Budding ideas for food and agriculture

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A grand visitor to ETH’s booth at Olma: at the Start-up Tower, Detlef Günt

A grand visitor to ETH’s booth at Olma: at the Start-up Tower, Detlef Günther, ETH Vice President for Research (left), explains to Federal President Ignazio Cassis how ETH spin-offs contribute to sustainable food systems. (Photograph: smith-art / ETH Zurich)


ETH Zurich is at the Olma trade fair in St. Gallen until 23 October. Its exhibition "Where the future begins - research for sustainable agriculture" presents exciting ETH spin-offs and provides playful insights into modern agricultural sciences.

A breeding ground for business ideas

On his traditional opening tour, the Swiss president also visited ETH Zurich’s booth, where diversity and innovation are playing a particularly significant role as well: the exhibition entitled "Where the future begins - research in sustainable agriculture" is focused this year on new companies from the university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

"At ETH, around two dozen spin-offs and start-ups are founded each year. Thanks to targeted support, they achieve above-average success and thereby transfer the fruits of research into business and society," says Detlef Günther, ETH Vice President for Research.

Günther, who spent five years in charge of knowledge transfer into society at ETH Zurich, was present to greet Federal President Cassis at the new Start-up Tower at the centre of the ETH booth.

At the tower, five new companies are presenting their business ideas from the fields of agriculture and food - they all share the vision of making our food system more sustainable:

Playful access to agricultural sciences

Visitors to the family-friendly ETH booth can also enjoy four interactive games - the "Drone Course", the "Ruminant Simulator", "Agricultural Policy Jenga" and "Morph Tales: Discovering Artificial Intelligence". The games introduce children, teenagers and adults to central research questions in the areas of crops, agricultural economics and animal nutrition, and increase understanding of artificial intelligence.

With its focus on games and spin-offs, the exhibition aims to provide the general public with easy-to-grasp information about how ETH research from various areas can contribute to a more environmentally friendly, resource-conserving and socially acceptable food system.

"Olma offers us a stage to show what we’re doing for Swiss agriculture. And it also gives us an opportunity to talk to the general public and to farmers," says Günther.

Strengthening research

Finally, Günther returns to the challenges that Cassis mentioned in his speech: "Particularly when it comes to global problems such as climate change, biodiversity or the global food system, Swiss universities are reliant on interdisciplinary collaboration with our neighbours."

"To ensure that Switzerland can continue to achieve outstanding results as a research location, we need access to the European Research Area," Günther concludes.

Michael Keller

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