Highlights and events

"At CSEM, we don’t just follow technological trends, we help shape them and set new standards. We bridge the gap between foundational research and market-ready products, fostering innovation across multiple industries for the benefit of the Swiss economy."

Bern’s MedTech sector gets a boost from CSEM’s expertise and network

Bern's MedTech alliance

The Canton of Bern is on a mission to become a leading international medical hub by 2030. To achieve this, it has brought the Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, the University of Bern (UniBE), and CSEM together in a powerful alliance of medical and microengineering expertise. CSEM brings its experience and know-how in developing and applying new sensing and processing technologies and artificial intelligence solutions in the medical field. The collaboration between these partners has sparked high interest among key medical professionals.

In 2023, the initiative kicked off 10 clinical research projects. For the year 2024, a panel of 22 medical-technology experts allocated the annual funds of 2 million Swiss Francs to be split between 8 additional projects. In total since its inception, this collaboration has supported 24 different projects spanning fields such as pneumology, cardiology, surgery, neurology, oncology, diabetology, and women’s health. These projects aim to help medical professionals with new tools and methods for diagnostics and therapy optimization, enhancing patient care and monitoring. Many are now undergoing clinical trials.

The alliance is on track to make the Canton of Bern a promoter of innovation, creating more jobs and opportunities for local industrial businesses and start-ups, as well as attracting international talent and investment. In line with its mission of technology transfer to industry, and more specifically to the MedTech sector, CSEM has established a base at the Sitem StartUp Club in Bern.

Inventor award honors breakthrough in blood pressure monitoring

Winners of the Inventor Award 2023: Matthieu Lemay (left) and Martin Proença (right) - Alexandre Pauchard, CSEM CEO (middle)Winners of the Inventor Award 2023: Matthieu Lemay (left) and Martin Proença (right) - Alexandre Pauchard, CSEM CEO (middle)

Monitoring blood pressure at home can be a hassle as conventional cuff devices are often cumbersome, making them difficult to use. But what if you could measure your blood pressure with just a small optical sensor on your finger or wrist, or through your smartphone? This is the breakthrough achieved by four scientists, who won the CSEM’s 2023 Inventor Award for this patented innovation.

Their technology is based on an innovative optical sensor that detects the changes in arterial volume due to blood pressure combined with an algorithm that calculates accurate systolic and diastolic values. This technology both revolutionizes the diagnosis and management of blood pressure disorders and promotes the four Ps of medicine: predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory. Non-invasive and comfortable, it has been clinically validated and adopted by several companies. The jury praised the positive societal impact of this invention, as hypertension is a major risk factor in cardiovascular diseases and deaths. Alexandre Pauchard, CEO of CSEM: “Our Inventor Award highlights our collaborators’ innovative and disruptive ideas. The invention and work of this year’s award-winning team were particularly remarkable, as they generated significant value for our customers and helped create more than 60 high-value-added industrial jobs.”

CSEM’s Inventor Award was created to stimulate staff members’ creativity and inventiveness. The winners of the award were: Martin Proença, Josep Solà, Mathieu Lemay, and Christophe Verjus.

Pioneering solutions for space exploration and beyond

Thomas Zurbuchen at CSEM with Andreas Rickenbacher, Chair of the Board of Directors of CSEM Thomas Zurbuchen at CSEM with Andreas Rickenbacher, Chair of the Board of Directors of CSEM.

CSEM has been at the forefront of space technology development in Switzerland since the late 1980s. From satellite technology enhancing our daily lives to the development of materials and technologies used in medical devices, benefits generated by the space industry extend far beyond the cosmos. They have the potential to create economic opportunities and jobs while addressing some of our planet’s most urgent challenges—climate change and disaster prevention spring to mind.

Underscoring this, CSEM hosted two esteemed guests in December 2023: Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s longest-serving Head of Science, and Claude Nicollier, the first Swiss citizen in space. They engaged in a stimulating dialogue with Alexandre Pauchard and Andreas Rickenbacher, CEO and Chair of the Board of Directors of CSEM respectively, about innovation in the European space sector. Dr. Zurbuchen regards innovation highly as a means to tackle unresolved global challenges. His perspective underscores the vital role of the space industry, which not only catalyzes significant technological breakthroughs, but also fosters developments that have a broad and positive impact on various aspects of everyday life.

CSEM has been instrumental in several pioneering projects for the European Space Agency (ESA) and beyond. From the early 2000s, the organization has been supplying Corner Cube Mechanisms for the Metop and MTG satellites, significantly enhancing the dependability of weather forecasts. In 2022, CSEM played a key role in the development of the CLUPI camera system on the ExoMars rover, which is expanding our understanding of Mars and the possibility of life there. Additionally, CSEM’s ultra-high stability laser metrology has been crucial for the LISA gravitational wave observatory, a joint project between ESA and NASA, poised to offer new insights into the Universe. CSEM is pushing the boundaries of human knowledge with its precision engineering solutions.

Showcasing the power of organ-on-chip and organoids

Next Gen OOC & Organoids event in 2023

CSEM is a leader in microphysiological systems, organon- chip (OOC), and organoids, which are realistic and human-relevant models of organs and tissues. It has developed and implemented innovative technologies and solutions for biomedical research and drug development in these areas. It has also created a collaborative network of stakeholders from academia, industry, and healthcare, who share its vision and mission.

A highlight of CSEM’s activities is the Next Gen OOC & Organoids event. It brings together the best minds and most cutting-edge technologies in this field. Over two days in 2023, it attracted 350 participants, covering topics such as automation or sex differences in cellular responses and drug effects. This is a key aspect of personalized medicine, as male and female cells show contrasting physiologies, reacting differently to various stimuli and drugs. By using OOC and organoids, scientists can better understand and account for these differences, leading to more effective and safer treatments for both sexes.

By hosting this event, CSEM shows its commitment to promoting the benefits of preclinical in vitro models to the world. OOC and organoids offer many advantages over traditional methods of biomedical research, such as animal testing. They are more ethical, accurate, cost-effective, and sustainable. They also enable the exploration of new frontiers in human health and disease, such as organ regeneration, disease modelling, and drug screening. CSEM is at the forefront of this exciting and promising field and aims to make a positive impact on society by developing innovative solutions for personalized medicine, drug testing, and tissue engineering.

CSEM drives innovation and collaboration in central Switzerland

CSEM technoVation event 2023© CSEM / Silvan Widmer

CSEM is a key player in the innovation ecosystem of Central Switzerland, offering cutting-edge technologies and solutions in various domains, such as personalized health, Industry 4.0, and artificial intelligence. The company presented its latest achievements and collaborations at its technoVation event in June 2023 at KKL Lucerne, where more than 200 participants learned how CSEM can help them tackle their current and future challenges with its know-how and technologies.

One of CSEM’s main strengths is its ability to build and maintain strong relationships with its partners and customers, from start-ups and SMEs to large corporations and public institutions. The technoVation event showcased several examples of successful cooperation and co-creation, demonstrating how CSEM’s technologies can improve the competitiveness and innovation potential of its partners and customers. For example, CSEM has developed a powerful, AI-based identification system for aluminum profiles for E. Luterbach AG and supported start-ups in the MedTech and Life Science domain on their way to develop marketable products. These include Zynnon AG for safety and diagnostics in hospitals and Deep Breath Intelligence AG for patient’s breath analysis.

These are just some of the cases where CSEM has applied its technologies to create value and boost impact for its partners and customers. The technoVation event was also a platform for networking and dialogue among participants, featuring keynote speeches from prominent figures in the fields of science, technology, and society. It was a clear expression of CSEM’s vision to be an innovation factory for Switzerland, where technology meets society and where innovation is driven by collaboration with industry.

CSEM’s daycare celebrates its 20th anniversary

20th anniversary of CSEM's daycare

In 2003, CSEM opened a daycare facility next to its site in Neuchâtel, becoming the first private company in the Canton of Neuchâtel to offer childcare to its employees. Today, this heart warming initiative also embraces the wider community, providing crucial support to working parents.

In the opening year of daycare, CSEM employed around 266 staff members. Just five years later, in 2008, this number rose to 380 highly trained employees. This led CSEM to implement a family-friendly and work-life balance policy, aimed at both men and women, and supported at the highest level.

Concrete actions in the policy included encouraging parents to flourish both in their day-to-day work and in their family life, with access to company daycare, part-time positions of responsibility, remote working, job sharing, flexible working hours, unpaid leave, and paid leave for family responsibilities. By 2008, this policy had helped CSEM become the first small-to medium- sized enterprise (SME) in French-speaking Switzerland to be awarded the “equal-salary” label by the Swiss Association of Commercial Employees.

Since 2023, CSEM has expanded its policy to be more inclusive. It now offers 15 days of paid paternity leave and adoption leave for all employees, among other benefits. And it provides monetary stipends for daycare to its employees who are not based at its Neuchâtel site. On average, the retention rate for employees with permanent contracts at CSEM is 8.25 years, and for all employees (including non-permanent contracts, trainees, post doctorates, PhDs, etc.), it is 7.15 years. This demonstrates the effectiveness of CSEM’s policies geared towards its employees’ well-being and work-life balance.

New start-up aligns industrial design and user experience for innovative products

Mathilde Crettaz and Bastien De Marco, founders of EKIO© Ekio - Mathilde Crettaz and Bastien De Marco, founders of EKIO.

In our daily lives, we come across numerous products that are functional and durable. However, they often lack user-friendliness and aesthetic appeal. These shortcomings present challenges to manufacturers, who must carefully navigate technical specifications, economic viability, and product scalability. Enter Ekio, a fresh CSEM start-up that empowers its clients to overcome these obstacles. Ekio harmonizes industrial design with user experience, enabling clients to create products that not only meet technical requirements, but also deliver a positive and satisfying user experience. Ekio was founded by Mathilde Crettaz (formerly of CSEM) and Bastien De Marco (formerly of CSEM spinoff Aktiia), who have extensive expertise in technical design and industrialization, especially for medical products. They apply their design and development skills to clients’ projects from the start, before handling and helping with industrialization and production line set-up. This ensures that their clients’ products are usable, desirable, and feasible.

“Ekio shares CSEM’s vision to be an innovation booster for the Swiss industry landscape by championing technically sound, sustainable, and customer-centric design. Ekio is looking forward to collaborating with other innovative and visionary companies and start-ups, especially in the medical and health sectors, to help them design products and solutions that make a difference in people’s lives,” concludes Crettaz.