The great evolution
2022 marks an important phase for digitalswitzerland with work on further strategy refinement and a new direction. The appointment of new Managing Director Stefan Metzger in January 2022 highlights a transition to a stronger focus on impact with six priority activities to make Switzerland one of the leading digital nations in the world. digitalswitzerland is dedicated to supporting Switzerland’s digital transformation as a leading and fertile breeding ground for digital innovation.
“Times of change create new opportunities. And there is no doubt that digitalswitzerland is experiencing an exciting evolution with every year that passes. I look ahead to the next 12 months with enthusiasm and optimism. As a team and as a nation, we have overcome many challenges in recent times. The continued fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and rapid digitalisation has created a ‘new normal’ that shapes the way we live. Our strategy embraces ambiguity and will use it to our advantage. It allows flexibility and freedom, while also keeping a laser focus on our areas of impact. We will challenge ourselves to question how all regions of Switzerland and every actor in our society can play an active role in digitalisation for future prosperity and success.“
– Stefan Metzger, Managing Director digitalswitzerland
The refinement of the strategy, known as Strategy 2025, defines the key success factors that make up a digital nation. These will be strongly promoted by digitalswitzerland and other key players. digitalswitzerland’s priorities for 2022 are focused on the following key areas of impact:
Education, Cybersecurity, e-Health, e-Sustainability, strengthening regions and SMEs and lastly, cloud availability and infrastructure. We concentrate on enablement, collaboration and orchestrating united thinking on these important topics.
The merger between digitalswitzerland and ICT-Switzerland, which took effect on 1 January 2021, resulted in a distribution of Association members and politically-neutral Foundation Partners. Members of the Association play an active role in bringing digitalswitzerland projects to life – including political ones. The digitalswitzerland Foundation provides an open and independent forum for neutral debates around digital change.
At our Annual General Assembly on 27 May 2021, Sascha Zahnd was elected the new President of digitalswitzerland. He succeeds Ivo Furrer, who stepped down after three years in office.
“SMEs are integral to what makes Switzerland’s economy unique and make up over 99% of companies and create two-thirds of the jobs in our country. We must make sure that SMEs are equipped to embrace the digital future. Digital literacy and the opportunity to avail of new skills and competences, spread across all regions of the country will help to foster growth and future success. Digitalisation continues to push every nation’s boundaries of what is possible. Switzerland needs to step up to this challenge and continue to innovate to remain competitive. Our 2025 strategy is underpinned by mobilising the strength of our regions, and SMEs that can be elevated to the next level by embracing digitalisation. We must act now.“
– Sascha Zahnd, President digitalswitzerland
In order to remain competitive, Switzerland’s most important resource is education. The last twelve months have seen the team and our supporters and network collectively tackle the challenges that face the Swiss education system across all age groups. We continue to champion lifelong learning and new skills, promote diversity in the workforce and create flexible paths for education.
digitalwitzerland’s 2021 output:
The partnership with the association ICT-Berufsbildung Schweiz, which aims to actively counter the ICT skills shortage in Switzerland, continued to be at the forefront in 2021. Jointly, we shape ICT vocational training in Switzerland for competent ICT professionals.
Striving for balance
When it comes to activities in STEM, we are fully committed to moving the dial forward on female attainment in STEM. This topic is in immediate need of attention. For an international comparison, Switzerland has one of the lowest percentages of women graduating in STEM fields. In 2017, women accounted for 22% of STEM degrees in Switzerland. In the OECD, only Chile has a lower proportion of women. The percentage of women entering STEM degree programmes in Switzerland increased from 28.2% in 2010 to 31.2% in 2019. There is still huge work to do in the area and at this rate of growth, it will take until 2074 to equalise the gender balance in STEM majors.
digitalwitzerland’s 2021 output:
In 2021, the STEM campaign launched the previous year by digitalswitzerland and Pro Juventute continued with enthusiasm. The aim of the campaign is to bundle existing STEM campaigns and actions in order to significantly raise awareness of the opportunities of STEM career choices nationwide.
Our Future Skills campaign reaches out to young people and showcases inspirational role models who have chosen STEM careers. Meet our 12 Role Models on our dedicated playlist on YouTube. To address our skills shortage, we must mobilise younger generations and effectively communicate the advantages and opportunities of STEM. 80% of the ICT workforce comes from ICT apprenticeships, highlighting the projected skills shortage.
This campaign has the aim to promote STEM as a key part of the solution to address the exciting and pressing challenges facing our world. We also used the last 12 months to reach youth and new audience groups through various channels. Our Future Skills campaign resulted in 10’000 + combined views on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
The Boost Programme
The future will depend on how we are shaping it. But in order to proactively co-create the digital world, we need to invest in the digital literacy of our society and the education of the next generation to create empowered citizens in a digital age. There is a lack of investment in lifelong learning: only 0.8% of personnel costs and 0.8% of working time are spent on lifelong learning in Switzerland.
digitalwitzerland’s 2021 output:
Since May 2021, the Boost Programme supports the digital upskilling of employees in Switzerland for the second time. Special focus is given to least-qualified employees and the promotion of basic digital skills. The programme is led by digitalswitzerland and UBS and is open to SMEs, large companies and self-employed individuals based in Switzerland.
Lifelong learning offers Switzerland the opportunity to remain competitive. Successful re-skilling typically yields productivity gains of 6 to 12% and is a real driver of long-term success. During the 2021-2022 edition, an impressive 131 individuals were admitted to the Boost Programme. We are proud that since the 2020 launch, 243 people have benefited from digital training.
Each individual takes away something different in terms of training and testimonials from Reto Sidler and Johanny Pestalozzi bring to life the unique commitment of each candidate to their digital future. Over CHF 80’000 has been committed to beneficiaries since May 2021 and we look forward to even greater reach and success as the year unfolds.
Leap Digital Demo Day
At the annual Leap Digital Demo Day digitalswitzerland members and partners were inspired by the 15 plus collaborative innovation projects. We presented and celebrated the existing thriving member-initiated projects within the Leap ecosystem.
Privacy Icons emerged as the winner from six contenders. Their innovative solution has created a Swiss standard for data processing based on pictograms & bots that enables a simplified usage of personal data. More than 100 guests from the Swiss economy and research participated in the public online event, via live stream. The goal of the collaboration is for diverse teams from different disciplines and industries to jointly master transversal challenges with digital, sustainable and clearly defined innovation projects
Circular Economy & Digitalisation
In 2021, digitalswitzerland and sanu durabilitas published a joint whitepaper, exploring how digital technologies can become key to the circular economy and bring important benefits to all stakeholders.
The publication entitled; “Two megatrends leading towards a Switzerland of the future – the interplay of circular economy and digitalisation” highlights the state of development of innovative solutions, supporting policies and frameworks in Switzerland, and which products are already pioneers in this area.
Many stark facts were put under this spotlight in this publication which calls for change including the following: 100 billion tonnes of materials enter the global economy every year (Circle Economy, 2021), of which 87 million tonnes enter the Swiss economy (Empa, 2021).
4T-DLT gaining momentum
On 1 August 2021, Switzerland became one of the first countries in the world to enact legal regulations for blockchain technology. This creates legal certainty and enables innovation and growth. Switzerland is one of the leading locations in the area of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain.
2021 was a year of intense activity and milestones for “4T-DLT” initiative, which emerged from digitalswitzerland’s innovation programme.
During the year, four short educational videos were released explaining the cornerstones of a trustworthy Swiss digital data infrastructure. Under the umbrella of digitalswitzerland, members pursue the approach of federated, collaborative innovation with the intention of strengthening Switzerland as a leading financial centre and global innovation hub for DLT and FinTech projects.
Another important goal was reached with the release of the whitepaper: The Four Elements of Trust of a Reliable and Interoperable DLT Infrastructure. Launched in 2021, the whitepaper sets out the technical and legal framework for building a secure, interoperable, reliable and trustworthy digital infrastructure. This is also intended to provide the basis for the future implementation of standards for products and services required for decentralised financial markets.
In 2021, Innosuisse approved the WISER project with CHF 4.8 Mio for the next four years. digitalswitzerland brought together 14 leading industry and research partners to jointly build the world’s largest open source ecosystem for CO2 emissions accounting made in Switzerland. This project focuses on enabling decarbonisation and is digitalswitzerland’s biggest project since its inception. Against the backdrop of the Paris Climate Agreement, we are taking a closer look at the ambitious net zero goals that Swiss organisations have set for themselves.
Stephanie Tauber Gomez, Innovation Lead from dCH explains in this video the vision of WISER and how to join.
“With the WISER flagship, we intend to address and solve two transversal challenges that need to be considered on the way to a net zero Switzerland: simplifying the analysis and exchange of data on GHG emissions from various stakeholders to then enable more efficient, informed & automated actions to tackle climate change.”
– Didier Beloin-Saint-Pierre, Scientific Lead from Empa
The initiative counts private companies, cities and research institutes as partners who will jointly design use-cases to implement the proposed solutions.
Digital Days 2021 goes hybrid
At Digital Days and during the six-week run-up, more than 100’000 people were interested in 700 events that took place both online and at more than 30 venues across Switzerland. Digital Days also offered viewers a varied 18-hour livestream programme on two channels. There was something for all ages and interests.
#HerHACK Female-led Hackathon
#herHACK – the biggest female-led Hackathon in Switzerland, mobilised female brain power and creativity to come up with prototypes and digital solutions for a more sustainable future. Over 200 women took on seven challenges, bringing seven teams to the final round. Ideas and solutions flowed with the result that three teams celebrated; Team Iconics with a solution for sustainable nutrition, Team Full Snack Developers and Team Watercount.
Digital Economy Award
At the Digital Economy Award, more than 1’000 guests from the digital industry, research, business and politics celebrated the digital achievements of the year. The award ceremony took place at the Hallenstadion Zurich as part of a gala dinner. Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter delivered an inspiring opening speech and reminded guests of the importance of active participation in shaping our digital future; “Digitalisation must serve people – and not the other way around.”
A 40-member expert jury chose the deserving winners. In addition to the awards in the categories Digital Excellence, Digital Innovation of the Year, Highest Digital Quality and The Next Global Hot Thing, we celebrated two NextGen Hero winners. These inspiring personalities under the age of 25 play a significant role in shaping Switzerland’s digital future.
Keeping SMEs safe in the digital space
Did you know that ⅓ of all Swiss SMEs have already been the victim of a cyber attack? This worrying statistic calls into focus the immediate need to support and educate the Swiss population on the dire consequences of a cyber breach.
Successful CyberSeal Launch
Tackling this challenge head-on led to the successful creation and launch of the CyberSeal. It certifies IT service providers who ensure their customers an appropriate level of cyber security by taking the necessary technical and organisational measures. The seal of approval increases the digital security of SMEs and raises digitalisation to a higher level of quality. The CyberSeal seal of approval is valid for three years and in the pilot phase, 11 companies were certified. A successful start and with great ambitions for 2022 and beyond.
Study on digitalisation and cybersecurity in SMEs 2021
Together with Mobiliar, FHNW, SATW and Allianz Digitale Sicherheit Schweiz, a representative survey of SME CEOs throughout Switzerland was conducted in 2021. The study “Home Office and Cybersecurity in Swiss SMEs” shows that although the majority of executives are more or less aware of cyber threats, the general level of knowledge about cyber security still needs to be improved.
While a quarter of the companies surveyed were affected by cyberattacks in 2020, more than a third were in the second survey. The implementation of technical measures against cyberattacks is at a high level. However, there is much potential in the implementation of organisational measures such as conducting security audits and employee training.
Cybersecurity quick check for SME
The security of citizens, the state and companies in the virtual space remained a key concern during 2021. We want every organisation, especially SMEs to question how well their company is protected and prepared against attacks from cyberspace? The online quick check helps to determine the current situation. A great success of the last 12 months is that this service for SMEs reached 2’000 individuals in 2021.
The Cybersecurity Committee which consists of 38 members and met four times a year during the course of 2021. In the meetings of the Cybersecurity Committee, the current developments in the implementation of the Confederation’s National Cyber Strategy were discussed with the federal representatives. In addition, there was an exchange on the general threat and security situation as well as a report on current projects and a mutual exchange of experiences.
Switzerland: a high quality startup location
Switzerland is one of the most attractive countries in the world when it comes to access to venture capital for Startups. And to demonstrate the point, 2021 brought exponential growth with over CHF 3.1 billion invested in startups. When we compare the year 2020, CHF 2 billion of investment was made. Switzerland also ranks first in the Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for more than ten years in a row. It is no surprise that this impacts startups positively, especially in technology transfer and early-stage financing. However weaknesses exist in digitization and accelerating growth. These areas must be addressed to ensure Switzerland remains competitive on the global stage.
Swiss Startup Battle (Digital Days)
15 selected startups from Switzerland showcased how they want to change the future and create impact. The jury and the audience decided on the 5 finalists, who pitched in front of an exclusive jury for the win of CHF 10’000 and AWS credits. The startup that took home the recognition of the public vote was Amplify, while the overall and grand prize winner was Smeetz.
8x ScaleUp Bootcamps
The ScaleUp Bootcamps offered Swiss and international startups unique business development opportunities. The 2021 matchmaking event brought together 244 industry leaders and startups.
We welcomed a total of 244 participants with an average of 30 participants per bootcamp. For the 1-to-1 meetings, there were a total of 359 participants with an average of 45 per bootcamp. Finally, there were 137 follow-ups planned by participating corporates with an average of 3.3 per corporate and 73% can leverage the contacts they made during the SUB in the future.
ScaleUp Cruise Zurich
180 people came together to cruise beautiful Lake Zurich: 70 scale-ups, 30 investors and 50 startup CEOs. Together with Samuel Müller (Scandit), Lea von Bidder (AVA), Alain Chuard (Wildfire), Dominique Mégret (Swisscom Ventures) and Gina Domanig (Emerald Technology Ventures), the scaleup playbook and the focus on recruitment and fundraising took centre stage at the event.
Swisstech: CES Las Vegas virtual
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 took place virtually for the first time in 50 years. Switzerland presented itself under the umbrella of Swisstech with 23 startups. To ensure an intensive digital experience, S-GE and Swisstech partners Presence Switzerland, Innosuisse, swissnex, digitalswitzerland and the Swiss Business Hub USA have organised a virtual stage.
Hannover Messe goes virtual
With Hannover Messe 2021, the world’s most important industrial trade fair took place from 12 to 16 April in a purely digital format, and Switzerland was once again represented with a national pavilion. From unmanned helicopters and the use of the latest models of artificial intelligence to tube machine producers, the Swiss online exhibit had a lot to offer.
The Federal Government has outlined its Directional Decision for the E-ID 3.0 by calling for a Swiss e-ID ecosystem, based on state-operated infrastructure. The new Expert Studio format was launched to bundle the existing knowledge on the e-ID ecosystem.
GITEX Parliamentary trip
Exploring the Middle East’s vibrant innovation ecosystem and meeting digital pioneers from around the world: The 9th Parliamentary Seminar took place on 16-17 October 2021 on the occasion of Dubai World Expo and GITEX Technology Week in Dubai. Besides visiting both exhibitions, the participants could expect interesting presentations, discussions and meetings.
digitalswitzerland advocates for clear understanding and favourable framework conditions enabling the successful digitalisation of Switzerland. Political positions taken by digitalswitzerland reflect exclusively the opinion of the digitalswitzerland association and its members, and not the position of the foundation’s partners.
- 26 February 2021 – Statement on the amendment of the Federal Act against Unfair Competition (UCA): Read the statement (only in German)
- 25 March 2021 – Statement on the Federal Act on the Use of Electronic Means for the Performance of Official Duties (EMBaG): Read the statement (only in German)
- 17 August 2021 – Statement on the redesign of e-voting trials. To the press release and statement: German and French
- 15 September 2021 – Statement on the amendment of Ordinance 2 to the Labor Code: To the media release and statement (German and French)
- 14 October 2021 – Revision of the Ordinance to the Federal Act on Data Protection: Read the statement (only in German)
The following two position papers were published in 2021:
- 15 March 2021 – Letter regarding the political business “Provisional judicial opening, adaptation to changed business practice (digitalisation) [19.3448, Dobler]: Read the statement: German version, French Version
- 13 October 2021 – Public consultation on the “e-ID mission”: To the press release and statement
Public Affairs Committee
Our Public Affairs Committee consists of 27 members and had six meetings in 2021. The Public Affairs Committee is responsible for the discussion and evaluation of political business in digital policy. Where necessary and appropriate, digitalswitzerland’s concerns are communicated to politicians and the public in the form of statements, position papers or at events.
ePower session event: 28 September 2021
In the national parliament, we have two parliamentary groups that deal with topics of digital politics: the parliamentary group ePower – ICT for Switzerland and the parliamentary group digital sustainability Parldigi. Together, we regularly organise session events on current digital policy issues.
- Regulation of the Internet: Between social responsibility, censorship and feasibility.
Read the review: German version, French version
- digitalswitzerland Session Event Monday, 14 June 2021 | Can Switzerland go digital? Lessons from the crisis. Read the review: German version, French version
Public Dialogue | Digital Days
The countdown to the Swiss Digital Days 2022 is really on. This year’s event marks a return to physical experiences for the first time in two years. Taking place on 5 September – 23 October 2022, a pop-up installation will accompany local activities in seven regions of Switzerland.
eHealth under the microscope
eHealth will remain a strong focus for digitalswitzerland. Switzerland’s healthcare system is the second most expensive healthcare system in the world. Only through a common national vision to digitalise the healthcare system successfully can we move forward and reduce healthcare costs. Currently in the ideation phase, the team is conducting interviews with members and experts from the Swiss healthcare system. When it comes to events, an exciting panel discussion will also take place at the WEF Breakfast, hosted in the ETH Pavilion with all key healthcare players in May.
When we look to the future, we will further expand the reach of digitalswitzerland in the regions. Central Switzerland will continue work on a roadmap to establish activities. A close consultation process will be pursued with Cantons and existing initiatives. The possibility of joint activities with the startup initiative *zünder (Central Switzerland Founders) are under evaluation. In Ticino, the spotlight remains on member acquisition and relationship building to create even more impact.
The last months have been a hive of activity for our member relations team. digitalswitzerland acquired 16 new members who now join our 200+ strong network. The newly refined strategy will continue to place a strong focus on attracting SMEs and regional organisations. Continuing to push our boundaries and reach, in the next quarter, we will focus on the players in the pharmaceutical industry.
A future of opportunity
Our digital future is dependent on how we adopt or reject new thinking and technologies. We will embrace the remainder of 2022 with enthusiasm to bring our new strategy to life, and invite the Swiss population to join us. A warm thanks to our members and their support of our mission. This allows us to refine and sharpen our 25 Swiss-wide initiatives to deliver even more impact.
Explore our Annual Report Archive for past editions.