01.3.2021 – Ursula Oesterle has just taken up her position on 1st March as EPFL’s new Vice President for Innovation for the 2021-2024 period.
Ursula Oesterle holds a Master’s degree in physics and chemistry from ETH Zurich, and a PhD in physics from EPFL. Her research years on quantum photonics at EPFL led to first interactions with industry research projects, and after further education at IMD in Lausanne she decided to completely move to industry. She has held several positions, most notably she has been the Vice President for Innovation at the Swisscom Innovation outposts USA and Asia.
In her various roles, Ursula Oesterle has always helped companies harness the power of digital innovation and constructively collaborate with start-ups. She designs transformation programs and coaches leaders in the new mindset and ways of working that are required to execute on disruptive innovation.
Ursula Oesterle is also a co-founder of The Mixing Bowl, which strives to stimulate the adoption of IT innovation in the food & agriculture industries through business-focused dialogue between existing industry players, start-ups, investors, and other food innovators. And in 2012, she co-founded Corporate Innovators Huddle, a forum to share information and best practices on the various aspects of innovation at large corporations.
Innovation at EPFL flourished during his tenure
The outgoing Vice President for Innovation, Prof. Marc Gruber, has been highly strengthening innovation and technology transfer at EPFL, in particular by advancing the development of EPFL Innovation Park, and by significantly increasing the number of industry collaborations. He launched the Tech4Impact initiative and, – thanks to it – EPFL is nowadays able to play a leading role in sustainable innovation in Switzerland and to collaborate with companies and NGOs on sustainability topics.
In addition, Marc Gruber launched successful programs to support Bachelor’s and Master’s students in their entrepreneurial ambitions, and developed major offerings that helps small- and medium-sized companies to collaborate with EPFL researchers including the Forum Forward, an event that regularly draws 1000 company leaders to our campus. Beyond the EPFL campus, Marc Gruber has also established EPFL as a thought leader in innovation with his method “Where to Play: The Market Opportunity Navigator”. This method is officially included in the “Lean Startup” innovation toolset in Silicon Valley, and is applied by several tens of thousands companies worldwide.
During his time as Vice President, Marc Gruber was honored with the Mentor Award of the Academy of Management’s Entrepreneurship Division, thereby becoming only the second European scholar to receive this high honor for his exceptional support of the next generation of entrepreneurs. He will continue to push the innovation and entrepreneurship agenda at EPFL, in Switzerland and beyond through his research, teaching and coaching activities.