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The “Data House”: New Innovation Cluster at the Campus of TU Graz

11/16/2022 | TU Graz news | Research | University

By Falko Schoklitsch

The “Data House” at TU Graz’s Campus Inffeldgasse brings together science and business to jointly drive innovation in the fields of data science and digital technologies.

Symbolic handing over of the key to the new Data House on the campus of TU Graz (left to right): Hans-Peter Weiss, CEO of Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft BIG, Stefanie Lindstaedt, Head of the Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science and Managing Director of Know Center, State minister for economy and science Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, smaxtec shareholder and start-up investor Kathrin Zenker and Rector Harald Kainz. Image source: Lunghammer - TU Graz

Digital technologies, data sciences and artificial intelligence are among the major topics that are currently moving science and industry and are also a proven area of strength for TU Graz. The “Data House” at Campus Inffeldgasse of Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), which is now ready for occupancy after almost two years of construction, takes this into account and offers both researchers and companies a shared location.

At the address Sandgasse 36, the “Data House” will function as an innovation cluster and research building in the thematic complex of data analysis and data management. The more than 250 researchers from the Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science at TU Graz and the innovation and research centre Know Center will find their new home in the “Data House”. Furthermore, technology-oriented university spin-offs, start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises from the field of IT are welcome as occupants. This spatial proximity is intended to facilitate access to and the exchange of know-how in the field of data sciences on both the research and corporate sides. The use of joint infrastructure and cooperation in R&D projects additionally promotes cooperation between science and business.

A unique research ecosystem

The research of electronics-based systems is also located in the immediate vicinity of the “Data House”. Thus, R&D of microelectronics hardware systems is intertwined with software developments, including in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, to form a unique research ecosystem on the TU Graz campus. This innovative ecosystem benefits the researchers of TU Graz and Know Center as well as the companies and start-ups in the high-tech sector that settle here. This in turn increases the attractiveness of Graz as a business and science location for innovation-driven companies as well as for researchers and students.

Shaping the future together

“Cooperation with industry is a key strength of TU Graz. Promoting entrepreneurial thinking among students and staff is anchored in our mission statement and is, so to speak, in our DNA. TU Graz ranks first in Austria in the area of university start-ups,” says Harald Kainz, Rector of TU Graz. In his view, the focus on data science and digital technologies offers a lot of potential. “These areas will become even more important in the future and that is why it is important that TU Graz now has a new location in the form of the “Data House”, where we are helping to shape this future. Our university is constantly growing, which is reflected in the new buildings on Campus Inffeldgasse. With this growth, it is also natural to further deepen relationships with companies.”

Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Styrian state minister for economy, science and research, sees the “Data House” as an important stimulus for Styria as a business and science location: “The culture of cooperation between science and business has made Styria the number one research region in Austria and has also earned it an excellent international reputation. I am convinced that the “Data House” will establish itself as a beacon in this excellently functioning ecosystem and will favour start-ups in the university environment.” But the “Data House” is also an asset for the location’s positioning in the fields of data science, software development and artificial intelligence.

Climate-friendly and energy-efficient

In order to offer researchers and companies the ideal infrastructure, the planning of the “Data House” was of great importance. Hans-Peter Weiss, CEO of Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG), which built the “Data House”: “The “Data House” is another essential building block on Campus Inffeldgasse of TU Graz. BIG thus creates the infrastructural framework conditions for cooperation at the interface of university, research and business. The “Data House” was planned to be particularly climate-friendly with green roofs, photovoltaics and the use of geothermal energy.”

The great importance of interdisciplinary cooperation is also confirmed by Stefanie Lindstaedt, head of the Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science and managing director of the Know Center. “We develop solutions based on ‘trustworthy artificial intelligence’, which opens up completely new efficiency and innovation potential for companies and society, while at the same time offering maximum data security. The environment of the “Data House” with its start-ups, institutes and SMEs is a real inspiration for all of us and a booster for even more agility,” says Lindstaedt.

Won-over companies

Companies have also been won over by the possibilities of the “Data House”. This is how Kathrin Zenker, start-up investor and shareholder of smaxtec animal care, which is located in the “Data House”, explains: “We are very happy about the new location, because in addition to our strong team, we see the professional and personal exchange with the experts based in the “Data House” as an essential driver for our strong growth. This competent and innovative environment, especially in the field of AI, is a rapid accelerator for smaxtec as a leading agri-tech company on the way to a healthy and climate-friendly dairy industry.”

Concept and key data of the “Data House”:

The “Data House” was built according to the plans of everySIZE arquitectura limitada, Lisbon and Zinterl Architekten ZT, Graz. The floor plan of the 8,500 m² building consists of five trapezoidal components that are lined up in such a way that squares and paths are created. They create the connection to the existing campus and the surrounding area. The compact design, LED lighting, flexible sun protection, and smart ventilation save energy. Geothermal energy, activated building components, heat recovery from the laboratories and an almost 300m² PV system are used to generate energy. Over 1,000m² of extensive greening of roof surfaces and terraces have a positive effect on the microclimate.

  • 8,500 square metres of net floor space, five storeys, underground car park, bicycle parking spaces
  • Laboratory space, laboratory space with office-like infrastructure (e.g. computer labs and measurement labs without special space requirements) and classic office space
  • Sustainable energy concept based on a heat and cold pump system using depth probes
  • Building based on the winning project of an international architectural competition by the Portuguese architectural firm everySIZE arquitectura limitada

Right next to the “Data House”, the SAL Building with the same layout principle is currently in the final construction phase. The headquarters of Silicon Austria Labs (SAL) and thus research in the field of electronics-based systems (EBS) will move in there in 2023.

The “Data House” is a joint project of TU Graz and the Styrian Business Promotion Agency (SFG). The construction was carried out by Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG) on behalf of a joint company in which TU Graz holds two thirds and SFG one third. The costs amounted to around 26 million euros, with funding also coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


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Symbolic handing over of the key to the new Data House on the campus of TU Graz (left to right): Hans-Peter Weiss, CEO of Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft BIG, Stefanie Lindstaedt, head of the Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science and managing director of Know Center, state minister for economy and science Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, smaxtec shareholder and start-up investor Kathrin Zenker and rector Harald Kainz. Image source: Lunghammer - TU Graz
The new "Data House" at Campus Inffeldasse of TU Graz houses scientists and companies from the areas af data science and digital technologies. Image source: Paul Ott
Spacious meeting and communication zones inside Data House are intended to further promote the exchange of content between science and business. Image source: Paul Ott