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The Swiss DLT Initiative: empowering collaboration by building bridges

After three successful years, the 4T-DLT initiative is ready to fly on its own. Look back at the key highlights of this initiative on distributed ledger technology which could not have happened without the great support from our esteemed members as well as technical and legal experts.

Under the umbrella of digitalswitzerland, MME Legal and Swisscom launched the 4T-DLT initiative in January 2021, with the ambition to combine technical and legal standards to create an open repository, with the ultimate goal of building a secure, interoperable and reliable Swiss Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) infrastructure. 

The initiative quickly gained momentum, which led to SwissCaution and SDX joining the endeavour in March 2021, contributing knowledge and expertise. The four organisations became stakers, who contributed with funds and resources to the development of the initiative’s activities.

Raising awareness within the population with educational videos on the four pillars of trust

In April 2021, five short educational videos were released, outlining the foundation for a trustworthy Swiss infrastructure for digital data. MME and Swisscom gathered industry leaders and experts from academia to help create these blueprints outlining the four central pillars of a secure DLT infrastructure and combining the technical and legal spheres

To learn more about the videos and the contributors, read the article “4T-DLT” – Swiss Initiative Defines Four Pillars of Trustworthy DLT Ecosystem

Navigating Trust: The essential guide to a secure and interoperable digital infrastructure

The 4T-DLT initiative published a white paper in September 2021. Broken down into the 4 Trust pillars, the authors provide fundamental information on the technical and legal framework to establish and operate a secure, interoperable, reliable and trusted digital infrastructure. The white paper is both a navigation guide and a source of knowledge for users, advisors and authorities. 

The set-up of a new comprehensive, interoperable and reliable DLT ecosystem based on Swiss quality standards requires cooperation across companies, organisations and experts as well as interactions with policymakers and regulators. This will help citizens leverage the potential of DLT technology by enabling the independent storage of digital information, values and rights, as well as their straightforward, legally secure and efficient transfer. Ten principles have been defined, which all DLT interfaces should adhere to in order to achieve effective, secure and flawless communication. This is the overall aim of the different activities within the initiative. Find more insights in this interesting article.

Enabling dialogue: Highlights from the CMTA & DLT Event

In March 2022, Capital Market Technology Association and digitalswitzerland’s 4T-DLT initiative joined forces and gathered 80+ experts in Zurich for an insightful event to strengthen collaboration and exchange insights. This gave the DLT community a chance to connect on a deeper level, network and create partnerships.

Read more about the event or check out our gallery.

Empowering the community with the launch of a platform

The 4T-DLT website was created in May 2022. This platform was designed to enable users to find information, share resources and engage with the community. It enabled the community to add their own events and blueprints, exchange with their peers on the forum, as well as define important terms together. Over the months the community grew steadily until reaching over 200 members.

Following this willingness to collaborate and share perspectives, digitalswitzerland organised a meeting; gathering experts in Distributed Ledger Technology and Digital Assets. Capital Market Technology Association, Digital Assets Switzerland, Suisse Blockchain, Swiss Blockchain Federation, VNTR by Postfinance, TBTA and 4T-DLT experts discussed joint synergies to transform Switzerland into a leading DLT hub. As a result, digitalswitzerland created a LinkedIn Group to share events, insights and perspectives on the DLT landscape. 

Enabling organisations to grasp DLT potential and apply it to their business 

In June 2023, digitalswitzerland organised a learning event in Bern, where digitalswitzerland’s members could learn from their peers on topics such as digital assets or tokenisation of company shares. We had the chance to hear from Hochschule Luzern, DFINITY Foundation, daura, SDX, Swiss Post, Magic Tomato and Taurus. 

DLT ecosystem is ready to fly on its own

The power of collaboration, innovation and determination enabled the 4T-DLT initiative to drive positive change. Thus, digitalswitzerland will focus its resources on other topics which still require collaboration and innovation to transform Switzerland as a leading digital nation.

We would like to warmly thank all the experts who contributed to this successful initiative:

Shapers: Dr. Luka Müller-Studer, Harald Baertschi, Sebastian Bürgel, Yannick Hausmann, Dr. Jacques Iffland, Patrick Oltramare, Fedor Poskriakov, Dr. Mattia Rattaggi, Patrick Salm, Adrien Treccani and Gino Wirthensohn

Contributors: Guillaume Gabus, Rolf W. Guenter, Nathan Kaiser, Travin Keith, Aurelia Nick, Bruno Pasquier, Orkan Sahin, Marc Stammbach, Jade Sternberg and Dominic Vincenz

The 4T-DLT website will be live until 13 May 2024.

Women are still significantly underrepresented in tech-related professions. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, McKinsey & Company, the Competence Centre for Diversity & Inclusion at the University of St. Gallen and digitalswitzerland are releasing the white paper “The unseen code: Unlock Switzerland’s female tech potential”. It serves as strategic guidance for the executives, policymakers, and professionals in the technology industry who are navigating the challenges posed by this shortage, with a specific focus on Switzerland.

Featuring expert insights from leaders in the Swiss technology industry, The white paper highlights the need to address the talent shortage and to enhance Switzerland’s competitiveness by empowering female talents to enter or transition to tech professions: Creating a corporate culture that supports women is crucial, as is retaining talent, promoting career changers, and enabling women to enter the industry in the first place. Additionally, it is important to take measures across company boundaries to address structural factors and make the tech industry more attractive to women.

Find the full white paper here.

As we stand at the crossroads of innovation and progress, it becomes increasingly apparent that the interplay between education, a skilled workforce, and diversity will shape the success of businesses in the future. On 16 January, at the digitalswitzerland Village during the World Economic Forum in Davos, we brought together experts from education, business, and politics to explore practical strategies and innovative approaches to unlock the full-potential of our population and to close the tech talent gap in Switzerland.

Breaking Barriers
Close the talent gap: Women in Tech as the best bet to tackle our skills-shortage.

Breaking Barriers is not just a catchphrase; it’s a call to action in the fast-evolving landscape of technology. As we navigate the challenges of the rising skills-shortage in Switzerland’s tech landscape and at the same time only about 1/5 of the tech workforce are women, it becomes clear that we need to act. In a first-of its kind workshop with all the participants, we collaborated with Dr. Ines Hartmann and Nicole Niedermann from the Competence Centre of Diversity & Inclusion at University of St. Gallen as well as Anna Mattsson, President of Advance and Partner at McKinsey & Company to find out how to bridge the female tech talent gap.

Some key measures that were highlighted include:

Shaping Learning
Delve into the future of learning and find out more about the transformative impact of digital innovation in education.

Moving on from more women in tech, we looked at how technology plays an important role in shaping the way we learn and how it opens up new opportunities, for example with a more personalised learning experience for all. In an insightful impulse speech, Jean-Marc Tassetto, strategic advisor EMEA at Go1 and co-founder of coorpacademy, highlighted the importance of creating learning experiences with the end-user in mind. These learning experiences are not optional, by 2027, nearly 100 million jobs may emerge which are more adapted to the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms.

Anat Bar-Gera, Prof. Dr. Joël Mesot, Jean-Marc Tassetto, Dr. Luciana Vaccaro, Prof. Dr. Misiek Piskorski (from left to right).

In an exciting panel discussion, moderated by Prof. Dr. Misiek Piskorski (Dean IMD Asia and Oceania), and with our experts Anat Bar-Gera (Tech investor and board member), Prof. Dr. Joël Mesot (President ETH Zurich), Dr. Luciana Vaccaro (President swissuniversities and rector HES-SO) and Jean-Marc Tassetto, it has become clear that we face an upskilling emergency with new and softer skills becoming the imperative. Universities and companies alike play a crucial role in enabling people to stay up-to-date with state-of-art, personalised learning experiences leveraging the power of technology and at the same time include the skills that are learned best through personal interaction such as collaboration, initiative, empathy, and more.

Re-Thinking Work
Explore the power of human/tech collaborations with corporate foresight and a human centric approach.

Making sure people are appropriately skilled is paramount to prepare for the future of work. In the era of digital transformation, the nature of work is undergoing unprecedented changes. In an insightful impulse speech, Martin Wezowski, Chief Futurist at SAP, highlighted the case for learning how to “surf” and following one’s personal vision, as we need to with the flow and many jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet.

Martin Wezowski, Chief Futurist, SAP.

Following the impulse speech, we took a deep-dive in the discussion with our fantastic guests, Jolanda Grob (Chief People Officer, Zurich), Catrin Hinkel (CEO, Microsoft Switzerland), Prof. Dr. Martin Vetterli (President, EPFL), Martin Wezowski and our moderator Prof. Dr. Misiek Piskorski (Dean, IMD Asia and Oceania). It became paramount to prioritise people and lifelong- / or continuous learning as 50% of the employees will need reskilling in the next years. Looking at innovation through creativity, it becomes clear that it happens more and more through human/technological collaboration.

Prof. Dr. Martin Vetterli, Jolanda Grob, Catrin Hinkel, Martin Wezowski, Prof. Dr. Misiek Piskorsk (from left to right).

Inspired to know more and be part of the journey towards mitigating the skills-shortage in tech and ensuring Switzerland is on the right path when it comes to education, skilled workforce and diversity? Let us know your thoughts and find out more about our work here.

In our latest whitepaper, “Charting the Future: Switzerland’s Path to Generative AI Leadership in 2024 and Beyond”, we dissect the transformative impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and generative AI (GenAI) in Switzerland as of 2024. Backed by a survey of 279 Swiss professionals and insights from expert-led Digital Xchange workshops, the findings paint a vivid picture of the GenAI landscape.

The Current Landscape: The survey reveals a robust 62% adoption of AI, with a significant 30.6% implementation across five or more business functions. However, a closer look uncovers a landscape in flux, with 50% of respondents anticipating a major shift in jobs within the next three to five years.

Challenges and Concerns: While enthusiasm for GenAI is palpable, concerns remain. Privacy, data breaches, and over-reliance on technology emerge as key worries. Furthermore, a staggering 52% of organisations lack clear policies on AI in the workplace, indicating a critical need for guidelines.

Urgent Issues: Two pressing issues demand immediate attention. First, the survey signals an outright explosion in demand for skills training as GenAI reshapes the workplace. Second, there is a concerning lack of awareness among Swiss professionals regarding official GenAI policies, with only a third advocating for more government regulation.

Actionable Recommendations: Our whitepaper concludes with strategic recommendations for policymakers, business leaders, and education providers. Urgent actions include the establishment of a robust educational and political framework, investment in transforming continuing education, and a focus on the judicious use of GenAI to maximise opportunities while minimising risks.

Join the Conversation: As Switzerland stands at the crossroads of GenAI innovation, we invite you to study the full whitepaper, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Read the full report here.

This whitepaper was jointly created and published by digitalswitzerland, IMD and EPFL.

Study on digitalisation and cybersecurity in SMEs 2023

8 out of 10 SMEs entrust their digital infrastructures to external IT service providers and also seek advice from them in the area of cybersecurity. However, there is hardly any progress in the implementation of measures to protect against cybercrime. The results of the latest study on digitalisation and cybersecurity in SMEs make it clear: the more companies identify themselves as digital pioneers, the more often they implement technical and organisational measures to strengthen cybersecurity in their company. However, while in previous years around one fifth of the SMEs surveyed always saw themselves as digital pioneers, in 2023 this figure is only around one tenth.

The survey was carried out on behalf of the Swiss Mobiliar Insurance Company Ltd, digitalswitzerland, Allianz Digitale Sicherheit Schweiz, the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW – Digital Transformation Competence Centre and the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences SATW.

Read the study in German. For further analysis, read the Whitepaper in German, French and Italian.

Read the press release in German, French and Italian.

Read the press conference presentation in German.

The “EU Digital Policy” working group of digitalswitzerland calls for Switzerland to have a more focused and conscious discussion about its relationship with the European Union on digital issues. What is ultimately at stake are locational advantages, smooth business operations for Swiss companies in the EU, and connectivity and compatibility with all the important digital markets and systems in Europe and around the world.

This discussion paper and the working group responsible for it were developed between the end of April and the beginning of August 2023 and followed from the definition of thematic priorities during a strategy workshop held by digitalswitzerland’s Public Affairs Committee on 12 January 2023.

As one of 13 organisations, digitalswitzerland has campaigned for the approval of the business 22.067 so that it can be referred back to the government policy committee. The issue concerns the facilitation of admission for foreigners with a Swiss university degree.

Find the full statement here in German and French.

The Council of States decided today to re-enter deliberation. We are pleased with this result and hope that the government policy committee, together with the administration, will work out an implementation of the business that conforms to the constitution.

Switzerland is missing out

The deal is about ensuring that several hundred graduates per year, who are financed in Switzerland with public money, have access to the labour market. Switzerland invests almost CHF 200 million per year in the training of these professionals.

As a result, Switzerland is missing out on urgently needed labour potential to combat the shortage of skilled workers. Sufficient availability of qualified skilled workers strengthens Switzerland’s innovative power and its potential as an international location for research and development is further expanded.

In its latest version, the legislative proposal for business 22.067 is not constitutional. However, in its dispatch on the matter, the Federal Council outlines constitutional solutions that would require a change to the Ordinance on Admission, Period of Stay and Employment (ASEO): An upward adjustment of the quotas, or an adjustment of the process for granting residence permits to graduates. A combination of these two. Variants would also be conceivable. Simplifying the process for granting residence permits is crucial, firstly so that it is foreseeable which and how many people from third countries who have a Swiss university degree want to look for work in Switzerland, and secondly so that the process is not too onerous and too deterrent for start-ups and SMEs, which are most affected by the shortage of skilled workers.

In our view, re-entering deliberation serves the cause best. This means that the business can go back to the state policy committee so that more precise clarifications can be made with the administration and constitutionally compliant solutions can be discussed.

The following organisations have signed the letter:

digitalswitzerland hosted a panel at the Swiss Biotech Day on digitalisation in the Swiss healthcare system, moderated by Jade Sternberg, Digital Health Lead at digitalswitzerland. We discussed the opportunities and benefits of data collection with four key leaders in the ecosystem: Chantal Stäuble from Netcetera, Dr. Sebastiano Caprara from Balgrist hospital, Dr. René P. Buholzer from Interpharma and Steven Bourke from PersonalPulse.

The panel discussion shows that the digital transformation in healthcare is a journey where all stakeholders need to work together with a sense of urgency in order to successfully create a patient-centric and value based healthcare system. It is only by collecting data from all citizens that we will be able to build a solid data basis to do better diagnostics and design better treatments to increase the quality of care. Here are a few takeaways of the interesting exchange.

Citizens are willing to share their data digitally

Based on our survey findings in the Digital Health Study, we can clearly see that the citizens are willing to use a digital healthcare system given it has clear added values. 

According to the panellists, digitalisation would be very valuable if:

The patient’s role is changing

The term “patient” has evolved through the years. Nowadays, the word patient is used to define different personas which could be replaced by “client”, “consumer”, “user” and “customer” of the healthcare system. In the survey, 31% of the population believes that everyone is a patient, healthy or sick. According to Steven Bourke, the change of the role of the patient is key for the future of healthcare. Previously,  becoming a patient was not something that you proactively look for, it was something that you became after you received a clinical diagnosis. In the future, let’s move from a business of disease to a business of healthcare. 

Consent and privacy will increase data collection in research

Dr. Sebastiano Caprara explained that when setting up a research project, a clear description is required for how a patient’s data will be collected, used and managed after the completion of the project. It is only with this that a project will be accepted by the ethical committee of the canton of Zurich.  

There is a clear process in place when a patient or subject arrives at a clinic: informed consent needs to be given as well as a clear explanation of how the data will be used. Once collected, the data will be de-identified before being shared with researchers according to the Swiss Personalised Healthcare Network. The data can only be tracked back to the patient in the clinic to allow for the data to be erased if the patient wishes to retract their consent in the future. 

The panellists: Steven Bourke, Dr. René Buholzer, Jade Sternberg, Dr. Sebastiano Caprara, Chantal Stäuble (f.l.t.r.)

Limited data pools, a risk for the attractiveness of Switzerland?

Dr. René P. Buholzer: “The next wave of innovation and R&D in drug development will be driven by data.” Pharmaceutical is a global industry and therefore pharmaceutical companies will move wherever the talent is. Switzerland is still a R&D leader in Europe – but we need to speed up our health data collection. Otherwise, Switzerland will lose its status as an attractive location. 

Develop trustworthy technologies

Chantal Stäuble: “Technology should serve humans.” According to her, one of the key elements is privacy by design, designing the concept of a device around identity (self-sovereignty). This key factor is also reflected in our survey; citizens want to be the owners of their data and have a say into who can access their data.

Regularly collecting data digitally is important

Proactivity will enable us to have a really solid data basis which can be used to further research and develop new personalised treatment, moving from a fee for service to a fee for outcome model. 

We need to collect the data collectively in a systematic way, following common standards in order to be able to work together and create value. 

Collecting data to monitor your health from home

Decentralised solutions are picking up speed: nowadays, treatments are more and more brought to the people’s homes. According to Steven Bourke, the value proposition of the treatments needs to be reconsidered, it needs to bring value to the citizens in order for them to be comfortable with the change. The citizen’s role needs to transition from a tool tester to a co-creator; they need to play an active role and understand “what is in it for me” on a personal level and on a society level. Mutual value needs to be brought to the patient and the healthcare practitioners, bringing the data in a way that motivates them to look at it. This change of mindset will really enable us to bring the digital therapeutics to the homes of Swiss citizens.

The pandemic has opened up opportunities to further digitalise the Swiss healthcare sector

The pandemic had multiple positive outcomes on digitalisation of healthcare:

Wishes to enable collaboration between healthcare players to ensure Switzerland is a flourishing location for Biotech, Medtech and Pharma

Chantal Stäuble: “We need a grass-rooting movement.” We need to stand and work together, creating public-private partnerships including the patients, the citizens. We need to get the mutual value from the data, value on a patient level, on a physician level, on a research level.  

In the future, ideally the health data will be shared between generations for people to be able to build on it; this will have a huge impact on the society. 

The healthcare system in Switzerland is based on solidarity. Solidarity will only happen when the system is trusted; a system with a common infrastructure and right governance. The different existing infrastructures need to be brought together quickly to ensure they are well connected and not fragmented. Data should be interoperable to ensure the infrastructure we build is a central store for all to profit from. We need to be inspired by other countries like the Nordics. 

Change needs to happen

Switzerland has created a system of silos allowing disconnection between cantons. We need common standards as a nation. These silos are present at the federal level as well as between the different professions. The reimbursement system in Switzerland does not help as people only get reimbursed for the services they provide, not for collaborating with one another. 

In Switzerland, we need to change the mindset of the population, we need to spend more time on empowering the citizens around their health, around digitalisation. We need to show them what value they get out of it, what is in it for me as a person, as an individual, as a society. This is a change which is happening slowly. 

As outlined by a person in the audience, “Let’s have a TWINT moment in healthcare”.

More information on the panellists:

Chantal and Sebastiano are both members of our Digital Health Steering Committee at digitalswitzerland.

The increasing importance of artificial intelligence (AI) requires a careful analysis of the current legal framework in Switzerland. With the postulate “Legal situation AI – clarify uncertainties, promote innovation”, Marcel Dobler, FDP National Councillor and Vice-President of digitalswitzerland, calls on the Federal Council to examine whether the current legal system and its principles do justice to developments in the field of new technologies and to identify uncertainties.

Building on this analysis, the federal council shall examine whether a strategy based on an opportunity-risk analysis needs to be devised by a group of experts from business, science and NGOs. If necessary, a concept on the need for legislative action should be developed, in which priorities, timetable and resources are defined.

Switzerland has already taken important steps to recognise and respond to the importance of AI. These include the Confederation’s guidelines on AI, the Digital Switzerland Strategy, the report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Artificial Intelligence (IDAG AI), the Federal Statistical Office’ Competence Network on Artificial Intelligence (CNAI), as well as the engagement in the Council of Europe’s Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) for binding guidelines within the members of the Council of Europe. Nevertheless, Switzerland has so far refrained from passing its own AI law and has remained true to the approach of “as much as necessary, as little as possible” as well as technology-neutral formulations of the laws. However, Braun Binder et al. (2021) show in their article “Künstliche Intelligenz: Handlungsbedarf im Schweizer Recht” (EN: Artificial Intelligence – Need for Action in Swiss Law) that on closer inspection, due to the technology-neutral approach, selective adjustments are needed in Switzerland.

A selective adaptation of laws and ordinances is not far removed from reality. The DLT Act, which was passed by parliament in 2020 and fully enacted by the Federal Council in 2021, shows that a selective adaptation of the laws can bring about a flourishing innovation landscape for promising technologies that are even crucial for Switzerland. The DLT Act has ensured that Switzerland is still a leading global location for blockchain technologies.

Please find the full postulate in German.

After five successful years at digitalswitzerland, Deputy Managing Director Diana Engetschwiler has decided to pursue a new and exciting career opportunity. Over the past years, she successfully developed Swiss Digital Days into a Swiss-wide and international initiative that now involves over 130 partners from science, politics, and economy. She played a vital role in creating further flagships for digitalswitzerland, such as launching the largest female-led hackathon in Switzerland #herHACK and the largest public TV programme on digitalisation during the difficult COVID-19 times. As a member of the management team she has built up two high-performing teams and successfully implemented the B2C strategy.

Diana Engetschwiler

She is therefore stepping down from her role as Deputy Managing Director and B2C lead by the end of December. She will remain a part-time senior advisor offering her rich knowledge in all areas of the organisation. We will greatly miss Diana and wish her the very best for her next professional chapter. We would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank her for her tireless efforts. A succession search has been initiated, which is being conducted by the Nomination Committee.