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The HEIA-FR drives innovation through collaboration


15 November 2022

Located in the heart of Western Switzerland, the HEIA-FR collaborates closely with economic and industrial partners through its ten applied research institutes and four centers of competence.

Every year, the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR) trains more than 1,000 students in six different Bachelor’s programs and four Master’s programs. The School also hosts a rich applied research and development (aR&D) network with close ties to the economy: ten institutes and four centers of competence address the technical and scientific challenges defined by numerous regional and national partners.

The HEIA-FR’s applied research and development is open to economic partners of all sizes, from small local enterprises to public institutions and multinational companies.

Ten applied research institutes

With highly-qualified staff and state-of-the-art facilities, the HEIA-FR’s applied research institutes are able to address the needs of the economy using an experimental yet practical approach. The work done in the school’s different applied research institutes converges into three main clusters: industrial technologies, construction and environment, information and communication technologies.

Institute of Chemical Technology: benefiting from its expertise in synthesis, chemical engineering, analytics, characterization, process chemistry, scale-up and production, the ChemTech institute plays a key role in turning innovation at the molecular level into applications optimized for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, as well as for other industries that use chemistry.

Institute of Applied Research in Energy Systems: the ENERGY institute supports and promotes the development of a sustainable society in terms of energy production and energy management. The projects are set in a context of profound evolution fueled by climate change, the phasing-out of nuclear power, and the growth of the renewable energy sector.

Technology for Human Wellbeing Institute: at the intersection between the technological, economic and human sciences, the HumanTech institute works to improve life quality and human wellbeing through the ingenious application of new technology. Our objective is to facilitate the emergence of a “smart society” in which technology and society can co-evolve.

Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Complex Systems: iCoSys leads and supports innovation based on artificial intelligence and complex systems. The institute’s projects draw on the latest developments in informatics, data science, distributed computing, software engineering and mathematical modeling.

Institute for Printing: the iPrint institute is specialized in inkjet technology and digital printing. Our multidisciplinary applied research develops these technologies and widens their field of application by creating new processes. iPrint also proposes hands-on training courses on inkjet technology.

Institute for Applied Plastics Research: the iRAP institute addresses scientific and technical challenges in the field of plastics processing. It offers concrete and efficient solutions to the specific demands of the industrial sector. The competences offered by iRAP range from the material to its application while taking into account the product life cycle.

Institute of Smart and Secured Systems: with proven experience in the reliability of intelligent systems, the iSIS institute offers unique services in functional safety and certification of complex systems for the automotive, aviation, railway and power generation industries.

Institute of Construction and Environmental Technologies: iTEC focuses on the present and future of the built environment at all levels: construction materials, structural elements, complete structures and entire infrastructures. Its research targets the development of methods, technological processes and products in the field of civil and environmental engineering.

Sustainable Engineering Systems Institute: the SeSi institute specializes in high added value mechanical components, as well as in mechanical systems developed using digital tools and designed to be smart and durable.

Institute of Architecture, Heritage, Construction and Users: TRANSFORM is the only research institute in Switzerland focusing on urban and architectural transformation as an area of innovation. Its interdisciplinary approach contributes to creating a sustainable built and natural environment. The institute integrates innovative technologies and processes into projects that renovate, extend or convert buildings, neighborhoods and cities.

Four centers of competence

Plastics Innovation Competence Center: plastic packaging is the epitome of the throwaway economy. Today it is more urgent than ever to incorporate the principles of circular economy to the plastics industry as part of a wider effort to create a more sustainable society. This is precisely the goal of the PICC, which focuses in particular on recycling processes, eco-design, and plastics derived from biomass materials.

Robust and Safe Systems: the ROSAS competence center is specialized in safe, secure and robust technical systems. Its engineers ensure the safe and reliable interaction of mechanical components, electronic hardware and software in industrial systems. Such systems are integrated in domains such as aviation, automotive and machine industry.

Smart Living Lab: Smart Living Lab is a place where researchers and companies come together to implement interdisciplinary research projects using experimentation under real conditions. These projects focus on user wellbeing, energy efficiency and the digital transformation. The Smart Living Lab combines the expertise of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the HEIA-FR and the University of Fribourg (UNIFR).

Biofactory Competence Center: the BCC is a research and training facility at the service of the (bio)pharmaceutical industries. It offers training courses for professionals in industry-standard clean rooms and under real operating conditions. These courses are a response to the global shortage of highly-qualified personnel in the (bio)pharmaceutical sector. The BCC also provides support to companies carrying out applied industrial research.

A collaboration model for every need

Research collaborations can take on various forms depending on the objectives of the School’s economic or institutional partners. Both the duration of the project and the partner’s expected commitments will vary according to the chosen type of collaboration. In addition to these partnerships, a range of services, training courses and certification courses are offered by the HEIA-FR to all economic and public actors.

The Collaboration Driving Innovation brochure provides more information on all of the HEIA-FR’s research and development activities.