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Switzerland Innovation launches five tech parks

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Buildings proposed for the tech park in the canton of Aargau. Photo: Park innovAARE
08:20 CET+01:00
Switzerland rolled out its answer to Silicon Valley on Monday: a network of five technology parks designed to boost industry, science and technology across the country.

Organized by Switzerland Innovation, a privately funded foundation, with support from the federal and cantonal governments and several universities and research institutes, the parks aim to provide young companies with a helping hand.

They also hope to attract established companies to bring their research and development departments to Switzerland, Ruedi Noser, federal senator and foundation president, said at a press conference at the Centre Paul Klee in Bern.

The tech parks are centred around Dübendorf in the canton of Zurich, Allschwil in the canton of Basel, Villigen in the canton of Aargau, Biel in the canton of Bern and Lausanne in the canton of Vaud.

“We want to position Switzerland among the best in terms of research and innovation,” Swiss President and Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said in a statement.

That is how “we can assure our competitiveness internationally, our economic prosperity, as well as our jobs”.

The parks are meant to serve as incubators for startups to develop products and to allow room for novel ideas to germinate, the government said.

“In the future we must develop ideas and lead research here in Switzerland, to be be able to offer quality products and remain competitive in the global marketplace,” said Raymond Cron, director of the tech park network.

Each tech park is located next to a university or research institute.

But the Park Network West, attached to Lausanne's federal institute of technology (EPFL), has buildings scattered in different locations.

The Lausanne park groups together facilities at EPFL in Epalinges as well as in Neuchâtel, Sion, Fribourg and Geneva (Campus Biotech).

Some of the buildings of the parks have yet to be built, although the network has been in the planning stages for ten years.

The project originally started as an innovation campus on the site of a former military aerodrome in Dübendorf, near Zurich.

The federal government has agreed to cede 70 hectares of publicly owned land at the airfield to develop a centre for innovation linked to Zurich's federal institute of technology (ETH).

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But the project grew to attract the attention of several cantons.

And the federal parliament has backed 350 million francs in loans to fund research and development at the parks in stages between now and 2024.

The parks also have financial backing from 19 Swiss companies, including some of the country's biggest, such as Nestlé, Novartis, Roche, Credit Suisse and UBS.

For more information, check the Switzerland Innovation website

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