Dear colleagues,

Word will have got around that I had another bicycle accident and will therefore be out of action for some time. Fortunately, I am already on my way to recovery and am therefore able to wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season and then a good start to a successful and, above all, healthy New Year.

In the weeks before the accident, my mind was already clearly focused on the year that lies ahead. In 2020, the SNI will again be organizing the Swiss NanoConvention here in Basel, and so I’ve spent a couple of weekends inviting potential speakers and planning the basic program for the SNC. All the keynote lectures are now lined up, and planning work for the various sessions is largely complete.

The latest meeting of the Argovia referees, where we examined the Nano Argovia projects submitted for consideration, will also influence work over the coming year. The Committee proposed five new projects, which have now all been approved by the SNI Board.

Of course, the end of the year is a time not only for planning new activities but also for casting our minds back over the last 12 months – and we can once again do so with a certain sense of pride. We’ve been able to expand our network, and outstanding and resourceful scientists are members of the SNI. Time and time again, our researchers submit fascinating new projects and deliver exciting new findings – both at the doctoral school and as part of Nano Argovia projects. The SNI’s participation in the ANAXAM technology transfer center will help cultivate another channel for cooperation with industry.

At a master’s degree ceremony organized for graduates of the nanosciences degree in 2018/2019, it was wonderful to see how well the young people who began their studies with us 4–5 years ago have turned out.

Fledgling companies that have emerged within the SNI network have also notched up some impressive achievements in recent months. Qnami has just announced that it has secured funding of more than CHF 2.6 million for the successful market launch and further development of its quantum sensor. In addition, ARTIDIS has just joined the world’s largest “medical city” at the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute and announced the successful closure of a CHF 8.8 million seed financing.

Other research has some way to go before reaching the market. For example, a number of research groups in the SNI network are working on understanding topological materials and on putting the special properties of this new class of substances to practical use. In the cover story of this SNI INSight, we therefore hope to offer an introduction to the particular features of these new materials.

As a perfect gift at the end of the year we had some great news in the last days: an ERC Consolidator Grant for Patrick Maletinsky and the approval of two NCCRs with the Department of Physics and the Biozentrum as leading houses. Congratulations!

Now I would like to thank all of you who have sent me your best wishes and flowers in the last weeks. Many thanks to all those who supported me and the SNI throughout the year and contributed to our success. I wish you a few relaxing days and look forward to a hopefully healthy year 2020.

Kind regards,

Christian Schönenberger