Benefits for Germany, Switzerland and Zurich
“This donation is a win-win situation for both Germany and Switzerland, and it strengthens the traditionally close research cooperation between the two countries,” Mesot says. In Heilbronn, ETH Zurich will be helping to establish an international research and teaching hub in the field of digitalisation and artificial intelligence. Not only will the site be home to research, it will also develop new courses – from continuing education programmes to degree courses. In return, a large proportion of the funding will flow directly into research, teaching and infrastructure in Zurich. The ETH researchers based in Germany will teach in Heilbronn as well as in Zurich. Close collaboration between the two locations is also planned at the research level. “Joint research and jointly generated knowledge will benefit Switzerland, Germany, Europe and ultimately the whole world,” Mesot says.
Networking with top international universities
The focus is on topics such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, bioinformatics and the circular economy. “International collaboration is needed more than ever in these areas,” Mesot says. It is precisely this kind of networking that the teaching campus in Heilbronn aims to foster. ETH Zurich can benefit from its positive experience in Singapore, where it has been operating a research centre close to the world’s leading universities since 2010.
“We’re delighted that, following the renowned Technical University of Munich, ETH Zurich will now be strengthening the ecosystem in Heilbronn as another top international university. We need an alliance of the best scientific forces,” says Reinhold Geilsdörfer, Managing Director of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation.
The Dieter Schwarz Foundation is working on attracting further professors from other premier universities to collaborate on the campus in Heilbronn. Both the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are present with their own branches. The Dieter Schwarz Foundation also maintains strategic partnerships with the University of Oxford, Stanford University, HEC Paris, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Nanyang Technological University Singapore.
Planning the ETH centre in Germany
In the months ahead, ETH will determine in-house how its centre in Heilbronn will be organised in concrete terms, what research and teaching priorities ETH Zurich will set there and what form collaboration between Zurich and Heilbronn will take. If everything goes according to plan, the Dieter Schwarz Foundation and ETH Zurich will sign another contract next year, which will allow the appointment of the first five professorships for the teaching campus in Heilbronn.