Even though when viewed from outside, little appears to have changed at the Innovation Park site in 2019, inside and behind the scenes there has been a lot of activity. Due to appeals and pending court decisions, companies are still not allowed to settle on the site. But we have made virtue of necessity in the situation with a “waiting room” for companies at Maagtechnic, and some up-and-coming companies have already moved into premises there. Also in 2019, the infrastructure at the innovation park was used by over 5,000 visitors to events of all kinds. With its interior fittings in Hall 3, ETH Zurich has laid the foundations for research teams to soon find the ideal environment for their tests and experiments. And in line with the development concept, the area developer HRS has worked with the foundation to develop the groundwork for the overall project. The Innovation Park Zurich is ready to go!
Within just six months in 2019, 70 experts compiled the urban planning study for the visionary, inter-disciplinary, and efficient park development concept. HRS is committed to developing, planning, financing, actualizing and marketing the Zurich Innovation Park and to operating the first construction phase. This commitment enables the foundation to hand over the real estate issues and the associated development work to a private investor. The concept includes, among other things, a catalogue with measures on how the park can be developed sustainably and how it can be operated in the future. It is based on the development contract signed by the Zurich Innovation Park Foundation and HRS Investment AG in January 2019. The foundation holds a ten percent stake in the area development company founded together with HRS.
Students will soon be building rockets, racing cars and transport capsules in Hall 3
In summer 2019, ETH Zurich started to install the interior of its part of Hall 3. The so-called MATRIX laboratory of the Centre for Immersive Wave Experimentation by Prof. Dr. Johan Robertsson will be available from February 2020. At the same time, expansion work is underway for the ETH Competition Teams AMZ Racing, Swissloop and ARIS Space to move in. With them, new ideas for Formula Student racing cars and Hyperloop pods as well as Rocket Science will be moving into Hall 3. This shows that forward-looking mobility topics will also be researched at the historic Dübendorf military airfield in the future.
More than two events a week
Last year more than 5,000 people from numerous companies and institutions visited the area of the future innovation park. At over 130 workshops, guided tours, conferences, presentations and hacks in the H3 Event Space, as well as in the “Chuchichäschtli,” they found an inspiring environment for thinking outside the box.
However, due to objections and zone conformity issues, companies were not permitted to move into the park in 2019. We bridged this issue by offering interested companies the option of premises at Maagtechnic, and the chance to settle in the innovation park “waiting room.” This option is valued and actively used, with a total of 1,400 square meters of rental space made available here since last year, twice as much as in 2018.
A decision on the cantonal design plan is pending
The cantonal council’s loan commitment, which is primarily intended to finance the federal building rights and the development of the park, was discussed in the preparatory commissions. The final commission is expected to conclude early this year with the deal coming before parliament thereafter. This CHF 217.6 million loan is to be monitored by a performance agreement between the foundation and the Canton of Zurich and by a controlling concept.
The appeal proceedings regarding the cantonal design plan and the zoning of the peripheral buildings are in the second instance before the administrative court. Without its legal validity, neither company settlement nor any construction activities of the foundation are possible on the airfield area.
Central Switzerland and the Ticino are getting closer
The Central Switzerland and Ticino innovation parks are to be connected to the Zurich Park as part of the national Switzerland Innovation initiative. The synergies of an association were established in 2019. In the third quarter of 2020, the national quality jury will examine the candidates’ dossiers. This process is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
At the end of March 2019 the foundation found its new president in Peter E. Bodmer. His predecessor, the member of the Government Council Carmen Walker Späh, left the Board of Trustees. The Municipal and National Councilor Martin Bäumle now represents the Community of Dübendorf in this body and replaces the former Dübendorf President Lothar Ziörjen. Dr. Christian Wenger was elected to the Board of Trustees.
There was also a change of personnel in the strategic body of the Switzerland Innovation Foundation. After the former board members Prof. Dr. Lino Guzzella and Carmen Walker Späh stepped down, the new ETH President Prof. Dr. Joël Mesot and Gabriela Winkler, member of the Zurich Park Foundation, took their places on the committee.
René Kalt, Managing Director of the Innovation Park Zurich