“Ticino in the Greater Zurich Area is the ideal place for our center”, says Carlo Terreni. The president of the innovation hub, which opened in mid-July, has big plans for the location in Greater Zurich: “We are located right between the technology and financial hotspot of Zurich and the lifestyle hub of Milan”. This is essential in order to bring together different players for the LifestyleTech Competence Center (LSTCC), according to Terreni. Lugano is an attractive location in the heart of Europe for a diverse mix of talent, offering a business-friendly environment and competitive living costs. This contributes to a rich ecosystem.
In the new LSTCC, members work on technology applications for the Lifestyle sector. Among other things, a Content Innovation Lab will be set up, equipped with tactile scanners, virtual prototyping tables and an AI Photo System to perform research activities in 3D Gamification and e-Sustainability. “The field has huge potential because it allows so many new types of collaboration”, says Terreni. As managing director of the Lugano-based investment company Loomish, which specializes in asset management within the LifestyleTech sector, he expects successful projects to be carried out at the center. In addition to other local companies, the two universities in the canton are also members; the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) and the University of Italian-speaking Switzerland (USI). These are central to the development of research projects. The founding members include the internationally established fashion companies Bally and Guess in addition to technology firms such as Hyphen and Microsoft. “The cooperation with Microsoft is essential as the company provides expertise and software solutions to select and nurture the most promising international scale-ups”, Terreni explains. Microsoft offers LSTCC access to customers and potential partners worldwide.
Innovative technology represents the next step for Bally
For Nicolas Girotto, CEO of Bally, the center is also an important platform for groundbreaking cooperation: “Redesigning the future of our brand through responsible innovation and sustainability is a strategic priority”. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and AR are used to develop new production and sales methods. Projects such as 3D shoe design or the development of digital infrastructures are being piloted. These optimize retail opportunities to reach a wider audience. Work is currently underway on a digital showroom that will facilitate a virtual 360-degree product experience for customers. The showroom was launched in July to present the Spring/Summer 2021 Collection.
Such applications have great potential for the further development of personalized customer experiences, but also for a more sustainable use of resources. In the future, exhibition models will no longer have to be physically displayed in all variations, but can be digitally experienced instead.
Research at the forefront of megatrends
“The lifestyle megatrends of health and sustainability are ground-breaking for the work carried out at the LSTCC”, Marco Huwiler additionally comments. For the Swiss CEO of the consultancy firm Accenture, the company’s involvement as co-founders of the LSTCC makes perfect sense: “These issues are also a source of motivation for our customers. We are currently integrating and orchestrating numerous new cooperations via which we can bring together partners and technologies – the center will truly enrich this growing ecosystem”. The development of the lifestyle sectors is without doubt moving in the direction of new technology applications, according to Huwiler. “In future, smart materials could, for example, be used in wearables, while furniture could be fitted with sensors with the aim of ensuring the safety of occupied rooms”.
In addition to research projects and events, the LSTCC is also maintaining an external focus for its innovative work in the Greater Zurich Area, with the aim of integrating additional players in its projects on a consistent basis.
by Smilla Diener