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Cisco joins the Innovation Square of Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne (EPFL)


Two IT and pharmaceutical leaders, Cisco (USA) and Debiopharm (Switzerland) are coming to the EPFL’s Innovation Square. This innovative structure, at the intersection of where the entrepreneurial world and scientific institutions meet, is providing to be success despite the current global economic environment.

Two of industry’s big names have officially announced their impending arrival in the EPFL’s Innovation Square. Debiopharm SA is a Swiss pharmaceutical company that is known worldwide, especially for developing new cancer treatments. Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. In October 2010, Cisco and Debiopharm will occupy 800 m2 and 400 m2, respectively, of office and laboratory space. More than 60 engineers and researchers from the two companies will move to the EPFL campus.

Adrienne Corboud Fumagalli, the EPFL’s Vice-President for Innovation and Technology Transfer, is responsible for promoting Innovation Square. She expects to make it a place where scientists and industrialists can build relationships and feed their creativity. “These two worlds do not naturally associate with each other. Innovation Square provides more opportunities for them to interact,” she explains. Geographic proximity as a stimulus for cooperation: such is the EPFL’s gamble. “The roles should be clearly separated. Research and discovery are up to the universities, development and marketing belong to the industries.”
Debiopharm, Molecular Designer

Rolland-Yves Mauvernay, Debiopharm’s president, considers that “this agreement reflects Debiopharm’s deep roots in the Lausanne region. The EPFL is behind many major scientific advances and cannot help but stimulate companies in the Lake Geneva basin.” This is not Debiopharm’s first collaboration with the EPFL. It has endowed a chair there and awards an annual science prize, both of which bear its name. The Vaud company actively works with research teams at the school to develop new molecules.
Cisco, Internet and Video Applications

Cisco is a new arrival at the EPFL. The initiative itself is also something novel for Cisco, and gives it its very first branch at a university. “This kind of presence is a key example of closer collaboration between science and industry,” explains Eric Waltert, the general manager of Cisco Switzerland. “Our approach reiterates Cisco’s strategic engagement in Switzerland and specifically to Vaud. In this way, we will accelerate and advance the development of products and solutions that are important to Switzerland, such as fiber-to-the-home and Cisco TelePresence, our immersive collaboration technology.”

The arrival of Debiopharm and Cisco strengthens Innovation Square. Even before the opening of the first building, which is planned for this summer, three big names from industry have already answered the roll call, Logitech having already announced in 2009 that it was coming. Adrienne Corboud Fumagalli believes that Innovation Square will improve development of researchers’ work. “Businesses know how to recognize an idea’s potential. By having them close by, we will avoid having certain brilliant discoveries end up in the middle of a pile of papers or a graveyard of industrial prototypes.”
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