Container optimisation for the collection and logistics of flat screen devices
Innovation Fund

Four years of the Swico Innovation Fund – a success story

24 project ideas have been submitted since the Swico Innovation Fund was launched four years ago. Half of the applications with a total value of CHF 3.1 million were approved and financially supported. A total of around CHF 1.4 million, or around 40% of the requested funding, was awarded to various project partners.

To promote the further development of the recycling system, Swico relies on the innovative capability of the partners involved. However, projects in the development phase are often not yet (or are insufficiently) self-sustaining and the risks are too high. This is where the Innovation Fund comes into play: it provides incentives for innovative ideas financed through the recycling contributions of the convention signatories and financially supports projects in their development phases.

The aim is to improve the circular economy for electronic equipment. This relates not just to the quality of recycling, but also to all associated matters such as communication, awareness-raising and training, digitalisation, extending the lifespan of equipment, and logistics.           

In addition to the ecological benefits, innovations in Swico’s voluntary system also bring a great deal of value to both consumers and society: On the one hand, continuous system development is being driven forward and, on the other, the situation for the environment is improving.. For example, the raw materials contained in the equipment can be recovered more efficiently, additional materials can be recovered, and equipment can be reused before being recycled.


In a multi-stage process, the three-member Advisory Board examines the innovative nature, relevance, benefits, feasibility and likelihood of success of an innovation project, as well as whether the applicant is capable of implementing the intended innovation.

Petitions can be submitted in mid-February and mid-August by all Swico contractual partners who usually collaborate with start-ups, other industrial partners or research institutions. The Advisory Board makes the final decision regarding support. A project can receive a maximum of CHF 300,000 in financial support, with emphasis being placed on a significant proportion of own contributions. If the assessment criteria are not sufficiently met or the quality of the applications is inadequate, the Advisory Board can request improvements and amendments, and then choose to finance the project in full or in part or to reject it following the final assessment. As of 2023, projects that are of interest to both Swico and SENS can be financed jointly.

Types of innovation projects supported

The submitted projects can be assigned to the following fields: recycling, reuse, logistics/supply chain, training/awareness-raising, communication, data acquisition and digitalisation.

The lion’s share of the submitted projects are those aimed at improving recycling processes and promoting the reuse of equipment, with the latter having increased significantly, especially in the past two years.

When looking at the approved projects, it is clear that almost three quarters of the financial resources have been assigned to the fields of recycling and reuse. However, training and awareness-raising have also played an important role. Projects in the fields of communication and digitalisation have yet to make it into the financing round.

Figure 1: Toner recycling plant soRec AG / Figure 2: Container optimisation for the collection and logistics of flat screen devices
Figure 3: ReUse Swico Recycling: Collection containers for mobile phones and laptops / Figure 4: Repair, Reuse City of Bern Pretty Goods: Campaign poster for the reuse of electrical appliances at collection points

After four years, it can be summarised that the forward-looking decision to launch an Innovation Fund has had a positive impact on the further development of the Swico system. The twelve funded project ideas have all either directly helped to improve the overall system or improved the knowledge and data situation, which is important to drive innovations forward with good value for money.

More information:
Who is behind the Innovation Fund? (in German)
Technical Report 2021 from Swico, SENS und SLRS