Zurich and Lausanne unis launch 43 startups

Switzerland's top-ranked universities, the federal institutes of technology in Zurich (ETH) and Lausanne (EPFL) created a total of 43 startup companies in 2015.

Zurich and Lausanne unis launch 43 startups
Photo: ETH Zurich

At ETH Zurich, 25 spinoff businesses were founded last year, more than ever before, the school said in a press release.

Following a trend established over the past few years, more than a quarter of the startups at ETH were established (seven) in the field of information and communication technology.

Entrepreneurs at the Zurich university also launched new companies in the fields of biotechnology (four), medical devices (three) electrical engineering (three) and consulting (three), among others.

Among the breakthroughs of the companies, new methods have been developed to measure muscle fatigue or to optimize liposomes for patient detoxification, ETH said.

Improved batteries and smart light bulbs programmed for greater protection against burglaries are among other products produced by the spinoffs.

The school said 330 spinoff companies have been created at ETH Zurich between 1996 and 2015, with more than 20 created annually since 2007.

Eight of ETH's new spinoffs last year were founded by “Pioneer Fellows” from a programme that supports Master's students looking to transform a business idea into reality with donations from third parties.

“It shows that it pays off to encourage young researchers to turn their ideas into marketable products at a very early stage,” Detlief Günther, ETH vice president of research and corporate relations, said in a statement.

ETH said that the federal government is planning to integrate its fellowship model into a “new support programme” to be expanded across Switzerland.

At EPFL, eight of the 18 spinoffs created in 2015 are active in health sciences, with five in information technologies and four in electronics.

An additional business created at the Lausanne school is specialized in the energy and environment domain, the ATS news agency reported, citing an EPFL spokesperson.

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Zurich property prices have almost doubled since 2007

A new report shows the increase in the cost of buying apartments in Switzerland over the last 11 years, with the country’s largest city affected by the largest increases.

Zurich property prices have almost doubled since 2007
Zurich's old town at night. Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The price comparison firm Comparis and ETH Zurich have released a report showing the difference in Swiss property prices compared to 2007. In Zurich, it now costs almost double (a 97% increase) to buy an apartment, with the price per square metre now setting property owners back an average of 13,000 Swiss francs.

The analysis shows that there has been a lot of variation between different parts of Switzerland, but the areas with the biggest spikes tended to be near to lakes. Nine of the ten largest increases were seen in lake regions.

After Zurich, the biggest changes were experienced by Horgen district (+89%), the canton of Nidwalden (+82%) and the city of Neuchatel (+80%). The only place where prices fell was the district of Goms in Canton Valais, southern Switzerland (-2%).

The report also shows the difference in overall prices between different parts of Switzerland. At the other end of the spectrum from Zurich is Le Locle in Canton Neuchatel, where one square metre costs an average of 3,250 francs.

Over the last 12 months, the rate of increase has slowed, with several districts and municipalities recording lower prices than one year ago. It is unclear whether this deceleration will represent a long-term trend.