SAAM recap of year 2022
After a very interesting year 2022 there are a lot more activities planned in 2023.
What’s planned for the year 2023:
1. EU project Ultimo:
SAAM is participating in one of the biggest EU-projects called Ultimo (more information here). Ultimo will focus on scaling deployments in three locations across Europe (Geneva, Munich, Olslo), with 15 vehicles per location. The aim is to operate without a safety driver on board, in fully automated mode (SAE Level 4).
2. AV-friendly road law texts will be finalized with SAAM's support:
With the support of our president Hans Wicki and our board member Thomas Probst, we have become an important partner in the process of adapting the law. Astra recognizes SAAM as a center of excellence in the context of automated driving (more Information here).
3. Innosuisse Flagship program:
14 organizations from SAAM are preparing a pre-proposal to be submitted by the end of January.
Stay tuned, as 2023 will reveal more exciting autonomous mobility advancements!
The KAPSLY Healthtech Ecosystem Map shows the most relevant and active players in the Swiss Healthtech market. The four corners indicate the commercial or social interests of the players and the operational or financial impact they have on the startups. All players have a location in Switzerland and contribute to a better startup ecosystem. Initiatives by Universities are not listed.
Investors are the largest group of players, with a variety of funding options available across all startup phases. We identified 126 funding rounds (excl. grants) in Switzerland in the healthtech space in 2022, with over CHF 935 million invested in 102 reported rounds. Additionally, we found that 65 Swiss startups had an exit over the past three years. Our analysis also revealed a surprisingly strong presence of venture studios, with 26 identified in Switzerland and 16 with activities in the healthtech sector. However, only 5 would be considered a venture studio in a more traditional definition. The map illustrates that most players have a commercial interest and financial impact. Incubators and grants cover the social aspects of supporting new companies. We hope to see more operational support for founders in the future. The venture studio model is gaining popularity with more and more players, and it proves its efficacy with impressive success rates. A common believe is that this is due to the professional execution, which reduces operational risks and increase success chances. However, most venture studios remain closed communities, unlike KAPSLY Ventures and its partners, which are also on the map. We also found a large number of service providers, incubators/accelerators, and communities that are highly valuable to the sector, as well as 11 grants relevant for the health vertical. However, it's worth noting that our research only included providers that have a direct affiliation with the healthtech sector or provide additional value for startups, and we didn't include general options and state-funded possibilities.
Investors and Acquirers
Investors are by far the largest group of players in Switzerland. A positive sign is that we identified investors across all startup phases, from early-stage, over growth funding to private equity and buyout funds. We found that most Investors specialise on financing only, whereas we found 22 to be fit the category of acquirers. In 2022 Crunchbase recorded 199 funding rounds in Switzerland in the healthtech space (incl. Pre-Seed to Series E, Grants, Convertible Loans, Venture Debt). In 161 reported funding rounds over CHF 980 million has been invested. In the pre-seed and seed phase only 53 funding rounds have been recorded. Over the past three years (2020-2022), we identified 65 Swiss startups that had an exit. Out of these, 14 acquisitions happened within Switzerland, 9 startups have been sold to German companies and 23 have been sold to U.S.-based companies. Swiss companies acquired 84 healthtech companies (incl. pharma, 56 without pharmaceuticals), which is a large amount compared to 378 total acquisitions by Swiss companies. This could imply that Switzerland is an attractive exit market and has room for more healthtech acquisitions within the country. Swiss companies acquired 9 German companies and 37 U.S.-based companies. Hence there seems to be an equilibrium between bought and sold companies to other countries.
We encountered 16 venture studios in Switzerland, of which we identified 16 to fit the category healthtech Venture Studio. We further came to understand this category as the most fluent of all in a business sense, as their focus, services and expertise vary greatly, creating various overlaps into other fields.
Out of the hundreds of specialists in the health tech sector, we found 26 to have a special knack for startups in particular. Generally, the healthtech sector, specialists up to large corporations, are openminded towards assisting healthtech innovation, even if they do not specifically specialise in supporting startups. We found this to be a very positive sentiment in the market overall.
Out of the growing incubator and accelerator ecosystem in Switzerland that are predominantly agnostic regarding their vertical, we found 14 to offer specific knowledge in the health tech sector. Therefore, general options as well as state funded possibilities such as Innosuisse were not included.
Among the many founder-focused networks, we identified 15 communities that are highly valuable to the sector, with several groups and platforms offering a variety of services. We did not include Newsletter / Telegram / Facebook / Twitter groups, and also excluded University affiliated groups such as alumni chapters and science related interest groups.
We found 11 grants that we considered worth mentioning for the health vertical so far. There are a variety of vertical agnostic grants, which are open for innovation in health as well. However, having no in depth knowledge about medical technologies and industry processes, we excluded the majority of founder oriented grants.
Download the map here.
Zurich/Basel – Bell Food Group has invested in vertical farming start-up Yasai. Bell Food CEO Lorenz Wyss will also become a member of the Board of Directors, as will the second new investor Theo Stolze. He is a former shareholder of the Stolze Group, which specializes in technical solutions for greenhouse systems.
The Basel-based Bell Food Group has invested an undisclosed amount in Yasai's convertible bond through its subsidiary Eisberg. Eisberg is already its nationwide distributor, according to a media release from Yasai . The capital is intended to support the Zurich-based start-up, which was founded in 2020, in its growth goals.
Yasai also announced that the food company's CEO, Lorenz Wyss, has joined its board of directors as part of this investment. "With Mr. Wyss as an industry expert and Bell Food Group as a new investor, YASAI's position in the market will be further strengthened," the statement said.
The second new member of the Board of Directors, Theo Stolze, brings specialist expertise in new agricultural technologies. Stolze has also reportedly invested in the spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He was a shareholder of the Dutch Stolze Group for 30 years and led the company, which specializes in technical solutions for greenhouse systems, to success as export director.
In the coming years, Yasai reportedly plans to increase its production capacity tenfold. The construction of two more industrial farms is already planned, he said. In addition, one of the largest vertical farming projects in Switzerland is to be built in the new Lymhof development in Schlieren ZH from 2026. Then Yasai wants to supply the local population not only with herbs grown without pesticides, but also, together with its partners, with leaf lettuce and other fresh vegetables. mm, Café Europe
Zurich – Zurich Resilience Solutions and South Pole are joining forces to advise companies on climate resilience and net zero measures. A climate-conscious commitment by companies makes economic sense, but is also increasingly relevant for stakeholders, he said.
The two Zurich-based companies Zurich Resilience Solutions (ZRS) and South Pole will collaborate in the future to support companies in climate protection measures. According to a media release, the core of the cooperation is a holistic climate strategy in the transition to net-zero emissions and climate resilience. The offer is to be launched in Germany and Switzerland after the USA.
The environmental consulting services of South Pole, a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, and the expertise of ZRS, which is part of Zurich, will result in a holistic climate strategy for companies and create the basis for effective climate protection and adaptation measures. In implementing their shared environmental ambitions, the focus is on measuring physical climate risks and emissions and a strategy for minimizing factors that harm the climate.
According to the two partners, climate protection measures are having an increasing impact on economic success, and not only within operational business activities. Target groups also demanded transparent presentation of solutions with which companies actively address the minimization of their environmental risks, including along the value chain.
The release quotes the Climate Disclosure Project as saying that the financial benefits of climate action are at least 15 times higher than the costs of the corresponding risks. South Pole CEO Renat Heuberger agrees: "Companies that fail to demonstrate their progress in building resilience and reducing emissions are likely to pay dearly in terms of their reputation as well as financially." heg, Café Europe
Swiss start-up Dufour Aerospace today announced the successful closing of its Series B financing round with the participation of the world’s leading private aviation group Vista Global Holding (Vista). The investment will further drive Dufour’s development of sustainable technologies in aviation.
In addition to Vista, existing investors and two new investors also participated in the financing round. Vista's investment and extensive experience in the aviation industry will provide valuable support in developing the potential of Dufour's innovative tilt-wing technology. This technology will be used in the Aero2 unmanned aerial vehicle and the Aero3 manned passenger aircraft.
"We are honored that this financing round was led by Vista, such a respected leader in private aviation," said Thomas Pfammatter, CEO of Dufour Aerospace. "Vista's investment is an important milestone in our journey. They have recognized how important it is today to develop successful products and solutions for the future of hybrid-electric tilt-wing aircraft."
Thomas Flohr, Founder and Chairman of Vista, highlights, "We are pleased to support Dufour's team as they continue to develop their sustainable solutions - an exciting time for all. Dufour's products have the potential to complement our global service network in the future. This investment fits into our strategy for promoting green mobility solutions in aviation and underscores our commitment to a greener future for our industry."
Zurich/Birmensdorf ZH – Zurich researchers have developed a special drone that can land on trees. On its underside, the drone collects environmental DNA to determine species diversity. Now she is being trained for a challenging competition in the Singapore rainforest.
Scientists have developed a special drone that can autonomously collect samples on tree branches. The team included researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in Birmensdorf, as well as the French-Canadian company Spygen , based in Le Bourget du Lac Cedex and Montreal in the Canadian province of Quebec, according to a media release.
The collected samples contain so-called environmental DNA. Laboratory analysis can then be used to determine which species are present in a given area. This helps ecologists to gain knowledge about biodiversity in areas that are otherwise difficult to access. The particular challenge for the roboticists was reportedly to program the flying device so that it could land on branches with varying degrees of vibration and remain there for a certain amount of time.
The new drone is being trained in the Masoala rainforest at Zurich Zoo. "This has the advantage of knowing which species are present," explains Stefano Mintchev. He is co-author of the study, which has just been published in the journal Science Robotics. "This will help us better assess how completely we are collecting environmental DNA traces with this technique or if we are missing something."
Now the drone is being prepared and further improved for its use in a competition in a 100-hectare rainforest area in Singapore. There, it must be able to fly to and collect samples from ten times as many trees in just 24 hours as it has been able to do in three days. mm
Winterthur – The Institute of Product Development and Production Technologies (IPP) has been founded at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). It focuses on circular economy, digitalization and additive manufacturing.
The new Institute of Product Development and Production Technologies (IPP) at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) is positioned in the field of circular economy, digitalization and additive manufacturing. According to a media release, the UAS Board approved the creation of IPP from the School of Engineering's former Center for Product and Process Development (ZPP) in December.
According to the ZHAW, the IPP team imparts its expertise in the mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and transportation systems degree programs, as well as in the master's program and in various continuing education courses. The institute also co-initiated the new Master in Circular Economy Management at the ZHAW. It will be offered for the first time in the fall of 2023.
With its strategic focus on the circular economy, digitalization and additive manufacturing, the institute aims to contribute to the transformation from a linear to a circular society and economy. Regarding the topics, the university's statement says that in order to survive in the market in the future, product ideas must be designed in such a way that a closed material cycle is possible. The institute, which has been the leading house of the Innovation Booster Applied Circular Sustainability funded by Innosuisse since 2020, contributes its expertise to these interdisciplinary issues.
Other focal points are digitization as an overall concept and expertise in additive manufacturing. This involves metal printing and also research projects on printing ceramics, sustainable materials and multi-material printing. gba
The Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) is supporting six innovative projects from the food sector with CHF 25,000 each.
As part of the "Food 4.0" funding program, the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) is supporting six projects with CHF 25,000 each. Funding is primarily being provided for projects that are looking for ways to increasingly replace animal proteins with plant proteins, as SATW writes in a statement. Fourteen projects were submitted, and a team of experts made the selection.
The aim of the "Food 4.0" program is to strengthen the Swiss food system and equip it for the future by promoting transdisciplinary and innovative projects. The lively scene of start-ups and spin-offs and competitive research would contribute to the fact that Switzerland is on its way to becoming a leading foodtech location.
The projects supported:
The BFH Bioconversion and Protective Cultures team led by Daniel Heine and Lisamaria Bircher is working with Agroscope Liebefeld and Doris Erne's start-up company Lokal-Genuss AG to investigate how whey from Swiss cheese production can be fully utilized for human nutrition thanks to lactic acid fermentation.
Peas without bean flavor
The team led by Christoph Denkel (Food Process Technology) and Christian Trindler (Flavor Analytics) is investigating how the concentration of unwanted flavor molecules can be controlled during protein extraction from peas without compromising the protein properties.
Structures for the steak from the laboratory
Simona Fehlmann and her team at ETH Zurich want to further develop a scaffold, an edible foam, on which the cells of cultured meat can grow into a thick piece of meat. The scaffold is based on an open pore system so that nutrients and muscle cells can be distributed homogeneously as the muscle tissue grows.
Shrimp without hook
The start-up Catchfree, led by Lukas Böcker and Severin Eder at ETH Zurich, is developing a process to mold a mass of vegetable protein into shrimp. It should also be possible to produce other vegetable seafood in this way one day.
Vegan glaze sticks
Stephan Bolliger and his team from ice cream manufacturer Cuckoo Produktions AG want to produce vegan ice cream that not only tastes the same as ice cream made from animal proteins, but that can also be shaped as desired - for example into coated ice cream sticks or into ice cream cakes.
Reduce mold in grain
Susanne Miescher Schwenninger and her team at ZHAW are working on microorganisms that naturally reduce a cereal-typical mycotoxin. They would like to explore how exactly this happens, thereby estimating the potential for application to cereals.
Zurich/Heerbrugg SG – ANYbotics’ autonomous four-legged inspection robot ANYmal now accesses Leica Geosystems’ integrated and three-dimensional scanner detection of the environment. It creates digital twins of the inspected assets more accurately, more quickly, and much more cost-effectively.
The two Swiss companies ANYbotics from Zurich and Leica Geosystems from the St.GallenBodenseeArea are working together, according to a statement on LinkedIn. This cooperation has resulted in an innovation in ANYbotics' ANYmal inspection robot. It consists of the integration of Leica Geosystems' BLK ARC technology into the autonomous four-legged robot ANYmal. This software ecosystem from Leica automates its high-precision 3D environment capture.
ANYbotics, a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich(ETH), informs about this in a message on LinkedIn. In addition, ANYbotics points to a recorded webinar where Product Manager Sten-Ove Tullbeg and UX Design Lead Florent Mennechet explain about the product update.
The ANYmal thus improved provides operators with 3D models on demand. So while the robot performs its autonomous inspection task, accurate digital twins of the inspected asset can be created via the ANYmal user interface. According to ANYbotics, this is done through a single interface and is more accurate, faster, and about seven times more cost-effective than external scanning.
According to ANYbotics, the ANYmal is the world's only legged robot certified for hazardous areas. This makes it suitable for use in the oil, gas and chemical industries. It enables the complete digitization of monitoring processes and thus also unmanned installations. Its locomotion, navigation and inspection expertise is based on artificial intelligence. According to a media release from September 2022, delivery of the ANYMAL X is planned from mid-2023. mm
Zurich-based startup TONI Digital has secured 12 million Swiss francs in a Series B financing round. The company is a digital insurance-as-a-service provider that offers insurance solutions for consumers and businesses based on its technology platform. The solutions so far cover, among other things, car insurance, personal liability, household contents and payment protection insurance. The company primarily takes a B2B2C approach, working with leading retail and insurance brands and brokers on the distribution side.
The financing round includes participation from new investors as well as existing investors who continue to believe in the success and growth of the company. "The financing is a clear indication of TONI's continued growth and the attractiveness of its business model. The demand for digital and integrated insurance solutions will continue to grow in order to meet customers' expectations and requirements," says Philippe Regazzoni, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
"We would like to thank our investors for their continued support and confidence in our team and vision. We plan to use the proceeds from this financing round to expand our technology platform and launch several new insurance programs and products, as well as to enter new European markets. We will expand our team in sales, underwriting/actuarial and technology," said Bernard El Hage, CEO of TONI Digital.
"In parallel with our business growth, we will continue to expand our scaling capabilities on the technology side by abstracting complexity into configurable no-code/low-code solutions. This allows us to meet the need for customization while using the same technology modules for all products and partners, as well as for all regions and time zones," said Alexander Sanders, CTO at TONI.
Starting this year, it will be easier for startups that come from the scientific community to get money to start a business. The reason is the revised Federal Law on the Promotion of Research and Innovation.
The revised Federal Law on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (FIFG) will enter into force at the beginning of January 2023. The revision affects various funding offers from Innosuisse. In an interview, Annalise Eggimann, Director of Innosuisse, explains the changes for funding clients.
The FIFG revision increases Innosuisse's room for maneuver and flexibility. This is important for our funding activities. For example, national and international innovation projects become even more attractive. Swiss SMEs in particular benefit from this. The revision also provides a basis for targeted new funding opportunities.
There are changes in various offers. Firstly, in innovation projects, the core of our funding, the division between the participating companies' own contribution and Innosuisse's funding contribution will become more flexible. Second, the funding conditions for international innovation projects are changing. Third, we slightly customize the process in start-up coaching. And last but not least, there is a new funding offer for start-ups: the start-up innovation projects.
Let me briefly elaborate: Innovative companies - such as SMEs, large corporations, start-ups - or other private or public organizations develop novel services and products together with Swiss universities and research institutions within the framework of innovation projects . Today, participating companies as implementation partners must bear 50 percent of the direct project costs themselves. Innosuisse covers the other half, thereby covering the costs of the Swiss research institutes. From January 2023, this own contribution by companies for new innovation projects can be between 40 and 60 percent. The project partners will jointly determine the distribution of contributions. Innosuisse will continue to cover only the direct project costs incurred by Swiss research institutions.
In addition, Innosuisse simplifies the calculation of the various contributions in the project budget. The overhead contribution of the research partner is now assessed as a percentage of the total project contribution of Innosuisse and no longer only on the contribution to the personnel costs of the research partner. We will publish an aid to apportionment and calculation in the project application in late fall.
No, Innosuisse supports projects in all subject areas. This is already the case today. However, the new contribution regulation explicitly mentions both technical and social innovations. This is an important signal of the importance of non-technical innovations. The revised Contribution Ordinance also strengthens the issue of sustainability in Innosuisse's funding.
From 2023, Swiss implementation partners, for example SMEs or start-ups, will be able to receive direct funding in the context of international innovation projects, even if the international project cooperation does not take place within the framework of Eurostars or the thematic EU partnerships .
This is common practice abroad. Without this possibility of direct financial support, Swiss companies have so far been at a slight disadvantage compared to their foreign project partners. The innovation means that Innosuisse can also enter into bilateral collaborations with partner organizations in countries such as the USA, Brazil, South Korea, Israel or Sweden and make contributions to direct project costs of Swiss companies in jointly funded projects from 2023. We will communicate more information on contributions in late fall and list them in more detail in the 2023 calls.
In order to simplify the process and further increase the quality of coaching, from 2023 startups will have to apply to participate in the Core Coaching apply first for Initial Coaching . Only after successful completion of this first phase can start-ups apply for Core Coaching . In the latter, the start-up companies receive support from coaches for a maximum of three years, on the one hand in general terms, and on the other hand with specialist questions in important areas such as intellectual property, financial planning, legal aspects or capital procurement, in order to develop the company further. Now, not only founders as individuals, but also start-up companies as organizations may submit an application. Thus, the coaching services are available for the whole team.
Until now, startups that want to develop science-based innovations and bring their innovations to market have not been eligible for direct financial support. However, the revised FIFG will allow Innosuisse to directly fund science-based innovation projects by start-ups from 2023. Such projects with significant innovation potential must prepare the first market entry of the young companies. Projects do not require a research partner. Innosuisse covers a maximum of 70 percent of the start-ups' eligible project costs. The aim is to support start-ups in the difficult phase leading up to market entry and to accelerate this process.
The start-up innovation projects are not covered by the budget for usual innovation projects, but an additional funding budget is available. We will communicate more information about the funding instrument in late autumn, and details about the start-up innovation projects will be published in January 2023.
The Swiss Accelerator for Swiss SMEs and startups, which we were already able to launch in spring 2022, is a transitional measure for Horizon Europe. This measure is based on an emergency clause in the revised FIFG. In this context, Innosuisse promotes very innovative projects with direct contributions to Swiss start-ups and SMEs.
From 2023, the Swiss Accelerator will only be open to companies that are already established in the market. Before entering the market, young companies can submit a start-up innovation project. Innosuisse is likely to issue calls for projects for the Swiss Accelerator until Switzerland is again associated with the European Union's Framework Research Program. As soon as Swiss SMEs and start-ups can apply for the EU's EIC grants again, the Swiss Accelerator will be discontinued.
Dübendorf ZH – Agile Wind Power’s wind turbines have achieved high efficiency in initial, still preliminary measurements. Even with uncontrolled rotor blades, it is at least as high as calculated. For controlled rotor blades, it is likely to be even higher.
Agile Wind Power has developed a vertical wind turbine that allows individual positioning of each rotor blade. This allows the individual blades to be automatically adjusted to the wind direction. This results in high performance even at low rotation speeds, while the load on the plant structure remains low. At the same time, noise emissions are reduced to around one third.
According to a company statement, initial measurements have now shown that the efficiency of the uncontrolled wind turbine is also at least as high as calculated, and possibly higher. The efficiency of the turbine with controlled rotor blades is likely to be significantly higher again.
Agile Wind Power's wind turbines are suitable for distributed generation of electricity, especially in industrial and commercial areas where large wind turbines are not acceptable. "Vertical Sky for on-site wind power generation offers a unique solution to a large need," Patrick Richter, founder and CEO of Agile Wind Power, is quoted as saying in the release. "Dramatically shortening project timelines through the benefits of a low-speed wind turbine, such as near-silent motion and protection for birds, opens up a huge unsaturated market."
Agile Wind Power's first products, the A32 and A42 turbines, have rated outputs of 750 and 1500 kilowatts, respectively. The A42 turbine reaches a height of 99 meters. The rotor has a diameter of 42 meters, and the three rotor blades each have a length of 50 meters. The plant is designed for wind speeds between 2.5 and 24 meters per second. stk
Zurich – Three new companies emerged from the University of Zurich (UZH) in 2022. Already established spin-offs entered into important collaborations or brought medtech innovations to market. By far the largest financing round was completed by ImmunOs with 72 million Swiss francs.
Spin-offs from UZH are looking back on a successful 2022, according to a university news release. Three founding teams with roots at UZH ventured into self-employment based on their research results. For example, the spin-off Navignostics is developing novel methods to analyze tumor samples. They are designed to help clinical specialists define individualized cancer therapies. In a seed financing round, Navignostics has already received 7.5 million Swiss francs.
Prometheus Life Technologies wants to grow three-dimensional human tissue, so-called organoids, from patient stem cells in space for the therapy of damaged organs. This is not possible under the conditions of gravity on Earth. The technology is based on a joint project between UZH and Airbus. For the entire development from the idea to the commercialization the UZH Space Hub responsible. Apricot Therapeutics is reportedly the world's first pharmaceutical company to investigate the interconnectedness of single cells in the context of drug action.
Molecular Partners, an established biotech company based in Schlierem, Switzerland, has signed a license agreement with Novartis for the COVID-19 drug Ensovibep. In return, Molecular Partners received 150 million Swiss francs and a 12 percent share of sales. Neuroimmune will develop and commercialize its heart drug NI006 with AstraZeneca subsidiary Alexion. The company, also based in Schlieren, will receive $30 million in return with the prospect of further payments of up to $730 million.
Medtech companies Clemedi, CUTISS and Oncobit launched new products in 2022. New capital was generated by Kuros Biosciences, Invasight, KOVE Medical and OxyPrem. ImmunOS Therapeutics received by far the largest financing with 72 million Swiss francs. mm
With a gross value added of CHF 29.9 billion and 97,300 full-time jobs, the Zurich financial center is a major pillar of the Zurich economy and the largest financial center in Switzerland. Sustainable business practices are becoming increasingly important for companies in all sectors. Drivers for this are international sustainability goals, but also changing customer needs. Due to its importance for the Swiss financial center, the Zurich financial center has a key role to play in this development. Every second financial company also sees sustainable finance as an opportunity to strengthen its reputation and to win and retain customers. This is shown in the new study “Financial Center Zurich 2023/2024” by the Cantonal Division of Business and Economic Development and Zurich Urban Development.
The financial sector, which includes banks, insurance companies and other financial services, is one of the most important industry aggregates in the Zurich region. One in ten jobs and one in six value-added francs would be attributable to the financial sector in 2021. The real gross value added of the financial sector developed more dynamically overall than that of the economy as a whole between 2011 and 2021, especially also in the pandemic years 2020 and 2021. This is shown in the new study "Financial Center Zurich 2023/2024" by the Division of Business and Economic Development of the Canton Zurich and the Urban Development Department of the City of Zurich. Despite the currently very challenging geopolitical and economic environment, the overall growth outlook for the financial sector is positive.
Sustainable management is increasingly becoming the focus of companies. Drivers of this development include the Paris climate targets, the UN sustainability goals, legal framework conditions, but also changing customer needs. Sustainable financial products and services are increasingly in demand. The Federal Council has recognized the importance and potential of sustainable finance and in December defined several measures with the aim of further expanding the position of the Swiss financial center as one of the world's leading locations for sustainable financial services. The Zurich financial center plays a key role due to its importance for the Swiss financial center. This study examined how progressive the Zurich financial center is in terms of sustainability. The results of the survey show that numerous companies already offer products and services with innovative sustainable approaches. These include investment products with specific sustainability objectives, ESG-compliant activities, sustainable bonds or sustainable loans, insurance or services.
However, companies also face challenges, according to the survey. This includes the increasingly complex political and regulatory framework imposed by the federal government and the EU. The increasingly required transparency of climate risks and sustainability measures is also seen as challenging by 40 percent of companies. The survey participants see the greatest potential for improvement in networking with science and other companies, as well as in legal and regulatory issues.
The consistent focus on sustainability is an opportunity for the Zurich financial center and the entire Zurich business location. This is also in the interest of the companies surveyed: Every second company sees sustainable finance as an opportunity to strengthen its reputation and win and retain customers. However, the great development potential of sustainable finance must be exploited to an even greater extent. This includes, for example, the systematic disclosure of relevant and comparable climate information from companies and for investments in such companies.
The Canton and City of Zurich are committed to promoting Sustainable Finance in the Zurich financial center, anchoring it more firmly and enabling an attractive environment. The Canton of Zurich and the City of Zurich will continue to pursue this topic with the aim of deepening the dialog between the financial industry, business and academia. This is done, for example, by networking and making visible the players from the financial industry and the cleantech industry on the Innovation Zurich platform of the cantonal location promotion, but also through a regular exchange within the framework of workshops and conferences as well as further data collection.
A grand total of 26 spin-offs were founded at ETH Zurich in 2022. Their businesses range from new cancer drugs and sustainable water bottles to digital mapping of urban traffic flows. The ETH spin-off family also welcomed three new unicorns and raised 1.2 billion Swiss francs in fresh capital.
Over the past year, ETH has seen the creation of 26 new spin-offs. These newly founded spin-offs cover a wide variety of fields and reflect the entire range of topics at ETH Zurich. The largest group (10) of the 2022 spin-offs are again focused on the IT and communications technology sector – a trend that has continued for several years. However, the problems these companies address are very different: while Calvin Risk AG offers a kind of artificial intelligence insurance, Cerrion AG uses AI and sensors to monitor and improve entire production processes. The ETH spin-off Transcality AG creates complex models, or digital twins, of traffic systems that make it possible to analyse a city’s traffic flows and simulate future scenarios.
A striking number of the new ETH spin-offs develop solutions for the healthcare sector. Three young companies are working on novel cancer drugs or on improving existing therapeutics, while two others offer apps that help to reduce stress and increase mental and physical well-being. Another one is Kairos Medical AG, which develops biodegradable bone implants. These are able to stabilise bones during healing, but – unlike conventional metal screws – they then dissolve in the body over time.
No fewer than four of the new spin-offs came to life in the Student Project House – ETH’s ideas workshop for its students. One such spin-off is Bottleplus, which produces a sustainable water bottle that can be used to make carbonated water on the go. Another is AtlasVR AG, which provides virtual reality technology for professional training programmes. “We want society to benefit from our research findings and innovations as quickly as possible. I’m enormously pleased that the Student Project House is succeeding in encouraging students to pursue their ideas and bring them to market,” says Vanessa Wood, Vice President for Knowledge Transfer and Corporate Relations at ETH Zurich. To further promote entrepreneurship among students and get schoolchildren excited about STEM subjects, ETH also entered into a strategic partnership with UBS in summer 2022.
Investment in ETH spin-offs also saw positive development last year. The companies raised around 1.2 billion Swiss francs – more than ever before. Three ETH spin-offs also attained unicorn status in 2022: the term refers to start-ups that are so promising that their market value exceeds one billion dollars even before they go public. These three companies are Scandit, which enables fast scanning even under difficult conditions, as well as Southpole and Climeworks, both of which are dedicated to the fight against climate change.
There were also a number of successful acquisitions: for example, the spin-off Adresta was bought by Bucherer, Animatico was acquired by Nvidia, and FGen was taken over by Ginko Bioworks. Vertical farming herbs from ETH spin-off Yasai also found their way onto Coop shelves in 2022, and Synhelion announced a strategic collaboration with Swiss International Air Lines. “It’s important for ETH that good technologies and ideas give rise to companies with growth potential and thus create new jobs. In this way, the success of our spin-offs becomes the success of Switzerland,” says Vice President Vanessa Wood.
Image source: ETH Zurich
We are delighted to announce that Finfox won the Excellence in Customer Experience award at the Private Banking & Wealth Management Switzerland Awards 2022. In addition, Finfox had been nominated in the category Outstanding Wealth Management Technology Provider in Switzerland – (Vendor). The winners were revealed on 15th December during a gala awards ceremony at The Dolder Grand in Zurich.
The Private Banking & Wealth Management Switzerland Awards recognise outstanding achievement in the fields of Private Banking and Wealth Management in the Swiss market since 2018. The Excellence in Customer Experience award honours software and technology solution providers that enable private banks and wealth managers to offer a first-class customer experience to their clients.
The laudation stated: “With Finfox, advisers provide their clients with an extensive and high-end spectrum of user journeys ranging from adviser-led solutions to easy-to-use guided self-services, thus always keeping abreast with the clients’ situation within the overall client lifecycle.”
Dr. Christian Dicke, CEO at Finfox: «We are proud to have been able to demonstrate how Finfox improves our clients’ wealth management experience. For us, excellence in customer experience means creating memorable moments with a visible added value for the client. That is at the heart of what we strive for every day.”
«Being recognised in this way proves that with FinfoxTouch, our tablet-based advisory tool, and FinfoxAdvice, our tool for guided self-services, we extended our product proposition effectively. It shows that we are successful in providing our clients an experience that exceeds expectations in terms of ease of use and functionality,” he continued.
“I want to congratulate everyone at Finfox for this outstanding team effort and thank our clients for choosing Finfox on their digital transformation journey,” Christian Dicke concluded.
The guest on the podcast is the CEO of F&P Robotics AG, Michael Früh. He and his team have developed the mobile assistance robot “LIO”.
The new year is only a few days old and already the first podcast episode follows, focusing on the topic of "Robotics in Healthcare". The guest will be the managing director of F&P Robotics AG, Michael Früh. With the development of the mobile assistance robot "LIO", Mr. Früh and his team are doing real pioneering work in the field of personalized robotics. So who better to provide insight into this future-relevant topic. Listen in to the latest episode to learn what differentiates a traditional robot from a personalized robot, the challenges of robot-human interaction, and how robots can help address current and future healthcare challenges, using "LIO" as an example.
"Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen" is the podcast on healthcare management and leadership. Alfred Angerer is a professor at the ZHAW for Management in Healthcare and the founder of Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen. In the podcast he interviews exciting people with whom he discusses the current trends. In doing so, he is looking in a forward-thinking direction that does not neglect topics such as digitalization and process optimization.
Patrik Deuss has developed intelligent light sources that work very efficiently. What began with a bachelor’s thesis in the energy and environmental engineering program at the ZHAW is five years later a startup with 42 employees. LEDCity’s goal is to save enough electricity in lighting by 2030 to reduce the need for nuclear power plants.
Where is the greatest potential for stopping climate change? This was the question on Patrik Deuss' mind when he was looking for a topic for his bachelor's thesis in energy and environmental engineering. In heating? In mobility? In the lighting? "In the ZHAW buildings, I noticed that the lights in the corridors were always on," says the energy and environmental engineer. "The janitor explained to me that lighting control is a complex issue." Conventional systems have a single motion detector per room and can only light it completely or not at all. "It should be possible to do this more in line with demand," thought Deuss - and he had found the topic for his bachelor's thesis.
The ZHAW student began developing the prototype of an intelligent light source. His idea was to switch from a centralized to a decentralized system: each illuminant should have its own "brain". The sensor in the new LED tube measures not only movement, but also temperature, humidity, and the incidence of light from natural sources such as windows. All the hardware that is otherwise distributed in the room is integrated into each individual lamp: sensor, lamp, cable. "Together, the light sources function like a swarm," Deuss explains. "It produces as much light as is needed at any given time." This could save 90 percent electricity in lighting.
Patrik Deuss quickly noticed that his idea met with interest. Since he was reaching his limits with the development of the software, he brought in Florian Gärtner, an electrical engineer and friend from the time when he raced downhill competitively. The two founded the startup LEDCity and benefited from the ZHAW's "Startup Challenge" program. For six months, they were able to use office space free of charge, received coaching and training on topics such as patent registration, business plans and the search for investors.
The young founders began to have the lights mass-produced - in Asia. "Most of the electronic components in the LED market are manufactured in China," explains Patrik Deuss. "A train eventually brings our material to Switzerland."
In 2017, Deuss and Gärtner sold the first illuminant, and the company has been growing ever since. LEDCity currently employs 42 people and recently opened offices in Germany and Spain. The startup specializes in commercial buildings and has customers such as Zurich Airport, the ZHAW and the Dolder Grand Hotel. Due to the current tense situation on the energy market, interest in smart lighting has once again risen sharply, says Deuss. In commercial buildings, lighting accounts for up to 30 percent of electricity costs.
Patrik Deuss and Florian Gärtner have big goals: By 2030, they want to convert 12 million light bulbs and thus save the electricity production of a nuclear power plant. That sounds unrealistic at first, but Deuss does the math: In 2022 alone, LEDCity will convert 55,000 lamps. So far, he said, the startup's production has grown at an average annual rate of more than 100 percent - but the target would be reached at a growth rate of 77 percent.
LEDCity's vision goes even further: by 2040, efficient LED lighting systems are expected to reduce global electricity consumption in the lighting sector by 80 percent. "Of course, we can't do it alone," says Deuss. "But we are cranking up the market." For example, the developers are in the process of creating a small sensor that incorporates all the technology of the LEDCity tubes so that other companies can integrate this sensor into their own luminaires. Patrik Deuss assumes that a lot will happen in the energy sector in the next few years. "It is always easier and cheaper to save electricity than to produce it sustainably," emphasizes the startup founder.
At 30, Patrik Deuss is CEO of a fast-growing SME. Is the great responsibility a burden? "I find my work very meaningful," he replies. They are a very good team that supports each other, he said. They are constantly looking for new employees and it is important for them to select them well. His experience in top-level sport had also prepared him well for this task. "In both sports and business, you have to break goals down into milestones. You need discipline, training - and the will to persevere," says Deuss. "I think as an elite athlete, you have a different sense of pain."
Author: Seraina Sattler / ZHAW Impact
Germany and Austria already run a yearly AI competition for young minds, now Switzerland joins in: The Swiss AI competition entered its pilot phase in October 2022.
In the coming months, the young people will work in small teams to develop and elaborate their very own AI project. They will be supported and mentored by doctoral students from the ETH AI Center, the competence center for artificial intelligence at ETH Zurich. Interested students can still register until mid-December.
The project is generously supported by the Office of Economic Affairs and Labor of the Canton of Zurich and Office of Economic Affairs of the Canton of Schwyz, and led by the ETH AI Center.
The competition aims at introducing girls and boys to artificial intelligence (AI), a key technology of our time that is set to shape the future of many businesses and profesions. The students are provided with extensive online learning materials, that can be accessed free of charge. The course materials have been developed for the German forerunner of the AI Competition for teenagers. Anyone with an inquisitive mind can use the course material to learn about the origins of artificial intelligence, take the first steps with the programming language Python up to the implementation of a fully working AI project. Prior knowledge in the domains of programming and artificial intelligence are explicitly not necessary.
"We want to introduce the next generations to the topic of AI with a hands-on mentality", emphasizes PD Dr. Alexander Ilic, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the ETH AI Center: "Implementing a project, in the form of their own programmed AI, from idea to product, offers the best learning for young people: it means solving a problem through trial-and-error until you reach the desired goal." Furthermore, the participants will learn the basics of product development and project management - valuable skills for any career they may choose in the future.
Intelligent algorithms are already an integral part of our everyday lives. Whether it's communicating with Siri and Alexa on a daily basis, autonomous driving, or using a SnapChat filter - there's always an AI inside. We all use artificial intelligence several times a day without even thinking about it. In the future, AI will change many more professional fields and permeate numerous aspects of our lives.
But what is artificial intelligence, actually? Anyone who wants to know can find out as part of the online course, and create novel tools from their own imagination using code.
"The current skilled labor situation cannot be solved overnight, but must be thought of in the long term", says Fabian Streiff, Head of Location Promotion for the Canton of Zurich. "The situation is particularly tense in the ICT sector. That's why we have to find ways and design initiatives to ensure that Zurich, as a center of innovation, will have enough skilled workers in the future. The ETH AI Center's AI competition is one of these initiatives."
When it comes to choosing and designing their own projects, the participating students are free to follow their interests: whether they prefer to work on a chatbot, a robot or on computer vision - the projects can be based on everyday problems, relate to the students' hobbies or simply arise from a fascination for a particular topic. Attractive prizes await the finalists.
The Swiss bank Fiat24 has won the Banking Innovation Award in the Neobanks & Specialized Players category. Qorus and Accenture use the annual awards to promote banking innovations. Fiat24’s business model enables blockchain-based payment transactions.
Fiat24 from Zurich is a winner of the Banking Innovation Award 2022. This is awarded annually by Qorus, the international association established by banks and financial institutes, and the consultancy firm Accenture with the aim of honoring innovations in banking. According to a press release, there were 680 applications this year from 57 countries across the eight award categories. Fiat24 won in the Neobanks & Specialized Players category.
Fiat24 has developed a platform based on Web3 that can be used to process payment transactions via blockchain. Customers use a non-fungible token (NFT) for this instead of a password and with this, they can access all of Fiat24’s services. The bank then forwards payments on to recipients, or rather registers payment receipts for clients. These incoming payments can also be made in various currencies and from a variety of sources. Furthermore, Fiat24 is also already represented in the metaverse, where it provides its clients a presence, by acquiring a plot of virtual land.
Fiat24 is a brand of the fintech company SR Saphirstein AG, which was established in Zurich in 2018.
Schlieren ZH – Switzerland’s first vertical farm in a residential neighborhood is planned for the Lymhof in Schlierem’s Rietpark district. Geistlich Immobilia and the start-up Yasai have signed an agreement to this end.
Switzerland's first vertical farm integrated into a residential neighborhood is to be built in Schlierem's Lymhof. According to a media release, the agreement signed by site owner Geistlich Immobilia in Schlieren and Zurich-based start-up Yasai for this purpose envisages commissioning of the vertical farm by 2026. In the approximately 8 meters high hall then herbs, leaf lettuces and much more are to be cultivated resource-conserving and pesticide-free and also sold directly on site, it is said further. Yasai is a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich(ETH).
The farm will be integrated into the residential neighborhood at Rietpark. Directly above the hall will be built duplex apartments with roof garden, according to the statement. There will be various neighborhood amenities such as a bistro, hotel rooms, flexible, small-scale commercial space, and space for neighborhood life, he said.
"With our farm in Schlieren, we will bring food production directly to the people," Mark E. Zahran, co-founder and CEO of Yasai, is quoted as saying. Glass facades will make the hall visible, and there will be peepholes to the "grow chamber" in the heart of the hall, where the herbs grow under protection. The yield per square meter in such a vertical farm is several times higher than in conventional agriculture.
With Yasai, "an innovative and sustainable use has been found for the hall building in the Lymhof," Martin Geistlich, managing director of the site owner Geistlich Immobilia, is quoted as saying. "I envision a colorful, lively piece of the neighborhood," Ladina Esslinger, head of development at Geistlich Immobilia, is quoted as saying. "We want to create an urban place, but not an offshoot of Zurich, but a neighborhood piece that takes existing needs and fits Schlieren." gba
Zurich/Nairobi – Interesting opportunities are opening up in Kenya for the Swiss cleantech sector. The country is strongly focusing on renewable energies and sustainability, as demonstrated in an online conference by Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE). S-GE is organizing a trip to Kenya in February for Swiss companies.
Participants from Switzerland and Kenya have shown at an online conference held by S-GE how the Swiss cleantech industry can help the East African country with Vision 2030. This government plan envisages Kenya’s complete implementation of the energy revolution by this time, among other things. The circular economy is also included in this.
As Valentin Zellweger, Ambassador of Switzerland to Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, and Uganda, stated in his introduction, this is an opportunity for innovative solutions from the Swiss cleantech sector. More than 70 Swiss companies are already active in Kenya, which is considered to be the gateway to the rest of Africa.
Representatives from S-GE, KEPSA (the Kenya Private Sector Alliance umbrella organization), and Swiss Business Hub Southern Africa took part in the discussion. Additionally, a few companies based in Kenya presented their efforts and needs with regard to sustainability: Mr. Green Africa collects plastic waste from private individuals and sells it back to industry as a raw product. Olivado produces avocado oil in the central highlands and has developed and built its own biomass plant to reduce waste and generate energy. OFGEN provides innovative solar solutions.
OFGEN’s CEO, Geoffrey Ronoh, noted how desirable the engagement of Swiss investors was for building production facilities, which would do away with costly imports of components and products. Furthermore, he added that Kenya needs software to minimize energy loss and save money and stated that direct trade between Switzerland and Kenya must be ensured. To this end, Ambassador Zellweger has promised a trade drive between the two countries. It is expected to start as early as Q1 2023. Ronoh and other participants additionally expressed the importance of direct contact with local agents.
Marcel Bruhwiler has been the Infrastructure Manager for Southern and East Africa at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) since 2012 and previously was active within the Bühler Group in Johannesburg for eight years. He identified three key areas of activity for Kenya’s infrastructural growth above all else: It requires “a tech hub and tech jobs for faster internet connections” as well as public-private partnerships for solutions regarding urbanization, clean water, waste management, and urban mobility. Moreover, Kenya’s progress in renewable energy and with a decentralized energy supply could also have a positive impact on the development of other African countries. He believes that affordability is a key topic: anyone dedicated to cleantech in Africa may have to consider limited financial opportunities.
S-GE is organizing a trip to Kenya in February for company representatives. This may be held in parallel with an official visit to the East African country from State Secretary Helene Budliger Artieda, Director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
During recent years, TX Ventures has transformed into a leading FinTech investor in Switzerland and is launching today its first dedicated CHF 100 Million fund. The fund is structured as a single Limited Partnership, and its sole investor is TX Group
As the independent and financial return driven venture arm of TX Group, TX Ventures has built a strong investment track record with investments such as the challenger bank neon, the alternative investment platform Stableton, the real estate price intelligence software Pricehubble, and exits such as the mortgage platform Moneypark.
During recent years, TX Ventures has transformed into a leading FinTech investor in Switzerland and is launching today its first dedicated CHF 100 Million fund. The fund is structured as a single Limited Partnership, and its sole investor is TX Group.
TX Ventures has set the base to launch its new FinTech fund by disposing of non-core assets (such as the sale of Olmero to Sterling Square / TA Associates), implementing a professional investment committee, and clearly defining its financial return oriented investment mandate.
TX Ventures’ mandate, to invest in financial technology start-ups (FinTech, InsurTech, Crypto) in Europe with preference for the DACH region, has its focus on early stage investments (Seed to Series A) with initial tickets ranging from CHF0.5m to CHF5m.
The team, consisting of Krzysztof Bialkowski, Jens Schleuniger, David Schnider and Markus Rommel, has already built a strong portfolio of Swiss based FinTechs, while being supported by experts in the areas of marketing, cyber security, tech, communication, legal and finance. TX Ventures believes that - despite the current economic headwinds - the current market environment offers great investment opportunities. The team has a clear long term ambition to become one of the leading early stage FinTech investors in Europe, a growing and sizable market for FinTech.
The TX Ventures investment committee is chaired by Romy Schnelle, Partner at Hightech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and complemented by well known Fintech Founder Miriam Wohlfarth, Sandro Macchiacchini (COO of TX Group), Daniel Mönch (CSO of TX Group) and Olivier Rihs (Board Member SMG and JobCloud).
Are you a FinTech looking for an experienced FinTech investor? Get in touch!
The World Food System Center of ETH Zurich and Bayer launch a partnership focused on sustainable agricultural systems and production practices. Bayer is supporting several interdisciplinary research projects of the World Food System Center with a total donation of 1.1 million Swiss francs over the next four years.
In order to develop solutions to major food challenges the world is facing, the World Food System Center of ETH Zurich launches a new research program, supported by Bayer, focusing on improving sustainability of agricultural and food systems across key environmental metrics. The goal is to understand the benefits and tradeoffs of various measures in agricultural systems and production practices while maintaining the production potential and strengthening overall resilience of the agricultural system towards climate impacts and biodiversity.
Around the globe, agricultural and food systems are facing major challenges. Future agri-food systems must provide enough healthy and affordable food for a growing world population as well as deliver a sufficient economic benefit for farmers. At the same time, climate change, increasing scarcity of natural resources, and deteriorating soil health and biodiversity all pose major stress on the entire food system.
Food production, therefore, needs sufficient yields of good quality while substantially reducing the environmental risks and footprints. Such production requires promotion of solutions that are tailored to the local conditions, cropping systems, and farmers’ needs. Balancing these trade-offs is necessary to secure the production potential of agriculture and farming systems in the long term.
Natasha Santos, Head of Global Stakeholder Affairs & Strategic Partnerships at Bayer Crop Science comments: “According to the UN, the world population will grow to around 10 billion people in the next 30 years. Supplying these 2 billion more people than today’s population with food represents a huge global challenge. At the same time, climate change is reducing agricultural production. If farmers are to "produce more with less" now and in the future, innovative technologies that deliver greater resource efficiency are essential. We as Bayer are happy that we can support the World Food System Center providing scientific guidance on solutions to transform agriculture toward a more resilient, sustainable and food secure future”.
Detlef Günther, Vice President Research at ETH Zurich, comments: "In contrast to progressing towards eradicating hunger, the number of undernourished people in the world is on the rise. New solutions are needed to produce sufficient food of good quality, making it accessible for all while greatly reducing environmental risks. This new partnership supports interdisciplinary research to identify solutions that consider relevant tradeoffs for farmers, industry, and consumers.”
The partnership enables new interdisciplinary research projects that will specifically aim to identify sustainable production practices and agricultural systems covering all sustainability dimensions, explore them along key metrics, and further improve their sustainability by minimizing tradeoffs with special focus on the environmental footprint and risks of production. A key component of the partnership is on collaboration and knowledge-sharing between research and practice as well as interdisciplinary, solution-oriented research approaches for major crops grown in Europe.
Starting in 2023, the World Food System Center will identify the first research projects through a call for proposals. The funded interdisciplinary projects are expected to yield insights on pathways to reduce the environmental impact of food systems using a holistic perspective. The World Food System Center and Bayer look forward to sharing the results with the agriculture sector, other research institutions, companies, and the public. In the future, other industry partners may also participate in the research activities.
Author: Jeanne Tomaszewski/WFSC, ETH Zurich
Image source: ETH Zurich
The winning teams are Ascento Robotics, Aseptuva AG, AITHON, Seismohealth and Groam Tech AG.
They convinced the jury with their pitches and will be allowed to move into the Züri Innovationspark office next year.
The fifth edition of the Startup Radar focuses on sustainable start-ups. Which country has the highest density of sustainable start-ups? Which ecosystem attracts the highest investment? In which sectors do entrepreneurs see the greatest opportunities? The new Startup Radar provides answers.
In Switzerland, the proportion of sustainability start-ups in all technology and science-based start-ups increased from 4% to almost 10% in just two years (2019 - 2021). In parallel, the total volume of venture capital investment in this sector grew from CHF 200 million to CHF 600 million. As of 2022, Switzerland has the highest density per capita of sustainability start-ups.
Two sectors deserve special mention: mechanical engineering and the food industry. Switzerland has mature innovation ecosystems in both sectors: founders have the opportunity to collaborate with leading international universities and market-leading companies at all stages of the value chain.
Meat substitute products and AI-based platforms for resource-saving agriculture represent these strengths, as do natural fibre-based composite materials that reduce the ecological footprint of mobility.
You can download the Swiss Startup Radar in German, French and English here: Swiss Startup Radar 2022 / 2023
The Rieter Group is constantly expanding its technology leadership. The company is therefore supporting a new endowed professorship for Industrial Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the ZHAW School of Engineering together with the Johann Jacob Rieter Foundation. The professorship deals with teaching and research in the field of industrial applications of artificial intelligence and will be advertised later this year.
The new endowed professorship will be established at the Center for Artificial Intelligence (CAI) of the ZHAW in Winterthur. In particular, it will be dedicated to the application of machine learning methods and knowledge-based systems in the context of processes in production and service. "The use of artificial intelligence in industry is becoming increasingly important, especially when it comes to the potential of data for evaluating and controlling complex processes. With the support of the Johann Jacob Rieter Foundation and the Rieter Group, we can further expand AI research in the field of industrial applications," explains Prof. Dr. Dirk Wilhelm, Director of the ZHAW School of Engineering.
For Rieter, the commitment is related to the implementation of its technology leadership strategy. "The use of artificial intelligence will make a significant contribution to automation, process optimization and thus to improving sustainability in the textile industry. It is thus an important element of the leading technology that Rieter offers," emphasizes Dr. Norbert Klapper, CEO Rieter.
The contribution of the Johann Jacob Rieter Foundation to the financing of the professorship is in line with the Winterthur Cluster Initiative. The increasing digitalization of production processes opens up new perspectives for Winterthur as a business location. "The Smart Machines cluster is gaining in importance," says Thomas Anwander, member of the Foundation Board, and adds: "The Endowed Chair for Industrial AI at the ZHAW aims to promote Winterthur as a technology location by pooling locally available strengths in mechanical engineering and Industry 4.0."
The endowed professorship will serve to build expertise in the field of Industrial AI and will preside over a group dedicated to teaching and research around trust-based machine learning. This involves, for example, the use of artificial intelligence with the aim of optimizing production processes in terms of the use of raw materials and energy and making expert knowledge more readily available. In addition to research, the new professorship will also be active in teaching, in the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Data Science, in the Master of Science in Engineering, and in continuing education, in the spirit of knowledge transfer.
The annual contribution of 300 000 CHF over a period of six years is financed in equal parts by the Rieter Group and the Johann Jacob Rieter Foundation.
In its European Drone Strategy, the Commission sets out its vision for the further development of the European drone market. The basis for the strategy is the world’s most advanced safety framework established by the EU for the operation of drones and the technical requirements that apply to them.
The new drone strategy 2.0, shows how Europe can pursue large-scale commercial drone operations while opening up new opportunities for the sector.
From workplaces to new mobility solutions
Thanks to the comprehensive EU regulatory framework, hundreds of thousands of flight hours have already been safely performed with drones in the airspace over Europe, e.g. for infrastructure surveying, oil spill monitoring or ground sampling. Projects using drones for medical deliveries, i.e., transporting medical specimens between healthcare providers, are also progressing well. The realization of "U-Space" in January 2023, a European system unique in the world for the safe management of drone traffic, will lay the foundation for increased flight operations.
Before moving forward with these innovative technologies, the commission wants to ensure that society supports drones. Therefore, the strategy calls on national, regional, and local communities to ensure that drone services are responsive to the needs of citizens and address noise, safety, and privacy concerns. Further information is available in the media release.
Alfred and Stefan join Sven Fassbinder to address the extremely relevant topic of “IT and Security”, which is keeping the Swiss healthcare sector on its toes.
Alfred and Stefan dedicate themselves to the extremely relevant topic of "IT and security", which keeps the Swiss healthcare system on its toes. And who would be better suited as a guest than Sven Fassbender, who has become famous in the IT scene for exposing the security vulnerabilities of the platform "meineimpfungen.ch".
Sven is managing director and co-founder of ZFT.COMPANY and has worked in numerous German and Swiss companies in the field of IT and security. In the press, moreover, he would be described as an ethical hacker ("white-hat hacker") who always acts in the spirit of his overriding goal - the protection of the data of the Swiss population!
The information security consultant reports on his daily work with hospitals and start-ups, among others, as well as on his successes with "meineimpfungen.ch" and "Swisstransplant".
Listen into this podcast episode to learn more about Sven Fassbender's exciting tips and recommendations and why backups, two-factor authentication and password managers should be daily tools for all of us.
The podcast "Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen" is the podcast on healthcare management and leadership. Alfred Angerer is a professor at the ZHAW for Management in Healthcare and the founder of Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen. In the podcast he interviews exciting people with whom he discusses the current trends. In doing so, he is looking in a forward-thinking direction that does not neglect topics such as digitalization and process optimization.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the topic of this episode with Alfred and Sina Berger. The Internet of Things (IoT) has become an integral part of many industrial sectors, but does it also have the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has already become indispensable in many areas of industry, but does it also have the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry? To get a little closer to the answer to this question, Sina Berger is a guest on the current edition of "Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen". Sina is a research associate at the Winterthur Institute of Health Economics in the Healthcare Management team and works on topics such as digital health, process optimization and patient satisfaction. As part of her master's thesis, she explored the question of the extent to which patients' treatment pathways can be optimized through the targeted use of IoT. But what is actually behind the much-vaunted "buzzword" and to what extent is IoT already being used in healthcare today? This much can already be revealed: Just because a device has a sensor doesn't mean it's IoT. Listen in to this podcast episode to learn more about what IoT applications should be used in the future to optimize the patient pathway and create value for patients and staff.
The podcast "Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen" is the podcast on healthcare management and leadership. Alfred Angerer is a professor at the ZHAW for Management in Healthcare and the founder of Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen. In the podcast he interviews exciting people with whom he discusses the current trends. In doing so, he is looking in a forward-thinking direction that does not neglect topics such as digitalization and process optimization.
Three healthcare innovation experts answer the question of how new, innovative and actionable Digital Health ideas could be systematically provoked in organizations.
This episode was recorded directly and live during a panel discussion at the ZHAW Digital Health Lab Day. In this, three innovation experts from the healthcare sector answered the question of how new, innovative and implementable digital health ideas could be systematically provoked in organizations.
After all, every good healthcare organization wants innovative employees who can drive the business forward with new Digital Health ideas. But this development cannot be left to chance. Accordingly, the introduction of systematic and strategic innovation management sounds promising. Accordingly, this round's guests are the three experts in the field, Niowi Näf (Chief Strategy Officer at Hirslanden), Matthias Hermann (Head of Innovation Management at the University Hospital Zurich) and Tobias Gantner (Founder and Head of Healthcare Futurists), who will provide insights into their daily innovation work.
Listen into this podcast episode to learn more about what smart innovation management entails, how it works, and what it brings in very real terms.
The podcast "Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen" is the podcast on healthcare management and leadership. Alfred Angerer is a professor at the ZHAW for Management in Healthcare and the founder of Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen. In the podcast he interviews exciting people with whom he discusses the current trends. In doing so, he is looking in a forward-thinking direction that does not neglect topics such as digitalization and process optimization.
Alfred and his guest Prof. Dr. Sven Hirsch talk about the ZHAW Digital Health Lab.
The ZHAW Digital Health Lab brings together experts from the fields of biomedicine, health, technology and business, who together create innovations for digitization in healthcare. Alfred and his guest Prof. Dr. Sven Hirsch sit on the board here and launched this ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences) led platform in 2018. And so it is fitting that Alfred and Sven, heads of the "Center for Computational Health" in Wädenswil, take an inward look in this episode and highlight the added value of such a virtual, interdepartmental organization at the ZHAW.
Both ZHAW colleagues have very different backgrounds. Sven's background is in laser physics, as well as media art, and he is currently primarily involved in biomedical simulations and modeling. Alfred, on the other hand, comes from the field of health economics and, in his daily work, looks at the influence of new technologies on the players in the healthcare system.
In addition to the specialties the two represent, the Digital Health Lab brings together many other competencies to focus digital health activities and create innovation.
Listen into this podcast episode to learn more about Sven Hirsch's research focus on biomedical simulation and how the Digital Health Lab works. In addition, Sven and Alfred provide insights into the two large multi-million projects (funded by the Innosuisse Flagship and the Zurich Universities Digitization Initiative) that the Lab has won as well as about the ZHAW Digital Health Lab Day.
In The BRIDGE Lab, DSI researchers aim to create a collaborative platform as a structural vessel to promote research and innovation, by connecting science with industries, incubators, public authorities, and civil society around conditions of successful implementation of digital innovations in Switzerland.
On 1 November 2022 , a new structural vessel «The BRIDGE Lab» was launched at the Digital Society Initiative (DSI), University of Zurich (UZH). As the key drivers of the initiative, Dr. Ning Wang, Prof. Davide Scaramuzza and Prof. Francis Cheneval aim to, through this collaborative platform, connect science with industry, government, regulatory authority, and civil society around conditions of successful implementation of digital innovations in Switzerland.
The ethos of the lab is to «Bridge The Wisdom Gap» – the gap between the increasingly interconnected complexity of global challenges, which interlocks existing problems and supercharges power dynamics, and our inability of making sense of as well as coping with them. «The BRIDGE Lab» seeks to offer an exploratory space for addressing one such challenges – the introduction and integration of high-impact technology in society, such as drones used as urban air mobility solutions in Switzerland.
The lab is funded by the Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions (DIZH) for two years. Project partners include leading industry members and key societal actors, such as Canton of Zurich, Federal Office of Civil Aviation, IEEE Switzerland, and University of Geneva, among others. More info about the project can be found here. Stay tuned on the upcoming activities!
Discover startups, spin-offs and non-profit organisations from the ZHdK ecosystem
The ZHdK-Startup-Finder is a new online database launched under the label of the Zurich Centre for Creative Economies (ZCCE) at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). It offers an overview of the various startups, spin-offs and non-profit organisations that have emerged in the ZHdK ecosystem in recent years. The Startup Finder also showcases the innovative potential and diversity of founders from the ZHdK who generate cultural, social, ecological, and economic impact.
Everyone who is interested in certain aspects such as disciplines, legal form or field can set and filter corresponding criteria in the database or enter certain keywords. An overview of the content:
When assessing the quantitative output one has to take into account the university's size - while ZHdK is one of the largest arts universities in Europe with around 2,100 Bachelor and Master students, it is one of the smaller players in Zurich's university landscape.
The Division of Business and Economic Development in the Canton of Zurich and the think tank Food Visionaries network the cantonal food ecosystem. At the first major networking event, a current study on the needs of the Zurich FoodTech scene was presented and discussed.
The Network Food Canton Zurich invited people from the Zurich food ecosystem to a first major event in Wädenswil. Two virtual roundtables had taken place in 2021. Now, the Division of Business and Economic Development of the Canton of Zurich and the Food Visionaries think tank took the network to the next level to further strengthen regional innovation in the food sector. The network came together at the Wädenswil site of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), where a center for the so-called agro-food business is united under one roof. More events are to follow, said Anne Schmidt, project manager food of the Division of Business and Economic Development of the Office of Economic Affairs. According to Food Visionaries co-founder Bettina Brinkmanns, the platform aims to bring together the entire value chain.
In order to create a basis for effective networking, the innovation network SwissFoodResearch has analyzed the needs of the food ecosystem on behalf of the location promotion. Lucas Grob and SwissFoodResearch CEO Peter Braun presented the results at the event. Among other things, the study identifies the lack of production sites, regulatory hurdles or the low rate of those who make use of subsidies as starting points for assistance. Peter Braun said, "A cluster approach to innovation systems already exists in the Zurich economic area - not many regions have that."
The sticking point of regulatory hurdles was addressed by Bettina Brinkmann in her capacity as President of the Swiss Food-Agro-Tech Association (SFATA). SFATA supports the development and approval of innovations. Brinkmann referred to the experimentation article from the health sector. According to the Federal Health Insurance Act, this is intended to create the legal basis for innovative pilot trials for cantons, among others." Investor Daniel M. Böhi of Alphorn Ventures presented the project The Forge in Thayngen SH. In cooperation with Unilever Switzerland, an innovation center specializing in nutrition is planned here on 40,000 square meters. The center will offer expert support as well as access to machinery.
In the panel, five experts ended up discussing what could spur food innovation. Christina Senn-Jakobsen of the Swiss Food Nutrition Valley association looked at the strong innovation support of other countries. "That's what we're missing," she emphasized. Money is available, said Marina Helm Romaneschi - director of the innovation cooperative dieCuisine, among others. But it is not always clear where and how to obtain it, he said. The canton could play an important role here as a guide.
Martijn Sonneveldt, as director of the ETH Zurich World Food System Center, advocated, among other things, institutional dialogue in the ecosystem and overcoming cantonal thinking. Michel Roux, co-president of the Zurich Nutrition Forum, focused on an intensive examination of eating habits. Fundamentally, the managing director of the Zurich Farmers' Association, Ferdi Hodel, affirmed: "We have to give food a value, at the moment we define it by price." Then it could become clearer which innovation is future-oriented. Fabian Streiff, as Head of the Division of Business and Economic Development, concluded with the quote: "Those who want to go fast must go alone. Those who want to go far must go together with others."
The Joint Committee of the bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the European Union on air transport decided on November 24, 2022, that Switzerland will adopt the EU drone regulations as well as other EU legislation. New regulations will apply to drone pilots from January 1, 2023. The Swiss drone industry will benefit from the harmonized legal framework with the EU. The Federal Council has approved the adoption of the new provisions.
Under the bilateral air transport agreement, Switzerland and the European Union (EU) regulate the internationally oriented aviation sector uniformly and through a joint committee. The Joint Aviation Committee has decided that the regulatory framework for unmanned aerial vehicles (drones, model aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles of other categories) already in force in the EU will also come into force in Switzerland from January 1, 2023.
European regulation sets safety standards for the manufacture, certification and operation of drones. A new distinction is made between the three categories "open", "special" and "subject to approval", depending on the operating risk. All remote pilots who wish to operate a drone in the open category must have a certificate obtained after training with a final examination. The adopted regulation provides for mutual recognition of the respective certificates in the EU and Switzerland.
New maximum flight altitudes, weight limits as well as area restrictions apply. To address the concerns of the population, regulations were introduced in the areas of environmental protection, privacy and security.
Switzerland will also apply the European regulation on "U-Space". This is a set of digital and automated functions and processes deployed in a defined airspace. U-Space aims to safely integrate the increasing number of civil drone flight movements into the airspace to ensure the conflict-free coexistence of manned and unmanned aviation systems. From now on, pilots have a better overview of the traffic situation.
The Joint Committee also updated several existing provisions. Adjustments to the regulation of slots at airports clarify airlines' entitlement to slots in the upcoming scheduling period in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. For fuel planning, existing requirements will be adjusted to account for new fuel or energy sources as well. In addition, administrative facilitations allow several air carriers of the same group of companies to jointly apply for a permit to perform aircraft maintenance operations (CAMO).
For Switzerland, the Director of the FOCA, Christian Hegner, signed the decision of the Joint Aviation Committee. The Federal Council approved the adoption of these provisions at its meeting on November 9, 2022. The new provisions of the agreement will enter into force on January 1, 2023.
The lightweight and recyclable gold alloys from ETH spin-off Goold enable a circular economy for gold.
In doing so, they are helping to mitigate the environmental impacts and social problems associated with gold mining.
Dübendorf ZH – The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research has developed a swarm of drones modeled on bees that cooperatively print and place 3D materials in flight. These BuilDrones are monitored by ScanDrones.
An international research team from the Swiss Federal Materials Testing and Research Institute (Empa) has developed a swarm of cooperative drones for use in construction. The model is the cooperation of bees and wasps. How the Empa reports, the flying robots print out 3D materials in the air under human control and place them in the designated locations. The performance of these BuilDrones is recorded and monitored by a second fleet, the ScanDrones. They also specify the upcoming manufacturing steps.
Empa also demonstrates in a video that this is the first time such detailed 3D printing has been performed by a free-flying robot. The scientific journal "Nature published the study of the team of Professor Mirko Kovac of the Materials and Technology Centre of Robotics on Sept. 21 online and made them available in its most recent issue of the September 22 to the Cover Story.
Called aerial additive manufacturing, the drones are designed to adapt their activity to the different geometries of the structure as the building process progresses. They act autonomously during their deployment. A human controller observes the process and makes adjustments as necessary based on information provided by the drones.
"We have demonstrated that the drones can operate autonomously to construct and repair buildings, at least in the lab," Kovac is quoted as saying. This could facilitate work in hard-to-reach areas such as high-rise buildings. Now, according to Empa, the experts want to work with construction companies to validate the developed solutions in practice and develop new repair and manufacturing options. mm/Café Europe
LatticeFlow, a startup that was spun out of Zurich’s ETH in 2020, helps machine learning teams improve their AI vision models by automatically diagnosing issues and improving both the data and the models themselves. The company today announced that it has raised a $12 million Series A funding round led by Atlantic Bridge and OpenOcean, with participation from FPV Ventures. Existing investors btov Partners and Global Founders Capital, which led the company’s $2.8 million seed round last year, also participated in this round.
As LatticeFlow co-founder and CEO Petar Tsankov told me, the company currently has more than 10 customers in both Europe and the U.S., including a number of large enterprises like Siemens and organizations like the Swiss Federal Railways, and is currently running pilots with quite a few more. It’s this customer demand that led LatticeFlow to raise at this point.
“I was in the States and I met with some investors in Palo Alto, Tsankov explained. “They saw the bottleneck that we have with onboarding customers. We literally had machine learning engineers supporting customers and that’s not how you should run the company. And they said: ‘OK, take $12 million, bring these people in and expand.’ That was great timing for sure because when we talked to other investors, we did see that the market has changed.”
As Tsankov and his co-founder CTO Pavol Bielik noted, most enterprises today have a hard time bringing their models into production and then, when they do, they often realize that they don’t perform as well as they expected. The promise of LatticeFlow is that it can auto-diagnose the data and models to find potential blind spots. In its work with a major medical company, its tools to analyze their datasets and models quickly found more than half a dozen critical blind spots in their state-of-the-art production models, for example.
The team noted that it’s not enough to only look at the training data and ensure that there is a diverse set of images — in the case of the vision models that LatticeFlow specializes in — but also examine the models.
“Ifyouonlylookatthedata — and this isafundamentaldifferentiatorfor LatticeFlowbecause we not only find the standarddataissueslikelabelingissuesor poor-qualitysamples,butalsomodelblindspots,whicharethescenarios where themodelsarefailing,” Tsankov explained. “Once the model is ready, we can take it, find various data model issues and help companies fix it.”
He noted, for example, that models will often find hidden correlations that may confuse the model and skew the results. In working with an insurance customer, for example, who used an ML model to automatically detect dents, scratches and other damage in images of cars, the model would often label an image with a finger in it as a scratch. Why? Because in the training set, customers would often take a close-up picture with a scratch and point at it with their finger. Unsurprisingly, the model would then correlate “finger” with “scratch,” even when there was no scratch on the car. Those are issues, the LatticeFlow teams argues, that go beyond creating better labels and need a service that can look at both the model and the training data.
LatticeFlow itself, it is worth noting, isn’t in the training business. The service works with pre-trained models. For now, it also focuses on offering its service as an on-prem tool, though it may offer a fully managed service in the future, too, as it uses the new funding to hire aggressively, both to better service its existing customers and to build out its product portfolio.
“The painful truth is that today, most large-scale AI model deployments simply are not functioning reliably in the real world,” said Sunir Kapoor, operating partner at Atlantic Bridge. “This is largely due to the absence of tools that help engineers efficiently resolve critical AI data and model errors. But, this is also why the Atlantic Bridge team so unambiguously reached the decision to invest in LatticeFlow. We believe that the company is poised for tremendous growth, since it is currently the only company that auto-diagnoses and fixes AI data and model defects at scale.”
Every company strives to be innovative, but most are missing key ingredients. How can you identify which ingredients your organization needs — and which employee styles can fill in the gaps? The authors’ research distills four key innovation styles that can lead to success — generators, conceptualizers, optimizers, and implementors — and explains how common they are across sectors. Then, they outline a four-part framework for ensuring your team or organization has all four styles represented.
How do you identify and empower innovators in your company?
Collectively, we have spent over 40 years researching this question. Our research on innovation styles identifies and examines the different preferences and roles people take on when pursuing innovation. By understanding this concept, organizations can better identify where specific people are needed and who should work together to generate new breakthrough ideas.
Our latest study relies on data collected between October 2006 and January 2021, across as many people in as many organizations as possible. Over 100,000 people — 112,497 to be precise, with nearly equal parts men and women — responded to the call, and we continue to collect data every day. Respondents came from 84 countries and work in a wide variety of companies and industries, including Microsoft, ArcelorMittal, Boston Symphony Orchestra, NASA, United Way, and Harvard University (and Harvard Business Review!).
Each respondent told us about what they like to do and what they do well when they solve problems (and what they do not like or do not do well). These answers revealed an individual’s preference for one of four unique innovation styles, each of which maps onto a distinct phase of a four-stage innovation process. Each style has a role to play in your organization, starting with finding new problems (generators), thoroughly defining problems (conceptualizers), evaluating ideas and selecting solutions (optimizers), and implementing selected solutions (implementers).
All four styles are necessary for innovation. Understanding which employees fall into which style enables an organization to manage their innovation efforts more effectively. However, in our experience, most organizations are lacking in some innovation styles — particularly generators — and we will be providing steps to help overcome this deficiency.
Generators find new problems and ideate based on their own direct experience. For them, physical contact with, and involvement in, the real-world alerts them to unresolved gaps and inconsistencies — problems that might be worth addressing as opportunities and possibilities. However, generators only find these problems at a high level; they do not necessarily gravitate towards articulating a clear understanding of a problem’s specifics or its potential solutions.
Across all organizational levels, generators are rare. Overall, just 17% of our sample were generators: 19% of executive managers, 18% of middle managers, 15% of supervisors, and 16% of non-managers. This means that, unless leaders are deliberate about including generators on teams, they may not be represented at all. Generators are perceptive of the world around them, and initiate and proliferate opportunities. So, a lack of generators makes it more likely that an organization will miss opportunities for valuable change. Given the importance of cognitive diversity in groups, this is a potential detriment to innovation performance.
That said, there are some occupations where generators are more common than others. School teachers (56%), academics (38%), and artists (34%) are the occupations with the greatest proportion of generators; engineering (8%), strategic planning (9%), and manufacturing (9%) have the lowest proportion. This means a lack of generators may be acutely felt on certain teams in certain fields. For instance, there is a 71% chance a four-person team from a strategic planning department has no generators at all.
Conceptualizers define the problem and prefer to understand it through abstract analysis rather than through direct experience. Like generators, they like to ideate; but in contrast they prefer to model the problem clearly — integrating the various parts, relationships, and insights together — which can then be used as the basis for one or more solutions.
Conceptualizers are the second rarest innovation style, making up only 19% of the sample. They are relatively evenly represented across most occupational levels, with 17%, 18%, and 17% of non-managers, supervisors, and middle managers as conceptualizers, respectively. But more executives — 25% percent — are conceptualizers. This likely reflects the specific cognitive demands for that role: executive managers must strategically plan for more distant goals, rather than execute more tactical tasks.
Conceptualizers are most common in jobs where understanding the definition of the problem is vital, such as organization development (61%), strategic planning (57%), and market research (52%). Conversely, conceptualizers are rarest in operations (7%), technical support (11%), and project management (13%).
Optimizers evaluate ideas and suggest solutions. They prefer to systematically examine all possible alternatives in order to implement the best solution among the known options.
Optimizers are most common among lower occupational levels (27% of non-managers) and decrease with a rise in occupational levels (23% of supervisors, 22% of middle managers, and 20% of executives). Because most solutions are implemented at lower levels of hierarchy, it makes sense that occupations at these levels are more likely to engage in optimization.
Optimizers are also most common in positions where practical, precise, and detailed plans, processes, and solutions are sought. Engineering (43%), manufacturing (38%), and finance (36%) had the highest proportion of optimizers. Product developer (9%), academic (10%), and school teacher (11%) had the lowest proportion.
Implementers put solutions to work. They enthusiastically (and sometimes impatiently) take action, experimenting with new solutions before mentally testing them and then make adjustments based on the outcome of these experiments.
Implementers are the most common innovation style, representing 41% of our survey respondents. Thirty six percent of executive managers are implementers, but are about as common among non-managers (41%), supervisors (44%), and middle managers (43%).
Individuals working in positions that require achievement of short-term results, such as IT operations (64%), customer relations (51%), and administration (50%) favor the implementer style. Artists (6%), strategic planners (7%), and designers (10%) are least likely to be implementers.
Two findings should stand out to managers. First, innovation styles are, generally, not evenly distributed. It is striking that only about 17% of individuals in our study were found to be generators while 41% were implementers. Second, people tend to sort into different occupational roles and levels of management based on their innovation style. For instance, generators are predominantly found in non-industrial occupations and conceptualizers are most common in strategic planning and organizational development.
These two findings contribute to the same problem: the organizations and teams you are working with are likely to lack the right balance of styles and be insufficiently cognitively diverse. If cognitive differences are unevenly distributed (e.g., there are more implementers and fewer generators) — and if people will choose roles and organizations based on their innovative style preference (e.g., generators are more likely to become artists and teachers, not executives and engineers) — we would expect most organizations and teams to lack the ideal cognitive diversity for innovation.
To innovate more effectively, organizations need to do two things: specifically, cultivate more generators who can find problems; and more generally, ensure skillful representation of all four innovation styles. To do both, we propose a four-step method for innovation that we refer to as the “SMRT” framework:
The best-in-class organizations we identified exemplify these tactics. While it was rare that any one company in our research deployed more than one of these four, we argue that these tactics are complementary and that using all four will supercharging innovation at your firm.
Managers and their teams tend to get stuck when attempting to solve complex, ill-defined problems because there is a wide divergence in potential solutions. If managers can identify and isolate the exact stage of the innovation process where they are facing this divergence, they might have some sense of the talent they need to converge towards a solution. But since they are rarely able to do this, it means that managers do not have the right team structure for these situations in the first place.
To improve innovation, managers will first want to ask: During which stage of the innovation process do our teams get stuck? Next, managers will need to identify and amplify the missing innovation style that’s needed at that stage. For instance, during a field experiment in a Google hackathon, we found that agile practices stymied innovation because they focused teams on the implementation phase of the innovation process, rather than the idea generation phase. In this type of situation, an organization might benefit from intentionally identifying generators and deliberately amplifying their contributions. If no generators are available, other team members may be asked to role-play as generators instead.
Even if your team struggles with optimization or implementation, this doesn’t have to prevent you from innovating. Take the experiences of a strategy development team for a large American health insurance company. Tasked with recommending a new corporate strategy to senior management, the team was unable to agree on a final recommendation and was struggling with paralysis by analysis. Each time they thought they had a recommendation to forward, someone insisted on revisions to take new information into account or to make the strategy more comprehensive. When we analyzed their innovation profile, we found the team to be composed entirely of conceptualizers, except for one implementer — the administrative assistant. Rather than try to reach a perfect understanding, the team diversified its membership by including people with an affinity for optimization and implementation to help them reach a strategy acceptable to management.
Our research finds that because organizations tend to incentivize and select people with specific innovation styles. For example, organizations that need to get to market hire implementers and incentivize implementation behaviors; organizations that need product improvements hire optimizers and incentivize optimization behaviors; and so on. Yet, the innovation process requires all four innovation styles, or organizations risk succeeding in one area of innovation while failing on another.
Senior leaders, therefore, have a challenge (and an opportunity) to demonstrate the importance of the needed-at-the moment style — top down — to their entire organization. This is possible because an innovation style is a cognitive state and not a fixed personality trait and can be learned from training. In fact, a leader’s specific style is less important than their ability to shift, as needed, during the flow of the innovation process.
Consider Elon Musk and the role he plays at SpaceX and Tesla. At SpaceX, Elon Musk has largely exhibited a generator style: he is well known for blowing up rockets in order to find out how they work (and why they do not). He has even normalized the activity by referring to rocket explosions as “rapid unscheduled disassembles” (RUDs). By modeling the importance of generator behavior, he encourages and allows his SpaceX team to do the same. Yet, which innovation style is mission critical can change over time. At his other company Tesla, the challenge today has become innovating on how to manufacture at volume. This innovation requires an optimization mindset. Thus, Musk demonstrates the optimizer style at Tesla: when Model 3 production was drastically behind schedule, Musk was public about sleeping on the factory floor and handling direct oversight over Model 3 production.
Some leaders in our sample demonstrated an exceptional capacity to shift during the innovation process, resulting in substantial organizational performance improvements. For example, like air traffic controllers, many firefighters intensely err towards implementation. In their daily problem-solving activities, they confront situations that need their immediate action towards saving lives or resolving dangerous situations.
But in one department we studied, the new fire chief and his lieutenants felt they had antiquated views and lacked a vision or strategy for the future. As mostly implementers, the team was struggling to create a new strategy — a task that tends to be conceptualizer work. Through modeling behavior by the new fire chief, however, the team established its vision of becoming an elite department. This started by the new fire chief developing a survey questionnaire to distribute to department members as a fact-finding tool (modeling generator behavior). Leading a two-day workshop, the new fire chief and his lieutenants worked with department members to develop a long-term vision supported by six action pillars (modeling conceptualization and optimization). Committees were then created to drive each action forward (modeling implementation).
Cycling through these behaviors allowed the new fire chief to work methodically through the process with his employees to create a strategy they all bought into. As a result, the department aligned funding to increase their staffing and implemented a dual career system to reward/support individuals wanting to specialize in core competencies like hazmat emergencies, medical response, and other core specialties. This allowed them to build higher mastery level versus other departments and gain such recognition from peers.
Because employees are rewarded for doing their job well, they tend to go out of their way to avoid problems which are outside of their job description. This also means they go out of their way to avoid finding new problems, particularly problems that are more complex, require them to do more work, or require them to work with different departments. This behavior is so prevalent that some researchers have deemed the activity of problem-finding “extra-role behavior” — one that requires individuals to go beyond the boundaries of their jobs.
Our field studies suggest that there is a clear solution to this limitation: companies should make problem-finding attractive for employees by offering rewards for this activity, beyond and in addition to just providing them with the freedom to do it. In 2020, The Wall Street Journal called 3M’s 15% rule, which invited employees to spend 15% of their time working on pet projects, as “Corporate America’s Most Underrated Innovation Strategy.” In addition, 3M makes problem-finding a component of every employee’s job description by delegating responsibility, encouraging considerable tolerance of mistakes, and ensuring that at least 30% of each division’s revenues comes from products introduced from the last four years.
Having given employees that level of freedom, 3M can then explicitly reward problem-finding in a number of ways. Their “Duel Ladder System” of advancement allows employees to choose one of two parallel ladders on which to progress their careers — both with equal pay and benefits — one side of which is responsible for advancing science and products and the other side for managing people. This incentivizes employees to direct their talent where they can do the most good and removes disincentives bright researchers may have about stepping away from science (and it avoids bright researchers from turning into bad managers). 3M’s prestigious “Carlton Society” honors, often called the “3M Nobel Prize,” also recognizes those who have radically reshaped an industry. Importantly, nominations come from co-workers, and not from company management as would be typical in most firms. Problem finding is so rare in our study, that we suggest all companies create incentives that encourage employees to take part in problem finding.
Another example, from our research, involved a large engineering company serving the airline industry that was having difficulty finding new products and markets to grow. During training sessions to familiarize employees with the innovation process, we determined that the majority of employees were implementers — and not a single person was a generator. This was reflected in the corporate motto “We’re on It,” which rewarded taking action to fix short term problems. To rectify the situation, the company instituted a brand-new reward system that encouraged employees to create new product or market ideas. In this system, 100% of all projects that fell under these categories were funded by the head office; prior to this, business units had to use their own budgets.
Most business (and business school) training steers future corporate leaders towards a preference for optimization and implementation. Why? Because they tend to present future leaders with problems that we’ve already solved (the frameworks are retroactively fitted to problem-solution combinations). Dating back to 1973, management thought leader Henry Mintzberg showed that managers spend most of their time doing short-term tasks. In other words, and as our own research found, most managers are implementers. But that can change.
For instance, one way to train people is by exposing them to problem-dense environments. In a study of Japanese companies, we found that in the best performing organizations engineers and scientists hired into the R&D department began their careers in sales, not the R&D department. When we asked why, they said, “We don’t want them to think that we are going to give them problems to solve. We want them to learn the problems of the customer.” These companies also developed effective employee suggestion systems by training their employees “to be dissatisfied” with their workflow and the current way of doing this. The problems they identified in these areas were then termed “golden eggs” — opportunities for innovation and improvement — for teams to solve. The results were tracked and celebrated on a regular basis.
Another group of participants in our study benefited from an unusual type of on-the-job training. A team of managers at a fast food chain included 17 implementers, four optimizers, two conceptualizers, and two generators. Once they realized they were trying solutions without slowing down to find and define the right problem, the team changed their behavior. They relaxed their deadline for solutions and spent more time on finding facts and forming a big picture—conceptualizer and generator behaviors. While there was a number of ways to shift the team mindset from implementation to conceptualization and generation, in this case managers did this by taking shifts serving customers. Solutions were found after previously unknown problems were discovered and defined, resulting in implementation in less time than provided by the original deadline. In effect, the team created conditions — serving customers — that enabled them to think more like hands-on generators and insightful conceptualizers.
Many organizations seek innovation, but very few know how to find it. We have proposed a blueprint that leaders can follow by implementing structures, rewards, and training, as well as modeling the power of the different styles of the innovation process.
While each innovation style is critical, it is important for leaders to recognize, protect, encourage, and reward employees who are generators. But perhaps the most important factor in finding innovation is a change in mindset. Rather than viewing problems as negative obstacles, leaders can help employees see problems as opportunities for innovation — and see themselves as possessing four key behaviors that can lead to success.
AWS Europe (Zurich) Region allows customers to run workloads and replicate applications and data across distinct groups of data centers called Availability Zones. This new Region has three fully redundant Availability Zones located in the vicinity of Zurich. It offers low-latency access to applications while meeting data residency requirements.
Regions and Availability Zones
AWS has the concept of a Region. Each Region is fully isolated from all other Regions. Within each Region, they have built Availability Zones. These Availability Zones are fully isolated partitions of their infrastructure that contain a cluster of data centers. Availability Zones are typically separated by multiple kilometers to mitigate the impact of disasters that could affect data centers. The distance between Availability Zones varies between Regions. The distance is large enough to avoid having data centers impacted by the same event at the same time but close enough to allow workloads with synchronous data replication. Availability Zones are linked by redundant, high-bandwidth, and low-latency network connections. Regions are linked by our custom-built, global, low-latency, private network with exabits per second of capacity in Europe.
Unlike other cloud providers, who often define a region as a single data center, the multiple Availability Zone design of every AWS Region offers advantages such as security, availability, performance, and scalability.
Continuous Investments in Switzerland
AWS has a long history of presence in Switzerland. They have worked with Swiss customers and partners since the launch of AWS 16 years ago. The first Swiss office was opened in Zurich in April 2016 to host the growing local team of technical and business professionals dedicated to supporting Swiss customers. In 2017, the AWS network was expanded into Switzerland with the launch of an Amazon CloudFront edge location and an AWS Direct Connect location. To support this growth, a second AWS office was opened in Geneva.
AWS plans to invest up to 5.9 billion Swiss francs in the Europe (Zurich) Region from 2022–2036 as they build, maintain, operate, and develop data centers to support the projected growth in demand for AWS technologies by our customers.
According to an AWS Economic Impact Study (EIS), this investment will contribute 16.3 billion Swiss francs to the GDP of Switzerland during the same period. This includes the value added by AWS services to the IT sector in Switzerland, as well as the direct, indirect, and induced effects of AWS purchases from the Swiss data center supply chain. The study estimates that this investment will support an average of 2,500 full-time jobs annually at external businesses in the Swiss data supply chain from 2022–2036.
The new Region is available today on the AWS Management Console and for API calls.
Image source: AWS Economic Impact Study
Good ideas can be worth their weight in gold. That is why successful products are often copied. This makes it all the more important that you integrate the handling of your intellectual property into your company’s strategy.
What do you want to protect?
You can register technical inventions (patent), product names (trademark) or the shape of an object (design) for protection at the IPI. Artistic works and software (copyright) are protected from creation without
When do you need to protect?
Patents and designs have priority, you can still apply for a trademark later.
Where would you like to apply for protection?
Patents, trademarks and designs are protected only in countries where they are registered (except copyright). Think carefully about where you want to register your intellectual property. One clue, for example, is the current sales market.
Save time and money with searches
Use trademark searches and accompanied patent searches. Sometimes it is easier to pick up patent knowledge or acquire a license than to develop yourself what is already known. Searches also prevent you from infringing on the property rights of third parties.
Define who is responsible for the management of intellectual property in the company. This also includes the analysis of which property rights are needed, the application, contracts and enforcement.
Punish violations consistently
With your resources and strategy in mind, watch the markets. Consistently admonish violations by third parties.
Intellectual property in contracts
Include an intellectual property clause in contracts with employees and third parties.
Ensure in-house protection of confidential information. Divide sensitive technological know-how among several employees so that you can limit cluster risk if someone moves to the competition.
The checklist as PDF and further information can be found on the website.
Turn your protected intellectual property into money: With a license agreement, you can allow third parties to use your trademarks, patents, designs and copyrights. As the licensor, you retain the right to the intellectual property and at the same time receive royalties.
What can I license?
For example, patent, trademark, design or copyright. Depending on the subject matter, license agreements must necessarily be adapted to the specific needs. For example, is the license right exclusive, so you want to grant it to only one licensee? In addition, there is the simple license (several licensees and yourself as licensor) and the sole license (only one licensee and yourself as licensor). Take your time and don't just adopt ready-made contract templates. The law does not prescribe anything, but it is recommended in any case to conclude the contract in writing.
Use against fee
Describe exactly which property right you are granting to whom for use, to what extent (in which countries), for what remuneration and under what other conditions (with or without obligation to use). Clearly record the beginning, duration and termination of the contractual relationship. In return for the use, the licensee has to pay a fee (flat rate, percentage of sales or profit, or mixed form).
As the licensor, you are liable if the licensee is allowed to dispose of the right and this infringes the rights of third parties. Limit liability if necessary.
This is important at all times: secrecy must be agreed on confidential matters for the time before the contract is concluded, during its validity and after its termination. The right to use shall remain under the control of the licensor. Signing a non-disclosure agreement (often referred to as NDA) prior to license negotiations reduces the risk for both parties of valuable information leaking to third parties.
Defend property right
Require the licensee to defend the IP right used. After all, he benefits from your innovation. Therefore, also place the order for market surveillance.
The checklist as PDF and further information can be found on the
PreComb Therapeutics announced today that it closed its 1.3m CHF Pre-Series A Round. Biotech and deep tech-focused venture capital firms LongeVC and Kinled, in addition to family offices and private investors, participated in the investment. PreComb is developing an evidence-based therapy prediction for cancer drug discovery and therapy guidance using its patented 3DTwin® technology.
Cancer remains one of the leading killers, with about 10 million deaths worldwide attributed to the disease in 2020. While personalised medicine is gaining traction in other medical fields, only 5%–10% of cancer patients currently benefit from customised treatment plans matching their unique genetic profile.
PreComb’s groundbreaking technology generates 3D tumour twins that mimic the behaviour and characteristics of the original tumour. The 3DTwins® then undergo AI-supported testing using a broad range of cancer drugs to determine which treatments will be most effective for an individual cancer patient. In the future, physicians will be able to use PreComb to conduct fully automated tests directly in their clinics for rapid results and direct treatment planning.
“Cancer is an incredibly individualised disease,” said Jens M. Kelm, CEO and co-founder of PreComb. “Success of treatment depends largely on the unique tumour profile as well as the patient's biology. PreComb removes the guesswork from treatment protocols to ensure patients receive therapies tailored to their unique needs. We look forward to working with our new investors to advance our technology’s capabilities and reach.”
LongeVC Managing Partner and co-founder Sergey Jakimov said, “Personalised medicine is the future of healthcare. PreComb is using this technology to transform the narrative on cancer treatment and help individuals live longer and healthier lives post-diagnosis. We are proud to back their industry-defining work in oncology.”
Chairman of Kinled Patrick Aisher said, “PreComb will not only help patients receive the best treatments available but also serve as an invaluable resource for physicians and drug developers. By investing in their technology, we aim to unlock a greater understanding of cancer medicine for all.”
For 10 years, the UZH Foundation has been successfully raising funds for research, teaching and innovation – including for the Digital Entrepreneur Fellowship, which offers start-up support to help develop marketable products or applications for industry from research in the digital field.
"It was pure coincidence that an email from the university alerted me to the Digital Entrepreneur Fellowship call," recalls Merens Derungs, who was the first Fellowship grantee in 2021. At the time, he was writing his dissertation on digital equities and thought his project could fit well into the program. "With a digital share, a digital token is issued rather than a physical security. Switzerland is one of the first countries to allow this," he explains.Derungs had acquired the detailed knowledge of capital markets and their legislation, among other things, during the internship year for his bar exam in Zurich. At the time, however, he said he was not yet a fan of the crypto world and digital assets. That changed when Professor Caspar von der Crone, with whom he planned to write his dissertation, asked him to write an article on digital assets. Derungs then decided to found a startup based on the digitization of shares. With this idea, he won the first Digital Entrepreneur Fellowship 2021.
Derungs was able to profit above all from coaching. "The fellowship program provided me with a coach. He guided me through the various steps of building a startup," Derungs recounts in retrospect. He had helped him to develop the idea into a solid business concept. Based on this, Derungs founded the company Arcton a few months ago. The startup aims to build a marketplace for funding startups based on the blockchain. Through this platform, start-up companies could find investors from around the world faster and cheaper by offering digitized shares of their company. In return, investors could invest very diversified and already with small amounts in interesting startups and would also not have to wait ten years until they can sell their shares again.
In addition to coaching, Derungs was able to benefit from the Fellowship's reputation. It gave his crypto project the credibility it needed, which opened numerous doors for him, he said. The young lawyer used the start-up funding of 100,000 francs to buy licenses and software and to pay himself and his team a small salary. In addition to his co-founder Thomas Charrière, three developers in Georgia are currently working on the Arcton platform, which is scheduled to go live at the end of this year.
In December 2022, Marta Marciniak, one of this year's two Fellows, will start her program. A native of Poland, she studied psychology and is developing a mental wellness app for women. As a postdoc, she wanted to apply her psychological research in a practical way to help people. In Zurich, she worked for the research project DynaMORE - Dynamic Modeling of Resilience. There, she developed app-based interventions that improve mental health. She now plans to use the fellowship to further develop an app intervention to market readiness.
Most of the apps that already exist are not based on scientifically tested interventions and do not specifically address the needs of women. This is despite the fact that women suffer from stress-related psychological disorders twice as often as men and are additionally burdened by the hormonal fluctuations of the monthly cycle. "Thanks to the fellowship, I can fully focus on developing a mental wellness app for the market after finishing my dissertation. I will use the funds mainly to finance a team," says Marciniak. A portion would also be used for focus groups. The app is developed in close cooperation with the end users.
Marciniak and Derungs are among the winners of the fellowships and thus benefit from the financial grant and coaching. But Merens Derungs thinks applying for a fellowship is worth it even if you don't win in the end. "It helped me conceptualize my own application idea. Also, it's good practice for pitching and you get valuable feedback on the business concept."
Markus Hagmann, President of the Board of Trustees of the Hans Eggenberger Foundation, which makes the program financially possible, is also enthusiastic about the Digital Entrepreneur Fellowships. "Hans Eggenberger was a pioneer who brought radio to Switzerland. When he first demonstrated this new type of device in Zurich in 1922, which could receive music from the air, people were amazed," says Hagmann with a smile. Hans Eggenberger founded a successful company that imported electronic equipment such as radios and televisions into Switzerland, and made plenty of money from it. Since he had no children, the assets were transferred to a foundation with his name.
Back then, technology brought about major social upheavals, just as it is doing today with digitization. Especially the foundation of a startup in the field of blockchain like Merens Derungs' is highly interesting, says Hagmann. In addition, Hans Eggenberger has always been keen to support young entrepreneurs. The original mission of the foundation to promote electronics and electrical engineering has now been extended to include IT. That's why the Digital Entrepreneur Fellowship is an exciting project that fits the foundation's purpose, Hagmann said.
The Digital Entrepreneur Fellowship is an example of the new programs at UZH that specifically support innovative research. Already in 2017, the UZH Innovation Hub created a UZH Entrepreneur Fellowship in the field of biotech. The fellowship was so successful that a MedTech track was also introduced just one year later. Now this promising funding instrument has been extended to digital innovation, says Maria Olivares, head of the Innovation Hub at UZH.
However: The UZH Innovation Hub does not have its own funds for the implementation of such a project. "For funding instruments like the fellowship, we therefore rely heavily on third-party funding, i.e., donations and foundation money," Olivares says. "The UZH Foundation can provide us with professional support here. It knows the market and has a good overview of which topics can be used to approach potential target groups. With the Hans Eggenberger Foundation, it has found the perfect partner for funding the fellowship."
The UZH Foundation builds bridges between foundations, companies, private donors and patrons and university research projects that enable groundbreaking developments for society and advance the careers of young talents. "Such projects often cannot be funded with public money," says Annelise Alig Anderhalden, CEO of the UZH Foundation. The private funds raised by the Foundation enable or accelerate additional innovative research at UZH.
Numerous examples, such as research into sickle cell anemia, show that the projects supported ultimately benefit society. Until now, the severe genetic disease could only be treated with expensive gene therapy, until a team from the University of Zurich was able to prove that an already known Alzheimer's drug protects against the deadly sickling of blood cells.
The research studies on the coronavirus made possible by the UZH Foundation are a current example that clearly shows the relevance of the funded projects for our society. During the 2020 lockdown, the UZH Foundation, together with UZH, launched its first crowdfunding for a pandemic fund to finance research on the coronavirus. "Thanks to the results of these studies, schools have been able to reopen earlier," Alig says. Funds from the UZH Foundation also made possible the digitization of the letters of the Zurich reformer Heinrich Bullinger, which were thus made accessible to the public.
The launch of new funding instruments such as the Digital Entrepreneur Fellowship is intended to drive forward further innovative research projects in the digital field and encourage young researchers to develop their projects into market-ready products and applications.
Yokoy (1st), Planted Foods (2nd), and Ledgy (3rd) were the top picks of the expert jury. A selected audience of startups, investors, and key partners of the TOP 100 were present at the event, held at startup space in Schlieren. In the afternoon 100 handpicked Swiss and international investors met the startups at the TOP 100 Investor Summit 2022.
Three startups from the fintech and foodtech sectors lead the TOP 100 Swiss Startup ranking in 2022. Yokoy, Planted Foods, and Ledgy represent the diversity and potential of Swiss startups: They are, on average, three and a half years old, have already created over 420 new jobs, and have raised a cumulated CHF 153 million. For the first time since the creation of the TOP 100 Ranking, a fintech startup has taken first place, which illustrates the meteoric growth of this field in recent years. The 12th edition of the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award was organized by Venturelab and facilitated by its presenting partners Credit Suisse and Swiss Venture Club.
First place: Yokoy | Zurich | Company expenses and credit cards on autopilot
Fintech company Yokoy uses artificial intelligence to automate the entire corporate spend and corporate credit card process. The Zurich-based startup was founded in 2019 by Melanie Gabriel, Devis Lussi, Thomas Inhelder, Philippe Sahli, Lars Mangelsdorf and was ranked 20th in 2021.
Second place: Planted Foods | Kemptthal (ZH) | Turning plants into “meat”
Planted Foods revolutionizes the food industry by creating plant-based protein made of 100% animal-product-free ingredients. The vegan meat alternatives do not include any additives. Planted Foods was founded in 2019 by Christoph Jenny, Eric Stirnemann, Lukas Böni, and Pascal Bieri and ranked 37th in 2020.
Third place: Ledgy | Zurich | Setting equity for growth
Ledgy is an equity management platform that helps startups manage their cap table, employee participation plans, funding rounds, and investor relations. The ICT startup was founded in 2017 by ETH Zurich physics graduates Yoko Spirig, Ben-Elias Brandt, and Timo Horstschäfer and ranked 13th in 2021.
Ranks 4- 10
4 CUTISS AG | Zurich | Biotech
5 CREAL SA | Vaud | Engineering
6 9T Labs AG | Zurich | Engineering
7 Carvolution AG | Bern | ICT
8 HAYA Therapeutics SA | Vaud | Biotech
9 Bloom Biorenewables SA | Fribourg | Cleantech
10 Daphne Technology SA | Vaud | Cleantech
With more than 40 new nominees, the 2022 ranking offers a unique panoramic view of this innovative ecosystem, which is positioned among the best internationally. You can find the complete ranking with more information about the Top 100 startups plus a ranking of the 25 best scale-ups and several background articles in the Top 100 magazine which was again published in five languages.
“This year’s ranking reflects the strength of the Swiss ecosystem” says TOP 100 program director Stefan Steiner. “With a record 2.6 billion francs in venture capital already affected into startups during the first half of the year, it is in Olympic share, and we aim to continue on this track, despite the current crises affecting the global economy”.
10 winners of the public Voting
In parallel to expert ranking, the public was also invited to select their favourite startup in ten verticals. The winners are:
Biotech: TissueLabs Sagl | Ticino
Cleantech: SoHHytec SA | Vaud
Engineering: dimpora AG | Zurich
Fintech: Alpian SA | Geneva
Foodtech: myDropz AG | Aargau
ICT: Almer Technologies AG | Bern
Medtech: Bearmind SA | Vaud
Proptech: Popety SA | Geneva
Robotics: Sevensense Robotics AG | Zurich
Security: Strong Network SA | Vaud
Multiple events, magazines and more
Born in 2011 as a ranking and event to celebrate the best Swiss startups, the “TOP 100 Swiss Startup” has grown into a benchmark in Switzerland. Today the TOP 100 offers an Investor Summit, multiple events along the year, the only startup magazine translated in five languages and the flagship evening TOP 100 Swiss startup award, often referred to as “The Swiss Oscar for startups”, which took place in Schlieren and was again live-streamed for a global audience. The 512 Swiss deeptech startups that have been featured in the TOP 100 Ranking over the past 12 years have created 16,149 jobs and raised CHF 11,1 billion. 71 exits and eight IPOs top off the achievements of these innovators.
Many aspects of decarbonising buildings are connected to the sun. But how can new methods and building components such as façades be tested under controlled climate conditions? Dr. Arno Schlüter, ETH Prof. and Director of the new Zero Carbon Building Systems (ZCBS) Lab, had the idea to emulate qualities of the sun.
The sun is a dominant theme in building construction. How can we manage solar radiation? How do we take the regional climate into account? How can we build in a climate-neutral manner? How can we capture solar radiation on buildings to generate energy? All these questions are becoming increasingly urgent in times of climate change and are also being addressed by building technology research. Currently, Prof. Schlüter's team at the Chair of Architecture and Building Systems is tackling these questions and putting the ambitious idea of emulating sunlight and climatic conditions to test full-scale, 1-to-1 building components.
Located on ETH’s Hönggerberg campus, the research group has built a test lab that is unique worldwide. The Zero Carbon Building Systems (ZCBS) Lab consists of several test rooms and a control centre. In the respective test rooms, façade, roof, floor, and wall elements can be installed, and, subsequently, heated or cooled in a controlled way. The largest room – the climate chamber – houses a spectacular solar emulator. Using an array of LED-powered light sources that are concentrated with mirrored reflectors and mounted on a swivelling arm, the solar emulator can be moved both horizontally and vertically to mimic the sun’s path. With this method, the climate and solar radiation of different geographic locations can be created and building component performance data can be generated in much shorter time periods.
"The solar emulator allows us to replicate aspects of sunlight at an exceptional combination of quality and scale," explains Prof. Schlüter. He continues, ”…and it is a uniquely ETH project, where different scientific workshops across ETH have shared their practical know-how with our research team to ensure a future-proof facility.”
The first test object is the digitally printed polymer façade from a project of the NCCR Digital Fabrication. The optical and thermal properties of this façade can be customised. Testing with the solar emulator will provide insight into when the façade should allow sunlight through, when it should block sunlight, and when heat should pass through it. This opens up numerous possibilities for rethinking façade design, and more generally building construction and a better use of material resources.
In the future, the Zero Carbon Building Systems (ZCBS) Lab will not only be used by ETH internal research groups but will also be available to external researchers and industry partners. Most recently, a researcher supported by a fellowship from the Velux Foundation has joined the group to conduct research using the ZCBS Lab facilities. Additionally, collaborations to test innovative building components and technologies are in planning with several companies and academic partners.
According to Dr. Krishna Bharathi, the Executive Director of the ZCBS Lab, "Another very special dimension of the lab is that now, it is possible to simultaneously evaluate the technical performance of building components while observing occupant behaviour and interaction. A central aim of this new experimental facility is to keep building users in the design loop.”
21.co, the world’s leader in providing access to crypto through simple and easy to use products, today announced a $25 million round led by Marshall Wace. This round values the business at approximately $2 billion, making 21.co Switzerland’s largest crypto unicorn. With this round of financing, 21.co will continue to drive rapid, targeted growth through first-of-their-kind products, key market expansions and strategic talent acquisitions. Other investors in the round include Collab+Currency, Quiet Ventures, ETFS Capital and Valor Equity Partners.
In addition to funding, the company also announced its new parent company, 21.co. 21.co is a collection of companies, the largest of which is 21Shares, the world’s largest issuer of cryptocurrency exchange traded products (ETPs) – which is powered by Onyx, a proprietary technology platform used to issue and operate cryptocurrency ETPs for 21Shares and third parties – in addition to Amun, a token provider focused on making the DeFi world more accessible.
This round – raised during Crypto Winter – was the company’s first raise in over two years, a testament to the company’s early success and growing investor demand in the asset class. To prove such investor demand, the company ended 2021 on a nine-figure revenue run rate and has seen sustained inflows, even during down markets. Year-to-date, from September 2021 to September 2022, 21.co recorded over $650 million in net new assets, and hit its peak AUM at $3 billion in November of 2021. To support this rapid business growth, 21.co grew its headcount 75% during this period.
Launched in 2018, by Ophelia Snyder and Hany Rashwan, 21.co was founded to build bridges into the crypto world. Since then, 21.co has been on a tremendous journey to stay at the forefront of the market by providing investors with the most innovative crypto exchange-traded products (ETPs), the broadest token solutions, a decentralized software platform to create, list and manage ETPs globally and more forward-thinking solutions – all powered by free institutional-grade research to educate investors about the evolving industry.
“My co-founder, Ophelia, and I set out with a simple mission to make crypto more accessible,” said Hany Rashwan, CEO and Co-Founder at 21.co. “Now, we’re the highest valued and largest tech startup in Switzerland – and we’re still only in the early days. 21.co remains committed to building innovative products that meet investor demand as this asset class continues to gain rapid momentum.”
“The success 21.co has experienced over the past four years is truly amazing,” said Ophelia Snyder, President and Co-Founder at 21.co. “We have built an incredibly diverse team, with some of the brightest minds in crypto and brought on best-in class investors. Our drive to revolutionize the world of crypto and build bridges into the asset class is only just getting started.”
“At Marshall Wace, our culture is built around innovation – and we saw an immediate alignment of values when meeting with the team at 21.co. 21co is a first-mover in the crypto industry: the company is focused on growth, and committed to bringing new and innovative products to investors across markets – in a secure, accessible way,” said Amit Rajpal, Partner and CEO Asia at Marshall Wace. “Even in the midst of crypto winter, MW believes that 21.co has the potential to revolutionize the industry globally and we’re looking forward to working alongside the team.”
“When I first met the team at 21.co, I understood their long-term vision and truly believed the company would transform the crypto ecosystem,” said Cathie Wood, Founder, CEO and CIO of ARK Investment Management LLC, and an independent board member of 21.co. “This round is a testament to 21.co’s early success and its ability to thrive in both bull and bear markets. I’m proud to be a part of the 21.co growth story.”
Zurich – Sygnum is the first Swiss bank to open a hub in the Metaverse. With this, the world’s first bank for digital assets wants to offer investors new access to its products in the crypto-based economy. The launch is on 27 September.
Sygnum is the first Swiss bank to open a hub in the Metaverse. There, the world's first bank for digital assets will present its Web3 product innovations. In addition, this virtual branch will offer "a trusted entry point for investors into the emerging $5 trillion crypto-based metaverse economy", according to a media releasevideo provides first glimpses. The Web3 portal features a Video gewährt erste Einblicke. Das Web3-Portal verfügt über einen CryptoPunk receptionist, an interactive NFT gallery with curated exhibitions by Sygnum, its clientele and artists, and a space for events and launches. The official opening will take place with a livestream event in Decentraland on 27 September at 11am. For the "tele-transport" to this public event, Sygnum will provide a link to interested parties. mm/Café Europe
Heart attacks in women are more likely to be fatal than in men. The reasons are differences in age and in comorbidity burden which makes risk assessment in women a challenge. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now developed a novel artificial-intelligence-based risk score that improves personalized care for female patients with heart attacks.
Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and women who suffer a heart attack have a higher mortality rate than men. This has been a matter of concern to cardiologists for decades and has led to controversy in the medical field about the causes and effects of possible gaps in treatment. The problem starts with the symptoms: unlike men, who usually experience chest pain with radiation to the left arm, a heart attack in women often manifests as abdominal pain radiating to the back or as nausea and vomiting. These symptoms are unfortunately often misinterpreted by the patients and healthcare personnel – with disastrous consequences.
An international research team led by Thomas F. Lüscher, professor at the Center for Molecular Cardiology at the University of Zurich (UZH), has now investigated the role of biological sex in heart attacks in more detail. “Indeed, there are notable differences in the disease phenotype observed in females and males. Our study shows that women and men differ significantly in their risk factor profile at hospital admission,” says Lüscher. When age differences at admission and existing risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes are disregarded, female heart-attack patients have higher mortality than male patients. “However, when these differences are taken into account statistically, women and men have similar mortality,” the cardiologist adds.
In their study, published in the prestigious journal The Lancet, researchers from Switzerland and the United Kingdom analyzed data from 420,781 patients across Europe who had suffered the most common type of heart attack. “The study shows that established risk models which guide current patient management are less accurate in females and favor the undertreatment of female patients,” says first author Florian A. Wenzl of the Center for Molecular Medicine at UZH. “Using a machine learning algorithm and the largest datasets in Europe we were able to develop a novel artificial- intelligence-based risk score which accounts for sex-related differences in the baseline risk profile and improves the prediction of mortality in both sexes,” Wenzl says.
Many researchers and biotech companies agree that artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are the next step on the road to personalized patient care. “Our study heralds the era of artificial intelligence in the treatment of heart attacks,” says Wenzl. Modern computer algorithms can learn from large data sets to make accurate predictions about the prognosis of individual patients – the key to individualized treatments.
Thomas F. Lüscher and his team see huge potential in the application of artificial intelligence for the management of heart disease both in male and female patients. “I hope the implementation of this novel score in treatment algorithms will refine current treatment strategies, reduce sex inequalities, and eventually improve the survival of patients with heart attacks – both male and female,” says Lüscher.
Game developers from the ETH Game Technology Center have created an app that explains bone remodelling in a playful way. If students point the camera of their mobile device at the textbook, they find themselves transported to the bone’s surface, where they help cells break down bone tissue.
While textbooks are useful and contain valuable knowledge, their high information density often makes them inaccessible and can be off-putting. Have you ever imagined engaging with the contents of your textbook in a playful and interactive way? The AR Osteoclast app makes this possible. Game developer Jascha Grübel, from the ETH Game Technology Center (GTC), and Bernd Stadlinger, a member of the ETH AI Center and Chief of Service at the Clinic for Cranio-Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery at the Center for Dental Medicine in Zurich, designed the app to give dentists a better understanding of bone remodelling processes.
If students point the camera of their tablet or smartphone at a certain image in their Cell-to-Cell Communication textbook, they end up on the bone surface next to a blood vessel. In this microcosm, magnified by a factor of 600, players control otherwise automatic biological and biochemical processes. Each of the game’s six chapters is introduced by a voice explaining the ins and outs of bone resorption as well as the students’ role in the game.
Every year, 10 percent of our skeleton undergoes bone remodelling without us noticing. Cells known as osteoclasts break down bone tissue, while osteoblasts synthesise new bone. This is crucial knowledge for dentists, since osteoclasts play an important role not only in tooth exfoliation but also in the integration of dental implants into the natural bone structure. On top of that, they protect the jaw bones against bacterial infection and support tissue repair after a tooth extraction.
Before getting started, the game’s main developer Grübel had to come to grips with the subject matter: “I watched instructional videos and mind mapped all the cells involved as well as their functions, actions and interactions.” Since these bodily processes are automatic, Grübel had to figure out which ones to assign to the players. “For instance, when the player taps on the screen, the osteoclast releases messenger substances to attract stem cells, which then turn into osteoblasts and repair the bone,” Grübel explains. On occasion, the players receive symbolic aids: in chapter three they control two taps – one for acid and another for enzymes – enabling them to dissolve the bone with the right amount of each substance. Grübel builds these game mechanisms on a game development platform called Unity. “It’s important for a game for time to pass in the computer as well and to determine the next step in the game,” Grübel says. “Unity predetermines the background for that, such as the laws of physics that should apply in the game.” Because, at the end of the day, all game mechanisms are mathematical computations, Grübel explains.
Finding the right balance between play, science and education is the main challenge, according to the GTC’s Managing Director Fabio Zünd: “A game must be fun and a source of motivation. This means we have to simplify the biological processes without distorting them.” To this end, the game developers entered into an intense exchange of ideas with dental specialists, researchers and the publishers. “Certain moves reminded the researchers of outdated knowledge. So we had to work out together how best to represent the current state of knowledge,” Grübel reports.
Another challenge was to ensure that the app would work on as many devices as possible: “At the GTC, we usually deal with research prototypes – so they might only run on one device, but they can do crazy things,” Zünd says. AR Osteoclasts, by contrast, is an app store product intended to reach as many people as possible. In fact, the developers had to restrict the technology in AR Osteoclasts to ensure that the app would work on older devices as well. The digital artist Violaine Fayolle has compressed the detailed 3D model of the bone on whose surface the player is located to prevent devices from running hot when displaying the game. The 3D model was created by medical film producer interActive Systems. The company participated in the development of the app alongside the publishers
A study is currently underway to determine if the app improves students’ motivation and learning performance. However, the two computer scientists are both convinced that games have great educational potential. “Games can be a vehicle for information, but it’s difficult to know what to communicate,” Grübel says. “We still need more results from the learning sciences.” In striking a balance between play and knowledge transfer, the app may not have turned out as playful as Grübel had hoped; however, considering the short development time, he is pleased with the result. “Turning the contents of a book into an interactive experience is new,” he says. But the developer will get a chance to play around some more after all: together with Bernd Stadlinger, who co-edited Cell-to-Cell Communication, he plans to take the project one step further. “We would like to realise the game in virtual reality, which offers more opportunities for interaction and allows us to study how people and the computer interact,” Zünd says.
Pfäffikon ZH – Huber+Suhner is supplying Bosch with 3D radar antennas for autonomous driving. With this partnership, the technology company is continuing its expansion strategy in the automotive industry.
Huber+Suhner is to become a new supplier and development partner for German automotive supplier Bosch. According to a media release, the globally active supplier of connectivity systems has received an order to develop and manufacture radar antennas for semi-automated and automated driving.As the company writes, "the faithful mapping of the vehicle environment by means of radar" is considered the basis on the way to autonomous driving of the future. Huber+Suhner's 3D antenna technology allows driving assistance systems to recognise the driving environment from a long distance.
The antennas are equipped with metallised plastic and can determine the position, relative speed and direction of movement of other road users and objects even at higher speeds.
Huber+Suhner sees the partnership with Bosch, the world's largest automotive supplier according to the company's statement, as a milestone in the implementation of its growth strategy in the automotive industry. The company, based in Pfäffikon ZH and Herisau AR, was already selected in September 2021 by Continental, also of Germany, a leading manufacturerof driving assistance systems, as a partner for the development and series production of radar antennas.
Author: heg, Café Europe
Image source: Huber+Suhner
Empa, together with EBP and Fussverkehr Schweiz, analyzed in spring 2022 in Thalwil (ZH) how pedestrians react to automated vehicles. The automated parking assistant that had been used is the first system approved in Switzerland that moves a vehicle without a person sitting in it. The findings of the research project, which was co-financed by AXA’s Foundation for Prevention, create an important basis for prevention measures and design principles for sustainable road spaces.
Automated driving will shape everyday urban mobility in the future. However, many questions are still open, such as how pedestrians will react to automated vehicles and how a sustainable and safe mobility system can be designed for all road users. The research project "Pedestrians and Automated Driving" provides initial answers and opens up the dialog on interaction between automated vehicles and pedestrians, which is crucial for the future.
In this first phase of the project, field studies were conducted on two test days in Thalwil to determine how pedestrians react to an automated vehicle in real-life situations. To this end, parking situations were carried out with a vehicle equipped with a parking assistant. Empa experts contributed their in-depth knowhow about vehicle technology to this social science pilot study. "Safety was of central importance in the field studies. Our research team ensured that the vehicle was properly equipped and also operated correctly," explains Empa researcher Miriam Elser. Also involved in the field studies was project manager Bettina Zahnd from EBP Switzerland: "What we noticed already on the first day of the trial is that many people react to the driverless vehicle and look for eye contact with a person who is in control of the car." This finding was confirmed in the interviews: Almost 70% of the interviewees recognized the driverless car and 60% of the interviewees saw or actively looked for the person in charge.
The reactions of the passers-by varied depending on their age. For example, older passers-by sought eye contact with a responsible person more often than younger people did. In addition, older people were more wary of the new technology, whereas younger people assume that the technology works or it hardly impresses them. The results further point to a knowledge gap in the population: For only about 20% of respondents, the topic of "automated driving" was not entirely new. Many people are not yet aware that driverless technologies are already approved in Switzerland. The project team recommends, for example, an information campaign as a possible measure to raise public awareness of the topic.
Also of interest: Roughly the same number of people are neutral/positive as negative about automated vehicles. It is clear that automated vehicles will play an increasingly important role in Swiss traffic in the future and that the discourse about this must be stimulated already today.
What is Open Innovation and how can you benefit from it?
Sari Depreeuw, IP lawyer at Crowell & Moring, introduces you to the benefits of open innovation, the default rules of IP that apply in the setting and how to well prepare the handling of IP issues before and during open innovation.
The Swiss IPI maintains an IP advisory network that offers free initial consultation on issues concerning patent protection and software copyright protection: More information
Innovation ideas supported by one of the Innovation Boosters can benefit from an assisted patent search by the IPI for free: More Information
This episode is about Lean. Alfred and Patrick report on projects in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that deal with Lean in GP practices, long-term care and hospitals.
Since the last summer special a year ago with Johanna Stahl (which, by the way, is currently the second most successful episode of this podcast), a lot has happened. And so Alfred Angerer once again chats out of the closet and has invited the new member of his team and well-known Lean podcast colleague Patrick Betz.
Patrick, the grand seigneur of Lean, now combines his passion for teaching with his consulting work in his new position at the Winterthur Institute for Health Economics. Creating evidence for Lean in the healthcare sector is one of the goals that the new research assistant in Alfred's team is pursuing.
And Lean is one of the topics of this episode. Alfred and Patrick report on projects in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that deal with lean in GP practices, long-term care and hospitals.
But they also take a comprehensive look back at projects in the team that deal with value-based healthcare and digital health. And it turns out, working in team management in healthcare doesn't get boring.
Listen in to this podcast episode and learn more about the opportunities and challenges facing the Lean Optimisation philosophy and what Alfred and his team are dealing with beyond that!
The Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions (DIZH) is funding four innovation structures with a total of 16 million Swiss francs. These structures will intensify the exchange between higher education institutions in the canton of Zurich and real-world companies and partners in the long term.
The DIZH digitalization initiative launched by the University of Zurich, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, the Zurich University of the Arts and the Zurich University of Teacher Education is funding four innovation structures with a total of 16 million francs, as was reported in a press release.
The new organizational forms will focus on areas including cybersecurity and innovations in digital health, strengthening the collaboration between higher education institutions in the canton of Zurich and companies or partners in practice in the long term.
The structures include a new place at the Dübendorf Innovation Park where experts from science and industry will in future shape the future of autonomous systems, such as independently navigating drones.
The Zurich Applied Digital Health Center will also receive funds. It researches digital health solutions in the hospital context and brings together experts from clinics, research, development and industry.
A third structure being backed is the Cyber Resilience Network of the Canton of Zurich. Its goal is to increase the resilience of Zurich as a business location and its population against cyber risks.
The Digital Health Design Living Lab is the fourth structure, as a hub for participatory design in digital health care. It will design innovative digital solutions “in the interest of high-quality, human-centered and value-based healthcare” with participation from the population.
Venture Kick is supporting Akina in the canton of Zurich with pre-seed capital and expert guidance. The spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich is developing software that gamifies at-home physical therapy. The product launch is planned for 2023.
Akina impressed the jury of the startup accelerator program Venture Kick. The startup based in Zurich has been awarded pre-seed capital of 150,000 Swiss francs, as was reported in a press release. It will also benefit from access to support and an international network of successful entrepreneurs and investors.
Akina impressed with a digital therapy service, with software based on artificial intelligence. It aims to make physical therapy at home easier by placing a greater focus on gamification and guidance through feedback.
Akina will use the kick funding to hire key team members in the areas of business development, product management and regulatory affairs. The product launch is planned for 2023.
“Venture Kick offers two of the most essential resources that founders need at an early stage: venture financing and expert guidance on how to use it. For Akina, support from Venture Kick has been extremely valuable,” said Florian Haufe, Co-Founder and CEO of Akina. He founded the company together with Michele Xiloyannis after several years of research in the areas of rehabilitation technology and robotics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).
The Venture Kick accelerator program supports startups from idea to founding of a company. The Venture Kick Foundation assigned the mandate for its operational management to the IFJ Institut für Jungunternehmen, which is based in Schlieren, St.Gallen and Lausanne. ssp/Café Europe
A short message on Linkedin caught our attention: A company network “Ground-based Autonomous Systems” held a kick-off meeting. What is behind this network? We asked Martin Kyburz, CEO of the company Kyburz, which is also represented in the network.
Mr Kyburz, the kick-off of the company network "Ground-based Autonomous Systems" recently took place. What is the idea behind this?
The idea behind the company network is cross-company and cross-sector learning in a relatively new technology area of autonomous systems. We see that universities and companies are working intensively on the topic of autonomous systems and recognise synergies in various places that we would like to exploit through networking.
Why a company network and how do you bind the companies to this network?
A company network offers participating companies a simple opportunity to exchange ideas on current topics on an informal level and without obligation. Involving companies in the network is very easy: companies that are interested and support the idea and values of the company network are welcome to participate and contribute.
Which companies are currently involved and why is Kyburz also committed to this network?
We have united representatives from globally active corporations to just founded start-ups and from product manufacturers to component manufacturers in our company network. Currently, there are about 12 companies that have participated in the founding of the company network. We know of further companies that are interested and over time the company network will continue to grow. Kyburz is involved in this network because we have a great interest in the topic of autonomous systems and are convinced that a company network can have an accelerating effect for specific questions.
Is it still possible to join as a company?
Yes, for sure, as mentioned we are an open and transparent company network and are very happy to accept other companies that share our idea and values into our network at any time.
What will be the next steps in this corporate network?
The central element of the company network are the meetings, which take place three to four times a year at a participating company. The first meeting took place at our premises in Freienstein-Teufen; the next meeting will be held at the premises of another participant. The meetings have a thematic focus on which the participants exchange ideas, learn from each other and work together on solutions.
In addition to the quarterly meetings, smaller working groups can be formed on specific topics to work on challenges and solutions in a very focused way. The working groups are largely self-organised, similar to the whole company network, and the results of the working groups are shared with all participants of the network. This creates a system in which companies get involved in terms of content and benefit from the existing know-how of the network - a typical win-win situation.
The big topic of the network is "Ground-based Autonomous Systems": What are the major challenges that still need to be overcome in this area?
There are several here. Among other things, there are the investments: New technologies mean high investments in development, resources and know-how, especially in sensor technology.
Then there is the lack of industry standards and interfaces. Companies generally work on their own technologies and there is a lack of coordination of interfaces to the infrastructure (traffic control system, building technology, etc...).
However, legislation and approval procedures for pilot trials also need to be adapted, standardised and simplified, or made more efficient for all parties involved.
Furthermore, one has to look at the responsibility in case of damage, because autonomous systems need new insurance models. And last but not least, social acceptance is needed, just as all new forms of mobility require the consent of the population
Is there a website or how do you find out about the network?
A website for the company network is being planned by the Canton of Zurich's location promotion agency, which is also a co-initiator of the company network.
The network was set up on the initiative of the Canton of Zurich's location promotion department. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Markus Müller (firstname.lastname@example.org), Hightech Project Manager, directly.
Author: Eugen Albisser
Technik und Wissen: Das Fachmagazin für die Industrie
Image source: Kyburz Switzerland AG
A little over a year ago, the SAIROP partners announced their intention to jointly develop a Swiss research overview in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Now the time has finally come: SAIROP – the Swiss Artificial Intelligence Research Overview Platform – is online.
Switzerland has several internationally leading research institutions in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) spread all over the country. In addition to this, the importance and use of AI as a basic technology is steadily increasing in multiple research fields and application areas. For the first time, SAIROP now presents a detailed overview of the AI competencies in Switzerland all across the entire research landscape.
The ten partner organisations involved in the making of SAIROP surveyed the various research institutions in Switzerland and compiled information on current research projects from various publicly accessible data sources. The ongoing data preparation and curation process is complex due to the great diversity. However, thanks to the new platform, the information is becoming more accessible, and the level of detail is probably unique in Europe.
The platform is publicly accessible via sairop.swiss and was presented to an audience of industry representatives and researchers on 23 June at the Swiss Conference on Data Science (SDS2022) in the KKL Luzern. At the moment it contains data on research institutions, current AI projects started in 2021 and experts conducting research on and with AI in Switzerland. The data will be continuously complemented and updated. In addition, the platform will be enriched with further relevant information in the future to provide an even better overview of the research field and its impact on society.
SAIROP’s long-term goal is to further connect the AI research community, improve the national and international visibility of Swiss AI research organisations and provide new opportunities for domestic as well as foreign companies and research institutions to initiate joint innovation projects. For this purpose, dedicated events and further communication measures are planned.
The Swiss health system is on the verge of a trend reversal: away from cost orientation towards quality orientation.
PWC Switzerland has developed a target picture with conceptual principles, practical examples and concrete recommendations for action for Value-based Healthcare. Because PWC considers Value-based Healthcare - VBHC for short - to be the most promising approach for the transformation from cost to quality orientation, they have developed their VBHC framework for all actors, regardless of whether they are service providers, insurers, producers or legislators, and have formulated concrete recommendations for action in their latest publication.
Image source: PWC Switzerland
Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic at the latest, the term “telemedicine” has probably become familiar to the whole world. Where once there were concerns about feasibility and the needs and acceptance of users, today there are questions about implementation in existing processes and remuneration for these services.
Gian-Andrea Degen, former master student at Alfred and currently consultant at PWC in the healthcare advisory area (with a focus on digital health and telemedicine), is just the right guest to roll up the topic together and discuss the current issues and challenges.
The podcast "Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen" is the podcast on healthcare management and leadership. Alfred Angerer and Stefan Lienhard interview exciting people with whom they discuss current trends. In doing so, they are looking in a forward-looking direction, with topics such as digitalization and process optimization not neglected.
Investor clubs Startup INVEST and SICTIC join forces. Startup INVEST’s activities, its angel investors and its large group of 32 institutional investors from Switzerland and abroad are merged into the non-profit association SICTIC. Furthermore, Startup INVEST is handing over the startup days conference to the company LINDEN 3L AG.
The Startup INVEST association decided at its general assembly in March 2022 to hand over the association's activities and to dissolve the association at the end of the business year 2022. As part of the merger, SICTIC will extend its startup verticals from primarily ICT and Fintech and also accept other technology-driven startups.
Jean-Pierre Vuilleumier and his partner Daniel Bermejo are devoting themselves to new challenges. Jean-Pierre comments: “After almost 20 years, it is about time for me to start the next journey of my life. I am very thankful for having been so privileged all these years and hopefully having contributed to the development of the Swiss Startup Ecosystem. I strongly believe in giving back, that is why I will be focusing on a social project in South Africa in the coming years.” Daniel Bermejo, co-managing director at Startup INVEST adds: “I feel grateful and honoured for the confidence and trust placed in me by our board, management and members and excited for the future ahead. Looking forward to many more years of Startup INVEST’s legacy under the SICTIC & LINDEN brands.”
This succession plan preserves the pioneering work done by Christian Wenger, Jean-Pierre Vuilleumier and Daniel Bermejo at Startup INVEST since 2003 and strengthens the Swiss ecosystem by consolidating complementary efforts into the Switzerland based investor platform.
SICTIC that has local and international angel investors and institutional investors in its large investor community of more than 500 investors. Dr. Thomas Dübendorfer, president and co-founder of SICTIC, welcomes the merger: “This merger allows us to better position Switzerland on the global map for startup investors by consolidating fragmented efforts into SICTIC that becomes a super strong Swiss investor platform with international visibility and a large investor base.”
The startup days are the leading networking platform for entrepreneurial topics in Switzerland. Every year, the conference gathers well over 1’000 relevant players of the startup ecosystem of Switzerland in Berne. The conference was organised by LINDEN already in 2021 and is now fully handed over to LINDEN. Representatives of the association's board will sit on the new advisory board and support the new owners of startup days with their know-how and network. Dominik Isler, Partner at LINDEN, is looking forward: "The startup attitude is the growth engine of the entire Swiss economy, in all phases of a company's life cycle. That's why, together with SICTIC and others, we continue to develop startup days into THE outstanding conference for personalities with an entrepreneurial attitude in Switzerland."
Christian Wenger, Chairman of Startup INVEST, concludes: “We’ve closely watched the strong growth of SICTIC and it was our favourite solution to merge with them as we truly share their values. The team at LINDEN has the power, network and experience to take the conference to the next level in the spirit of the association."
For his doctorate, Johannes Weichart is developing an artificial skin that could give robots a sense of touch similar to humans. This would make them much more adept at handling objects.
One of many special human qualities is the ability to handle objects with skill and precision. This is all down to our sense of touch, which is particularly acute in the tips of our fingers. Using our hands, we are able to explore the shape and composition of objects and to feel the texture of their surface – and all without ever clapping eyes on them.
Our sense of touch is incredibly refined. Just try and get a robot to achieve a similar degree of nuance. Production robots, for example, are able to pick up and move objects with impressive dexterity. To do so, however, they first need to know where the object is – or they require additional visual information to help with orientation. Ideally, too, they need to know how sturdy an object is, and its composition, before they grab it.
Johannes Weichart has an idea that could make robots much more adept at handling objects. Weichart, a doctoral student in the Micro- and Nanosystems (MNS) group at ETH Zurich, has developed an artificial skin that emulates the sense of touch in a human finger. He believes that this can endow robots with the ability to touch and feel. What’s more, the artificial skin is pliable, which means it can be used to cover soft and unevenly formed materials – a robot gripper, for example, in the shape of a human finger.
In common with its human equivalent, Weichart’s artificial skin is equipped with a large array of receptors. “You need around one sensor per square millimetre,” he explains. Each sensor comprises various layers. Two of these are a conductive membrane and subjacent electrodes, which springs hold apart at a distance of three to four micrometres. Changes in the distance between them causes changes to an electrical signal captured by the electrodes.
Connected to the conductive membrane is a small bead. When pressure is applied to the bead, the membrane deforms – and, with it, the signal measured by the sensor.
Half of the sensors are equipped with three electrodes rather than one. These measure not only the amount of force applied to the bead at any one point but also the angle of application. This gives the skin a much more nuanced sense of touch. “It means you can feel the quality and texture of a surface and recognise when an object is slipping over the surface of the skin by sampling the sensors at high enough frequencies,” Weichart explains.
Weichart has spent the first three years of his doctoral studies demonstrating that his idea functions in principle. The challenge now is to make the skin more robust and, crucially, suitable for concrete applications. This still requires some work. “To be able to use the artificial skin in an everyday context, the sensors require a protective layer which we developed,” Weichart says. “And we also need to radically simplify the output signal. All that raw input data would overwhelm a robot. Besides, even humans don’t perceive the output of each individual receptor. We just register the overall impression.”
Despite the work ahead, the project is already looking promising. Little wonder, then, that Weichart was among the nominees for the Spark Award, which was presented last week.
Weichart tends to favour a left-field approach – as his desk readily reveals. Unlike the functional workspaces of his fellow students, his is literally surrounded by a mini jungle of houseplants.
He was also quick to diverge from the initial suggestion of his supervisor, Christofer Hierold, and his advisor, Cosmin Roman. Their idea was to develop silicon-based touch sensors. But Weichart opted to embed the sensors in a flexible substrate. That way, it will be easier to mount them onto soft and uneven surfaces. “My advisors were a bit sceptical at first,” he grins. “But, in retrospect, I think it was the right decision!”
Ultimately, it was problems with red tape that nudged Weichart in the direction of artificial skin. Freshly graduated from ETH Zurich with a degree in mechanical engineering, he first joined the company Evatec AG, where he worked on plasma processes for coating and etching integrated circuits. However, at the end of three years, the time seemed ripe for a move back into research.
His work in industry had sparked an interest in fusion technology. “But, because I come from Liechtenstein, it was difficult for me to be considered for national research programs,” he explains. In search of a reference, he turned to Hierold, who had supervised his Master’s thesis. To his delight, Hierold proposed he start his project on tactile sensor technology.
“My experience in industry has turned out to be really valuable,” Weichart says. “You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel – in fact, it’s often better to build on a technology already known.” Rather than striving for academic perfection, he aims for practical relevance: “That’s what makes me tick.” And relying on established tech can be an advantage when it comes to commercialising a new development, he says. “As a start-up, you can never be in control of the entire process chain. There are always some parts you need to outsource.”
For now, his entrepreneurial ambitions are on hold. “I’ve still got another year or so as a doctoral student, and then I’ll start thinking about my next move.” Were he to take the project forward himself – perhaps as a Pioneer Fellow – he would need to think very carefully about which area to focus on. He spies potential applications in a variety of fields, including medical robotics, telerobotics, warehouse robotics and also prosthetics. But there’s no way he can do all of these options justice at this stage of development.
Staying focused may well be his biggest challenge over the coming months. “I’m not obsessed with details,” he admits, “and I can quickly start chasing new ideas. But that can soon get out of hand.” As it is, he already has plenty on his plate: microtechnology, electronics, precision mechanics, data processing, materials integration and AI pattern recognition – all of these fields will exercise his attention for some time to come.
Regular activity beyond the lab helps keep his eyes on the prize. “I go biking and ski touring in the mountains, swimming in the lake in winter, and do boxing and mixed martial arts to help with my coordination and self-confidence,” he says. “That frees my head and helps me refocus on the job in hand.”
Digital health is driven by innovation, progress and growth and is therefore of great importance for Zurich as a business location. Products from this sector promote health and can make a significant contribution to reducing healthcare costs. With the “digital health centre bülach”, which opened today, Zurich is becoming even more attractive as a location for companies and start-ups from this sector.
The digital health sector has received a boost from the pandemic in the past two years. Digital solutions for medical and health problems are more in demand than ever. Social acceptance of the use of these products has also increased. Digital health products make it possible, for example, to accompany patients by means of long-term ECGs or sensor-based monitoring of the state of health of elderly people in their own homes. But the products are also widespread in the lifestyle sector, for example when it comes to tracking sleep or calorie consumption via smart devices.
The canton of Zurich is one of the most important hotspots for digital health in Switzerland. Around 70 companies and start-ups are already based in the canton. That is about a third of all Swiss companies in this field. With the "digital health centre bülach", which opened today, the industry now has its own hub in the canton of Zurich. "Many digital health innovations come from start-ups that exchange ideas and dare to try out new ways. I am therefore very pleased that we can contribute to better collaboration with the 'digital health centre bülach'," says Head of the Department for Economic Affairs Carmen Walker Späh. Head of the Departement of Health Natalie Rickli adds: "The pandemic has shown that there is a lot of catching up to do in the health sector with regard to digitalisation. Investments in the digitalisation of our healthcare system are important and increase patient safety."
In the "digital health centre bülach", start-ups, established IT service providers and companies from the healthcare industry connect with the aim of jointly developing practical, digital solutions for the healthcare sector. The "digital health centre bülach" is organised as an association that was founded in October 2021. Members of the board are the Bülach Hospital, the Winterthur Cantonal Hospital, the Hirslanden Group, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the Helsana health insurance company, the Zurich Cantonal Bank, the Division of Business and Economic Development of the Canton of Zurich and the City of Bülach. The latter was the initiator of the project. "I am convinced that the mutual inspiration and interdisciplinary collaboration of our members will provide a strong impetus in the digital transformation of the healthcare sector," says Mayor Mark Eberli. He has taken over the presidency of the association.
Already at the start, several start-ups and companies have joined, and over 60 others are expressing interest in becoming members. On 1 April, operations began in temporary offices. The physical proximity is important because it promotes regular and spontaneous exchange among the members. From winter 2023/2024, they will be able to move into the modern offices in the booming Glasi neighbourhood. There, around 120 workstations as well as seminar and workshop rooms will be available on an area of 1,600 square metres.
The direct contact person for start-ups, companies and partners is Stefan Lienhard. The former digital manager of the Schulthess Clinic took over the management of the association in February. "After 100 days, the 'digital health centre bülach' has already become a real affair of the heart for me. It's extremely fun and extremely interesting to experience first-hand the dynamics with which this new, heterogeneous ecosystem is developing," says Stefan Lienhard.
Dr. Christophe Vetterli is founder and Managing Partner at Vetterli Roth & Partners. He devotes himself in depth to the question of how design thinking can be used to provoke innovations in the environment of healthcare. In the podcast, the Design Thinking expert explains this successful concept in a very tangible way using a case study and shows how the proportion of interprofessional and integral collaboration in the context of a 45-minute visit between nursing and medical staff could be increased from 3 minutes to over 20 minutes and how this not only increased the satisfaction of the hospital staff.
The aim of the Innosuisse “Smart Urban Multihub Concept” flagship project is to develop a logistics concept that will sustainably reduce freight traffic in urban areas. In achieving this goal, the ZHAW, which is working together with partners from the realms of retail, logistics and science, wants to boost the quality of life in cities.
The growth in online retail in Switzerland is leading to an increase in the volume of deliveries in city areas – resulting in more congestion, air pollution and noise. The coronavirus pandemic has intensified this trend and there are no signs of this changing. According to the Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development, parcel traffic will increase by a further 75 percent by 2040, with goods traffic subsequently rising by 37 percent. Headed up by the ZHAW, the new Innosuisse flagship project wants to address this issue and relieve cities of the burden caused by ever greater volumes of traffic on a sustainable basis. The companies involved in the “Smart Urban Multihub Concept” project include H&M, Zalando and IKEA, as well as Post Schweiz AG and Cargo Sous Terrain, who are also project partners.
The targeted solution envisages interaction between three hubs. Starting the journey at a distribution centre located outside the city, goods from various retailers will be transported to a multi-functional transhipping centre within the city’s congestion zone either via road, rail or the “Cargo Sous Terrain” tunnel. From here, they will be distributed to several microhubs within the city districts. “At present, every lorry travels through the city once, distributing goods. With a hub in the city centre from which goods can be distributed locally, deliveries can be bundled much easier,” explains Maike Scherrer from the Institute of Sustainable Development at the ZHAW, which is heading up the project.
A pilot project is set to take place in Zurich, with the city itself also being one of the project partners. A multihub designed to be able to accommodate a wide range of goods is to be set up close to Zurich main train station. “The aim is for the hub to be used by a large number of partners, whereby the users only pay for the space that they actually occupy,” says Maike Scherrer. The last mile to the customer should then be covered by microhubs located in the city’s various districts. Different models are to be tested to this end. “Package boxes can, for example, be integrated into VBZ bus and tram stops. In addition, a number of local stores can act as microhubs for other stores. We would also like to test the idea of a mobile hub,” comments the project manager. “It is important that the microhubs are as close to residential areas as possible so that the recipients of the packages are able to walk to them.” After all, it will ultimately be the customers who decide whether the concept works or not.
In the background meanwhile, the hub concept’s digital backbone will ensure that the interaction between the different providers runs smoothly and that there is a transparent overview of each individual delivery. “The digital backbone integrates all information from the sender to the recipient, and in doing so allows for customer-specific communication,” explains Scherrer. An algorithm based on artificial intelligence will help to organise the shipment allocation on different means of transport in such a way that the distance covered in urban areas is kept as low as possible. Using an online auction platform, shippers are also to be able to offer free transport capacities, which in turn can be purchased by other shippers with insufficient delivery options.
A sub-project is also looking at the question of how the different project partners, including H&M, Zalando, Swiss Post and DPD, can work together, use the same hubs and send out their goods together despite being competitors. CO2 certificates or sustainability labels could provide incentive to cooperate. A comprehensive assessment framework should in future help cities to find suitable locations for distribution centres and to evaluate the impact on social, environmental and economic sustainability. The flagship project will therefore make a significant contribution to making life in cities more liveable and thus more attractive.
Traffic jams and long waiting times at junctions in city centres are part of our everyday lives – be it as pedestrians, public transport users or motorists. ETH spin-off Lumisera promises a significantly improved traffic flow with self-regulated traffic light systems.
Every major city is familiar with the problem: junctions where traffic jams and delays occur time and again. Engineers and authorities develop signal plans for the control of complex traffic light systems for every time of day and traffic volume. The aim is to find the best possible variant for all road users at any time of day. If required, green phases can be used to prioritise buses or pedestrians. This type of traffic signal control has been standard for the past 20-30 years.
Christian Heimgartner (CEO) and Stefan Lämmer (CTO) of Lumisera have taken the next step by planning the traffic flow second by second with their self-regulated traffic light systems. This means that the circuits are not programmed in advance but are continuously adapted to the traffic volume. This allows the auto-control to react quickly and flexibly to traffic situations.
The goal is still the same as before: road users should have few stops and waiting times, and traffic jams should be minimised. Of all the possibilities, the patented optimisation procedure selects the combination that achieves minimum stops and waiting times in the best possible way. The system allows prioritisation of different road users - and this completely independent of the time of day, as the traffic volume is continuously analysed. Even if unforeseeable traffic situations occur (e.g., diversions), the control system adjusts automatically.
For the continuous analysis of the traffic volume and optimisation of the steering commands, a technology is used that was originally developed and patented at the TU Dresden and the Chair of Computational Social Science with the participation of Professor Dirk Helbing. Pedestrians wanting to cross the road are detected by pressing the button at the traffic lights, as they have done until now. Buses automatically send information to the control system, and for the rest of the traffic there are cameras and/or induction loops in the asphalt. The transmitted data provide a dynamic image of the traffic volume, based on which the software controls the traffic lights.
The continuous data acquisition and the optimisation algorithm require more computing capacity than conventional traffic light systems. This is provided by an external processor that can be operated separately from the system in the control centre or on site. This means that software updates and extensions are possible at any time, independent of the life cycle of the traffic lights.
The city of Lucerne tested the system on a stretch of road with two junctions. Some 18,000 vehicles and around 700 buses travel there every day. As there are numerous workplaces in the area, there is also a considerable amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Waiting times and traffic jams were common during peak hours.
A scientific analysis of the test phase in January 2020, carried out by the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems (IVT) at ETH Zurich, delivered encouraging results. The researchers compared the new and the original traffic light system. For all road users, the average waiting time at both junctions was reduced - depending on the time of day, the savings are even considerable.
The self-regulated system has proven to be excellent and has meanwhile replaced the old control system. Further installations are being planned.
Apart from the improved traffic flow, self-regulated traffic light systems have other advantages. For example, the time-consuming pre-configuration of different signal plans for different times of day is no longer necessary. Initial observations also indicate that safety for pedestrians is increased, as they are less likely to cross the road at red lights. The system would be really interesting in the context of interconnected or autonomous driving, where vehicles constantly send signals that could be received by the system even without induction loops.
However, that is still a vision for the future. For the time being, Heimgartner and Lämmer are concentrating on the further spread of self-regulated systems. Two projects are currently underway in Switzerland and three in Germany. They also specialise in traffic assessments for public authorities, for which they can draw on many years of experience in the industry.
Author: Karin Kelly, ETH Zürich
Image source: Rolf Leeb, Redaktion «Strasse und Verkehr”, VSS, 2021
Data contains much more than just the information on the surface. With statistics, deeper cause-and-effect relationships can be brought to light. This is what Alexander Marx is researching as a Fellow at the ETH AI Center using artificial intelligence. One of his goals is to be able to make predictions regarding diabetes in children.
In diabetics, hypoglycaemia usually doesn’t occur randomly, just as a stock market price doesn’t crash for no reason. That means both are also predictable, at least theoretically. In practice, however, such forecasts have so far succeeded only in the rarest of cases. But if Alexander Marx’s project is successful, that will change for children with type 1 diabetes. “We’re working on predictive models that can detect early on if there is a risk of hypoglycaemia during the night,” explains the ETH AI Center Fellow, adding: “When children engage in vigorous physical activity during the day, their blood glucose levels can drop below a critical threshold while they sleep. With a reliable forecasting model, this risk could be avoided.”
Marx is exploring this hypothesis as part of Julia Vogt’s Medical Data Science Group. “I come from more of a theoretical background and have worked mostly with artificially generated data. The AI Center’s purpose is to bring together theory and practice, which I find exciting. I now have to make my theoretical concepts work with real data.”
Marx acquired his academic credentials at Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany. After completing a Master’s degree in bioinformatics, he stayed on there to write his doctoral thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics. His thesis examined causal discovery – statistical methods that can be used to create causal graphs from observational data, which make cause-and-effect networks visible.
One way to apply these methods is to use survey data to identify all factors that are suspected of having an effect on a particular variable. A general example would be how a person’s income depends on their age, place of residence, gender, education, marital status or number of children. Based on the correlations found, predictions can then be made for individuals who were not surveyed. Marx clarifies that to do this, it’s not even necessary to define the entire dependency chains; it’s enough to elicit the smallest set of factors required to make a prediction.
With the help of artificial intelligence based on simulated data, Marx used these methods to study how the activities of about 500 selected genes in a human cell are related. Ideally, these methods can be scaled up in the future to include all of a cell’s 25,000 or so genes. Such computer analyses of gene networks would easily and quickly provide biological and medical research with a comprehensive understanding of the processes that take place in a cell. Achieving this through laboratory experiments would require enormous effort, as the scientists would have to switch off each gene individually using genetic engineering tools and then measure how this affects the activity of all the other genes.
For the projects Marx is tackling at the AI Center, he needs to take causal discovery methods to a new level of complexity. Instead of using full observational data sets or synthetic data, as with gene expression, he now works with real data from clinical practice. This makes the task markedly more difficult, as he soon found out: “In reality, individual pieces of information, measurements, or entire data sets are often missing, and how the data is collected also always differs from hospital to hospital and sometimes even from physician to physician.”
The clinical data that Marx analyses for his prediction model in collaboration with physicians at the University Children’s Hospital Basel (UKBB) includes time series of pulse rate and blood glucose levels, as well as information on physical activities, caloric intake, insulin injections and sleep quality. It’s then a matter of filtering the data to exclude any correlations from the model that are not related to the research question.
If the forecasts for a treating physician are to be robust and comprehensible, the number of factors must be kept as low as possible. Either way, it is too early to predict whether the model will be successful in practice: “With our project, we are venturing into areas that we haven’t mastered yet with the methods available.”
In any case, the young researcher has got off to a successful start in Zurich. “When I first came here in the autumn, I felt at home very quickly. The city is very beautiful and the mountains are really close by,” he says. A passionate rock climber, Marx particularly likes being so close to nature, especially the mountains. “Climbing lets me switch off and focus my attention completely on the grips. There’s also the climbing community – I like to do things together with other people.” In Saarbrücken, he was far away from the mountains and so mainly did bouldering indoors. Now that he’s based in Zurich, he’s looking forward to being able to visit alpine terrain more often.
Marx likes the AI Center just as much as he likes the city of Zurich and its surroundings: “The Center is extraordinarily international. There’s also a great variety of subject areas. It’s impressive and inspiring to be able to have peer-to-peer discussions with leading authorities from different scientific disciplines as a normal part of the daily routine.”
The AI Center’s interdisciplinary character is not limited to social interaction, however. Alongside bioinformatician Julia Vogt, Marx has a co-mentor in Peter Bühlmann, who specialises in high-dimensional statistics. These can be used to examine data sets in which many attributes are associated with each object. This includes the diabetes data that Marx analyses. In addition, there is also an established collaboration with the Biomedical Informatics Group led by Gunnar Rätsch, who conducts research at the interface of machine learning and bioinformatics.
Marx himself is active in multiple subject areas. He has another project in which he explores what’s known as multimodal learning. Here, the goal is to find commonalities in data from different sources. For example, he combines results from positron emission tomography (PET), which produces a 3D visualisation of anomalies in tissue metabolism, with results from X-ray-based computed tomography (CT), which reveals density anomalies in layers of tissue.
A combination of the analysis of the two imaging methods, automated by machine learning, could drive major advances in tumour diagnostics. The vision is an AI system that finds the commonalities in the two data sets and applies them to issue reliable diagnoses and prognoses.
At the moment, Marx is looking forward to his first lecture course, which he will give this coming Summer Semester together with colleagues from the AI Center. “I’ve always enjoyed working with students, and the Master’s students at ETH are at a very advanced level. The discussions always generate input that I hadn’t considered myself,” Marx says. His fellowship thus allows him not just to hone his scientific skills, but also to gain initial experience as a lecturer.
Marx doesn’t yet want to venture any concrete predictions about his own future, saying: “After my first experiences here, I’m confident that my time at ETH will prepare me excellently for both career options – academia and industry.”
The ZHAW is researching with Swiss universities and industry partners how hospitals can implement the digital transformation. The Innosuisse flagship project “SHIFT” runs until 2025.
Modern forms of organization, digital technologies such as virtual reality or artificial intelligence, and the networking of processes and data can turn the hospital into an intelligent system and increase quality and efficiency. For three and a half years, a consortium led by the ZHAW is researching how this transformation to the hospital of the future can be implemented - together with four other research partners, around 20 hospitals and 24 industry partners. The research project "Smart Hospital - Integrated Framework, Tools & Solutions" (SHIFT) runs until June 2025. It has a total budget of 5.7 million Swiss francs and is supported as a flagship project by Innosuisse, the Swiss agency for innovation promotion.
Hospitals are the central and largest players in the healthcare system in terms of costs. "Accordingly, we have a particularly effective lever here to better tap the potential of digitalisation. Within the framework of SHIFT, we can, in a sense, develop a blueprint for the digital transformation of the entire healthcare system," explains ZHAW health economist Alfred Angerer, one of the two co-leaders of the research program.
Digital technologies help hospitals to better cope with challenges such as cost pressure, demographic change or higher quality demands. One example is data-based forecasting models for predicting, planning and optimizing workforce scheduling. In addition, sensors and apps can, for example, help to promote physical activity in patients after surgery and provide healthcare professionals with corresponding data for monitoring treatment goals.
"The 'Smart Hospital' is thus characterised, among other things, by more proactive care for patients and by putting people even more at the center of processes," says Sven Hirsch, co-leader of SHIFT and head of the ZHAW Digital Health Lab. Digitisation will generally increase the possibilities for detecting diseases earlier or even preventing them. "With their help, we can also adapt the treatment even better to the patients. For example, we can discharge some of them earlier from the hospital to their familiar environment at home and still continue to treat them," adds Jens Eckstein, internist at the University Hospital Basel and Medical Director of SHIFT.
The research program comprises three areas: In the first, research is being conducted into how inpatient treatment in hospital and outpatient follow-up care for patients at home can be seamlessly linked with the help of digital technologies. The second is about developing solutions to further strengthen the ability of staff and patients to act in everyday hospital life. The third area concerns the development of effective and efficient hospital management processes.
The Innosuisse flagship project SHIFT is led by the Institute of Health Economics of the ZHAW School of Management and Law, together with an interdisciplinary ZHAW team from informatics, health, data analysis and process design. In addition to the University Hospital Basel, the Universities of Basel and Zurich, the FHNW and the participating hospitals, 24 industrial partners contribute to the integration of the project into practice. With its Flagship Initiative, Innosuisse promotes innovations in areas that are relevant to a large part of the economy and society. SHIFT is one of the 15 research projects approved in the 2021 Flagship call.
On 1st of April, the “Digital Health Center Bülache” (dhc) was opened. Stefan Lienhard, managing director of the “Digital Health Center” Bülach and co-host of “Marktplatz Gesundheitswesen”, tells us what exactly is behind the dhc Bülach and why it is worthwhile for start-ups, software developers, hospitals, insurers and others to be part of it in order to jointly develop new, practical solutions and thus drive forward the digital transformation in healthcare.
The hospital of the future will be different from the one we know today, and digital innovations will make a major contribution to this. The central question now arises: “How can the idea of innovation be brought into the hospital and implemented accordingly?”
Alfred Angerer's podcast guest today, Maximilian Grimm - Innovation Manager at the Kantonspital Baden (KSB) and Head of the Health Innovation Hub - has been finding answers to these questions for three years now and is actively involved in shaping the KSB into a smart hospital. Always driven by the attitude, "Healthcare is going to change and we want to know what direction it's going in." In his hub, the innovation manager (with a background in business administration and public policy) is primarily concerned not only with developing strategic concepts and viewing innovations as castles in the air, but also with actively driving them forward with visionary and competent partners in the hospital. For this purpose, innovative projects are carried out with start-ups, research partners and others, with the aim of becoming a better hospital, building synergies and learning from others.
Listen into this podcast episode to learn more about how KSB is transforming into the smart hospital of the future with the Health Innovation Hub and what tips Maximilian Grimm shares to pave the way towards a better healthcare system.