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2016 Annual report

The WSL annual report is in three parts:

  1. An Annual Report (Notes on Corporate Governance and Business Development)
  2. A Financial Report
  3. Annexes to the Financial Report

In keeping with Switzerland's multilingualism, parts of the report are in French, German and Italian.

Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL (Hrsg.), 2017:
Geschäftsbericht der Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL 2016.

WSL Ber. 53: 76 S.

Facts and figures


Accounting standard

Since 1 January 2015, WSL's annual accounts have been drawn up in accordance with IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards). This represents a paradigm shift away from the previously used cash accounting to accrual accounting.

Income statement

Compared with the 2015 accounts, WSL's income fell by CHF 5.5 million, amounting to CHF 77.6 million in 2016. Compared with the previous year, federal government funding (financial contribution and contribution to accommodation) decreased by CHF 0.73 million to CHF 53 million, 69% of WSL's operating income. Compared with the 2015 accounts, second- and third-party funding also decreased. Income from second and third parties was CHF 22 million in total, equivalent to roughly 28% of WSL's operating income.

Operating costs in 2015 were CHF 75.6 million. Compared with the previous year, personnel expenses decreased by CHF 202’000 to CHF 56 million. Personnel expenses account for the lion's share (74%) of the operating costs.

The end-of-year result was CHF 2 million in 2016, which is CHF 5 million less than in the previous year. This decline was mainly due to the decrease in research contributions. Operating income rose more than operating costs, which helped to achieve a good end-of-year result in 2016.

In thousands of Swiss francs
2015 2016
Basic federal government funding 
  53'897 53'168
Research contributions, research contracts and scientific services   26'713 22'026
  Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)   5'466 4'831
  Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI)   437 398
  Research from federal offices (federal research contracts)   17'609 14'237
  EU framework research programmes (FRPs)   573 478
  Business-oriented research   969 581
  Other project-oriented third-party funding   1'658
Endowments, legacies and other income   2'527 2'238
Operating income   83'136 77'597
Personnel expenses   56'260 56'058
Material expenses    17'815 17'535
Write-offs           1'093 1'178
Transfer expenses   830
Operating costs   75'999 75'610

Financial result

  -179 -25
End-of-year result   6'959  1'962


In 2016, the 495 employment contracts (ECs) amounted to 432.3 full-time equivalents (FTEs). Compared with 2015, there was one employee less and 0.2 FTE more in 2016. Full-time scientists accounted for 56 % of all staff. In 2016, 15 young people were doing apprenticeships in seven different professions at the WSL.

Number of persons in 2016 Men


   ECs FTEs
Research staff          186 168.2
   277  243.7
Technical staff  109 102.3
   147  130.6
Administrative staff  14 12.0
   56  43.0
 12 12.0
   15  15.0
Total  321 294.5
   495  432.3

The 174 female employees (without apprentices) accounted for 35.6% of all staff. Compared to 2015, this proportion increased by 0,5%, which was due to the relatively high proportion of women (41%) in the new recruitments.

Similarly to 2015, 27% of employees came from abroad, half of them from Germany. The foreign staff members come from 30 different countries. Language communities were represented as follows: German was the mother tongue of most employees (86%). 4.6% of staff had French as their mother tongue; 3.0% Italian and 2.8% had English.

In 2014, the WSL launched a Visiting Fellows programme to increase research collaboration with foreign scientists. The aim of this programme is to enable leading international researchers at an advanced stage of their career to spend some time at the WSL, conducting research together with WSL employees. Seven visiting scientists from different research establishments worked at the WSL in 2016.

In 2016, the WSL organized several events in the framework of personnel development for all WSL employees: interactive courses, hosted by comedians, to practice difficult conversations, as well as workshops on social media for professional use and on career planning. The ETH domain's career-building programme for women in science “Fix the Leaky Pipeline” attracted quite a few WSL female scientists. Scientific integrity was also a discussion topic in 2016. Almost 100 scientists from various WSL locations participated in a “World Café” to discuss authorship and the meaning of integrity in applied research.

WSL publications

The number of publications is a key factor in research. There are three types of publication: Institute for Scientific Information (or ISI-indexed) publications, reviewed non-ISI-indexed publications and outreach publications. ISI-indexed publications are scientific peer-reviewed articles in journals that are indexed in an international database and bibliometrically analysed.

In 2016, WSL researchers produced 434 ISI-indexed publications, 6% more than in the previous year. In 2015, 145 articles were published in peer-reviewed non-ISI-indexed journals, and WSL staff produced 314 outreach publications, aimed at practitioners.

Number of publications 2016
2015 2014
ISI-indexed publications   434
411 405
ISI-indexed publications counted using the new method*   0
0 0
Reviewed non-ISI-indexed publications   145
Implementation publications   314
Total 893
*Web-of-Science-indexed publications not previously included in the WSL database

Clear indications that our work is relevant and valued by academics and society alike were: the marked increase in recent years in the number of scientific publications, many of which were published in the leading journals in their respective domains; the twofold increase in the number of citations in just five years; the consistently high output of outreach publications, and the strong presence of WSL researchers in the media.