The Cube

      The Cube: PMI’s Research and Development Center

      Discover PMI’s state-of-the-art research and development center, known as the ‘Cube’, located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.  Here we share what the Cube represents for PMI, the people working there, and the science that takes place within it.

      The Cube at Philip Morris International 

      Inaugurated in 2009 by Philip Morris International (PMI), our research and development center is more than an architectural marvel, it is the beating heart of our scientific research and a testament to PMI’s commitment to a smoke-free future. Over the course of a decade and a half, the Cube has been a pioneering hub where hundreds of scientists and engineers from various specialties have collaborated to develop smoke-free products and to scientifically assess their risk profiles.  

      A historical site for a smoke-free future

      Situated on the shore of Lake Neuchâtel, between the Alps and the Jura mountains, the Cube is part of PMI’s Neuchâtel Campus, which includes the Industrial Development Center (IDC) dedicated to creating and refining smoke-free product prototypes, and a dual factory producing heated tobacco sticks for our leading smoke-free product and conventional products.

      The site is rich in history as tobacco products were first manufactured here in 1925 by the Fabriques de Tabac Réunies SA. PMI's presence in Neuchâtel can be traced back to 1963-1964 when it acquired the site, which became the company's first subsidiary in Europe. Later in 1964, PMI opened a new production site for its tobacco products. The following decades witnessed consistent investment from PMI into the Neuchâtel site, culminating in the design and construction of the Cube between 2005 and 2008, and its inauguration in 2009 along with the IDC.

      The history of the Cube links to PMI' vision for a smoke-free future, in which conventional tobacco products are replaced by less harmful alternatives. As such, the Cube has been, since its inception, a crucible for the development and scientific substantiation of our smoke-free products, and acts as the headquarters of our network of research centers around the world.

      Looking back

      Creating a Smoke-Free Future

      For over a decade, we have been working on the research and development of smoke-free products that do not burn tobacco and therefore are potentially much less harmful than smoking.

       

      This is the story of how we created our first heated tobacco product, told by some of our key scientists who developed it.

      Earth, Wind, and Water

      The Cube is characterized by its unique architecture which intertwines functionality and aesthetics and introduces symbolism that complements its design. It actually consists of three buildings, each with a specific name: Earth, Wind, and Water. These three buildings are interconnected and enclosed within an overall glass frame, giving the entire complex its distinctive cubic shape.

      The absence of the last element, Fire, is symbolic: it signifies our transition away from combustion, the primary cause of the high level of harmful toxicants in smoke.

      Inside the Cube, the continuity between walkways, terraces, gardens, and meeting spaces presents a holistic, integrated system for movement and interaction. This facilitates both peaceful reflection and active engagement. A feature point is the glass roof, welcoming all beneath it to both relax and engage in dialogues.

      Another remarkable aspect of the Cube is its eco-friendly components which have been carefully selected. These include solar panels for clean energy and a geothermal heating system for energy efficiency.

      The transparent glass envelope of the Cube serves two purposes. By making a deliberate choice to maximize natural light usage, it not only reduces dependence on artificial lighting but also contributes to additional energy conservation. Moreover, the use of glass elements throughout the building serves as a metaphor for our transparent approach to science and innovation.

      Focus areas of research

      Within the Cube, our primary focus lies in rigorous scientific research and product development related to our smoke-free products. This state-of-the-art facility houses cutting-edge laboratories where hundreds of scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff engage in comprehensive research and development.

      Key research activities taking place at the Cube range from analytical chemistry to toxicology to managing clinical studies and more. For instance, our Indoor Air Quality laboratory ensures analysis of volatiles emitted by our smoke-free products versus cigarette smoke, offering evidence that our leading heated tobacco product has no negative impact on the overall indoor air quality. Another research laboratory, our Aerosol Collection laboratory, permits the conditioning and collection of aerosols at varied temperatures and humidity levels, mirroring various climatic realities. We also perform in vitro toxicology studies as well as aerosol chemistry studies. The collaborative environment provided by the Cube encourages ongoing exploration, reformulation, and experimentation of new approaches.

      As of 2022, we have released 511 publications, which are readily accessible in our publications library. We invite everyone—from tobacco harm reduction advocates to skeptics—to delve into our research and read about our findings.

      Meet the people behind the science

      Complementing our state-of-the-art facilities is our diverse team of dedicated professionals. These include physicists, biologists, chemists, doctors, epidemiologists, behavioral scientists, and many others, who play a significant role in shaping the future of smoke-free products. They are committed to scientific rigor and transparency and rely on evidence and fact-based decisions. As such, they readily engage with fellow scientists, regulators, and the public to discuss the science underpinning our smoke-free products.

      These professionals are united by a shared objective: to offer less harmful alternatives for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke. With a multicultural team, the Cube fosters a dynamic environment, perfectly suited for collaboration and ideation—both essential for advancing our vision of a smoke-free future.

      Future of the Cube

      Our mission is firm and our resolve stronger than ever: to provide less harmful alternatives to adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke and ultimately achieve a smoke-free future. In this pursuit, the Cube transcends its role as a hub for scientific research and technological innovation. It stands as a symbol of PMI’s evolution.

      Looking ahead, as the company expands its business into areas beyond tobacco and nicotine, the Cube will continue to evolve, innovate, and be at the forefront of this transformation. Whether you're an enthusiastic researcher or simply a curious member of the public, the Cube provides a compelling window into the world of science and technology at PMI.

      Timeline

      See the facts for yourself

      We've created a timeline of events showing some of our biggest milestones in our journey to build a smoke-free future.