“Our goal is a circular economy free from CO2”

Empa gives a major boost to the Zurich cleantech cluster. Gian-Luca Bona heads the highly innovative research institute.

You held a leading research position at IBM in the USA before you became Director of Empa in 2009. What motivated you to return to Zurich?

I had a very exciting time in the USA in an international environment. I was thrilled by the opportunity to take over the management of Empa. The chance to initiate new technologies based on strong fundamental research and therefore give Swiss business an international boost presented a fascinating challenge for me.

Empa was founded in 1880 as a Swiss federal material testing institute. Over the last few decades, it has rapidly developed into a modern research institute. What does Empa do today?

 Progress in science and technology is essential for a sustainable economy and a future that is worth living. Empa focuses on five research areas. We look for solutions to the burning question of sustainable and secure energy supply. Other priorities are global climate change, protecting the environment and the shortage of natural resources, as well as updating our existing infrastructure such as buildings, streets, bridges and tunnels. And last but not least, the topic of health and well-being, which is becoming more important in the era of increasing life expectancy. The starting point of our research is often a basic understanding of nano-structured materials on an atomic and molecular level.

Professor Gian-Luca Bona