Best of swissnex 2019 –
The Annual Report

Dear reader,

The first flag on the Moon was Swiss! Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon, deployed the University of Bern’s solar sail on 21 July 1961 – as part of the Solar Wind Collector experiment – even before he raised the US flag. The piece of tin foil, roughly one meter in length, captured particles of the Sun, which were then examined at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern. The data obtained from the mass spectrometer brought new insights into the formation of our solar system and the Big Bang.

We have come a long way since then. Switzerland became a veritable space nation, and laid the foundations for its success as a founding member of the European Space Agency ESA. Today it is one of the most active countries in this field. The 50 years anniversary of the Moon landing, the launch of the CHEOPS satellite as well as the Swiss presence at the New Space Economy Expo Forum in Rome and a space-themed swissnexDay marked only a few highlights of the past year. And with that, “space” is a reoccurring theme of this Annual Report.

We also achieved important operational milestones in 2019: the results of an external evaluation confirmed the significance of the swissnex Network in the implementation of Swiss federal international cooperation policy in Education, Research and Innovation. The analysis required substantial efforts of both team members and stakeholders alike, and was an opportunity to reflect on the impact the network is having today – and can and should have tomorrow.

Speaking of what to expect in 2020: October marks the 20th anniversary of swissnex Boston and, with that, the launch of the swissnex Network as a whole. We expect to celebrate the occasion with various online activities at the end of this year under the umbrella of the “nex20: Connecting Tomorrow” campaign.

The swissnex Network has proven to be agile, flexible and client-focused. All of those are attributes that will be needed in today’s fast-changing world, where it is more difficult than ever to anticipate what is coming tomorrow. This report provides readers with information about the network’s achievements and special highlights in 2019. I hope that it serves as inspiration for many new ways of collaborating in the future.

Martina Hirayama, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Switzerland

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Martina Hirayama, State Secretary

for Education, Research and Innovation


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Team swissnex Boston
swissnex Boston

Francesco Bortoluzzi, Jonas Brunschwig, Alana Murphy, Laura Berseth, Laurent Poffet, Oliver Arbellay, Oliver Haugen, Alexandra Alteio, Christian Simm, Alicia Evangelista, Sophie Sithamma

Team Switzerland

Raphael Kofmel, Dercio Afonso da Silva, Martin Strickler, Corinne Gottier, Philippe Roesle, Malin Borg Soares, Cecilia Neyroud, Maria Peyro Voeffray, Tenzin Yungdun, Roman Kern, Sarah Daepp, Mauro Moruzzi

Team Seoul

Ji Hyun Lim,  Laura Acosta,  Ji Yeon Lee,  Alessandra Apicella

Team swissnex San Francisco
swissnex San Francisco

Julien Vergély, Linda Aerne, Benjamin Bollmann, Eryk Salvaggio, Lauren Erickson, Sarah Chapatte, Nora Naji, Gioia Deucher, Anne Amis, Margaux Mégevand, Caitlin Miller, Mary-Ellyn, Julia Kuhn Mirza, Nicola Ruffo, Franziska Steiner, Jeremy Casorso

Team swissnex Brazil
swissnex Brazil

Naira Bonifácio, Leonardo Machado, Gabriela Devaud, Pedro Capra, Amanda Akemi, Philipp Hugentobler. Former team members in 2019: Maria Conti, Alissa Siara, Angela Thür, Elisa Brühwiler, Fabienne Zumbühl, João Silveira, Leila Girschweiler, Matthias Lüthi, Nathalie Comtesse, Sylvia Romanelli

Team swissnex China
swissnex China

Chenchen Liu, Yijun WU, Sandro Wirth, Danli Zhou, Florian Moeri, Nicole Jucker, Percy Zhijie Chen, Marvin Grass, Tobias Bolli, Cissy Yiwen Sun, Jonas Thürig, Sherry Jingting Hu, Rahel Gruber, Dr. Felix Moesner, Simin Yang, Lijun Zhang, Jasmine Yi Qin, Suyao Ao, Nan Chen, Libing Gu

Team swissnex India
swissnex India

Prateek Khare, Maxence Lovato, Silvana Renggli-Frey, Dishari Rakshit, Lisa Susan Abraham, Anju Edgar, Solomon George, Aparna Kumaraswamy, Ravi K Channaiah, Dr. Swetha Suresh, Palek Sharma, Suraj Chawla, Sarita Prakash, Yashaswini Kumar, Vidya Kamalesh, Maitree Dasgupta, Cassius Castellino, Dinesh Shereshtha, Sébastien Hug

10th anniversary of the Swiss-Brazilian Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation

Opening panel of the Symposium celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Swiss-Brazilian Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation, on November 7th, 2019. From left to right: Andrea Semadeni, Ambassador of Switzerland to Brazil; Marcos Pontes, Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and former astronaut; Mauro Moruzzi, Ambassador, Head of International Relations, State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI); Luis Fernando Corrêa da Silva Machado, Head of Division of Technology promotion, Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; © Márcio Nascimento ASCOM/MCTIC

Innovation dinner with hi-tech live shows at the Swiss residence, on November 7th, 2019. From right to left: Mauro Pazos Peralba, Chief Regulatory & Certifications, xd4solutions; Andrea Semadeni, Ambassador of Switzerland to Brazil; © Embassy of Switzerland in Brazil

All partners involved in the Swiss-Brazilian bilateral cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation, on November 7th, 2019; © Márcio Nascimento ASCOM/MCTIC

This milestone was celebrated with a symposium held in November 2019 in Brasilia that was opened by the Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and former astronaut, Marcos Pontes, and attended by high-level representatives of the diplomacy, the science and the business communities.

As Brazil remains the leading partner country for Swiss researchers in Latin America and interest continues to grow, two additional Memoranda of Understanding were signed on this occasion by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and Innosuisse with their Brazilian counterparts CONFAP and EMBRAPII respectively to step up the cooperation in the fields of research and innovation.

The program for the Swiss delegation was jointly organized by the Swiss Embassy in Brazil and swissnex Brazil.

Towards an Inclusive Future in AI: What does it mean in practice?

Brainstorming towards an inclusive future in AI; © ponto

Fresh air for fresh ideas; © ponto

Happy faces after an inspiring day; © ponto

Project ideas maturing in the Embassy garden 1; © ponto

Project ideas maturing in the Embassy garden; © ponto

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rather disruptive technology. Accordingly, numerous countries and international institutions have developed strategies and concepts on the ethical development and governance of AI. Even though “inclusion” plays a key role in this context, few explain what it means in practice. How should an inclusive future of AI look like? Two Think Tanks, ponto from Austria and foraus from Switzerland, offered a workshop hosted at the Swiss Embassy in Vienna in the search of concrete solutions to this challenge.

The workshop “Towards an Inclusive Future in AI” took place as part of a series of international events. Conducted at various locations of the swissnex Network and the Open Think Tank Network around the world, the workshops culminated in a synthesis session in Geneva, at the AI for Good Global Summit. In Vienna, on May 25, more than 30 participants engaged in teams elaborating ideas for projects, initiatives or policies. The surprising variety of professional backgrounds and nationalities of the participants contributed to a truly transdisciplinary approach. During the workshop, the participants were guided through an open ideation session using the Policy Kitchen method to address the big question: How can we ensure the participation and inclusion of all relevant voices and minds in global AI research and innovation? Just to mention one of the ideas that were pitched: “AI Academies” – Developing local academies that teach and engage people on AI and are governed by an umbrella association. The idea is to draw inspiration from systems such as soccer clubs, which engage people locally, but are also led by overarching governing bodies providing best practices, funding and streamlined paths for communication and changing positions. Hopefully, some of the ideas harvested during the final session in the Embassy garden will find their way into an inclusive future in AI!

Further information: ponto – Workshop – Towards an Inclusive Future in AI

50 Years of Swiss-American Collaboration in Space Research

Solar Wind Experiment, Apollo 11; © National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA

Letter from Neil Armstrong to Professor Johannes Geiss, Creator of the Solar Wind Experiment; © University of Bern

The Embassy of Switzerland was proud to host an event celebrating 50 years of space collaboration with the USA on May 1, 2019. The focus of the event was the Solar Wind Experiment, which accompanied the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander in 1969.  The special guest of the evening was Dr Jürg Meister who was a PhD student at the University of Bern at the time and who worked on the experiment himself.  The solar wind experiment was a successful one – proving the existence of solar wind – but the fact that Dr Meister actually transported the solar wind experiment in his hand luggage to Cape Canaveral in that year attests to how different circumstances were 50 years ago when conducting international scientific collaboration.

The follow up from this event has been, and will be, further Swiss science participation in space experimentation, as many satellites and space vehicles have Swiss-made components on board.  In attendance at the event were Associate Administrator for NASA Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, as well as Dr. Willy Benz of the University of Bern, who is currently the Principle Investigator of the CHEOPS satellite.

Moving People and Technology; the Swiss-invented championship in Japan

Enthusiastic spectators; © ETH Zurich/ Takao Ochi

Five new Japanese teams were born; © ETH Zurich/ Takao Ochi

Hands-on demo; © ETH Zurich/ CYBATHLON

Swiss team takes 1st place; © ETH Zurich/ Takao Ochi

The CYBATHLON Wheelchair Series Japan 2019 attracted more than 1200 spectators, numerous coverage in mainstream media and social network services and interest from the Japanese society, now organizing their own events featuring the Swiss invented championship applying state-of-the-art technical assistive devices to make everyday life easier for people with disabilities. Its success was not built in one day.

The run-up to the Series started in June 2016, when the Science and Technology (S&T) Office Tokyo hosted a prep-rally for Japanese teams participating in the first championship initiated by ETH Zurich in October that year. The initial audience were mainly from the Swiss community in Japan. The collaboration continued as ETH Zurich dispatched the CYBATHLON Organising Committee and EPFL sent their team TWIICE to the Swiss Pavilion at MEDTEC Japan 2017 organized by the S&T Office Tokyo. Their efforts led to increased attention and the list of partners kept growing. In 2018, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry invited CYBATHLON to present at its World Robot Summit. Many local researchers and engineers were motivated by the HSR Enhanced wheelchair team from the University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil; a total of six Japanese university teams have registered to participate in CYBATHLON 2020 compared to three teams in the first competition. Meanwhile, major Japanese industrial and media partners have visited Swiss universities and universities of applied sciences to learn in more depth about their technologies. The Swiss teams, mainly of academic origin, continue to be invited by organizers of Japanese competitions and expos. The championship keeps moving people and technology halfway around the globe.

Personalized Medicine for Future Healthcare
Tel Aviv

Discussions on personalized medicine; © Embassy of Switzerland in Israel

Handshake: Ambassador of Switzerland in Israel, Jean-Daniel Ruch (on the left) shaking hands with then Lonza CEO Marc Funk; © Lonza

Ambassador Jean-Daniel Ruch delivering opening remarks; © Embassy of Switzerland in Israel

Guests networking after the event; © Embassy of Switzerland in Israel

Diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Israel have existed since 1949. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of these bilateral relations, the Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv has organized various events in the fields of culture, science and innovation with a link to Basel. The city of Basel has a special historical significance for the founding of the State of Israel because of the Zionist congresses held there. The Canton of Basel City is supporting the celebrations at the invitation of the Swiss Embassy under the title “Basel welcomes Tel Aviv”.

As a part of those Basel-Tel Aviv events, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Israel, Jean-Daniel Ruch, and the CEO of Lonza Group, Mark Funk, hosted an event at the Swiss Residence in Ramat Gan, Israel, in September 2019 on “Delivering Personalized Medicine for Future Healthcare”. The symposium focused on Microbiome Therapeutics and Personalized Oncology and brought together top minds from academic, industry and investment communities to discuss the translational challenges facing these new fields of medicine.

In the first part of the event, speakers presented their point of view on Personalized Oncology. The subsequent panel discussion gave the panelists the opportunity to discuss how personalized medicine should evolve in order to ideally be beneficial to all actors involved.. The second part of the event brought Microbiome Therapeutics into focus and discussions during the panel covered challenges in launching a microbiome start-up.


Mr. José Carlos Agrela, Business Development Director - ISDI Digital Business School from Spain; © Alberto Giovanetti

Artificial Intelligence is one of the top priority cooperation sectors defined by the Spanish High Council on Scientific Research (CSIC) and the Embassy of Switzerland. Therefore, on 6 June 2019, the Embassy of Switzerland in Madrid organised the 2nd Swiss Innovation Night dedicated to the “Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Society”. Gathering different panellists in a network event at the Swiss Ambassador’s Residence, the discussions focused on Artificial Intelligence from three different points of views: research, social behaviour and business. One of the key insights was the urgent and vital need for businesses to accelerate their digitisation processes in order to stay in the market and keep growing.

This event provided a platform to highlight Spanish and Swiss achievements in the sector as well as promoting Switzerland and Spain as two leaders in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
As global networks are becoming more and more important, platforms that can facilitate personal connections with potential partners are increasingly important. As the Swiss Innovation Night in Madrid has shown, the swissnex Network is an excellent platform to foster Swiss and Spanish relations in sectors of mutual interest.
The 3rd edition of the Swiss Innovation Night will take place in 2020 and will be dedicated to the topic of “Robotics”.

State Secretary Hirayama in Brussels

Discussing the contribution of Switzerland to the research infrastructure in fusion energy ITER. On the picture (from left): Director-General Dominique Ristori, Deputy Director-General Gerassimos Thomas (DG ENER), Maryline Maillard (Mission of Switzerland to the EU), DDG Philipp Langer, DG Gregor Haefliger, State Secretary Martina Hirayama, Amb. Urs Buscher (Mission of Switzerland to the EU); © DG ENER

On 18 February 2019, State Secretary Martina Hirayama paid an inaugural visit to Brussels to meet her counterparts and to engage in personal exchanges with representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, representatives of the Swiss Mission in Brussels, the SwissCore team and research and innovation organisations from Switzerland and the EU.

After having met the Commissioner for Research and Innovation Carlos Moedas at the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of January 2019, this visit to Brussels was the occasion to organise high-level introductory meetings two Directors-General of the European Commission. Those were Jean-Eric Paquet, from the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation and Dominique Ristori, from the Directorate-General for Energy. This offered the opportunity to discuss about Switzerland’s current participation in Horizon 2020 and the next steps on the part of the EU up to the launch of Horizon Europe in 2021. Swiss participation in the Euratom programme and the research infrastructure for fusion energy ITER project were also brought up.

Overall, these first exchanges at EU level highlighted the current contribution of Switzerland to EU programmes and addressed the importance of the research and innovation collaboration at European and international level, also post-2020.

“Fondue Pitching”: An innovative format to present Swiss research on cheese

Fondue Pitching at Soirée Suisse; © Schweizerische Botschaft in Berlin

Fondue Pitching at Soirée Suisse; © Schweizerische Botschaft in Berlin

Fondue Pitching at Soirée Suisse; © Schweizerische Botschaft in Berlin

The Swiss Embassy in Berlin is promoting Switzerland under the header “traditionally innovative” from 2019 to 2023.  Each year, a different Swiss stereotype is chosen and presented from an novel point of view, showcasing Swiss innovations in the given field. In 2019, the topic “cheese”- as a truly traditional Swiss product was selected. The prestigious “Soirée Suisse” which is held once a year at the Embassy, was dedicated to this topic as well. On this occasion, innovative Swiss research on cheese was presented in a creative new format: the so-called “Fondue Pitching”.

Seven experts from Swiss universities were invited to bring their research closer to the public in the form of a “fondue pitching”. Each «pitcher» was allocated a table at which she or he presented her or his topic, while the guests could enjoy their fondue and follow the presentation. The audience would then change to the next pitch every ten minutes. The researchers from the ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich, the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL of the Bern University of Applied Sciences, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Agroscope and the Bern University of the Arts as well as the Käsehaus K3 Burgdorf were covering fascinating topics such as “The paternity test for cheese – counterfeit-proof thanks to unique bacteria” or “Sounding cheese – an experiment between sound and culinary art”. The format was highly successful, permitting a playful exchange between guests and researchers as well as business talks: As a result of the fondue pitching, a cooperation between the Käsehaus K3 and the renowned Kaufhaus des Westens KaDeWe in Berlin was initiated.

Hackaton SNX.VR
swissnex Brazil

Mélodie Moussed, creator of the immersive experience HanaHana, playing the VR projects developed by the teams; © Andressa Guerra

At the Hackathon SNX.VR Call Launch event, guests were able to play HanaHana; © Andressa Guerra

Mélodie Moussed, creator of HanaHana, showcases the VR experience to guests; © Andressa Guerra

Mélodie Mousset (artist and creator of HanaHana), Bruno Herbelin (EPFL), Amanda Akemi (swissnex Brazil), and Daniela Tinoco (hackathon winner) presented the initiative during the World XR Forum, in Crans-Montana, Swizerland; © Andressa Guerra

Participants of the Hackathon SNX.VR and swissnex Brazil team at the Awarding Event in Rio de Janeiro; © Andressa Guerra

Hackathon SNX.VR Awarding Event at Parque das Ruínas, Rio de Janeiro; © Andressa Guerra

Imagine a surreal immersive experience with a setting that creatively merges virtual reality, neuroscience, and art. Moreover, human breath plays a central role through a new innovative device. This was the Hackathon SNX.VR, organized in Rio de Janeiro, gathering teams of artists, programmers, musicians, game designers, and 3D developers to transfer the dynamics of breathing into the immersive art experience HanaHana.

The virtual world of HanaHana is an award-winning creation by Swiss-based artist Mélodie Mousset. Inside the realm of HanaHana, players can reproduce body parts and make hands sprout in a desert environment, which, when explored, reveals a dreamlike and thrilling journey. Inside this platform, the teams were able to build up their projects and add new elements and possibilities of interaction. The novelty of this endeavor was the implementation of the so-called Virandola, a neuroscientific device able to translate the human breath into an output on the virtual platform. For this, the Virandola is linked to virtual reality (VR) goggles and developers can use their breath as an additional input information to control, manipulate and interact with the virtual platform. The projects created a new array of immersive experiences and narratives through original sounds, movements, and colors to stimulate emotions.
The Hackathon SNX.VR brought together stakeholders, experts and the community of developers from Switzerland and Brazil in Extended Realities, expanding the possibilities of further projects and partnerships in the field.
As a follow-up, swissnex Brazil displayed the Hackathon SNX.VR’s productions during the World XR Forum, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland where the initiative and its results were presented to a global audience.

Hackaton Photos’ credit: Andressa Guerra

SwissTech in space: swissnexDay19 and New Space Economy Expo in Rome

Earth’s Guardian: Using Space Tech for a Sustainable Future

The swissnex Network hosted its annual signature event – the swissnexDay’19 – at EPF Lausanne. Experts from Switzerland and explored the potential of sustainable space technologies. Attendees included over 300 people from the fields of education, research and innovation.

New Space Economy Expo Forum” (NSE) in Rome

At the same time as the swissnexDay’19, 12 Swiss space startups participated at the “New Space Economy Expo Forum” (NSE) in Rome, Europe’s largest conference for space technologies. Organized by the swissnex Network and the Swiss Space Office of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), in collaboration with Presence Switzerland and other institutional partners, the #SwissTech Space Pavilion offered Swiss startups a platform to demonstrate their products and services for the European market. The conference was also an occasion to showcase Switzerland’s leading position as a hotspot for technology and innovation.

The #SwissTech Space Pavilion covered 64 square meters and was prominently located within the exhibition hall. It empowered start-ups to present their high-potential and market-ready innovations to customers, partners and investors. A replica of a satellite, highlighting the many Swiss contributions to the field of space technology, hovered above the pavilion.

Participating start-ups covered a broad range of products and services, such as data and image processing applications, cyber security solutions, earth observation and agricultural services and various Internet of Things devices. The founders of those companies benefited directly from the NSE’s comprehensive conference program, particularly by the business-to-business matchmaking activities and networking with participating experts with backgrounds in science, technology and finances.

The three-day program also included a pitching event and a reception at the Istituto Svizzero di Roma with industry experts and investors, offering another promising opportunity for the start-ups to expand their network and increase their chances of successfully entering the rapidly growing European market for space applications.

The Space Pavilion at NSE 2019 was part of the #SwissTech campaign launched by Presence Switzerland, Switzerland Global Enterprise, digitalswitzerland and SERI. So far, Switzerland has participated in seven trade fairs under the new umbrella campaign.


ETH InCube in Singapore

ETH Entrepreneur Club; © Lynn Aeschlimann

The ETH InCube is an international competition, where students spend four days in a glass cube trying to solve a given innovation challenge. For the first time ever and thanks to the support of the Swiss Embassy, ETH InCube came to Singapore in September 2019. The local team of five students coming from National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore University of Technology and Design won the first prize! Their innovation was an app-based solution to manage safety, logistics and economies of scale on construction sites in answer to the challenge posed by the company HILTI: “Smart construction sites for a Smart Nation”.

Singapore Minister of State for National Development, Zaqy Mohamad, and Ambassador of Switzerland to Singapore, Fabrice Filliez, took the opportunity to visit the students and exchange with them during the challenge in front of the iconic Urban Redevelopment Agency Gallery in the center of Singapore.
This project and these interactions enabled us to weave a very strong network and inscribe Switzerland as well as all actors involved as prime partners in the areas of smart construction with Singapore. Further, it underlined Switzerland’s global leadership in innovation, design thinking and student initiatives.

Towards collective Cities: Swiss-Korean cooperation for sustainable co-working spaces

Group of Swiss and Korean students, summer school Seoul; © Smart Living Lab

Director of Smart Living Lab presenting the ARC-HEST program and the smart living lab; © Smart Living Lab

Temple stay experience in Seoraksan National Park; © Smart Living Lab

group discussion around the case study for the improvement of the indoor built environment conditions; © Smart Living Lab

One of the team during the idea generation workshop; © Smart Living Lab

Attention to human comfort and performance in the indoor built environment is growing worldwide due to the increased number of hours spent indoors and the space limitations in highly populated cities. On the one hand, South Korea, particularly Seoul, has an extremely dense population and high amount of office employees working extensive hours. Switzerland, on the other hand, is a country with a lower population, which pays significant attention to the balance between professional and personal life.

Shared traditions between Switzerland and South Korea, such as a wide use of advanced technologies and efforts towards creating a sustainable society, paved the way for the collaborative program ARC-HEST (Architecture for Human Environment with Smart Technologies). Swiss and Korean researchers and students in the field of sustainable architecture aimed to comprehensively study the working environment in each country in conjunction with the local culture and architecture.

The joint pedagogical program, which was launched in the framework of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, consisted of a two-week long Summer School 2019 in South Korea and Winter School 2020 in Switzerland. Both summer and winter schools focused on the synergies of architectural design, human factors, and technologies in office buildings, their combined effect on the indoor environmental quality and interaction of the occupants within the building. Based on the findings, the groups were asked to develop innovative solutions for the improvement of the built indoor environment, the satisfaction of the occupants within the building, and human-building interaction in the context of the diversity of occupants and architectural design across Switzerland and South Korea.

ARC-HEST was one of the concrete outcomes of STO Seoul efforts in enhancing bilateral cooperation for sustainability. Through this educational program, new bilateral connections and people exchanges have been facilitated, paving the way to joint research cooperation in the field of sustainable human built environment.

 Swiss institutions: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Haute école d’ingénierie et d’architecture de Fribourg, and University of Fribourg under the Smart Living Lab umbrella. Korean institutions: EWHA Womans University, Hanyang University, and SungKyunKwan University

The program was jointly supported by SBFI and Ministry of Science and ICT, Embassy of Switzerland to the Republic of Korea and Embassy of Republic of Korea to the Swiss Confederation, Geberit, Sensirion, Fast Five.

Santiago de Chile

Total solar eclipse from July 2019; © ESO:

Total solar eclipse from July 2019; © ESO:

Total solar eclipse from July 2019; © ESO:

Total solar eclipse from July 2019; © ESO:

It was written in the stars that 2019 would be a year to remember in the field of astrophysics in Chile.

In March, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the official inauguration of the La Silla Observatory, on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert. At the time, it was the world’s largest astronomical observatory and catapulted Europe to the frontline of astronomical research.

In July, ESO opened the doors of its La Silla Observatory to 1’000 guests for the occasion of the total solar eclipse, a rare phenomenon that occurs on average every 360 years at a specific location when the moon covers the face of the sun, turning day into night. Next to the President of Chile, Ministers and dignitaries, astrophysicists and scientists, including the current Swiss President of the ESO council, Professor Willy Benz, Professor of Physics and Astrophysics of the University of Berne, as well as an international diplomatic delegation took part in an unforgettable event. The Embassy of Switzerland in Chile took the chance to present the Swiss Telescope Leonhard Euler developed at the University of Geneva.

Finally, in October 2019, the Chilean scientific scene was delighted by the news that the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to two Swiss professors, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, for their discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star. Chile remembered their visits to the ESO observatories and underlined that international cooperation in astronomical research in the Southern Hemisphere has contributed to this great achievement.

Space Rider – New Frontiers of Space Transportation

Speakers at the scientific conference in Rome; © Space Rider: ESA

Space Rider of ESA; © Space Rider, ESA

Switzerland is a space nation and has further reinforced its involvement in the space domain: contributing to securing Europe’s access to space, participating in an exceptional global environmental observation program; playing a leading role in the reduction of space debris; making a key contribution to a reusable ‘mini-shuttle’; and participating in ‘Artemis’, the USA’s human lunar exploration program.

The development of space transportation systems and related technologies assures Europe’s independent access to space. This independent access is one of the pillars of Switzerland’s space policy. Swiss companies make key contributions to this sector and have developed excellent skills through their work on current and future European launchers, which respond to market developments, increasing competition and the need for sustainable solutions. The development and implementation of a space transportation system such as the mini-shuttle Space Rider are a crucial element of space logistics activities.

Space Rider is autonomous, affordable and reusable, and its purpose is also to increase competitiveness at the European level. The Swiss Embassy in Rome hosted a scientific conference with a focus on the latest developments in space transportation. Participants included speakers from the European Space Agency, the Swiss Space Office, the Italian Interministerial Committee for Space and Aerospace Policies, the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana and the private space industry. The initiative is part of a series of meetings on the topic of innovation and the collaboration between Switzerland and Italy in the aerospace sector.

Blockchain Bridges from Crypto Nation Switzerland to ICT Island Mauritius

Michal Szymanski moderating the panel discussion on the future of blockchain in financial services at the Connecting Continental Fintech Hubs event. On his left: Mathias Ruch, CEO: Crypto Valley Venture Capital and Chairman: Expert Council, Swiss Blockchain Federation; Sanjiv Bhasin, CEO AfrAsia Bank; Gianna Abegg, Legal and Operations Officer at the Cardano Foundation, Suyash Sumaroo, Co-Founder and CTO of the Horizon Africa Blockchain Network; © Swiss Blockchain Federation and the Embassy of Switzerland to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mauritius and Namibia

Mathias Ruch (CEO: Crypto Valley Venture Capital and Chairman: Expert Council, Swiss Blockchain Federation) sharing his experience with the development of the Swiss blockchain ecosystem during the live-streamed roundtable at the Building Blocks for a Successful Ecosystem event, moderated by Sofonias Negussie (in front of the Swiss Flag), a final year student at the African Leadership College Clockwise from the moderator: Nick Hill and Catherine Whitehead, Co-Founders: PocketJam; Sandeep Chagger, Head: Digital and Transaction Banking, AfrAsia Bank; Suyash Sumaroo, Co-Founder and CTO: Horizon Africa Blockchain Network; Josiah Nyangaga, Faculty: Electrical Engineering, African Leadership University; Stephen Naicken (out of view), Academic Director: African Leadership University; Sebastian Ng, Chairman: Blockchain Mauritius Foundation, Hinrich Pfeifer; General Secretary: Cardano Foundation; © Swiss Blockchain Federation and the Embassy of Switzerland to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mauritius and Namibia

Véronique Haller, (Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mauritius and Namibia) giving her opening address at the Connecting Continental Knowledge Hubs event. © Swiss Blockchain Federation and the Embassy of Switzerland to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mauritius and Namibia On her left: Prof Dhanjay Jhurry, Vice-Chancellor: University of Mauritius, Mathias Ruch, CEO: Crypto Valley Venture Capital and Chairman: Expert Council, Swiss Blockchain Federation; Prof. Sunilduth Baichoo, Dean: Faculty of Information Communication and Digital Technologies; © Swiss Blockchain Federation and the Embassy of Switzerland to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mauritius and Namibia

Switzerland identified digitalisation as one of the thematic focus areas of its foreign policy strategy 2020-2023. While continuing to develop its digital foreign policy, Switzerland intends to add a digital dimension to its role as a bridge-builder.

In the light of bridge-building in digitalisation, the Embassy of Switzerland in Pretoria partnered with Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CVVC) under the umbrella of the Swiss Blockchain Federation (SBF) together with local stakeholders to deliver the Building Blockchain Bridges initiative in Mauritius in November 2019 through three events.

The first event, Connecting Continental Fintech Hubs was co-hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, Switzerland Global-Enterprise and the Mauritius Economic Development Board. It brought together business, government and academia stakeholders to discuss blockchain applications in the financial sector and showcased Switzerland’s blockchain success story through the eyes of Mathias Ruch, co-founder of CVVC and SBF.

Building Blocks for a Successful Ecosystem as the second event in the blockchain series was co-hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa together with the African Leadership College. The live-streamed roundtable between startups, students and ecosystem enablers served to define the foundations for a successful and impactful blockchain ecosystem in Mauritius and the African continent.

Last but not least, Connecting Continental Knowledge Hubs was co-hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa together with the University of Mauritius. Taking the format of a research seminar, it was showcasing the university’s research and innovation projects in the field of blockchain as well as exposing students and faculty to the Swiss blockchain ecosystem.

These events were particularly well received by the Mauritian audiences, and positioned Switzerland as a leading partner for Mauritius’ future cooperation in the field of blockchain. To maintain this momentum, the Embassy envisages participation in the Africa Fintech Festival in Mauritius in May 2020 as well as facilitating an academia-focused visit to Mauritius later in 2020.

In the meanwhile, keep a look out for some exciting announcements about collaborations between the Swiss and Mauritian actors involved in last year’s Building Blockchain Bridges initiative!

Viva Technology in Paris

Demonstration of the ETH Zurich robot ANYmal in the Discovery Zone, Viva Tech's main stage; © PRS - Présence Suisse

Overview of the Swiss Pavilion at Viva Tech; © PRS - Présence Suisse

Demonstration of the EPFL TWIICE exoskeleton at the "Discovery Zone", Viva Tech's main stage; © PRS - Présence Suisse

Opening speech of the #SwissTech evening by State Secretary Hirayama; © PRS - Présence Suisse

Speech by the President of the ETHZ, Joël Mésot, alongside Bertrand Piccard, during the panel of the #SwissTech evening; © PRS - Présence Suisse

From left to right, Ambassador Leu, French State Secretary, Cédric O, State Secretary Hirayama and Ambassador Moruzzi at Viva Tech in front of the Swiss Pavilion stage; © PRS - Présence Suisse

For the second consecutive year, the Swiss Embassy in Paris collaborated with the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), Presence Switzerland (PRS) and Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) to promote Swiss innovation at the 2019 Viva Technology event in Paris, France. This year’s focus was on “Smart Living” innovations that improve everyday life. They were showcased by actors on a pivoting apartment scene. Over 20 Swiss startups were given exposure to the French innovation ecosystem and a large audience of 124’000 visitors, 3’300 investors and 2’500 journalists. The State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Martina Hirayama, was at the event for her first official visit to France and met with the French State Secretary for the Digital Economy, Cédric O, to discuss issues of digital transformation. One of the highlights of this year’s edition was the #SwissTech evening organized at the Embassy. Secretary Hirayama delivered an opening address on the success factors of Switzerland’s vibrant education, research and innovation scene. It was followed by an engaging panel discussion with the participation of several leading Swiss innovators including the President of ETH Zurich, Joël Mesot and the President of the Solar Impulse Foundation, Bertrand Piccard. The 250 guests then also had an opportunity to network and see demonstrations of the TWIICE exoskeleton by EPFL and the ANYmal robot by ETH Zurich in the gardens of the Embassy.

Showcase of Swiss science diplomacy and research excellence

Urs Obrist (Switzerland), Robert Kadas (Global Affairs Canada), David Scott (Polar Knowledge Canada), Hwasue Sung (South Korea), Anne-Kari Ovind (Norway), Xavier Grosmaître (France), Robert Tibbetts (United States); © Embassy of Switzerland

The Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) represents the marquee event in the field of science policy in Canada. This national forum brings together over 900 stakeholders from academia, government and industry. It regularly features notable attendees such as Nobel Prize laureates, the Chief Science Advisor, the Governor General and ministers of the federal government.

The Embassy of Switzerland took the lead in organizing an international panel for the CSPC taking place in November 2019. A kick-off working breakfast in February 2019 for potential panel participants served to discuss possible topics, moderator and participants. The competitive selection process asked for a variety of countries from different continents.

“Science Diplomacy in a Changing Arctic” was ultimately chosen as a panel topic and thereafter admitted by CSPC for a 90-minute panel. It responded not only to the current discussions in Canada on climate change in the Arctic, but also gave visibility to Swiss polar research and allowed to showcase Swiss Science Diplomacy activities within the Arctic Council. The panel featured the science counsellors from Switzerland, France, South Korea, and the USA, as well as speakers from Global Affairs Canada, Polar Knowledge Canada, and the ambassador of Norway. The Swiss panel focused on Switzerland as a vertical Arctic nation, its excellence in cryosphere research and as a partner in international scientific co-operations.

The panel received wide-ranging praise from numerous conference attendees. Also, the participating countries appreciated the panel as a platform to further the conversations with Swiss and Canadian institutions. As a follow-up, the Swiss Science Counselor held a guest lecture for Global Affairs Canada on Science Diplomacy in the Arctic. Moreover, the CSPC envisages a Swiss participation in the 2020 conference. Furthermore, the Embassy was thereupon invited to organize and present a panel on Switzerland as innovation leader at a conference on research financing.

Technology has women in its DNA
New Delhi

Panel discussion in New Delhi: left to right Ms Deepti Sharma, Deputy Head, Swiss Business Hub; Ms. Priska Burkard, Chief Operation Officer, Girls in Tech, Switzerland, Co-Founder and MD, Skills Finder; Ms Christina Riesen, Founder and CEO, We Are Play Lab Foundation; Professor Isha Dewan, Professor, Theoretical Statistics and Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute; Ms Namrata Mukhija, Ambassador for Women in AI in India and Women in Machine Learning and Data Science, Software engineer at Microsoft; Ms Susmita Sinha, Big Data Analytics and machine learning within India’s smart Cities Mission. Founder and CEO of Local Feedback, a civil society organisation; © Embassy of Switzerland in India

Audience in New Delhi; © Embassy of Switzerland in India

Panel discussion in New Delhi: left to right Ms Deepti Sharma, Deputy Head, Swiss Business Hub; Ms. Priska Burkard, Chief Operation Officer, Girls in Tech, Switzerland, Co-Founder and MD, Skills Finder; Ms Christina Riesen, Founder and CEO, We Are Play Lab Foundation; Professor Isha Dewan, Professor, Theoretical Statistics and Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute; Ms Namrata Mukhija, Ambassador for Women in AI in India and Women in Machine Learning and Data Science, Software engineer at Microsoft; Ms Susmita Sinha, Big Data Analytics and machine learning within India’s smart Cities Mission. Founder and CEO of Local Feedback, a civil society organisation; © Embassy of Switzerland in India

Panellists in in Kolkata: left to right Mr Umesh Chowdhary, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Titagarh Wagons and Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Kolkata; Ms Yashaswini Kumar, Senior Communications Manager, swissnex India; Ms Luna Pattnayak, Program Manager, Capgemini Technology Services India Ltd.; Dr. Neena Gupta, Associate Professor, Statistics and Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata; Ms Namrata Mukhija, Ambassador Women in AI Delhi, India chapter and Core Team member Women in Machine Learning and Data Science, Delhi, India chapter, Software Engineer at Microsoft; Ms. Pampa Basu, Head of IT Operations in Tobacco and Supply Chain Divisions, ITC and Leader of the Lean In circle in Kolkata; Ms. Priska Burkard, Chief Operation Officer, Girls in Tech, Switzerland, Co-Founder and MD, Skills Finder; © Embassy of Switzerland in India

Panellists in New Delhi: left to right Ms Namrata Mukhija, Ambassador for Women in AI in India and Women in Machine Learning and Data Science, Software engineer at Microsoft; Ms. Priska Burkard, Chief Operation Officer, Girls in Tech, Switzerland, Co-Founder and MD, Skills Finder; ; Ms Christina Riesen, Founder and CEO, We Are Play Lab Foundation; Ms Deepti Sharma, Deputy Head, Swiss Business Hub; Professor Isha Dewan, Professor, Theoretical Statistics and Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute; Ms Susmita Sinha, Big Data Analytics and machine learning within India’s smart Cities Mission. Founder and CEO of Local Feedback, a civil society organisation; © Embassy of Switzerland in India

The global under-representation of women in technical fields is well known. The problem exists in both India and Switzerland. In 2016, only 11% of Swiss IT specialists were women, while they held only 12% of other engineering jobs and 15% of other computing jobs. The picture is slightly better in India where women hold 26% of engineering jobs and 34% of IT jobs. However, 50% of them leave employment at junior or mid-level.

To explore whether the problems faced by women in this domain in Switzerland and India were similar, the Embassy of Switzerland in India organised a round table discussion on the subject in New Delhi and Kolkata. The event brought together stakeholders from academic, start-up and business worlds. The participants discussed issues whether there is a need for gender diversity in the tech field and how more women could be attracted into STEM education.

In both Switzerland and India, entry barriers for women to access jobs in tech fields are exceptionally high. There is a lack of information on career prospects and challenges regarding balancing family obligations and professional ambitions. The lack of strong female role models and mentorship in the tech field was also lamented.

For a more gender inclusive future, young girls have to be inspired to study mathematics and engineering at the very early ages. Examples of how this is being done in Switzerland were showcased at the events. Companies are also playing a role by offering their female employees training opportunities for upgrading their skills thereby preparing them for future leadership roles. Several organisations, both in Switzerland and India, also provide support through mentoring programmes and networking events. However, while support systems are essential, they are by no means the only solution to the problem. Women will have to be their own champions, by supporting one another and taking credit for their contributions. To quote Ms Christina Reisen, Founder and CEO of We Are Play Lab Foundation: “If they do not give you a seat at the table, you go ahead and bring a folding chair.”

This first attempt at initiating a dialogue between the two countries in a topic, which would appear to be far from the preoccupations of a diplomatic representation, showed that the problems faced in both the countries are similar. Conversations such as these can help exchange experiences, which could eventually lead to finding solutions together. The need for such cross-country and cross-cultural experience sharing was recognised. As one of the participants stressed: “please do not let this be a one off event!”

Switzerland and Russia Discussing New Perspectives of Scientific and Technological Cooperation

Swiss and Russian delegations at the Joint Commission meeting; © Ministry of Science and Higher Education

Ambassador Mauro Moruzzi, Head of International Relations SERI and Igor Ganshin, Director of International Cooperation Department MSHE, signing the Minutes of the meeting; © Ministry of Science and Higher Education

Delphine Marchon, SNSF, and Vladimir Kvardakov, RFBR, signing the MoU in the Ministry of Science and Higher Education; © Ministry of Science and Higher Education

Academician Vladislav Panchenko, Chairman, RFBR, and Professor Christoph Heinrich, Specialized Committee, SNSF, just signed the MoU in the Ambassador’s Residence; © RFBR

On November 20, 2019 Moscow hosted the Fourth Meeting of the Swiss-Russian Commission on Scientific and Technological Cooperation comprised of the officials in charge of Education, Research and Innovation, funding agencies and leading universities involved in the bilateral Science and Technology cooperation. The meeting preluded the visit of the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Ueli Maurer, to Moscow and his meeting with President Putin on November 21.

The Science and Technology Office of the Embassy of Switzerland in Moscow in coordination with the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI and the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education MSHE prepared the Joint Commission meeting and organized the visit of the Swiss Science Policy Delegation of Ambassador Mauro Moruzzi.

The Joint Commission took stock of the past and existing cooperative projects and programs, as well as identified next steps for further expansion of scientific cooperation. Both sides acknowledged the positive development of the science and technology cooperation on bilateral as well as on multilateral level: the funding agencies of both countries (Swiss National Science Foundation and Russian Foundation for Basic Research RFBR) launch calls for joint projects, where the success rate, as well as the research quality are quite high. Moreover, the University of Geneva, Leading House for Russia and CIS countries, supplements bilateral activities by its program aimed at supporting academic mobility between Switzerland and Russia. On multilateral level cooperation mainly takes place via multilateral research programs such as Horizon 2020 and ERA.Net RUS plus activities.

In the framework of the meeting, the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation to support fundamental research between Switzerland and Russia aiming at a joint call for projects in 2020. The University of Geneva examines possibilities of collaboration with the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and RFBR.

The delegation’s program also included visits to the leading Moscow-based universities and negotiations with the Vice President of RAS.

Swiss university entrepreneurs gain international experience

Swiss university entrepreneurs visit Imperial College Enterprise Lab to exchange best practice; © L-P Berg

A pitching competition at the Swiss Embassy; © L-P Berg

Ambassador Fasel avoids a diplomatic incident by crowning two winning teams: one from Imperial College and one from Vaud; © L-P Berg

Students and researchers who found technology start-ups benefit from an international perspective and contacts in foreign innovation hubs. This is why the Swiss Embassy in London invited student teams from Swiss universities to London for a two-day entrepreneurship experience. They were able to benchmark their business ideas in a friendly pitching competition with students from Imperial College and network with successful British start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Highlighting Swiss-Australian scientific collaboration in the Antarctic

Ice shelves in the Antarctic; © EPFL

Australian Icebreaker "Aurora Australis"; © EPFL

Davis Station in West Antarctica; © EPFL

Joint seminar in Hobart, Tasmania; © Embassy of Switzerland in Australia

Senator the Hon Lisa Singh, Prof Margaret Otlowski, Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Tasmania, Pedro Zwahlen, Ambassador of Switzerland to Australia, Dr Simon Alexander Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Dr Alfonso Ferrone (EPFL), Dr Gwen Fenton, Chief Scientist AAD and Kim Ellis, Director AAD; © Embassy of Switzerland in Australia

What is the snow really like in the Antarctic? This is the question a Swiss-Australian team was trying to answer from November 2018 to February 2019 at Australia’s Davis research station on the Antarctic coast. The environmental engineering researchers from EPFL set up a weather station in order to better understand the unique phenomena related to snowfall and to snowflake sublimation by polar winds. Very few hydrometeorological data have been collected in Antarctica prior to this project, led by EPFL and part of a large expedition “Precipitation over Land And the souThern Ocean” (PLATO) led by the Australian Antarctic Division.

The work carried out by the Swiss polar research community contributes to our understanding of the role played by the Arctic and Antarctic regions in the global climate. In the interdisciplinary field of climate and cryosphere research, the long tradition of polar and high altitude research of Switzerland on one side, and the deep connection and access of Australia to the Antarctic continent on the other side are highly complementary.

Upon the team’s return, the Embassy of Switzerland co-hosted a seminar with the Australian Antarctic Division and a reception in Hobart, Australia’s gateway to the Antarctic. The event showcased the early results of the project, helped establish new connections within the Australian polar research community and enhanced Switzerland’s ongoing scientific engagement for our understanding of the Antarctic region. These activities have laid the groundwork for increased collaboration with Australia in the area of polar research, where cooperation among scientists and nations is crucial in extreme environments like Antarctica.

Swiss Innovation Week – Home of Drones

Representative from Switzerland Tourism delivering a presentation to students at Preparatory Workshop; © Swiss Embassy in China

Some alumnus taking a group picture at the All Swiss University Alumni Gathering 2019; © Swiss Embassy in China

Swiss drone companies showcasing their products in front of audience; © Swiss Embassy in China

Swiss drone company representatives taking picture with Swiss Ambassador to China, Mr. Bernardino Regazzoni after pitching event; © Swiss Embassy in China

The Embassy of Switzerland in China organized the 2nd Swiss Innovation Week which was part of Presence Switzerland’s “Home of Drones” global roadshow in 2019. During the three days event, nearly 2’000 guests visited the Embassy compound while millions enjoyed various events via livestreaming. 

One of the highlight of the week was a pitching event where eleven Swiss drone companies – from large companies to small teams – gathered to pitch their business model to more than 150 investors, industry professionals, potential partners and media. The public interest and media exposure proved to be a strong support for Swiss drone industries that wish to enter the Chinese market.

The Science and Technology office also took the opportunity to organize and support a series of other events, including the All Swiss University Alumni Gathering, the Preparatory Workshop for students going to Switzerland, a joint lecture between Zurich University of Applied Sciences and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association China (AOPA) on drone risk management and a Swiss-Sino dialogue on drone regulations. All events strived to strengthen expert liaison and exchange, to promote Switzerland as a highly innovative, dynamic and competitive economy and to support Swiss higher education institutes and high-technology startups.

How to Build a House: Architectural Research in the Digital Age
swissnex San Francisco

How to Build a House: Opening Night; © Astra Brinkmann / swissnex San Francisco

Digital technologies continue to transform today’s approach to architecture, design, and construction. From March 13 until June 29, 2019, swissnex San Francisco produced an exhibition titled How to Build a House: Architectural Research in the Digital Age with an accompanying public program of events, workshops, interviews, and a panel discussion at the South By South West conference in Austin, Texas. We explored the far-reaching transformations affecting the way we build — and the social, economic, and ecological logic of the built environment.

The project was a visual journey through research on the digital transformation of architecture and construction. It revealed the concept and making of the DFAB HOUSE in Zurich: a three-story experimental building demonstrating ETH Zurich’s pioneering research in computational design and digital fabrication being conducted by architects in collaboration with leading experts in fields ranging from robotics to material science. Throughout the four-month project, swissnex attracted more than 1,000 people to Pier 17 through a public program series featuring local and Swiss experts who discussed the realities of building with new technologies in the Bay Area, and the work of Gramazio Kohler Research at ETH Zurich. We also connected with local industry professionals and student groups from the Bay Area through conducting special guided tours of the project for the American Institute of Architects, SF Design Week, and the Californian College of the Arts, allowing for a platform of exchange between the Swiss and US design and architecture sectors, and researchers.

The project was curated by Hannes Mayer and Sarah Schneider of Gramazio Kohler Research in Zurich, produced by swissnex San Francisco, and was supported by the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Digital Fabrication, ETH Zurich, and Pro Helvetia. After its premiere in San Francisco, the project was then selected by The Cooper Union’s 41 Cooper Gallery to be exhibited on the East Coast in New York City, in partnership with swissnex Boston/New York from September 12 until 13 October 2019. The project received press attention in reputable publications, such as Wallpaper, a leading design and architecture magazine.

Related content

Opening Night Video
Podcast: Resetting Normal | From Digital Fabrication to the Post-Anthropocene
Exhibition Photos
Opening Night Photos

New technologies in healthcare
swissnex India

We are living through a major transition in healthcare, with new technologies revolutionising the way we prevent, diagnose or cure diseases, and rethink the access to healthcare. Switzerland is known to be an innovation hub, particularly in medical technologies and pharmaceutical research, while India’s healthtech sector is changing rapidly, driven by competencies in public health, rising incomes and greater health awareness. This creates new avenues for Indo-Swiss collaboration, which is why we have chosen Healthtech as one of our focus areas.

The year looked at building platforms to collaborate on improving home healthcare, creating digital health records, mobile health and life sciences. 2019’s healthtech initiatives targeted key disease related to cardiac, oncology, neurology, vision, pharmacogenomics and communicable diseases. With numerous healthtech startups on board, the major themes included Blockchain, Genomics, Artificial Intelligence and AR/VR. From launching the Indo-Swiss healthtech Week to Switzerland being the official country partner at BioAsia2020, 2019 was THE YEAR dedicated to co-creating a healthier future.

Sino-Swiss Exchanges on Fintech at ‘Future of Money’ event attended by Swiss President Ueli Maurer
swissnex China

On 23 April 2019, swissnex China organized the Future of Money 2019 event: New Technologies in Financial Services, How China and Switzerland can benefit from each other’, to analyse and discuss areas of mutual benefit in Fintech and Finance between Switzerland and China. The high-profile event was attended by a delegation of high-ranking representatives of the Swiss fintech and financial sectors led by Mr Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) as well as representatives from the Swiss and Chinese governments, supervisory authorities, academic & private sector stakeholders as well as renowned experts and startup innovators from the Fintech and banking industries in both China and Switzerland.

President Maurer opened the event with his keynote address, followed by a keynote delivered by Mr Herbert J. Scheidt, Chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA). Together, they highlighted the quality and advantages of Switzerland as a fintech and financial centre.
Their speeches were followed by an insightful panel discussion with representatives of the State Secretariat for International Finance; Fudan University; Swiss FinTech Innovation Lab, University of Zurich, Swiss Stock Exchange SIX and LUN Partners. The panel discussed topics concerning the current regulatory framework, traditional wealth management industry and Fintech startups, and was moderated by Dr. David Chang, Vice President of Shanghai Blockchain Association.
The engaging networking reception sparked discussions that nurtured Sino-Swiss collaborations in the field, while initiating the first Venture Leaders Fintech in Hong Kong, which took place in November 2019 and added value for Swiss startups.

Urban Mobility Takes off for the Third Dimension
swissnex Boston

© Swissnex Boston

© Swissnex Boston

© Swissnex Boston

© Swissnex Boston

© Swissnex Boston

© Swissnex Boston

Will the future of urban transportation take place in the air with cargo drones and flying taxis? Together with non-profit Aerial Futures, swissnex Boston organized a public event and think tank gathering major players in mobility research, policy, and industry.

Increased urbanization is challenging mobility around the world. With the advancement of autonomous technology, many cities are looking to the sky as the third dimension for transportation. Self-piloted flying vehicles are unlocking the lower skies, allowing cities to expand their capacity for distribution of goods and passengers.

Together with Swiss Touch and Aerial Futures, an international non-profit fostering leadership and disruptive thinking in air transportation, swissnex Boston was the lead organizer of “The Third Dimension”, a series of events exploring the future of urban aerial mobility.

On April 25, swissnex Boston held a public event at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, featuring keynote speakers from MIT, the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation and Airbus. Attended by nearly 100 people, the panel received interest from the media, notably Monocle’s urbanist podcast and Archdaily.

The following day, swissnex organized a day-long think tank at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. This event was a unique opportunity to gather 33 international experts with diverse backgrounds such as industry (Boeing, Swiss Re, Airbus), research (ETH Zurich, Harvard, MIT) and government agencies (Massport, Int’l Civil Aviation Organization, Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation).

Participants discussed how cities can integrate urban air mobility into the existing transportation system. Despite improvements in communications technology, GPS and big data, the market still faces significant challenges and constraints. As a renowned drone innovation leader, Switzerland could highlight its role as an international convener.

Leadership Statement
by Leonardo Machado
swissnex Brazil

Leonardo Machado, Deputy CEO swissnex Brazil

Questioning is the starting point of every scientific method and the motivating force in the search for knowledge. However, science has been under attack, and all over the world, confrontational movements with little grounding in structured scientific processes have gained clout. The power of information technology is used to spread misconceptions and fake news. In the face of these dangerous phenomena, it is increasingly important to strengthen scientific diffusion, highlight advances in applied sciences, understand the pure sciences and transform knowledge into innovation, integrating the different actors of society.

In this sense, the mission of swissnex in promoting Swiss education, research, and innovation contributes to the first defence of science. By forging connections between scientists, researchers, startups, entrepreneurs, innovation-driven companies, and governments, the global network of swissnex connects actors that have a real capability to change the world. The strength of this network is its diversity, its ability to find new routes and solutions through difference, encounters, and dialogue.

From the dialogue between excellence and creativity, many initiatives have evolved and strengthened the connections between Switzerland and Brazil. The country is the largest economy in Latin America, and even with recent instabilities, it continues to be a relevant generator of scientific knowledge. The Brazilian startup ecosystem held records of investments in 2019, with an 80% growth compared to the previous year. For Switzerland, the population of more than 200 million is an attractive market and research ground for areas such as life sciences in particular. That’s why Health was the leading subject in several projects and events during 2019, covering fields such as HealthTech, neglected diseases, neuroscience, virtual reality and innovation ecosystems. In the last editions of the Academia-Industry Training program, more Swiss and Brazilian “scientrepreneurs” from the HealthTech sector presented their innovations to the market, although the multi-thematic character of the program remains one of its great strengths. Activities in the Agritech sector were also expanded. The application of an inclusive approach to Artificial Intelligence to solve global problems was the subject of a collaborative initiative organized among the different swissnex locations and the think tank foraus. A Joint Committee Meeting wrapped up the year when Swiss and Brazilian governments recognized the relevance of the partnership between the countries and the full achievement of the goals set out in the Action Plan of 2018-2020. The parties committed to uphold the fruitful relationship by sustaining programs such as the Academia-Industry Training, signed new bilateral agreements, and launched new joint calls for research and innovation projects involving Innosuisse, SNSF, and the Brazilian counterparts.

The outlook for 2020 is inspiring and challenging. swissnex Brazil will expand its support range for Swiss startups, facilitating internationalization into the Brazilian market. Rio de Janeiro’s nomination as the World Capital of Architecture by UNESCO will be a catalyst for several initiatives. swissnex Brazil will serve as a platform to showcase Swiss innovation and research, fostering exchanges on topics such as sustainability, new materials, urbanism and impact on society. Through dialogue and cooperation within these and other themes swissnex Brazil will keep pursuing its mission seizing the opportunities to celebrate 20 years of the swissnex Network as a disruptive global platform for collaboration and innovation.

Leadership statement
by Sebastien Hug
swissnex India

Sébastien Hug, CEO, Consul General

Towards future-proofing swissnex India…

As we enter the 10th year of swissnex India, we have further sharpened our strategic focus, deep diving into areas with plenty of opportunities for Indo-Swiss collaborations, that is: Renewable Energy, Deeptech, Life Sciences & Healthtech and Science4Society. And in less than a year’s time, we’ve made concrete headway in each of these verticals.

In healthtech, we took the center stage with our Indo-Swiss Healthtech Week that laid the foundation for many strong partnerships. To cite a success story, a UZH spinoff – Clemedi, an Academia Industry Training startup, which later participated in the HealthTech Week and the Innosuisse Market Validation Camp, entered into two partnerships for clinical trials with Indian medical sciences institutes, thanks to the connections we established. These efforts and successes culminated in swissnex India leading Switzerland’s presence at BioAsia2020, India’s largest life sciences summit, as a country partner.

In deeptech we have supported several startups and established a strong network in Blockchain through the Swiss Blockchain Tour. Furthermore, Switzerland was represented at the Bengaluru Tech Summit as a Global Alliance Partner, with an able delegation of Swiss Blockchain experts.

Having established a strong community of the key players in Energy, we received Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga with a Cleantech Delegation as well as organized a week-long program in e-mobility.

Our Science4Society vertical has now witnessed the second edition of the India-Switzerland Social Innovation Camp (INSSINC) as well as the launch of Knowledge2Action Program, paving the way to a more sustainable future.

Not only have we enabled meaningful Indo-Swiss exchanges in our focus areas, but also positioned ourselves as thought leaders through our knowledge portal, nextrends. It has now evolved as nextrends Asia ( ) – a platform by the swissnex and S&T network to share ideas and insights from the east.

As we march towards the second quarter of 2020, we have fresh new ideas and initiatives in place to showcase Switzerland’s excellence in digital governance. We’re eager to leverage India’s strength in space technology and we look forward to building many bridges between the countries in new avenues like food- and agritech. I am excited to steer my ever-so-motivated team towards achieving the bigger milestones we have in our trajectory for 2020.

Leadership Statement
by Felix Moesner
swissnex China

Dr. Felix Moesner, CEO swissnex China

2019 has been a year of resounding success at swissnex China! While we continued to build upon the time-proven format of our Café des Sciences, Future of Money, Fireside Chat and Science Diplomacy event series, our flagship programs such as #Swisstech @CES ASIA, Venture Leaders China and Swiss Alumni China served as strategic platforms to bolster Swiss presence and visibility in China and foster opportunities for meaningful collaboration and exchanges; an excellent example is our high-profile Fintech event held with Swiss President Ueli Maurer in April, which paved the foundations for a fruitful Venture Leaders Fintech Hong Kong in November. Ever seeking to push the limits, we also held the first-ever drone race in an Embassy – with an astounding 1.37 million viewers on TV!

In 2020, as we celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and China as well as the 20th anniversary of the swissnex Network, our talented and driven team will continue to create impact and generate value for Switzerland and beyond, through meaningful activities for our existing and new partners, stakeholders, and the society at large. A key event is the SwissTech Pitchinar, a new format, which is taking place during the timing of COVID-19 cancelled CES ASIA 2020. The virtual pitching competition with 90sec pitches from 20 #SwissTech startups, will spotlight groundbreaking deeptech, allowing to form game-changing partnerships with investors, mentors, experts, potential business partners & highly engaged audiences.

Leadership Statement
by Christian Simm
swissnex Boston

Christian Simm, CEO swissnex Boston

2019 has been a thriving year for our activities around life science industries. We supported a dozen Swiss health-related companies willing to tighten their links to the US, providing them our extended local network, expertise and logistical support. This same year, we held no less than six high-profile events gathering key players from our two countries in medical research and industry, as well as health-regulation sectors.

No other industries than Medtech and Biotech better illustrate the complementarity of Switzerland and the United States. Potential synergies seem limitless, not despite but thanks to our cultural and historical differences. In Switzerland, the meticulous, hand-tailored approach shines in the medical sector, where quality often primes over the economy of scale. Unaffected by high wages, the country’s biotech and pharma industry are flourishing. On the other hand, the Boston area is unparalleled when it comes to the entrepreneurial spirit, fostering the incredibly vivid MedTech and pharma sector New England is famous for.

Swiss life science companies carefully look at the USA. Scientific collaborations and clinical trials with American institutions such as the Harvard Medical School or Massachusetts General Hospital can drive considerable interest from the medical community as well as potential investments worldwide; the Food and Drug Administration is a unique gateway providing access to a market of 330 million inhabitants known for an appetite of innovative approaches. For many companies on their way to success, America is a mandatory step.

Another strategic topic of 2019 was aerial mobility and drones – you will learn more about one of our initiatives in our highlight article. With over 80 successful companies in the sector, Switzerland is a world leader not only in drone innovation but also in regulation. Together with our Embassy in Washington D.C., we gathered Swiss and American experts from the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation, Skyguide, AirMap, and Drone Alliance to discuss how we can foster an innovative ecosystem for drones. These meetings have facilitated high-level interactions with the US administration and keep holding positive and long-term repercussions.

2019 at swissnex Boston was rich in connections for professionals, but also for a broader audience curious about Switzerland, creativity, and innovation. “LASER Boston: Collaborating Across Species” was certainly a key event for those of you who have ever wondered what it is like to collaborate with non-human partners (animals, plants and machines), or if we could learn limb regeneration from salamanders. We also explored the interface of arts and science through a variety of activities, for instance, the relations between neurosciences and the sense of beauty.

This year, our public events have been attended by more than 20,000 people. Organized at our offices in Cambridge or in key locations such as museums, fairs, and university halls in Boston and New York City, they showcased Switzerland’s often overlooked creative side with the work of astrophysicists, archeologists, engineers, artists and architects from Swiss universities and companies.

From the niche – a hand-tailored one-to-one meeting with a Harvard professor – to events attracting several hundred people, for the specific needs of a biotech startup or to display the work from Swiss engineers, designers and scientists, swissnex Boston continues to connect the dots at every scale and across all disciplines.

Leadership Statement
by Gioia Deucher
swissnex San Francisco

Gioia Deucher CEO swissnex San Francisco; © Myleen Holleroo

Employing our signature experimental, transdisciplinary approach to Connecting the Dots, we presented a full program of activities with our partners in 2019 to create lasting impact on the US West Coast and in Switzerland. In the final year of the decade we welcomed over 5046 people through our doors at Pier 17, and collaborated with more than 60 partners. We kick-started new initiatives, wrapped up a multi-year science-communication program, and explored the stages of life in a year-long experimental series of activities discussing birth, life, and death in the age of technology acceleration just to highlight a few of our main activities.

Boosting Swiss Science Communication Talent
After three years, we concluded the Pier17 Science Studio, a fellowship program supporting emerging talents in science communication and public engagement, backed by the Gebert Rüf Foundation. During multi-week residencies, ten fellows developed new ideas, practices and models aimed at building open dialogues around science, society and the wider issues facing us today. The program exposed them to the vibrant Bay Area science communication community and provided connections and infrastructure to further develop their visions to advance public engagement with science.

Exploring the Cycles of Life
Throughout 2019, we brought together experts from a range of disciplines to explore the questions we confront in an age of CRISPR, genetic body modification, the datafication of our DNA, and the intersections of artificial intelligence and synthetic biology. To conclude the series, we produced a day-long symposium that paved way into a public event with expert panels and dance performances by KineTech Arts and Malika Fankha examining the changing relationship between our bodies, our minds, and our data. The event was presented in partnership with HESAV (School of Health Sciences) in Lausanne, the University of Lausanne, and the Board of the Higher Education (DGES) of the Canton de Vaud, with local support from the Institute for the Future and Leonardo.

Celebrating 30 years of the WWW
2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, which is of particular importance to Silicon Valley as with the emergence of the web, came opportunities to dream, experiment and build the platforms and companies that today impact our everyday lives. For a group of Media & Interaction Design faculty and students from Lausanne University of Art and Design ECAL, the anniversary provided an opportunity to reflect on 30 years of the Internet. During a study tour in 2018, the idea behind Infomesh was catalyzed, and an interactive visualization was developed by ECAL in partnership with Wikimedia and the Internet Archive. During an artistic residency at Pier 17 in 2019, ECAL’s Laura Perrenoud, together with ECAL students in Lausanne, built an interactive timeline and overview of the Web’s history. The installation allowed users to explore the social, technical, cultural and legal facts of the 30-year evolution of the Web, living on at

Rethinking Inclusion in AI
As we looked towards the future, budding discussions around ethical principles in artificial intelligence provided an opportunity to partner with foraus and AI Commons, and tap into the power of the global swissnex Network. In a joint experiment, we launched a global project to brainstorm ideas to guide us Towards An Inclusive Future in AI. Employing foraus’ new Policy Kitchen methodology, the initiative resulted in eleven workshops in eight countries, involving ten partner organizations and about 120 participants from a wide range of perspectives, who collaboratively generated 43 ideas and proposals for inclusion in artificial intelligence. The preliminary output was presented at the AI for Good Global Summit held in Geneva in May 2019 and the results published in a final report.

Innovating within Business
Finally, last Fall, we launched the first cross-corporate innovation camp, a 2-week structured learning program aimed at transforming Swiss companies’ strategic priorities into concrete innovation projects. The compact program of innovation workshops, toolbox sessions, tech deep dives and inspirational visits granted six intrapreneurs from Swiss Post, SBB and Romande Energie the time and space to take innovation ideas to validated prototypes. Bertrand Rivier of Romande Energy shared his experience of the program in an interview: “We met so many different innovators, great designers, and they are all specialists in their fields. Coming here enabled me to learn new methods, to be focused on one topic at a time, and really develop the whole idea from problem statement to fully functioning prototype”.

Back to the future: 20 years of swissnex
As we kick off the new decade, we look forward to a vibrant year of learning, co-creation, growth and transformation with our partners. 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the swissnex Network and its unique approach to bottom-up science and technology diplomacy. This year, swissnex San Francisco’s activities will focus on Human and Planetary Health, Future Economy and Digital Society, further contributing to the exchange of knowledge and ideas to help provide answers to the challenges facing the world – never ceasing to Connect the Dots.


Facts & Figures


More than 340 Events

More than 180 Swiss partners


79 employees (FTE) 12.4 interns (FTE)

29 locations

Costs of swissnex Network

The overall costs in 2019 amounted to CHF 12.90m and covered all expenses of the entire swissnex Network, including the swissnex locations, the Science Counselors and Offices and related project expenses at the swissnex Headquarters, housed within the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). These expenses are either funded by SERI, or by public or private partners. The overall costs include all expenses such as for operations, salaries, infrastructure, IT and projects, including in-kind services. The salary costs of the 12 (mostly part-time) Science Counselors funded by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs are not included here.

Funding of swissnex locations

In 2019, the total costs of the five swissnex locations and their outposts amounted to CHF 10.45m. SERI provided the swissnex locations with a funding of CHF 5.92m. In addition, public and private partners supported and co-funded the swissnex activities with CHF 4.53m

Science Counselors / Offices

Partners in Switzerland