Where does ETH Zurich stand as we head into 2023, and what does the ETH President want to focus on in terms of supporting research and teaching through philanthropic donations and partnerships? Joël Mesot takes a look at the current year.
How would you describe the overall outlook for ETH in 2023?
Although we are facing several crises all at once, I remain optimistic. I believe in the power of science and know what ETH is capable of, even in troubled times. Our researchers and staff are providing their expertise to politicians and society. Our students are founding companies and applying their knowledge to benefit the economy. Being able to count on the consistent relationships we have with our donors, even in these times of uncertainty and potentially more difficult financial conditions, is inordinately valuable.
What exactly will philanthropic donations be able to set in motion at ETH in 2023?
Many of our projects and activities are aiming to futureproof our energy system and achieve climate targets. Philanthropy and partnerships enable new professorships in these areas to make significant advances. In medicine, methodologies derived from artificial intelligence are facilitating new approaches to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. With additional support, we can make even better use of these opportunities and fund research that will provide everything from better cancer treatments to the efficient healthcare system of the future.
ETH is also seeking support for the Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life. What is the relevance of this research to our wider society?
There is one key thing to remember: funding research and education is a long-term commitment. Practical applications are often the result of decades of basic research. Imaging processes like MRI, which is used for medical diagnoses today, originated all the way back in the 1930s. The principle behind photovoltaic systems is based on the work of scientists 100 years ago. It is imperative for Switzerland to continue to support research driven by curiosity, as we will be able to do at the new Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life. Because it lays the foundations for the innovations of tomorrow. We are therefore very grateful to our donors for their great confidence and support.
What new developments are currently in the pipeline in terms of teaching?
We are planning a centre for students and ETH Zurich’s entrepreneurial community at the Hönggerberg campus. Our vision is to create a place for people to meet, where up-and-coming talents can gain extra-curricular experience, expand their networks and push ahead with developing inventive technological solutions. Our strategic partnership with UBS, and support from Fondation Alcea, BKW, the SWF Stiftung für wissenschaftliche Forschung and numerous private donors, are helping very much to drive this project forward. But we still need to secure additional partnerships and donations to get the new building off the ground.