The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and five cantons in western Switzerland (Fribourg, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Vaud and Valais) are pooling their strengths to contribute to the creation of the future Swiss Innovation Park.
On an initiative from the Federal Assembly, the Swiss Innovation Park (SIP) project is to create an international showcase and strengthen Switzerland’s position on the world map of scientific and technological innovation. The aim is to attract Swiss and international companies looking for cutting-edge research and breakthrough technologies to develop new markets. Pooling skills and driving prosperity, the SIP reasserts Switzerland’s ambition to bring all its considerable potential in innovation and the transfer of leading-edge technologies the visibility it deserves.
The central role played by the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (EPFs) was confirmed by the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Economic Affairs (CDEP) on 20 June 2013. The two EPFs will form the hubs of the network, which will also consist of several secondary sites to be selected at a later date by the CDEP. The Federal Parliament will ratify the definitive organisation structure of the SIP in 2015.
The enthusiasm with which the EPFL and Switzerland’s western cantons have committed to the initiative reflect the region’s strong position in the development of advanced technologies. The EPFL obviously plays a central role in the innovation system of western Switzerland, which also harnesses the strengths of four universities, the country’s largest HES school, two university hospitals and outstanding research centres including CSEM and CERN. This exceptional wealth of skills is already making a decisive contribution to Switzerland’s reputation and influence on innovation.
The core of the EPFL hub will be formed by the Quartier de l’Innovation and the Biopole in Lausanne, the Biotech Campus in Geneva, the Microcity in Neuchâtel, Energypolis in Sion and Blue Factory in Fribourg.
The EPFL network naturally structures the western Switzerland hub. In addition to its main campus in Lausanne, featuring the existing Quartier de l’Innovation and Biopole, the school is developing specialised sites in Neuchâtel (Microcity), Sion (Energypolis), Fribourg (Blue Factory) and Geneva (Campus Biotech). The decentralised hub will be based on the fields of excellence of each site. A Memorandum of Understanding setting out joint governance and representation structures, in which the cantons and the EPFL are represented, has already been approved by the partners.
To develop local collaborative initiatives between the EPFL and the academic and economic players at the different sites, local governance structures will be set up under the responsibility of each canton. Working closely with the economic development authorities of the cantons, these structures will provide the requisite support for welcoming entrepreneurs and innovative firms looking to set up sites near the hub’s poles of excellence. With the new system, western Switzerland is taking the lead on the introduction of an original, ambitious and practical framework that, as part of the SIP, will boost the economic outlets and international visibility of Switzerland’s innovative ability.
The EPFL obviously plays a central role in the innovation system of western Switzerland, which also harnesses the strengths of four universities, the country’s largest HES school, two university hospitals and outstanding research centres including CSEM and CERN.