Switzerland is known as the most innovative country in the world. Discover how a unique, tailor-made program in the west of the country can help accelerate your innovation ambitions, turning research into marketable products and services.
What does it take to innovate? For years businesses have been searching for the ‘secret sauce’ that accelerates innovation and drives it to success, but this can be more difficult than it seems. Indeed, while leaders generally see big opportunities in innovation they are often unsure of how to seize them. 84% see innovation as important to growth strategy yet only 21% believe they have the expertise, resources or commitment to pursue new growth successfully. Just 6% are satisfied with innovation performance.
Building on a track record in innovation that’s second to none, the new Soft Landing Program, developed by Switzerland Innovation Park West EPFL (SIP West EPFL) is changing those odds.
“SIP West EPFL is coordinated by the five cantons of western Switzerland and EPFL which aims to connect their rich ecosystems of research institutions and promote the region as an innovation hub, building bridges with industry. Our mission is to support companies of all sizes throughout their innovation journey to connect with this ecosystem and generate meaningful opportunities for collaboration,” explained Antoine Jourdan, Director of SIP West EFPL.
SIP West EPFL is part of the umbrella Switzerland Innovation initiative, a national ecosystem for domestic and international companies allowing them to further their research activities in partnership with universities and higher-education institutions.
In Western Switzerland the innovation hub includes: the EPFL Innovation Park and Biopôle focused on health and life sciences, computer and computational science, energy, natural resources and the environment, mobility and transportation and manufacturing and materials; Microcity in Neuchâtel, a hub for microtechnology and advanced manufacturing; Sion’s Energypolis where research revolves around energy management and green chemistry; the Bluefactory in Fribourg with a focus on sustainable architecture and smart building and Geneva’s Campus Biotech a hub for global and digital health, neurosciences and affective sciences.
With such a huge pool of expertise and innovation to tap into within these six, interconnected innovation parks it can be a challenge to know where to start. A Soft Landing Program account manager provides personalized navigation for companies through the potential of this vibrant and unique academic ecosystem to ensure that innovation opportunities and impact are maximized.
“Swiss schools and universities are among the best in the world and form the foundation of the country’s innovation strength but it’s a two-way street and its crucial in the innovation journey that academia and companies are able to work together closely and bounce ideas backwards and forwards to accelerate development processes to drive successful innovation,” said Jourdan.
“The Soft Landing Program welcomes globally focused companies ready for disruptive innovation creating a tailor-made program to unveil the potential of the Switzerland Innovation Park West EPFL ecosystem. Companies discover for themselves where they best fit within our different innovation hubs, they can partner with more than 200 start-ups, other corporates or SMEs, test their ideas and look for talent among more than 70-thousand students,” he continued.
Ten companies participated in the Soft Landing program in 2022, including 5 that were installed in different innovation parks after between two and six months of Academia-Industry Collaboration (AIC).
Aranow, Spanish specialists in solutions for single-serving/dose packaging for food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and dairy products installed in Neuchâtel; Inoprod, a French engineering and digital transformation company set up in the canton of Vaud; HealthMe, a US based company with a market-based solution to create, price, and transact fairly priced healthcare bundles is now working in the Valais; Basinghall Analytics, a hybrid consulting and technology firm providing Analytics, Risk and Technology installed in Vaud; and, CrossCert/Augmented Brain Labs SA a Swiss start-up, installed in Geneva.
Another recent success story is the collaboration between Archer Materials Limited, an Australian technology company operating within the semiconductor industry and EPFL.
In February 2023, Archer, that develops and commercializes advanced semiconductor devices, including chips relevant to quantum computing and medical diagnostics, has joined the Soft Landing Program with dedicated workspaces in the EPFL Innovation Park.
“Archer’s establishment in Switzerland is of strategic importance to our international expansion with our 12CQ chip technology development currently underpinned by 10 patents in Europe, including in Switzerland, with technology co-invented at EPFL,” said Dr Mohammad Choucair, Archer Chief Executive Officer.
“Building on our long-term collaborations with EPFL the Soft Landing AIC Program gives us the opportunity to explore business development and partnerships with start-ups and multinational companies, the acquisition of talent in the deep tech and semiconductor industry in Europe, and strengthening links with collaboration partners, including EPFL,” he continued.
The company has determined that Switzerland represents the first logical step for international expansion outside of Australia, given its existing relationship with EPFL and the significant size of the European semiconductor, quantum computing and deep tech communities.
“While Archer will enter the Program linked to the EPFL Innovation Park, the opportunity to explore and utilize the other innovation parks, all specialized in different competence areas with their own specific corporate and start-up ecosystem, is very attractive,” Choucair continued.
“The success of Archer and all our partner companies in driving innovation through leading edge collaborations with academia make my journey with SIP West EPFL not only exciting but also enlightening and I welcome our latest member, TNG technology, a value-based consulting partnership focused on high-end information technology,” said Jourdan. “In the year ahead we expect many more companies to come on board.”
In Europe and from north Africa to Asia and the Americas interest in the Soft Landing Program is growing as companies recognize the value of the unique and dynamic innovation ecosystem that Switzerland offers, and one that can be explored in a bespoke way through this scheme. Contact us to find out how a Soft Landing can work for you.