Solar Impulse - An Idea Born in Switzerland: U.S. Arrival of Swiss Solar-Powered Aircraft Example of Swiss Innovative and Competitive Spirit

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Switzerland congratulates the Solar Impulse team on successfully crossing the Pacific Ocean, one of the most challenging legs of the epic journey. A collaboration between the Swiss scientific community and Swiss companies contributing their expertise and experience toward pioneering technologies and materials, Solar Impulse is a strong ambassador for Switzerland's innovative and entrepreneurial spirit and has the Swiss government's official support.

"I have deep respect for the pilots' achievements. What they did required courage, commitment, and a relentless belief that the unthinkable is possible. Congratulations! I am proud to share their heritage and I am excited to share their vision," said Martin Dahinden, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States, on Solar Impulse's arrival in Hawaii. "Switzerland already has a big research and entrepreneurship footprint in the United States. Solar Impulse is a great example of that. Switzerland is one of the largest investors in the U.S. Swiss affiliates directly support nearly 450,000 jobs and indirectly support 1.8 million jobs throughout the U.S. At almost $9 billion, Swiss affiliates outspend all other countries conducting research and development in the U.S.

Solar Impulse is more than a scientific expedition; it is a journey of human endeavors and a reflection of the Swiss spirit of exploration, innovation and crossing new frontiers. Numerous Swiss companies have provided financial resources, technological expertise, innovative thinking and passion in promoting clean technologies. Three of the four main sponsors are Swiss companies with a large presence in the U.S.:

  • Omega, the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games and watchmaker which brought the first watch to the moon with the Apollo mission, is also providing timekeeping for Solar Impulse. Swiss watchmaker Omega developed specific instruments such as alarms for the pilots and the landing-light system. A precise, reliable and very skillfully crafted Swiss watch is again alongside explorers pushing the limit.
  • ABB, the Swiss-based leading power and automation technology group, is one of the four main sponsors of Solar Impulse. Three ABB engineers have been working with the Solar Impulse team, contributing their expertise and experience. They have helped to improve power yields from the solar cells and enhance the charging electronics for the plane's battery systems.
  • Schindler, a leading global elevator and escalator provider, is a household name in the U.S. as well. For Solar Impulse, Schindler has developed the structure of materials, improved their robustness and massively reduced their weight. The innovations range from the aircraft's tubular design–described as a quantum leap in machine engineering–to new honeycomb structures with extremely high stability and sophisticated solar technology.

Swiss founders and pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are both polymaths and pioneers at heart. They embody the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit for which Swiss companies are known and which makes Switzerland's economy the most competitive and innovative in the world.

Switzerland ranks number one in the World Economic Forum's Competitiveness Report for the sixth consecutive year. The Swiss companies contributing to Solar Impulse also serve as great examples illustrating why Switzerland is at the top of innovation indexes such as the Cornell/Insead Global Innovation Index and the EU Commission's Innovation Union Scoreboard.

Through its collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology and Swiss companies, Switzerland is represented on the aircraft. The Swiss representations in the United States are proud to share their network and institutional contacts to make the U.S. portion of Solar Impulse's across-the-globe flight successful.

Solar Impulse is not the only Swiss vessel to benefit from Swiss engineering and innovative technology. Solar Impulse's body was constructed by Decision SA of Ecublens, Switzerland, which constructed the victorious Alinghi, the first European yacht to win the America's Cup

Solar Impulse is crossing the U.S. as part of its around-the-world flight. From its first U.S. touchdown in Hawaii, Solar Impulse will take off to cross the United States. It will touch down in Phoenix, Arizona, and another U.S. city between Phoenix and New York, its final destination in North America. From New York, another adventure awaits: crossing the Atlantic.

Official Swiss Bodies Supporting Solar Impulse:
Since the inception of the Solar Impulse project in November 2003, the following Swiss bodies have supported the project: the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL; the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, DDPS; the Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, DETEC; the Federal Department of Finance, FDF; the Swiss Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics, FOBL; Meteosuisse, and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, FDFA.

Additional Sources
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs: Solar Impulse
Discovery Projects École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL
Solar Impulse
Swiss Foreign Direct Investment in the U.S.
Solar Impulse and Alinghi Constructor

CONTACT:Salome Ramseier, Head of Communications, Embassy of Switzerland: 202-957-5201,

Source: Embassy of Switzerland Washington DC