Published: 19.07.11

“Project Neptune” becomes ETH-Zurich spin-off

“Project Neptune” has been offering students, staff and institutes at Swiss universities laptops at favourable prices since 2001. From 1 August Neptune is to continue as an ETH-Zurich spin-off.

Thomas Langholz
The “Project Neptune” team also wants to offer laptops at favourable prices in their new ETH-Zurich spin-off in future. (Photo: Thomas Langholz / ETH Zurich)
The “Project Neptune” team also wants to offer laptops at favourable prices in their new ETH-Zurich spin-off in future. (Photo: Thomas Langholz / ETH Zurich) (large view)

Doing a degree without a computer is unthinkable nowadays: writing essays, checking exam dates, watching lectures online, contacting friends on Facebook. Whereas years ago a PC only was at home, laptops have become daily companions at universities. Although laptops are much cheaper today, a high-performance computer with all the necessary software is still a huge investment for students. That’s where Project Neptune comes in, offering notebooks complete with software and technical support at affordable prices. The offer is open to the students, staff and institutes of various Swiss universities and the computers are sold online two or three times a year – so-called sales windows.

Stonepine Labs founded

However, the computer market has changed dramatically since the first test run back in 2000. New, cheap online providers dominate the market and are in direct competition with Neptune. “To enable Neptune to adapt to the market conditions, we’ve decided to convert it into a spin-off,” says Dordaneh Arangeh, head of IT portfolio management at ETH Zurich. From 1 August the spin-off will be called “Stonepine Labs” and at the end of August the company will be moving into new premises at Sonneggstrasse 28 in Zurich. The company will be run by present Neptune team members Lisa von Boehmer und Dominik Candreia.

For Neptune’s customers, however, very little will change: the existing services and order process will stay the same, and the equipment will continue to be tested and evaluated thoroughly. Apart from battery life, weight and mechanical robustness, Neptune also tests the W-LAN capability, software and performance to guarantee a high quality standard. All laptops recommended by Neptune (except netbooks) come with a three-year guarantee and a comprehensive support package. “We’re also planning to include monitors in our range of products. The first evaluations are currently underway,” says Dominik Candreia. The next sales window will be open on 5 September, a week earlier than usual. “This will enable students to order a computer before the semester kicks off and start their degrees with the new device,” stresses Candreia.

VSETH involved

As Project Neptune is primarily geared towards students, the Verband der Studierenden an der ETH VSETH – ETH Zurich’s student association – is also involved in the new company. For VSETH president Jannick Griner, this commitment is a strategic decision: “Neptune should remain close to the students, which is why we’re making a long-term commitment to the new spin-off.” Students will also be working at Neptune in future, either in testing or support. The company is currently on the look-out for a student assistant to join the team.

Students wanted

Neptune is on the look-out for a student assistant to help with support and evaluations, and advise customers two or three afternoons a week. Apart from a sound knowledge of IT, you should also have a strong service orientation. Anyone who is interested should write to

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