Six innovation parks throughout Switzerland run by Switzerland Innovation facilitate collaboration between universities and business enterprises
Switzerland is one of the countries with the greatest potential for innovation, which is founded on its excellent school-based training, dual education system and high-quality universities. Universities must be optimally connected to the economy to allow marketable products and services to result from such excellent educational and research opportunities.
“Exchange between researchers, talent and innovative companies forms the basis for innovation,” explains CEO Raymond Cron. Innovation occurs in interdisciplinary, cross-sector networks to a greater extent. The goal of Switzerland Innovation is to create a framework suitable for connecting science and the economy. “With the six Switzerland Innovation parks, we are building an ecosystem that allows national and international companies to advance their research efforts in collaboration with universities,” says Cron. The innovation parks perform an important facilitative function between cutting-edge research and business enterprises and make a significant contribution to transferring knowledge and technology. The spatial proximity of those involved accelerates development processes, which is essential to being a pioneer.
VRM Switzerland, which is based at Switzerland Innovation Park Zurich, went from a very small company to one at the top of the helicopter simulation industry. Swiss promotion of innovation has contributed to the company’s success. Fabi Riesen, CEO of VRM Switzerland, built a flight simulator in his living room with his children in 2014. “Our project was soon discovered by Professor Guido Schuster, a lecturer at the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences,” recalls Riesen. “A partnership with the Institute was the first step toward subsequently developing high-quality helicopter flight simulators.” Today, the company has grown to a team of 30 talented and passionate engineers and experts and counts reputed companies, such as Kopter and Air Zermatt, as its customers. The team was the first organization in the world whose virtual reality (VR) helicopter simulator was qualified to professionally train pilots at the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). VRM Switzerland also recently announced its collaboration with Airbus, which underscores its market leadership.
The company, which was still small three years ago, was able to establish operations at the innovation park in Dübendorf, allowing it to continuously grow. The interdisciplinary ecosystem makes cooperation with teams from other companies located at the park possible. Furthermore, collaboration with universities also promotes innovation. Such collaboration allowed the product, a dynamic movement platform combined with a high-resolution 3D VR display, to be optimally developed. The simulator provides pilots with a realistic flying experience. The authentic cockpit mock-up and the depiction of the pilot’s body in the virtual world are pioneering and make professional training possible.
Personalized Medical Products (PMP) chose Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area: “The innovation park offers a highly modern infrastructure,” enthuses co-founder Fritz Bircher. “The Jura location in Courroux provides the right environment for us to complete our first prototype soon. At the same time, we have access to a very exciting network of research and innovation partners.” Currently, approximately 273 people at 68 companies and 14 research groups work at Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area at the Allschwil, Basel and Jura locations, as well as at the Novartis Campus. The innovation park is run by Basel Area Business & Innovation. “We were able to hone our idea thanks to the close collaboration with experts at the Swiss Innovation Agency as well as leading thinkers and researchers in the health industry. For me personally, participating in the i4Challenge accelerator program was a highlight, since I received valuable feedback from the high-caliber, trinational jury and it raised visibility for our company,” says Bircher.
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