“Greater Zurich is slowly developing into the Silicon Valley of Switzerland and perhaps even for Europe soon”, notes Veselin Raychev, Co-Founder and leading engineer of the start-up DeepCode, which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make working on source code easier for software. His company has been ranked among the most promising in the area of AI in German-speaking countries for the second year in a row. This was recently affirmed by a list drawn up by the business magazine Forbes. A total of four start-ups from Greater Zurich were included here. This comes as no surprise to Veselin Raychev – above all, he puts this down to the region’s appeal to global talent and firms. Other start-ups, research and educational institutions from the Greater Zurich Area are in particular important application partners for DeepCode’s AI platform, Raychev explains.
Greater Zurich becoming a magnet
According to Raychev, the region is attracting many heavyweights as well as smaller industrial partners with strong software development teams. A decisive factor behind this is that the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) has for years been investing in AI research as part of the “Secure, Reliable and Intelligent Systems Lab” (SRI). Two start-ups on the Forbes list are actually spin-offs from ETH: DeepCode and Teralytics. The Zurich-based firm uses AI support to analyze public transport usage on the basis of mobile communications.
AI applications from the Greater Zurich Area in the field of transport are subject to particularly high demand. The Zurich-based team at Daedalean also made it onto the list. It has the vision of completely replacing human pilots with AI solutions. Test flights with its AI autopilots have already created something of a storm on the international markets.
Greater Zurich Area has a long tradition in AI
The AI ecosystem in Ticino has an additional focal point: the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence (IDSIA) has been based in Lugano TI since 1988. Among other organizations, the major Zurich bank UBS works intensively with IDSIA on matters connected to AI. Its scientific director, Jürgen Schmidhuber, an expert in the field of Deep Learning, co-founded the fourth AI start-up included on the Forbes list: NNAISENSE. The company offers solutions for the inspection, development and control of industrial processes. Among its investors are, for the example, the glass company Schott as well as Samsung Ventures. This shows that there is already a long and proud tradition of AI in Greater Zurich, which is now putting down ever stronger roots in the region.
By Smilla Diener