Skat was founded in 1978, attached to the University of St. Gallen, as part of the Institute for Latin American Research and Development Cooperation. The acronym “SKAT” originally stood for Schweizerische Kontaktstelle für Angepasste Technik, meaning Swiss Centre for Appropriate Technology. The legal constitution was an association whose members were mostly Swiss development NGOs, some representatives from public and private institutions, and individuals.
Our initial purpose was to establish a resource centre to document, and make accessible, the experiences of Swiss organizations involved in development cooperation. Particular focus was on the introduction and scaling up of appropriate technologies.
The role of Skat staff evolved as simple requests from users of the resource centre developed into more complex consultancies on knowledge transfer. To cope with the rising demand, we focused on a few core areas of competence: water & environmental sanitation; architecture & construction; and transport. The spectrum of Skat’s activities and competencies grew steadily, with Energy and Climate becoming established as an expertise.