Top Stories from Western Switzerland (July-September 2023)
27 September 2023
From spearheading eco-innovative solutions to pioneering breakthroughs in solar technology, cancer research, sustainable shipping, and the realms of space and artificial intelligence, discover Western Switzerland’s top stories from July-September 2023.
The Solar Impulse Foundation awarded seven Western Switzerland start-ups with the Efficient Solution Label, recognizing eco-innovative solutions. Among them, Green-Y Energy optimizes energy consumption, Urbio aids in building decarbonization, and Simon + Josef foster resource savings in hospitality. Zaphiro enhances renewable integration with SynchroGuard, Sun Ways proposes removable solar plants between railway tracks, TreaTech transforms waste into renewable resources, and Enerdrape utilizes geothermal panels to revolutionize building heating and cooling systems. This label not only honors their environmental and economic efficiency but also elevates these start-ups to a platform of international acclaim.
CSEM, participating in the Hiperion project, has innovated in creating the world’s most efficient solar panels, boasting over 29% power conversion efficiency, significantly higher than the conventional 15-22%. Funded by a EUR 10.6 million grant from the European Union, Hiperion’s hybrid panels ingeniously merge conventional and concentrated photovoltaic technologies, optimizing power production in varying sunlight conditions. Currently in pilot production in Neuchâtel, these panels are sent across Europe for extensive testing. Targeting niche markets, Hiperion’s panels are ideal for space-constrained areas with high power needs, like urban rooftops and EV charging stations, potentially marking a shift in Europe’s stance in the global photovoltaic industry.
Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have made a significant discovery that could lead to personalized cancer treatments by identifying how two genes, CXCL9 and SPP1, affect cancer progression within the tumor microenvironment. These genes, expressed by immune cells called macrophages, were found to either accelerate or decelerate cancer progression. By analyzing 52 head and neck tumors individually rather than aggregating cells from different patients, the team observed a critical impact on tumor progression based on the expression of these genes. High CXCL9 expression relative to SPP1 led to better clinical outcomes, opening a potential pathway for targeted cancer treatments by interfering therapeutically with these networks.
Michelin’s Wing Sail Mobility (WISAMO) project is pioneering sustainable shipping with its innovative sail installed on a ship traversing between Spain and England. Developed in Michelin’s Givisiez research center, the telescopic, inflatable, and automated WISAMO sail aims to boost shipping efficiency and lessen resource use. Initial tests on Lake Neuchâtel were successful, with ongoing enhancements to enlarge the sail from 13 to around 60 meters, aiming to cut fuel consumption by 10-20% by 2026-2027. The project, awarded the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” label, underscores Michelin’s commitment to eco-friendly transport solutions, aligning with broader efforts towards sustainable maritime transport.
AlphaOnco Swiss, supported by its parent company Nanobacterie, is pioneering nanomedicine-based cancer treatments, with Nanobacterie achieving fourth-place in nanomedicine patent rankings by Marks and Clerk. Nanomedicine enhances drug efficacy and reduces side effects by delivering therapeutic agents directly to the disease site. This Franco-Swiss collaboration is notable in the competitive medical research field, especially given Nanobacterie’s small size. AlphaOnco Swiss is currently seeking investors to advance its innovative cancer treatments further. The longstanding collaboration with Switzerland, known for its innovation and biotechnological research, provides a conducive environment for AlphaOnco Swiss’s groundbreaking endeavors in cancer care.
The University of Bern and HES-SO have launched the SUBICE project, a pioneering space exploration initiative under the MARVIS banner, alongside another project, openSPACE, from the Paul Scherrer Institute. With CHF 1.3 million funding from Switzerland for 2023-2025, SUBICE aims to explore the interplay between water ice and refractory materials in planetary subsurfaces. This follows Bern’s recent contributions to the JUICE mission to Jupiter. These projects, emphasizing innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration, bolster Switzerland’s standing in global space research, showcasing its strategic intent to lead in space exploration while enhancing its space research ecosystem.
Western Switzerland emerges as a prime hub for AI, bridging top-notch research with evolving global AI regulations, housing prominent AI institutes like Idiap and CAIM. The region’s innovations, like Torch, have global tech giants establishing bases here for tech transfer and rapid product commercialization. While keenly observing EU’s AI regulatory developments despite non-membership, Switzerland adopts a pragmatic approach to stay innovative yet adaptive to regulatory shifts. Its ecosystem, enriched by collaborations between global tech firms and local institutes, alongside initiatives like Swiss AI Center, fosters AI integration in SMEs, ensuring Western Switzerland remains an attractive, future-ready destination for global AI companies.
HAYA Therapeutics has secured first place at the 13th TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award, highlighting its innovative work in utilizing the dark genome for precise RNA therapies aimed at modifying disease cell states. HAYA specializes in precision drugs, with its lead candidate targeting cardiac fibrosis under preclinical trials. This award, held in Schlieren and organized by Venturelab, showcased the thriving and diverse startup scene in Switzerland, ranging from biotech to fintech. The ascension of HAYA Therapeutics from eighth place in 2022 to the top spot this year underscores the dynamic and innovative spirit within the Swiss biotech sector.