During President Alexander Van der Bellen’s visit to the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich on Friday, he was shown the various tools used by ETH Zurich to promote innovation, according to an ETH statement. The concept behind the innovation projects is that students already in the second semester can develop their own ideas in small teams and implement them, explained ETH professor Mirko Meboldt. Later on, the students can also participate in larger, interdisciplinary research projects, such as manufacturing skin or developing a pump for artificial hearts.
To transform such projects into start-ups, the students receive support from the university, said Silvio Bonaccio, head of ETH transfer. He pointed to support mechanisms such as the Pioneer Fellowships, business plan competitions like Venture or ETH’s Industry Day.
ETH president Lino Guzzella gave Van der Bellen an overview of the Swiss education landscape and the role of the university. “The task of ETH is to bring world knowledge to Switzerland and supply the country and the economy with this knowledge,” he said.
“My prejudice has been confirmed that ETH is one of the best universities in the world,” Van der Bellen is quoted as saying in the Tages Anzeiger. The former economics professor was particularly impressed by how intensively researchers are prepared before founding their own company. “ETH has a head start in Europe in this regard,” said Van der Bellen.