Got an environment-friendly building technology? Compete for SME vouchers worth CHF50K

Climate-KIC Switzerland has issued a call for SME vouchers in partnership with Climate-KIC partners ETH Zurich and Empa. Applications to be submitted before 4 August 2014.

In order to enable highly innovative emission reduction projects or programmes, Climate-KIC offers vouchers for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to grow their business by connecting to experts. We aim to generate market growth for existing businesses.

SME voucher – an instrument to boost your development

Companies involved in product development in the building industry might be facing challenges that require external expert knowledge for their solution. The SME voucher helps small and medium size industry partners (SMEs) in the building industry to collaborate with researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich and to get their products market-ready. It supports the development of environment-friendly technologies to a level that allows their direct implementation in the NEST platform and their subsequent introduction into the market. Empa and ETH Zurich researchers can benefit from this voucher through financial support for potential collaboration with SMEs and achieve a first implementation of a prototype ready for real-scale testing within the NEST platform. The SME voucher has a value of up to CHF50K and is valid through 2014. The maximum budget available for this year is CHF250K.

ETH Zurich is one of the world-leading international universities for technology and the natural sciences. Empa is an interdisciplinary research and services institution for material sciences and technology development within the ETH Domain.

NEST – Exploring the future of buildings

NEST is a unique platform for building research and prototyping on a real scale hosted by the Federal Institute of Material and Technology, Empa. It is part of the Climate-KIC flagship program Building Technologies Accelerator (BTA) and offers living lab infrastructures, real-world test beds in homes/offices and establishes a link to the market and society. New developments in architecture, construction or building technology can be implemented, researched and experienced within the NEST building platform. Major goals of NEST are the open innovation process that enables the development of advanced, environment-friendly technology with a significant market potential, the close collaboration between researchers and industry partners and hence the reduction of time to market.


Deadline to hand in document:

  • Monday, 4 August 2014, 17:00
  • Send to:

Jury decision (members of Climate-KIC, NEST team, research committee Empa/ETH Zurich, industry)

Who can participate in this call and what contributions will be supported?

Researchers from Empa and/or ETH Zurich who are developing together with an industry partner (SME) a technology, material, process or method that can be implemented or applied in the NEST environment and contributes to climate change mitigation/adaptation (team application of SME and research partner is requested).

Four research units (RU) with different research scopes (themes) are in planning and will be integrated in the NEST platform. To place your innovations within NEST, you need to identify one specific RU where your contribution could fit in. The six RUs and their respective research/technology focus are:

  • City Lifting: Compaction of the city through modular roof extension on existing buildings. Modular construction concept for easy and quick roof extension based on prefabricated building elements. Lightweight construction using wood and composite materials. Technology integration into prefabricated structures.
  • Vision Wood: New construction materials on wood base (hydrophobic, flame retardant, bacteriostatic, etc.). Modular construction concept based on prefabricated container solution. Flexible and modular furnishing solution.   
  • Meet2Create: Concepts for changing office spaces according to variable space usage during life-cycle, office concepts differentiated by zones, façade elements dynamically connecting inside and outside space, leasing business model for entire façade elements, furniture for dynamic transformation of workspaces, personalised climate control 
  • HiLo: Ultra-thin, lightweight and doubly curved roof shell structure, lightweight floor construction based on funicular vaulting allowing for integration of building services, adaptive solar façade based on soft-actuator elements, adaptive room automation system based on learning algorithms to control set points for building service systems. See also the HiLo website.
  • Solar Fitness & Wellness: Operation of unit without fossil fuels, use of solar energy and electricity produced by gym machines.
  • Energy Hub: NEST Energy Hub optimises the energy flow of electrical and thermal loads and provides buffering. The aim is to achieve a balance between heat and electricity producing RUs on the one hand, and heat and electricity consumption RUs on the other hand. The different living and work areas (RUs) in the NEST platform represent a group of independent buildings which are connected by thermal and electrical networks.

For more information on the specific RUs please refer to the NEST website.

How can I apply?

To apply to this call with your team (research and industry partner), you need to submit a proposal describing your innovation subject.  Your proposal is maximum 2-3 pages long and gives answers to the following questions:

  • What is the subject of your innovation? In what research unit/area could it be implemented within NEST?
  • What are the unique selling propositions and/or what known problems/weaknesses in the market does your solution eliminate?
  • How does your solution contribute to increase sustainability in buildings?
  • What is the market potential you see? Is there a market already?
  • What are the main deliverables?
  • How is the team working on that solution? What are contributions from the research and from the industry sides?
  • What challenges/risks do you see regarding the development?
  • How will the money from this SME voucher be spent to improve your solution (time, material, etc.)? Is there other funding in the final development phase and what is covered by the money from the voucher (present rough budget with development phases along a time line)?

A proposal template can be downloaded here.

If you have any questions, please contact