Two new technology transfer centers

At the end of September, the "AM-TTC Alliance", the umbrella organization for the establishment of technology transfer centers in the field of advanced manufacturing technologies - the "Advanced Manufacturing Technology Transfer Centers" (AM-TTC) - decided to support two centers with almost CHF 5 million in the next two years. The AM-TTC initiative is one of the measures taken by the federal government in 2017 to meet the challenges of digitization.
Advanced manufacturing technologies are a key to give Switzerland a competitive edge. Image: Empa

Swiss universities and research institutions regularly occupy top positions in international research rankings. Switzerland is also one of the leading nations in terms of research results and the resulting patents. However, only a few new technologies find their way from local research laboratories to industrial applications. There is a gap here.

This is where the initiative to establish a network of technology transfer centers in Switzerland, the so-called "Advanced Manufacturing Technology Transfer Centers" (AM-TTC for short), comes in. The initiative is part of the federal government's "Digitalization" action plan and aims to maintain Switzerland as a modern, high-quality production location in the long term. It will be supported in the start-up phase by funds from the ETH Board. The initiative aims to establish infrastructures in Switzerland that help to bring technologies developed in the laboratory faster into industrial application. The centers will give companies - especially Swiss SMEs - better access to new technologies. The companies can try out the technologies in the centers and then transfer them to their own production facilities with the help of the centers.

Funding for two technology centers in the start-up phase 2019/2020

At the end of September, the board of the AM-TTC Alliance, the umbrella association of the initiative, decided – based on a comprehensive evaluation and selection process – in a first step to support two technology transfer centers out of the nine centers that applied in April 2019 for funding with a total of CHF 4.8 million in the start-up phase 2019 / 2020. Furthermore, the board will recommend the SERI to fund these two centers also in the period 2021 to 2024 as research organizations of national importance.

The ANAXAM center, which is being realized by the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), the Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI) and the Canton of Aargau together with industrial partners, will in future offer Swiss industrial companies access to state-of-the-art technologies for the analysis and characterization of materials. The center will build on PSI's globally recognized expertise in neutron and X-ray analysis. Access to these technologies will help Swiss companies to develop novel, highly innovative and competitive products and processes. This is also of great importance for the Aargau location with its pronounced industrial sector.

The Swiss m4m Center is the second center to be funded in the start-up phase. The mission of this center is to establish 3D printing for the manufacturing of metal medical implants in Switzerland and to give small and medium-sized companies in the Swiss medtech industry access to this innovative technology. The Swiss m4m Center, which was founded in a so-called public-private partnership structure by Empa and the University of Applied Sciences Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) as well as the industrial companies 41medical and Precipart, will start its operations in the heart of the Swiss medtech industry in Bettlach. Through the close cooperation with its partners from various cantons, however, the center will have an impact beyond this location and throughout Switzerland.

"AM-TTC Alliance" umbrella association

On 4 February 2019, 22 Swiss research institutions and industrial companies founded the "AM-TTC Alliance", the umbrella association of these technology transfer centers, at Empa in Dübendorf. Its members include institutions of the ETH Domain, universities of applied sciences and other research institutions, industrial companies such as ABB, BASF, Bühler, Georg Fischer, Hilti, Oerlikon, Rolex, Richemont and Siemens, as well as the industry association Swissmem.