EPFL to establish six new research chairs in Valais by 2032

EPFL to establish six new research chairs in Valais by 2032

EPFL and the Valais cantonal government signed an agreement to create a new hub for energy transition research, adding six research chairs by 2032.

EPFL and the Valais cantonal government have signed a third amendment to their agreement, marking the start of the third phase of EPFL’s expansion in Valais. The two parties will combine resources to develop a teaching, research, and innovation hub focused on the energy transition, aiming to advance technological progress in Switzerland and internationally. EPFL will establish six additional research chairs at its Valais campus, with two chairs funded by the canton of Valais.

The partnership between EPFL and Valais has proven highly beneficial. Initiated on 19 December 2012, the agreement to open the EPFL Valais Wallis campus in Sion was first amended in 2017 to support the new Alpole research center on alpine and polar environments. The Alpole building, inaugurated two years ago, opened exactly ten years after the initial agreement.

Over the past decade, joint investments and support from the Valais cantonal government and EPFL have resulted in significant technological advancements and economic benefits for the region. According to a recent EPFL study, each franc invested by the canton has generated three francs for the local economy, thanks to technology transfers to key Valais industries.

The first two phases of EPFL’s expansion have strengthened economic activity in Valais, providing swift returns on investment and promoting local industries. EPFL has built up its activities, invested more than initially planned, and formed strong relationships with local businesses. The campus currently hosts 15 research chairs and over 250 employees, 70% of whom are based in the canton.

An innovation hub for the energy transition

The new research hub will drive the energy transition. Nine start-ups have already emerged from the EPFL Valais Wallis campus, creating high-value jobs and attracting venture capital to Valais. The campus collaborates with the nearby HES-SO engineering school on around 30 R&D projects, facilitated by CimArkThe Ark Foundation’s operating entity.

The success of the Valais campus has led to the decision to continue this collaboration, officially launching the third phase of EPFL’s expansion. The new agreement includes six additional chairs focusing on hydropower, energy storage systems, material surfaces and interfaces, reservoir sedimentation, decarbonization, and battery systems and materials. The canton will fund two chairs, providing CHF 1.2 million per chair per year for the first seven years and CHF 2.1 million per chair per year from the eighth year onward. EPFL will fund the remaining four chairs.

Source: GGBa

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