In the Geneva art and technology wonderland, a new venture has emerged. Its name: Hiflow. A hub at the very heart of the industrial suburbs of Plan-les-Ouates.
Driven by French entrepreneur Séverine Redon, Hiflow is a co-working space. However, as a philosophy, it’s more than that: designed to “generate creativity and innovation” in a new work environment and bring together personalities from different worlds.
The huge 3,000-metre residence welcomes medtech, cleantech or artificial intelligence companies. As tenants, they not only rent an office, but engage themselves in a constructive partnership. They contribute to a global project, building bridges between companies, artists and social and environmental commitment. Let us take a look inside.
Art as an industrial reflection. “When the living makes us act!” is the opening statement Hiflow has chosen as a leitmotiv for its first season. Although the theme was thought of before the COVID-19 pandemic, it resonates strongly today, as Séverine Redon explains:
“We are individuals, living on a planet, not in opposition to other species. This relationship to living things is essential. How can we live with the living while remaining alive? We question the sustainability of humanity.”
Who better to contribute to this deeper reflection than an artist. Thought of at the heart of the project, creativity is not only present in every part of the building from the recording studio to the lounge or the cafeteria, but it also partners up with the companies around it. The artist can be a medium of interpretation and accessibility to stage and popularize a scientific experiment, a technology or an industrial project.
“Because we can go beyond the development of technology for technology's sake. And ask the question of why. What impact is it going to have on society? That's where it's interesting to confront technical development with thinkers and artists. Is this technology good for the progress of the whole and the good of humanity?”
Industrial partners. The hub has seen new companies move in during the summer. Innovation and cutting-edge technology seem to be the common factor. Mikajaki S.A., for example, develops an innovative and fully automated multi-patient ocular diagnosis platform, Medimaps group is a leading medical software company that sells bone microarchitecture analysis solutions, including artificial intelligence while Tegona specializes in digital transformation and security.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process but did not stop it. At this stage, seventeen residents have moved into seventy per cent of an office space, designed in a multiple of joint and separate rooms. This pending time allowed Redon and her team to strengthen the program and mobilize new local and international contributors, like Virtual Switzerland, HEAD - Geneva, Open Geneva or the artTechs platform.
“COVID delayed the reception of our residents of course, but in the end I would say that it had a positive impact because crises also give rise to ideas and reveal themselves as causes to defend. For my part, I believe in life as a movement that must be accepted and respected. It was essential for me that society should get back in motion and know how to make risks.”
The real question is: how will they interact and have a true impact on a more transversal level? Redon believes in the virtuous circle fed by the co-working space, even if Geneva is not necessarily used to this new approach.
“It is a collective intelligence. They will not only take part in our workshops or events, they will contribute to the reflection. You can’t wait for approval, you have to be convinced that what you are doing is right. That's how you‘ll make a difference and prove efficient.”
Let us not forget Geneva’s creative mind and strong innovative ecosystem. Hiflow might just be exactly what the doctor prescribed and will organize workshops, lectures, and exhibitions to feed the process. Keep watch, it all starts on 30 September 2020.