Switzerland Innovation Park Network West EPFL
Switzerland Innovation Park Network West EPFL is the realization of a project coordinated by the cantons of Western Switzerland (Fribourg, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Vaud, Valais) and the EPFL. The aim is to serve the best interests of the Swiss Innovation Park at a national scale in order to strengthen the economic and innovative status of Switzerland. By unifying skills and funds, the Swiss Innovation Park asserts the ambition of Switzerland to give its great potential for innovation and transfer of advanced technologies the deserved visibility and therefore contributing significantly to the capacity for innovation and wealth creation in Switzerland.
Concept and Target
The partnering Cantons of Fribourg, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Vaud, Valais decided to deposit, toghether with the EPFL, a common project for the Switzerland Innovation Park Network West EPFL. This decentralised network is based on the current structure of the EPFL with its headquarters in Lausanne and the specialised sites of the other partner cantons. The activities developed under the aegis of the Switzerland Innovation Park Network West EPFL in decentralised sites correspond to the themes of research of the specialized sites partners of EPFL in the Cantons concerned.
Switzerland Innovation Park Network West EPFL is organized by a General Assembly, in which the EPFL and all the cantons are equally represented, and a Committee, in charge of representing the intercantonal device at the Confederation, consisting of three seats: one seat is occupied by the Canton Vaud; one seat is occupied in turns by the other cantons and one seat is occupied by EPFL. Each canton has a partnership agreement with the EPFL in particular on the specificities of each site.
The structure of the EPFL network naturally the hub of the Innovation Park for Western Switzerland and is the thematic thread. Beyond its main campus in Lausanne, especially with the existing EPFL Innovation Park and Biopôle, specialized high school sites are developed in Neuchâtel (Microcity), Sion (Energypolis), Fribourg (Bluefactory) and Geneva (Campus Biotech). The decentralized hub SIP West models itself in the 9 areas of excellence of each site. Geographic sites can be expanded as required in accordance with the themes attributed to the different sites.
In order to develop close collaborations between the EPFL and the academic and economic actors on the different sites, local governance structures are created under the leadership of each canton. In close collaboration with the cantonal economic promotion, they provide adequate support for hosting welcome entrepreneurs and innovative companies, wishing to settle near the poles of excellence of the hub.
With the desire to strenghten the position of Switzerland on the world map of scientific and technological innovation, the Swiss Federal Parliament decided to create a national and international showcase in order to attract domestic and foreign companies in need of advanced research and disruptive technologies to develop new markets.
In 2006, the National Councelor Ruedi Noser launched the concept at the Federal Parliament, based on the preliminary reflections on this project by ETHZ and EPFL. On June 20, 2013, the Conference of Cantonal Directors of Public Economy (CDEP) acknowledged the leading role of the two Swiss Federal Institutes ETHZ and EPFL, which constitute the network hubs. The secondary sites were subsequently selected by the CDEP. The final organization of the Swiss Innovation Park was ratified by the Swiss Federal Parliament in 2015.
Significant public investment or from public/private partnerships have already been made for the site of the Switzerland Innovation Park Network West EPFL. Cantonal support, consisting mainly of interest-free loans, amounts to CHF 22 million for the EIP Foundation (EPFL Innovation Park) and CHF 11 million for Biopôle.
The Canton of Vaud is able to support any infrastructure project as long as the objectives of its Support Policy in Economic Development (PADE) are met.
Under the law on support for economic development, the Canton can act in loans and deposits within the limit of maximum exposure limits which are respectively CHF 220 million and CHF 90 million. Contributions of lost fundings can exceptionnally be granted.