The idea started 18 years ago and was driven by Peter Richner, the deputy CEO of Empa. It all started as a small mock-up of a fully self-autonomous cabin – which turned out to be a success. Understanding the challenge of the building industry – which is testing new building materials in live projects quickly – Peter decided to scale up the demonstrator. He approached several companies and at the end received government funding allowing us to build the NEST
– a full scale innovation platform, 5 years ago. Today NEST is the largest and most flexible testing platform in Europe. We work on the energy, water, building material here which is unique in the world. We are very proud here in Switzerland we are leaders in research and innovation. This is a great achievement for all of us, including the research, companies, and government. NEST gives us the possibility to work together and drive things forward. What is your role within NEST?
I personally have split roles at NEST – as a Managing Director, I am responsible for the internal processes and our NEST Team. As an Innovation Manager, I lead our partners and researchers to jointly create and develop the units. Currently NEST has 7 thematic units already installed, and several are under development. Could you please walk us through the process of creating a unit?
In our case, the innovation and new ideas arrive from many places. There is the top down approach where our experienced advisory board highlights the current trends and areas of innovation which have a high research potential. We also have the bottom up approach where the enterprises or even start-ups come directly to us with new concepts. And of course, our NEST team is very proactive in generating ideas.