As a vibrant city for digital innovation, Zurich has many advantages. At the New Year’s Gathering of the Zurich Chamber of Commerce panelists agreed that the city won’t become a copy of Silicon Valley, but rather must find it’s own identity as digital innovation hub. 

Switzerland and Zurich have some great challenges ahead in 2016, especially in light of the heightened tensions with Europe, according to Regine Sauter, director of the Zurich Chamber of Commerce. At the New Year’s panel “Zurich – from the Limmat City to Silicon Valley”, the panelists  discussed that the city has many great assets that can be leveraged towards taking on a leading role within the digital transformation. Sunnie Groeneveld, Managing Director of DigitalZurich2025 remarked: “Zurich has its own culture. It is highly unlikely that it will become a copy of Silicon Valley.”

An advantage Markus Gross, ETH Professor for Computer Vision and Director of Disney Research Zurich, highlighted is the world-class technical education ETH Zürich provides. „Innovation is the most important resource for Switzerland.“, he said. Additionally, he also remarked on the strong sense for quality the Swiss inherently have. Both these things provide a solid foundation, upon which Zurich and Switzerland can build the right conditions for digital innovation.

It is paramount to be adaptable and flexible. Digital companies are frequently born global, and require good economic and political conditions to scale their business. The experts on the panel agreed that the situation regarding the shortage of skilled professionals in Switzerland is problematic. And that less bureaucracy for bringing foreign talent to Switzerland as well as new education models are important to secure a bright and economically prosperous future. Entrepreneur Matthias Sala from Millform further suggested that the local startup scene should increasingly professionalize itself.  Sunnie J. Groeneveld mentioned that within the month of January DigitalZurich2025 would announce the launch of an important initiative to further strengthen the startup ecosystem.

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This text was originally published in German on the website of the Zurich Chamber of Commerce.

Photo impressions from the event can be found on the Flickr Gallery.

Sunnie Groeneveld

Author Sunnie Groeneveld

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