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The history of the TechNet Alliance

Worldwide network of experts in numerical simulation

The history of the TechNet Alliance

The TechNet Alliance was founded in 1998 by ANSYS Channel Partners and has developed into a worldwide network of experts in the field of Simulation Based Engineering (SBE) - formerly known as CAE (Computer Aided Engineering). In addition to companies offering services in this area, simulation experts from industry as well as globally recognized professors are members of the network.

The members of the TechNet Alliance meet two weekends a year to exchange experiences and knowledge, jointly pick up new business ideas and conduct technical excursions. Since 2000, about 80 experts from more than 20 countries from Europe, Asia, Russia, Africa and America have been actively participating in the meetings. The TechNet Alliance is organized by Technology Network Alliance AG, based in Aadorf, Switzerland. Membership is by invitation only.

1970 - 1993: Swanson Analysis Systems and the ANSYS Support Distributors (ASD)

The founding of the TechNet Alliance can be traced back to members of the ANSYS Support Distributors (ASD). These members had been partners since 1985 with Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) for the distribution, support and training of ANSYS software. CAD-FEM GmbH (at that time spelled with a hyphen) was one of the ANSYS support distributors for German speaking countries and several other European countries.

Then, in October 1993,completely unexpectedly, John Swanson, the founder and owner of Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI), sent us an e-mail with the short message “I sold my company. John”.

1994 - 1998: Genesis of TechNet Alliance as a consortium of companies for simulation

This news was a huge shock for the ASD, triggering several meetings by ASD members to discuss their futures. Over the years, a friendly relationship had developed between the ASDs, and we wanted to exchange ideas on how we could continue to work together in the future. The first of these meetings was held in 1994 in Rome. The small group of those who took part included, CAD-FEM (Günter Müller), ITALCAE (Antonio Mancino), STRUCOM (Stewart Morrison) and Anker-Zemer (Jan-Christian Anker). This was followed - with an increasingly larger number of participants - by further meetings in various places in Europe until finally meeting in Ticino in 1998; the idea was born to found a joint company. Its mission was to offer software, support and training for CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) worldwide from one source via a consortium of independent companies.

On the Alpe Vicania, in a wine-soaked mood, the name of the company was decided: vinoCAT AG. vinoCAT was to stand for virtual international network of Computer Aided Technology. The company was registered under this name in Aadorf, the home of CAD-FEM AG, but shortly after, in February 1999 - then in a sober state - it was renamed Technology Network Alliance AG (TNA). Several ASD were shareholders. The organization of membership and meetings was taken over by the Board of Directors of TNA with the help of CAD-FEM AG (today CADFEM (Suisse) AG) and CADFEM GmbH.

In 2000, the year of the “dot-com” hype, the company was also founded in order to offer services of the member companies of the TNA AG over the Internet via their webpage. In an effort to gain financial support, the business model was presented to companies as well as investors. Although they were quite interested, they found the projected future turnover figures too small, and decided not to get involved.

It should be mentioned that in the years 1997 to 1998 we had discussions with banks and investors about the purchase of shares of the company ANSYS, Inc. in order to secure participation in decision-making.

2000: Transformation of the TechNet Alliance into a network of experts

We had to recognize that the business model of TNA AG was not convincing, so the model was changed to the Organization of TechNet Alliance (a network of numerical simulation experts). ANSYS Channel Partners, companies offering complementary software, and experts from industry and academia were invited as members. This network proved to be very successful and sustainable. TNA has organized biannual meetings in European cities since 2000 - excluding 2019 - without a single interruption. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the meetings scheduled to take place in Lyon (in spring 2020) and Hamburg (in fall 2020) had to be cancelled. If the pandemic is overcome by 2022, the 41st meeting is scheduled to take place in Lyon in April 2022.

At the meetings held so far, world-renowned professors from more than 50 universities (TU Munich, ETH Zurich, Padua, Novosibirsk, Stanford, ...), prominent scientists from research centers (Fraunhofer, CSR4, NASA, ...) and experts from major companies (Robert Bosch, Porsche, Continental, Lufthansa Technik, Valeo, FIAT, Grundfos, Whirlpool, ...) have given presentations on the development and application of numerical simulation. In addition, there have also been contributions on management topics and, especially at the outset, a large number of presentations by software vendors.

When appropriate, excursions were also organized and companies (Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW, Lufthansa Maintenance Center in Malta, ...), important research centers (CERN, ITER, Kandill Earthquake Research Center in Istanbul, ...) and historically interesting sites (Temple of Poseidon in Athens, Coronation Hall of Charlemagne in Aachen, Haigerloch nuclear reactor of the 1940s, ...) were visited.

We will also remember the wonderfully situated conference hotels and the entertaining and exquisite dinners in first class restaurants. As a larger group, we were always granted a modest discount, to ensure that we all could enjoy the luxury of pleasant surroundings and appropriate catering. Both have always contributed to the constant positive and familiar atmosphere. This, combined with the experience and knowledge gained through lectures and the opportunity for networking, has led to the network being in existence for decades, as well as the growing number of members who have gladly attended on a regular basis.

Günter Müller announced at the meeting in Rome in the fall of 2020 that he will step down as President and Board Member of the TechNet Alliance after 20 years in order to make room for a successor of the younger generation. This successor should bring new ideas adapted to the changing times into the design of the network, so that the successful and very much appreciated meetings thus far, which we had to do without in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, will continue for many years to come.

Dr.-Ing. Günter Müller, Founder CADFEM GmbH and Managing Partner of CADFEM International GmbH

For more information please contact:
Christine Bundlechner

© pictures: privat

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