new developments and new solutions through interdisciplinary perspectives in several areas, namely:

  • architecture
  • computational science
  • communication
  • data science
  • economics
  • health studies
  • humanities
  • informatics
  • law
  • medicine and biomedicine

USI’s flexible structure allows for decisions to be made swiftly, thus enabling the fluid exchange of ideas. Researchers at the University are provided with an unfettered and open access to the world to develop projects independently.

USI engages mainly in fundamental research though it conducts also applied research and projects.



Compared to its size, the outcomes of scientific research conducted at USI speaks to a remarkable dynamism that makes the university a cluster for scientific development in the region. USI and its affiliated research institutes (IDSIA, IRB, IOR) attract on average 15 million Swiss francs of competitive research funds every year, mainly from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the European Union – with 14 prestigious ERC Grants, a Marcel Benoist Prize (the Swiss “Nobel” prize), a Dreyfus Prize and a Robert Koch Award.

The interest of leading institutions in hiring young Ph.D. graduates from USI underscores the quality of its research. Notable examples include Oxford, Columbia University, Cornell University, University College London, EPFL, London School of Economics, University of Bristol, University of Amsterdam, TU Delft, Northwestern University, New York University, University of Indiana, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Copenhagen Business School, and organisations such as Google and Microsoft.


At a glance  
Academic staff 825
of which, professors 115
of which, doctoral students 282
Institutes 21
Competitive research funds (annual average, M of CHF) 15
Ongoing research projects 109
Projects completed 889


Michele Parrinello, USI, 2010-2015
Antonio Lanzavecchia, IRB, 2010-2015
Andrea Alimonti, IOR, 2011-2016
Fabrizio Grandoni, IDSIA, 2012-2016
Michael Bronstein, USI, 2012-2017
Federica Sallusto, IRB, 2013-2018
Antonio Lanzavecchia, USI, 2015-2020
Michele Parrinello, USI, 2016-2020
Peter Cejka, IRB, 2016-2021
Andrea Alimonti, IOR, 2016-2021
Patrick Thomas Eugster, USI, 2017-2019
Michael Bronstein, USI, 2017-2022
Jürgen Schmidhuber, IDSIA, 2017-2022
Davide Rossi, IOR


Marcel Benoist Prize Awarded in 2011 to Michele Parrinello

2017 Robert Koch Award to Antonio Lanzavecchia 1
2017 Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences, conferred to Michele Parrinello 1
2017 Sanofi-Pasteur Institute Award to Antonio Lanzavecchia 1


Research in Switzerland

Research activities at USI benefit from the favourable conditions provided by the Swiss system.

Switzerland is a country with a stable political system, where 3% of GDP is invested in research in development, higher than the OCSE average (2,4%). This is made possible thanks to productive synergies between resources and quality public infrastructures – notably the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Innovation Agency Innosuisse – and important private sector investments (companies and foundations).

In addition to these elements, in Switzerland there is a quality workforce, thanks to the excellent educational system and to the ability to attract skilled workers, and the density of local networks of research and innovation.  

Despite its small size, Switzerland is a very dynamic research hub, well connected and with a solid international reputation, as shown by the data on scientific research publications, as well as being one of the most competitive countries in the world, with high levels of specialisation and high living standards.