On March 14, Switzerland Innovation Park (SIP) Network West EPFL organized, for the first time, an exceptional event to share ideas on how academia and industry can successfully join forces to develop new technologies and achieve breakthrough innovations.
In his opening speech, our Swiss Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann congratulated the EPFL Innovation Park, member of the SIP Network West EPFL, for playing a pioneering role for the last 25 years in attracting renowned companies to join its Innovation Park. “The Switzerland Innovation Park initiative is an intergenerational project characterized by the pooling of its strengths” and the Suisse Romande Network is a very good example of an interdisciplinary but dense ecosystem that is the foundation of a competitive country.
Philippe Leuba, State Minister Vaud and co-President of the SIP Network West EPFL, presented his view of the Suisse Romande initiative and underlined the importance of the complementarity of competences where disruptive innovation can be achieved. “Breaking silos and working in this ecosystem is crucial”.
Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL, gave a dynamic talk on EPFL and its new way of collaborating with Cantons and industry. He also underlined that the “EPFL strategy contributes to the implementation of SIP in Western Switzerland; however success is never final and quick enough!”
From inspirational talk to real cases
The conference continued with the projection of a short video that featured testimonials from various industry leaders and academic renowned professors who participated in successful collaborations (see separate link).
The video projection was followed by a round table. The main purpose was to explain how collaborations can be initiated and how to reinforce them. Several experiences were shared, among which one industry leader illustrated collaboration as “a bridge being created between two worlds (academy and industry)”, another participant added that “these bridges could be created simply by walking into professor’s office, having a coffee and engaging in a discussion together”.
More than 400 participants attended the event which was moderated by Olivier Dominik and followed by a networking cocktail.
Let’s join forces!
It was a unique evening where academia, the industry and politicians were given the opportunity to exchange ideas on how to better shape our future and serve society as a whole. It was clear to everyone that it can only be achieved by joining forces to ensure economic growth and prosperity in a small place like Suisse Romande, “the size of a confetti”, as illustrated by Jean-Nathanaël Karakash, State Councillor Neuchâtel and co-President of the SIP Network West EPFL, during his conclusion speech.