The story of EquipSent began in 2016, when the physics student Gregor Jotzu returned to Switzerland from a research stay in the USA. Inspired by the US-based company ‚Seeding Labs’, he wanted to build on the idea that out-of-use scientific equipment can be given a second life. While brainstorming with his physicist colleagues, and with his rowing friend Jan-Georg Rosenboom in the chemistry department, he received very positive feedback, and it was thus decided to take action and to create an organization that helps to promote the sustainable use of scientific equipment, and fairer access to education around the world.

Consequently, Gregor reached out to his personal and professional networks and assembled a team of passionate people, initially named the ‘Zurich Equipment Donation Initiative’, who wanted to create a positive impact. In November 2016, Gregor moved for a few weeks to Nicholas Robinson School in Mekelle, Ethiopia where he worked with the Physics teachers. There he met with faculty members from different departments to gather information on which type of devices they will find useful and understand better their limitations.

An initial core group formed working towards the equipment donation initiative, which worked in teams to lay the ground-work for EquipSent, by identifying key steps that are necessary to successfully run an organization, and donate scientific equipment across the world. The first team focused on building a brand and creating awareness for the initiative at ETH Zurich and University of Zurich. This included building a website, investigating if partnerships could be established with university bodies as well as external partners and organizations.

A second team worked on clarifying existing rules for donations at universities, and investigating potential receivers and future donors.

A third team started to actively search for equipment for donation and find intermediate storage space. This was driven by building a manually curated database.

Finally, when the tasks to be solved became more concrete, the desire grew to branch off from an ETH-based student initiative towards an independent social initiative. The structure of the organization needed to be decided. It was concluded that an association under Swiss law would be the best platform for a lean and strong organization. The founding assembly was organized to take place on March 7th 2017. At the same time, a collaboration agreement with the doctoral student association of ETH (AVETH) was developed.

Following the call for the founding general assembly, EquipSent was formally established as a Swiss association on March 7th, 2017 at the ETH Hönggerberg Campus, in Zurich, Switzerland. The purpose, the governing bodies, and the formal requirements were defined and approved in the association statutes which were voted at the General Assembly. Before the board was elected, all present members selected the name of the newly formed association: EquipSent. Following, the board was elected as follows: Jan-Georg Rosenboom (President), Wilfred Elegba (VicePresident), Jannick Griner (Board Member), Gaston Larrazabal (Board Member), Katharina Keller (Board Member) and Irina Ritsch (Board Member).