Located in the east of the Greater Zurich Area, right in the middle of one of Switzerland’s most important tourist regions, is InnoQube Swiss: an innovation center with a very special twist. As co-initiator Ivo FiFi Frei says: “We are building and designing a privately run hub for entrepreneurs, one where research is given a face and can find a direct way into the economy.”
It is important to the three entrepreneurs who launched the project that it be a private initiative, and they are moving forward at an impressive pace: Franco Quinter, Andreas Zindel-Schnell and Ivo “FiFi” Frei established InnoQube Swiss AG at the beginning of 2018, and ground is expected to be broken for construction in Chur, the capital of the canton of Grisons, before the end of 2019. The project envisages some 300 working spaces spread out over 9,340 square meters, with a total investment of 30 million Swiss francs.
Bringing everyone together
The canton of Grisons is not just home to 80 tourist destinations and 50 mountain railways – it is also a center for high-tech and home to large international companies, dynamic SMEs and the Chur University of Applied Sciences (HTW). The InnoQube initiators now want to bring everyone together to boost their innovative strength and give them greater prominence, both at home and abroad. “One of our focuses is on tourism because companies have a perfect pilot region here. But more generally we want to promote topics of the future, be it new mobility or artificial intelligence.”
Focusing on startups
All of this will work with the help of well-known partners, in-house programmers who promote innovation, and outstanding infrastructure. Three-quarters of the space is reserved for R&D, and HTW is firmly on board. IT provider Würth ITensis, which will be one of the main tenants, regards InnoQube Swiss as a magnet – and source – for IT specialists. Even Microsoft is working together with InnoQube and plans to use it as an innovation platform with partners and clients; keywords here are new business models and digital transformations in companies.
Alongside established players, you can also find a particular focus on startups in Chur. The goal is to support them as broadly as possible, be it through affordable premises, coaching or even a designated fund. In addition, companies with hard-to-solve questions are encouraged to approach InnoQube, which will then search for the best solution partner.
Creating the best conditions
InnoQube Swiss wants to offer innovators the type of atmosphere that only an international tourism region can create: a self-check-in motel and car-sharing models make business trips a breeze; a 3D printer, YouTube studio and fiduciary or secretarial services let you focus on the essentials; daycare facilities help parents find the ideal balance between work and private life. Even the beech wood used to construct much of the building comes from the canton of Grisons. As CEO of Microsoft Switzerland Marianne Janik says about InnoQube: “Such places are important because they attract people who want to work together to tackle today’s most important topics with creativity and courage.”
By Yvonne von Hunnius