Skat was founded in 1978 as part of the Institute for Latin American Research and Development Cooperation at the University of St. Gallen.
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.
Since its early days, Skat has focused on three areas of expertise: water and sanitation, architecture and construction, and transport infrastructure. The spectrum of Skat’s activities and competencies grew steadily. Just recently, “Energy and Climate” was officially established as focal area, resulting from partly already running activities. Increasingly, Skat dealt not only with "appropriate technology", but also with a wider range of topics related to technology and management. This growing breath of expertise is reflected by an adjustment of the name to "Swiss Centre for Development Cooperation in Technology and Management".
Skat gradually became a prime resource centre, which collected, documented and disseminated knowledge and experience on technologies and their application for interested target groups in both North and South.
In line with the shifts towards higher private sector involvement in development cooperation, Skat decided in 1997 to transform itself into a private limited company. The new company took over the association's mandate, i.e. to make a well-balanced contribution to the technical cooperation by merging highly professional consulting services with equitable sharing of knowledge. This approach means to collect relevant information on appropriate technologies, document lessons learnt and disseminate them to partners.
In 2001 Skat’s Board of Directors decided to set up the Skat Foundation together with the NGOS Helvetas, Caritas, and Swisscontact. The Skat Foundation is a charitable institution for sharing and disseminating Skat’s longstanding knowledge and experience with partners in the developing world in a professional manner, and for initiating new activities to promote the exchange of knowledge and experience in development cooperation. Skat bears all administrative and operating costs of the Skat Foundation.