Science Cities: Science Campuses and Clusters in 21st Century Metropolises

Zurich: ETH Science City and West Zurich

31 January 2010ContactLaurent Perrin, Odile Soulard

The choice of Zurich is justified by the quality of the scientific and urbanistic project being developed by the Federal Polytechnic School (ETH) on its Hönggerberg campus. ETH Zurich is one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the world and is consistently at the top of international university rankings.

A project for the development of the ETH campus in Hönggerberg

Untitled Science City, the project is interesting for many reasons: envisioned in the early 2000s, it is half way implemented; it was developed as result of a very thorough foresighting process, crossing the concerns of the academic community with those of a wider spectrum of the Swiss society; it is being carefully master-planned to make the campus into a “university quarter” and its programming is flexibly arranged around the research and budgetary aims and constraints faced by ETH decision makers.

The Wissenshub Zurich or the ecosystem of knowledge and innovation

The strict protection of open spaces enforced around the Hönggerberg campus has made it impossible to develop a science and technology park in its immediate vicinity. So one must look elsewhere for places clustering technology SMEs coming out the R & D activities at the ETH (and the University of Zurich). In particular in the area of West Zurich, a vast industrial area extending into the plain of the River Limmat, between highway and railway. Especially in the Life Science Park in Schlieren and Technopark, where the majority of start-ups and more mature companies belonging to the life sciences cluster of Zurich are located.

Switzerland, the country in the world where the number of patents per capita is the highest

Switzerland is certainly a small country with its 7.7 million inhabitants, but quite a complex one since it has historically been built on a federation of states (the present cantons) with their own language or religion. The Confederation is also highly decentralized and each town or canton is jealous of its prerogatives, which does not make the coordination of economic development policies easy, nor that of large-scale scientific or development projects. It should be noted however that it is among the countries in the world with the largest share of its GDP devoted to R & D and the largest number of patents per capita. Zurich hold a special place in this realm, enjoying the leading position occupied by several of its universities and research institutes.

This report is also available in French.

This study is linked to the following themes :
International | Economy

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