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Yverdon's little-known chip wizards

Y-Parc is home to the Micro-Electronics and Systems Institute and several startup firms to which it transferred technology (Y-Parc) Y-Parc (picture: Y-Parc)

When Anagram Technologies SA needs to hire engineers to meet the expanding demand for its audio processors, it doesn't have to go to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

This content was published on June 17, 2004 - 15:31

Instead, it taps engineering graduates from a tiny microelectronics institute in Yverdon.

Part of the Engineers School for the State of the Vaud, the Micro-Electronics and Systems Institute (MIS), is making a name for itself in the highly specialised world of digital signal processing for computer chips.

Anagram Technologies, located in Préverenges near Lausanne, is one of the few companies in the world to make chips able to handle multiple digital audio formats, of which there is a ballooning number, including MP3, WAV, and DVD Audio.

It licenses its designs to Analog Devices, the number four vendor of analog chips worldwide, as well as major East Asian chipmakers.

R&D

Besides supplying highly qualified engineers to Switzerland's emerging chip companies, MIS also provides R&D for industrial partners.

For example, it recently helped Virtual Switches SA of Yverdon, a start-up company, re-orient its product line. It only had one product, an optical switch whose market was in decline.

Now it is growing rapidly, selling powerful sensors used in the automotive and transport industry. It is expanding into Europe on the back of this new product line and its management believes the company could grow from five to fifty employees over the next four to six years.

MIS also gave its support to Solvix SA, a company that makes unique power supplies used in high-tech manufacturing equipment, such as semiconductor processing and optical disc manufacturing, through its SHARC users group, an industry and research forum that centres on the exploitation of silicon chips from Analog Devices.

Solvix also works closely with the Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne, and the Fribourg University of Applied Science (HES in Fribourg).

EU projects

Despite Switzerland not being in the European Union, the MIS is still able to participate in EU-funded projects thanks to the bilateral research agreements between Switzerland and the EU.

Other activities include the creation of a new industry innovation forum, called Mecatronalps, promoting what experts say will be the next generation of automotive and biomedical equipment, based on the fusion of mechanics, electronics, and software.

MIS, located in Y-Parc, the science park in Yverdon, has about 40 students and employs some 22 researchers and teachers. It recently created a spin-off company, Y-Lynx SA.

by Valerie Thompson

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