Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne has been focusing successfully on Industry 4.0 for two years. The new building, which will cost around CHF 45 million and will open at the end of 2020, is a center for technology transfer that will accommodate not only offices, laboratories and workshops but also a demonstration factory.
The new five-story building for international and national projects will be located directly adjacent to Biel’s central train station and in the immediate vicinity of the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH. With a total area of 15,500 square meters, the building will in future be used to promote innovation in the fields of advanced manufacturing, digitization and Industry 4.0, MedTech and energy storage. The centerpiece of the Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne will be the large, open workshop of the Swiss Smart Factory. The innovation park in Biel will be Switzerland’s first Industry 4.0 platform in which infrastructure is available for specific industrial applications.
As Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, said during the ceremony to lay the foundation stone, the project is of both national and international significance: “This new building is a clear confirmation of our will to achieve progress with a generation project and to do so in a visible way.”
The Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne is one of five locations of Switzerland Innovation. The organization not only provides parks to benefit the Swiss economy, it also aims to attract private research activities to Switzerland, emphasized Member of the Council of States for Zurich Ruedi Noser and President of the Foundation Board of Switzerland Innovation at the ceremony. Noser provided the impulse to set up the organization 15 years ago with his idea of establishing a national innovation park on the Dübendorf airfield site. Through political compromises, this radical idea gave rise to the beginnings of a national organization with different sites. “The progress in Biel shows that an initial situation like this can be used creatively and innovatively,” Noser said at the event.
The special achievement of the Biel site was also emphasized by Christoph Ammann, Head of Bern’s Department of Economic Affairs. Biel had deliberately started early with a provisional solution, he said, in order to test business and contribution models with customers. The decision to begin the construction of the innovation park only now, after the successful test phase, was also deliberate. The innovation park in Biel is run according to entrepreneurial principles, with a high level of financial discipline and a focus on growth. By 2020, Biel will be the first self-supporting site in the Switzerland Innovation Park.