Microcity is to double the size of microtechnology research in Neuchâtel
The cornerstone of Microcity is to be laid during the spring of 2011 in an atmosphere of fruitful cooperation. “The authorities of Canton of Neuchâtel, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) are convinced of the need for this project,” says Nico de Rooij, who is both Vice-President of the CSEM and Director of the Institute of Microtechnology (IMT). “It’s an opportunity Neuchâtel cannot miss.” With the construction of this centre of research base in green technology, the city is becoming a major centre for micro and nanotechnologies in Switzerland.
“All activities related to microtechnology in Neuchâtel will be centralised on one site,” says de Rooij. “In a region renowned for its precision industry, our already strong links with watches and telecommunication industries, for example, will be further strengthened.” Microcity will mostly house the Institute of Microtechnology, once part of the University of Neuchatel but since January 2009 integrated into the EPFL, which specialises in “green manufacturing”. It focuses on education and exploratory research, while the CSEM, with which the IMT works closely, specialises in industrial research and technology transfer, among other things. “Microcity is a natural result of this dynamic between the two institutions. That is why it has been decided to increase significantly the number of laboratories in the Neuchâtel branch of the EPFL,” explains Nico de Rooij. “We opted for a new building next to the CSEM.” Chairs for 10 to 12 professors
Besides the Institute of Microtechnology, the new premises will house the Neuchâtel branch of Neode science and technology park. Laboratories, classrooms and workshops will occupy the 9,200 square metres new building of innovation campus “green tech”, bringing together the expertise of more than 600 researchers and students. Besides the CSEM, Colibrys which is a spin-off from the CSEM that is industrialising microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and other main scientific and technological actors of the region, the site will have 10 to 12 EPFL chairs in microtechnology, six more than today.
The Microcity project, developed by Bauart Architects and Planners in association with the company Erne AG, also won the support of the state of Neuchâtel because of its commitment to sustainable development. Neuchâtel is financing the construction of the building to the tune of 71 million francs, while the operation of the campus as a whole is under the responsibility of the EPFL. Microcity will be sited next to the CSEM, in space released after the recent demolition of the College of Maladière; two nearby buildings will be razed soon. Apart from a few objections related to the neighbourhood, the new jewel of Neuchâtel is being welcomed by the people, who can enjoy the park and public meeting places within the campus. Occupation of the new site is due to start in 2013.