Yes to a branch of the Zurich Polytechnic in Germany

Thanks to a donation from the non-profit Dieter Schwarz Foundation, the listed Swiss university will invest in research and development with a focus on AI

Zurich Polytechnic: the future Heilbronn campus
A rendering of the future Heilbronn educational campus in Germany (Illustration: Partner Pesch/Topotek)

Il Federal Polytechnic of Zurich , Non-profit Dieter Schwarz Foundation join forces to face some of the most demanding challenges of our time, come on climate changes atgeopolitical instability passing peer energy crises, interruptions of supply chain, cybercrime and increasingly rapid evolution of the world.

Lo Schwarz Group, leader of the non-profit entity involved in the transaction, is a family-run, multinational German retail corporate group that operates grocery stores, including the brands Lidl e Kaufland, based in Neckarsulm, IN Land of Baden-Württemberg.

The two realities they have in fact recently announced one partnerships innovative and far-reaching, which revolves around the digital transformation, and which aims, over thirty years, to create a training and research center with global impact to address it responsibly.

This ambitious project, thanks to an important donation from the Foundation, will see the gradual establishment of approximately 20 new chairs, over half of which in Heilbronn educational campus, in Germany, where the oldest Swiss polytechnic school intends to open, among other things a second branch abroad.

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Artificial intelligence and cybersecurity at the center

Bold, proactive solutions and major investments in research and development are, according to the president of the Zurich Polytechnic, Joel Mesot, the keys to tackling these complex challenges: “We need all the resources, especially science and universities, which are particularly called upon to provide their contribution", he explained.

“The partnership with the Dieter Schwarz Foundation allows the Zurich Polytechnic to develop research and teaching, particularly in sector ofartificial intelligence, to an extent that would not have been possible within the regular funding and structures available to the Polytechnic".

The donation consolidates the close collaboration in the field of research that traditionally characterizes Switzerland and Germany, and will allow the creation of a international hub for research and training in the field of digitization and artificial intelligence in which not only research will be carried out, but new educational offers will also be developed, from continuous training programs to degree courses.

On the other hand, a large part of the funding will flow directly into research, teaching and infrastructure in Zurich: "Joint research and collaboratively generated knowledge will benefit Switzerland, Germany, Europe and ultimately the entire world“, concluded Mesot.

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The Future Cities Lab at ETH Zurich (Photo: Carlina Teteris/ETH Zurich)

Zurich-Heilbronn axis to expand research and teaching

The Dieter Schwarz Foundation will therefore finance the creation of new chairs, focusing mainly on the sectors ofartificial intelligenceand computer security and data science. This investment will allow the Zurich Polytechnic to expand his research and teaching significantly.

The first tangible step of this collaboration will be the establishment of two new chairs in the field of information technology and data science in Zurich, together with the strengthening of the Zurich Information Security and Privacy Center (ZISC).

Furthermore, an endowment fund will be created at the ETH Zurich Foundation to support the long-term partnership and invest in the infrastructure on the banks of the Limmat.

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A lesson at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (Photo: Alessandro Della Bella/ETH Zurich)

A new ETH branch and an international hub

A significant aspect of the project is, as mentioned, the creation of a second branch of the Zurich Polytechnic on the educational campus of Heilbronn, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

This expansion will help launch European-wide collaboration, creating a international hub for research and training in the field of digitalisation and artificial intelligence, with researchers who will carry out teaching activities both in Heilbronn and Zurich.

The concrete organization of the center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Heilbronn, the focal points of the research and teaching activities and the form of cooperation will be defined internally in the coming months.

If all goes according to plan, next year the Dieter Schwarz Foundation and the Zurich Polytechnic Institute (ETH) will sign a further agreement to authorize the appointment of first five chairs for the Heilbronn campus.

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ETH Zurich: ETH President Joël Mesot and CEO of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation Reinhold Geilsdörfer
The president of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Joël Mesot, and the CEO of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, Reinhold Geilsdörfer, have signed a far-reaching letter of intent (Photo: Valeriano Di Domenico)

The importance of networking with the best universities

Particular attention will be paid, as part of the development of the partnership, to topics such as artificial intelligence, cyber attacks, bioinformatics and the circular economy, and on this international cooperation will be fundamental to apply skills, knowledge and results.

The aim of the Heilbronn campus is precisely to create a network of contacts. ETH Zurich can benefit from the positive experiences of Singapore, where it manages a research center established in 2010 close to the world's main universities.

"We are pleased that, after the renowned Polytechnic University of Munich (TUM), another high-level international university, the Polytechnic University of Zurich, is strengthening the Heilbronn ecosystem. We need to converge the highest level scientific resources"He said Reinhold Geilsdörfer, CEO of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation.

The Foundation, concluded Geilsdörfer, “is already working to attract other professors from high-level universities to collaborate on the educational campus.”

The Technical University of Munich and the Fraunhofer-gesellschaft they are already present with branches, and strategic partnerships have already been launched with other universities, including Oxford e Stanford, HEC Paris, Hebrew University Jerusalem e Nanyang Technology University Singapore.

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The main hall of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (Photo: Gian Marco Castelberg/ETH Zurich)