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In the canton of Zurich, companies can benefit from novel data sources and legal advice for their innovative artificial intelligence (AI) projects. The Innovation Sandbox initiative has been launched with this aim in mind. Project submissions are being accepted until the end of June 2022.

The canton of Zurich’s Innovation Sandbox is creating a test environment for AI projects bringing together industry, local authorities, and world-class research of the ETH Zurich or the University of Zurich. AI is a huge trend that touches almost all areas of the economy. However, companies and institutions face two challenges: firstly, AI progresses so rapidly that regulations require constant updates, and secondly, AI is dependent on reliable data. With the sandbox, companies receive legal advice and contribute their own insights into regulatory questions. They are also supported if they need datasets from public offices. 

Companies domiciled in Switzerland may submit their AI project via an online form* until the end of June 2022. The pilot phase will run until 2024 with the aim of subsequently continuing the Innovation Sandbox on a larger scale.

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*The website is only available in German, however, projects can also be submitted in English.

Wondering whether your company should take part in the Innovation Sandbox? See the five questions and answers below:

1. How will my company benefit from taking part? 

  • You have the opportunity to implement your AI project within a defined framework together with local authorities. 
  • You will receive support regarding regulatory questions plus exclusive access to the data sources of public offices. 
  • You will also benefit from regular exchanges with specialists in management, research, and economic affairs in addition to the specific expertise of the project team.

2. What are the requirements to participate? 

  • Your company needs to have its own AI competencies and provide experts for the implementation of various AI projects in the Innovation Sandbox. 
  • Additionally, your company needs to be located in Switzerland. In the beginning, the focus will be on projects from the Greater Zurich Area. 
  • Further criteria are taken into consideration during the selection process. For example, the maturity of the AI project, the potential for building regulatory expertise, the societal added value, the level of innovation, the technical feasibility, or even the transferability to other AI projects are all relevant.

Need support?

Need support?

You're planning to establish a presence in Switzerland? Lukas has 10+ years of experience in helping forward-looking technology companies to grow internationally as Executive Director North America at Greater Zurich Area Ltd (GZA). GZA is the official investment promotion agency of the economic region of Zurich, Switzerland. He'll be happy to schedule an initial meeting to discuss your expansion project. Our services are free of charge.

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Lukas Sieber Executive Director USA

3. Which experts will be available?

You will develop your project with qualified specialists from the fields of economics and research as well as with the local authorities. Among other institutions, the AI Center of the ETH Zurich, the Center for Information, Technology, Society and Law of the University of Zurich, and the professional association swissICT are involved. The matchmaking with other partners will be tailored to your project.

4. What is the process of an Innovation Sandbox project?

Together with the project team, you will determine the most important parameters and milestones. After this, a kick-off launches the test phases, which run for a limited time period. The project is then implemented, with the project team formulating regulatory solutions and enabling access to the data sources. After the project has been concluded, you will perform an evaluation with the other parties involved and record the key findings in a final report.

5. What are the long-term benefits of the Innovation Sandbox?

The Greater Zurich Area will be strengthened as an attractive and innovative AI hub in the long term. The Innovation Sandbox achieves this by combining experts and expertise from research, economics, and local authorities. With this network, it promotes the target-oriented implementation of AI projects and contributes to progressive regulation.

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Launch stronger – our services at a glance

Watch the video to find out how we help companies set up and grow in Switzerland. 

Let us connect you with the right person to learn more about how the Greater Zurich Area Ltd can support your business needs. 

Our services are free of charge and include: 

  • Introductions to key contacts in industry, academia and government
  • Advice on regulatory framework, taxes, labor market and setting up a company
  • Custom-made fact-finding visits including office and co-working space