Sustainability working group

The IPI has divided the implementation of Objective 13 of the Federal Council’s strategic objectives for the IPI (in German, French and Italian) into 1) sustainable development goals (SDGs) and measures that enable the IPI to have an impact on external players (external impact), and into 2) SDGs and measures that are relevant to the IPI as an institute and employer (internal impact).

To implement the goals with an external impact, the IPI established a sustainability working group. The group is composed of employees from various divisions within the IPI as well as external experts who assist with certain measures (e.g. WIPO GREEN).

The sustainability working group is examining measures that the IPI can take to strengthen its support of green innovations. These measures should contribute in particular towards the achievement of Goal 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and Goal 17 (partnerships) of the 2030 Agenda.


Examples of measures


Intellectual property (IP) and green technologies

Intellectual property (IP) and green technologies


As with all technologies, adequate and effective IP protection plays a key role in the development and diffusion of green technologies. Patents are an important incentive to develop new innovations relating to the environment. For example, between Edison’s invention of the light bulb and today’s energy-saving LED lights, there have been countless patents in connection with lighting. Trade marks also play an important part, particularly in the successful marketing of green technologies and products.


The IPI offers many information services relating to intellectual property, including training and courses, publications and statistics. Even though these information services do not focus exclusively on green innovations and technologies, inventors or providers of green technologies and products can benefit from them.

For a detailed overview of the role of IP in green technologies, see WIPO GREEN and the Global Challenges Report.


Information services for projects relating to sustainable development financed by other federal agencies


Information services in connection with IP are free of charge for project participants who receive financial support from the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) as part of its funding programmes in the area of developing and marketing environmental innovations. This applies to environmental technology promotion, the technology fund, the wood action plan and forest and wood research funding. 


Patent landscape in the Swiss Cleantech Report


In conjunction with other federal agencies, the IPI supports the Swiss Cleantech Report, which is published on a regular basis. For the 2024 report, the IPI conducted an analysis of green patents for the third time. The trend analysis shows that the number of patent families active worldwide more than doubled between 2008 and 2022 (from 6.5 to 14.5 million). In the same period of time, the number of cleantech patents increased from 1 to over 3.5 million.


In Switzerland, around 18% of active patents (12,600) are cleantech patents. Between 2018 and 2022, the cleantech patent portfolio increased significantly both worldwide and in Switzerland. The growth is particularly notable when compared with the previous decade. However, the growth rate of cleantech patents in Switzerland is moderate compared with the global growth rate (20% versus 54%).


Although countries such as China, Japan and the United States possess more patents in this field in terms of quantity, Switzerland is keeping up with them in terms of quality. Between 2018 and 2022, compared with the top nine cleantech patent countries, Switzerland’s cleantech portfolio showed the most positive trend in terms of technology relevance, a slight increase in market coverage and an average level of portfolio growth. Switzerland has high-quality patents in the field of photovoltaics, in particular. With regard to cleantech patents, however, Switzerland is not in the lead, with Denmark taking the top spot.


Study on possible measures to promote green innovations


A study by ETH juniors examined how the IPI can encourage sustainable innovations. The findings show that a holistic approach is needed in which various measures are coordinated and continuously monitored. The sustainability working group is examining the measures proposed by ETH juniors and will gradually introduce them if they are approved.