Swisscom and EPFL partner in the digital revolution

© thinkstockphotos

© thinkstockphotos

Be it in the world of work or in our daily routines, the digital revolution is in the process of transforming our way of life and our economy in a fundamental and lasting way. This permanent transformation is at the heart of a strategic partnership between Swisscom and the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). With the creation of a Swisscom Digital Lab on the EPFL campus, this partnership is seeking to establish a digitalisation competence centre, taking advantage of EPFL’s innovative ecosystem and Swisscom’s expertise in the field, to meet the challenges of an increasingly connected society.

Information and communication technologies are going from revolution to revolution. From the importance of social networks in people’s everyday lives, which was inconceivable just ten years ago, to the transformation of our methods of production and consumption, more and more people – both young and old – and objects are now interconnected at all times and in all places. This digital revolution is fundamentally transforming our economy and society. What are the digital applications of the future and how will things stand ten years from now? Two organisations primarily concerned with such issues have today announced the signature of a strategic partnership.

From connected people to connected homes
The agreements signed between the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and Swisscom, Switzerland’s original telecommunications provider, cover the two key areas of interconnected people and homes. They will enable the study of a wide range of areas of application that are opening up thanks to digitalisation – new user interfaces, professional and household robotics, intelligent towns and buildings, biological sensors and artificial intelligence.

Today, the networks are primarily used for communication tools. In the future, they will be the cornerstone of a system permanently connecting billions of networked objects and people. They will provide new functions that will redefine home life, mobility services and medical devices, among other things. “The digital revolution is on its way. To maintain their competitiveness and innovative capability, Switzerland and its companies have to be pioneers in this revolution and Swisscom a key player. In EPFL, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, we’re seekingleading-edge expertise and multidisciplinary innovation that will enable us to further strengthen our position through our commitment,” explained Urs Schaeppi, CEO of Swisscom.

“Dozens of our laboratories are working on the increased connectivity of people and objects and infrastructure, including data protection issues,” added Patrick Aebischer, President of EPFL. The arrival of Swisscom on our campus will inspire creativity among our students and researchers by providing them with access to the immediate requirements of a leading company with a large customer base.”

A three-pillar partnership
Swisscom and EPFL will cooperate closely within three key areas. Their partnership entails the setup of a call-for-proposals fund financed by the operator, worth a million Swiss francs a year for a seven-year period, for applied research projects focusing on its customers needs . The projects, which could involve software or infrastructure solutions as well as objects for the public, will focus on a multidisciplinary approach and cooperation between various laboratories and research facilities. Swisscom will also establish a permanent presence on campus starting in 2016 through its “Digital Lab”. This 428 m2 site in the EPFL Innovation Park will be providing a unique environment to implement and develop pilot projects by pursuing an “open innovation” strategy. Finally, Swisscom is committed to lending fresh impetus to the campus ecosystem by organising events related to the challenges of digitalisation, supporting the ecosystem of start-ups and, more generally, by stimulating exchanges between the operator’s staff and students and researchers. The projects implemented as part of the partnership will be developed on the Lausanne campus as well as on other EPFL sites in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, especially in Fribourg in relation with the project Smart Living Lab.

The agreement signed on Wednesday, 16 December 2015, allows the two major players to combine their efforts in a field offering enormous potential for innovation, on both a large and small scale. This partnership is set to make Switzerland a model at the European level in terms of access to digital solutions.

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Urs Schaeppi, Swisscom CEO, and Patrick Aebischer, EPFL President. © Alain Herzog / EPFL
Urs Schaeppi, Swisscom CEO, and Patrick Aebischer, EPFL President. © Alain Herzog / EPFL

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