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Start-ups and spin-offs from the ETH Domain are innovative and successful

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During the WEF meeting, the ETH Domain came to the SLF to present itself through six successful fledgling companies whose business activities are rooted in research. The highest-ranking visiting guest was Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin.


Spin-offs and start-ups from institutions within the ETH Domain render research findings usable for businesses and society at large. This makes them important players for transferring knowledge and technology and delivers undeniable proof that ETH Zurich, ETH Lausanne, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and the Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) not only conduct research at the highest level, but also train experts and develop products that benefit society.

Accordingly, these two universities and four research institutes each presented themselves via a successful spin-off or start-up at the 'ETH Domain at WEF 2020 in Davos' event. Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, State Secretary for Education and Research and Innovation Martina Hirayama, Swiss MPs, councillors from the governments of several cantons and presidents and directors of several universities, colleges and research institutes were shown round and introduced to the young companies.

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As head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), the tour will no doubt have been of great interest to Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin. Transferring knowledge generated in universities, colleges and research institutes into the economy fosters innovation, generates economic success and thus also creates jobs. (photo: Mallaun Photography)
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WSL and Geopraevent: How to mitigate risks posed by natural hazards to traffic and transport routes. One inexpensive potential solution, compared to tunnels or control structures, entails installing monitoring systems that automatically close roads whenever threatening events occur. This requires sophisticated, highly reliable sensors. If traffic lights turn red in time, ice avalanches or rockfalls will have no serious consequences. (photo: Mallaun Photography)
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ETH Zurich and planted: This young, aspiring company uses special process technologies to create 'plant-based meat'. Its 'planted.chicken' made from yellow peas, which is already on sale, is uncannily similar to its animal meat equivalent, both in texture and mouthfeel, as visitors were able to experience for themselves at a tasting. The medium-term objective is to see it replace meat from factory farming. (photo: Mallaun Photography)
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EPF Lausanne and DePoly: A cost-effective, energy-efficient process breaks down PET waste into its original compounds, even if it contains mixed colours or is mixed with other plastics. The recovered raw materials can then be used to make new PET. This closes the cycle and not only avoids plastic waste, but also saves a lot of oil. (photo: Mallaun Photography)
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PSI and araris: Up to now, the active substances of certain cancer drugs have been chemically attached to antibodies to fight tumours inside the body. However, the efficacy and tolerability of this approach are far from optimal. Using a biological catalyst, the active ingredients can now be more precisely and also more reliably delivered to the right place. Furthermore, simultaneously attaching a radioactive molecule enables the process to be monitored to determine whether the drug is really working where intended. (photo: Mallaun Photography)
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Empa and ZG Ziegler Consultants Ltd: Vibrations can lead to major problems, especially in high-density construction. In the presented example, high-rise buildings were to be constructed for an industrial plant working with heavy presses. Is this a viable proposition? Such questions can be answered by combining measurements on comparable objects, conducting simulations using complex models and performing sensitivity analyses. In the case in point, the answer was 'yes, subject to certain adjustments'. (photo: Mallaun Photography)
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Eawag and aQuaTox-Solutions: Every day we use countless chemical substances: for personal hygiene, in drugs and when cleaning. Many of these substances end up in waste water, and some are not completely removed by sewage treatment plants. Consequently, their toxicity needs to be measured. Many fish have died in tests designed to determine substance toxicity. This spin-off company performs the same assessments, but uses fish cells instead of experimenting on actual animals. The tests are not just morally preferable, but also more meaningful, more precise and more efficient. (photo: Mallaun Photography)