Its dimensions are perfection: 21cm in height and 16cm in diameter, at just 2.5 kilos in weight. And yet it’s well rounded at the same time. What’s more, its curves – in a rainbow of 12 different colours – are what give it that tremenduous charm. Or is it the revolutionary technology hidden beneath its anodized aluminium bodywork? Its uniqueness could also well be that its so full of beans. One thing is certain... it is seductive. A beguiling acronym for a riveting personality: KISS – the most coveted Valais native of the moment.
A story of acronyms
Denis Albrecht and his team are visionaries, entrepreneurs and designers of the smallest coffee machine in the world. Together they decided to take on a mad challenge that they choose to sum up in four words: Keep It Simply Swiss. “We could have said smart or sexy, but Swiss reflects our outstanding quality,” states Denis Albrecht. “But don’t get me wrong: its Valais heritage comes first.” It’s also perfect evidence that Gotec, like other local industry, is well able to adapt to the times and play the market. It was by resolving the problem of how to fuel the heaters using a pump that the firm finally arrived – 50 years, 2,500 models and as many ingenious developments later – at coffee. However, it is a little acronym, AIO (All in one), that was set to change everything and launch the team into the top-end espresso niche.
Gotec’s got the innovation bug
“A conventional coffee machine consists of a thermoblock, a pump, a flowmeter, some electronics and the bodywork. KISS is: the AIO, some electronics and the bodywork,” Denis Albrecht comments, his broad smile reflecting both pride and well-kept secrets. By uniting three elements in a single unit, he has raised KISS to the rank of an invention and taken his Sion-based firm to all four corners of the globe. For four years now they’ve all been more-or-less possessed by this idée fixe at Gotec. “All in one is so incredibly compact that it allows tons of artistic freedom. We’re having so much fun!” The most recent product born of Gotec’s imagination, the wall-mounted coffee machine, is a perfect example of this.
Slightly crazy, maybe… but their feet are firmly on the ground. “We designed this machine with our production equipment in mind so that we could do almost everything on our in-house workbenches,” project manager Frédéric Dayer confides. “For the rest, we looked for local solutions.” A quite extraordinary coffee machine that more than ever reflects the Valais personality of Gotec. And a unique mechanical DNA. “It takes the system a couple of seconds to heat up just the right amount of water before the piston discharges it into the biodegradable capsule, with up to 25 bars, without any vibration. This means that it uses 75% less energy than its peers and makes no noise. And then you can hear your coffee being poured.” Elementary, my dear Denis!
The butterfly effect
Not wanting to do things by halves, Gotec has taken on a final challenge: investing in the state-of-the-art. This is helping to kick off the Valais butterfly effect. Telsa, Swiss Diamond, Spähni, Sametec, Leyat Predemec and Berthod – to mention just a few of the Valais partner firms – are lending their expertise and providing certain parts for the KISS.
With nearly 600 SMEs, colleges and research institutes active in industry, it seems that the whole canton has been infected with the innovation bug. Everybody knows the ground is fertile here, but the Valais’ technical capacity and its role in driving industry, accounting for 47% of the canton’s GDP, is less well-known. If the HES-SO Valais-Wallis is today already working on new electronics intended for KISS derivatives, it is easy to imagine that tomorrow it will be research centres like Idiap, CREM or EPFL Valais-Wallis that will be the source of new start-ups or lend their support to innovative projects.
The company Cimark and the foundation The Ark also come into play to market, subsidize, create and innovate – jointly. The Valais identity, quite naturally, has a unifying effect.
Silicon Valais? The comparison may be a little audacious, but some have already made a start. Redelec, Mimotec, R&D Carbon and Keylemon operate from here, putting the spotlight on local industry as proof of the innovative spirit that prevails in this mountain canton.