Swiss Wood Solutions AG was founded in October 2016 as a spin-off from ETH Zurich and Empa. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) is a globally leading science university and constantly ranks among the top universities worldwide. Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) is an interdisciplinary Swiss research institute for applied materials science with various campuses across Switzerland.
All of our team members have worked at ETH and/or Empa prior to their engagement at Swiss Wood Solutions. We are in the advantageous position to benefit from infrastructural, technical and know-how support from these two Swiss institutions. Regardless, Swiss Wood Solutions acts as an independent company and holds its own intellectual property rights.
In addition to ETH and Empa, we cooperate with further public and private institutions to carry out R&D projects:
TEEWood with Horizon 2020
To build up on the promising results from the two projects sponsored by Gebert Rüf, Swiss Wood Solutions aspires to scale up the technology to produce wood for larger stringed instruments such as guitars and cellos. In addition, SWS aims to evaluate production for percussion instruments and expand the application fields of the technology to wooden sports equipment. For this purpose, SWS filed an application for financial support by the European research and innovation program Horizon 2020. Created and financed by the European Union, Horizon 2020 couples research and innovation to tackle societal challenges and deliver economic growth. For promising science projects and derived business ideas, nearly €80 billion of funding are available from 2014 to 2020.
In cooperation with accelopment, a service provider specialized on applications for public funding programs, SWS filed a submission titled TEEWood (Technologically Enhanced European Wood for Substituting Endangered Tropical Woods). With the constructive help of accelopment, SWS completed the highly complex and time-consuming application process in October 2017. To our greatest delight, the submission was approved and the company received a grant of €1.5 million. Proof of competitive product properties, promising market opportunities and growth potential helped secure the funds starting in February 2018 and running through January 2020.
The upscale of the developed technology targeted in the TEEWood project with Horizon 2020 is expected to bear a range of impacts. Most importantly, the project is expected to solve the raw material scarcity problem of tropical wood-dependent industries such as the musical instrument industry. At the same, the customer benefits from a high performance material with custom-made physical properties, which comes along without any ethical issues and trade restrictions. Ecologically, a successful TEEWood project will make a precious contribution to save botanical diversity and enhance sustainable forestry in tropical areas. On a global political level, the project targets to reduce the incentives for illegal overexploitation of tropical forests as well as for piracy and corruption in affected countries. From a cultural perspective, the TEEWood project is expected to save the traditional instrument manufacturing profession by providing a suitable and legal raw material.
Swiss Ebony with the Gebert Rüf Foundation
Since March 2016 Swiss Wood Solutions has been financially supported by the Gebert Rüf Foundation. The private funding agency aims to boost entrepreneurial projects in Switzerland, which are committed to achieve an impact in current science and innovation challenges. Gebert Rüf has funded two projects at Swiss Wood Solutions (SWS). In the Swiss Ebony project, SWS succeeded to achieve dimensional stability of densified wood materials. The positive experimental results delivered the proof of concept and confirmed feasibility for the application of the material in the musical instrument market.
In the Swiss Ebony II project, which is set to run until June 2018, SWS targets the fine-tuning of physical and acoustics properties of the densified wood material. The adjustability of crucial parameters such as density and sound-propagation velocity enables SWS to acquire unique selling propositions in the musical instrument market. Thanks to the generous support by Gebert Rüf, Swiss Wood Solutions has established and initiated pilot production. Technology readiness level 6 (TRL 6) has been reached, implying the accomplishment of the prototyping phase. For violins and violas, market readiness has been achieved.