UBS Center sets course for the future
Jul 2020

Course for the future

The UBS Center for Economics in Society (UBS Center) was established as an Associate Institute at the University of Zurich (UZH) to build a bridge between science and society. From the very beginning, the Center's credo was "Economics for Society". This was made possible thanks to a donation of CHF 100 million from UBS on the occasion of its 150-year anniversary. UBS has now decided to extend its engagement for an additional 10 years with a new donation of approximately 25 million Swiss francs, enabling the UBS Center to build on its past achievements.

“We continue to take our social responsibility seriously, even in difficult times. Our new contribution is a clear commitment to Switzerland as a leading location for education and research.” UBS Group Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti

“The University of Zurich warmly welcomes the extension of UBS’s commitment. The UBS Center plays a very important role in the success of the Department of Economics,” says Gabriele Siegert, UZH President ad interim.

Bringing European values and views into global dialogue

The University of Zurich has become one of the leading universities in Europe in the field of economics – and this is in large part due to the UBS Center, which has been able to establish itself in Switzerland as a driving force and a platform for dialogue between scientists, policy-makers and society. The reputation of the UBS Center extends far beyond Swiss borders, as Ernst Fehr, professor of economics at UZH and director of the UBS Center, emphasizes.

“Thanks to the UBS Center, the Department of Economics has succeeded in attracting leading international researchers and excellent doctoral candidates. This has set in motion a self-reinforcing process, offering a unique opportunity to advance towards the internationally leading economics departments.” Ernst Fehr

According to Fehr, the field of economics is presently dominated by US universities. “This must change if Europe’s voice, values and opinions are to be heard in the global discourse. The continuation of the cooperation between the UBS Foundation and the UZH helps us reach this goal.”

Additional professorship and continuation of PhD scholarships

Since 2012, seven new UBS Foundation professorships have been established at the Department of Economics and over 20 UBS Center Scholarships have been awarded. In addition, the UBS Center has been able to get three researchers as affiliated professors to complement the department's research areas. The extension of the 2012 framework agreement includes the continuation of the activities of the UBS Center in their previous scope. This applies in particular to the Center's public events, publication series and communication activities on various channels. Ernst Fehr will remain director of the center, as will the strongly staffed advisory board and the existing donated professorships. The UBS Foundation has now the opportunity to fund an additional professorship; the independent appointment committee of the University of Zurich will determine who will take up the professorship. Furthermore, the foundation will continue its scholarship program for the next 10 years, thus continuing its support for the Zurich Graduate School of Economics.

Strengthening Switzerland as a location for education and research

UBS's 100 million donation made on the occasion of the its 150th anniversary was part of a broad-based education initiative launched by Kaspar Villiger, then Chairman of the UBS Board of Directors. As a member of the Federal Council, he had experienced how important it is to have a good exchange between science, politics and business. Villiger had the vision of strengthening Switzerland as a location for education and research and positioning it as an international leader. He shared this vision with UBS Group Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti, who at the time recognized the potential of the UBS Center and its importance for society. Villiger and Ermotti, together with Ernst Fehr, were the driving forces behind the establishment of the UBS Center - and today for the Center's continuity. The importance of "Economics for Society" in terms of building bridges between science and society is also reflected in other UBS initiatives, such as "Nobel Perspectives", which features portraits of more than 50 Nobel Prize winners in economics; "Women in Economics", an initiative in cooperation with the Centre for Economic Policy Research, which focuses on leading women economists and their expertise; and UBS's support of economics education in Swiss schools with long-standing partners such as Young Enterprise Switzerland and the Schmidheiny Foundation's "Wirtschaftswochen".

Press release

Press release of the University of Zurich on the extension of the contract

Documents

Amendment UZH/UBS Foundation

Agreement UBS/UBS Foundation

2012 Framework Agreement

The UBS Center for Economics in Society (UBS Center) was established as an Associate Institute at the University of Zurich (UZH) to build a bridge between science and society. From the very beginning, the Center's credo was "Economics for Society". This was made possible thanks to a donation of CHF 100 million from UBS on the occasion of its 150-year anniversary. UBS has now decided to extend its engagement for an additional 10 years with a new donation of approximately 25 million Swiss francs, enabling the UBS Center to build on its past achievements.

“We continue to take our social responsibility seriously, even in difficult times. Our new contribution is a clear commitment to Switzerland as a leading location for education and research.” UBS Group Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti

UBS Group CEO Sergio Ermotti delivering a keynote at the UBS Center Podium on the future of Swiss Finance.
UBS Group CEO Sergio Ermotti delivering a keynote at the UBS Center Podium on the future of Swiss Finance.
UBS Center Director Ernst Fehr (on the right) in conversation with Joschka Fischer, Former Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany.
UBS Center Director Ernst Fehr (on the right) in conversation with Joschka Fischer, Former Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany.

Interview Ernst Fehr

In an interview with NZZ am Sonntag, Ernst Fehr comments on UBS's new donation. He explains how important third-party funds are for the competitiveness of universities and what solutions economists can offer to social problems. Fehr wants to strengthen Europe's voice and values in the global discourse: "We must bring even more world-class people to Zurich. Seven additional professorships have already been created through the UBS donation and filled with talented young people who previously taught at Harvard or Stanford. It is our ambition that they develop into internationally leading economists."

In an interview with NZZ am Sonntag, Ernst Fehr comments on UBS's new donation. He explains how important third-party funds are for the competitiveness of universities and what solutions economists can offer to social problems. Fehr wants to strengthen Europe's voice and values in the global discourse: "We must bring even more world-class people to Zurich. Seven additional professorships have already been created through the UBS donation and filled with talented young people who previously taught at Harvard or Stanford. It is our ambition that they develop into internationally leading economists."

"We want to get out of the ivory tower": Ernst Fehr is one of the first economists to question the traditional image of Homo oeconomicus. (Photo: Gabi Vogt/NZZ)
"We want to get out of the ivory tower": Ernst Fehr is one of the first economists to question the traditional image of Homo oeconomicus. (Photo: Gabi Vogt/NZZ)

National press

  • Top-Ökonom Ernst Fehr: «Unsere Professoren mussten sich selbst entmachten» NZZ am Sonntag Interview vom 4.7.2020 lesen

  • Weitere 25 Millionen Franken: Die UBS verlängert ihr Sponsoring an der Universität Zürich NZZ 2.7.2020 lesen