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February started for ESA BIC Switzerland with the kick-off of LiGenTec. Therefore this month's newsletter starts with a portrait of this highly interesting start-up:


LiGenTec SA is a start-up company located at EPFL innovation park in Switzerland and was founded in July 2016 by Professor Tobias Kippenberg, Dr. Michael Geiselmann and Dr. Michael Zervas.

LiGenTec provides integrated photonic circuits for advanced telecommunication. These are structures up to 100 times smaller than a human hair, fabricated on a 5x5mm chip. These structures allow to guide light and perform process operations with light directly on the chip.
Main advantages using silicone nitride structures from LiGenTec
  • high thickness
  • low-loss waveguides
  • low-loss fiber chip coupling
  • low surface roughness
  • transparent from visible to mid-IR

LiGenTec’s integrated technology in combination with one laser could replace hundreds of single laser sources and propagate optical signals closely separated in frequency in a single fiber instead of using multiple fibers with larger spacing of the frequency. This is particularly interesting as data traffic has grown in the last decades with a compound annual growth rate of 60% and will continue at this rate. If current telecommunication infrastructure is not changed this will lead to a data crunch in 2022. One promising solution is to use much more optical channels to transmit more data in one fiber both on earth and in space.

Interview with Dr. Nanja Strecker, General manager at ESA BIC Switzerland:

1) Tell us more about yourself and your team.

I am an innovation expert with experience in consulting in a corporate environment. Now I enjoy dealing with innovations from a start-up perspective.
Overall we are 6 people in the team, all working part-time on ESA BIC Switzerland:
- Nanja Strecker, Cyril Kubr and Ina Schultz from ETH Zurich
- Philip Hassler from IFJ
- Flurin Capaul on behalf of the Impact Hub Zurich
- José Achache from AP Swiss

2) What were the biggest challenges since the launch of ESA BIC Switzerland last year?

Launching ESA BIC in November with the first selection round and the big launch event and in parallel setting up ESA BIC CH as an organisation from scratch within a very short period of time.
Also, as ESA BIC CH is slightly different to the other ESA BIC's in Europe a lot of groundwork and adaptation had and has to be done for the specific Swiss model.

3) What about ESA BIC CH in 2017?

2017 will be the first full year of operation for ESA BIC CH. We are entitled to choose and support 10 start-ups and our pipeline looks promising.
Last but not least I would like to point out our key event of the year which will be the "Demo and Partner Day" in October. A save the date will be sent out soon.

What else is going on at ESA BIC Switzerland?

We are currently preparing all support letters to be transferred into membership / sponsorship agreements.
The outstanding incubatee contract is about to be signed.

Another successful community building event took place in the Impact Hub in Berne on the 2nd of February.

The team is furthermore busy with preparing the next selection round and with organising some of the bigger events this year like the Info Event in Romandie in May. We will provide more details on this closer to time.

Upcoming events of interest:

Space 4.0 - Motivation through Inspiration
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, European Space Agency
9 March 2017 from 5:15 p.m. at the ETH main building, Rämistrasse 101, 8092 Zurich, Room HG F 30.

For further information visit:  

The deadline for the next selection round is set for February 28th 2017.

We are already looking forward to interesting and innovative applications. This time the scope is different, as also spin-outs and spin-alongs are welcome to send in their applications.

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ESA BIC Switzerland · Stampfenbachstrasse 56 · Zurich 8092 · Switzerland

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