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Tools to collaboratively create a successful solution to reduce Food Waste in Swiss households

Call to the ecosystem to develop a digital artefact

Master students from ZHAW created a great concept with suitable tools to create a smart and digital food guide for home usage called “kitsch”, serving as a food assistant for the consumers. WWF and digitalswitzerland support this project idea and would like to invite any player in the ecosystem to further develop this solution and start designing an MVP for the food waste reduction application. digitalswitzerland will continue with a supporting role to connect you with the relevant stakeholders, communicating the milestones to a wider audience and giving feedback along the innovation process. 

Are you willing to take ownership of this project? digitalswitzerland and WWF would be very pleased to see this project developing further, please let Jade Sternberg know and she’s happy to coordinate with you. This is a project close to our hearts and we wish to follow the development from a far angle. The ideal scenario for the future would be for all retailers to offer this application to their consumers through their loyalty cards. It is only through a behavioural society mindset shift that Switzerland will be able to reduce food waste and meet its sustainable goals.

Interested to learn more about how it all started? Read through the article:

The start of a collaborative journey

In summer 2021, at digitalswitzerland we already discussed the challenge of fighting food waste with WWF, Swiss Food Nutrition Valley and Accenture. We were later approached by ZHAW professor Yann Blumer looking for corporate partners to work with the students on multi-stakeholder projects, tackling pressing systemic challenges. Our upcoming workshop centred around food waste was the perfect opportunity to involve the students. We started working with them to conduct a system analysis based on existing networks and projects with the purpose of developing a prototype of a digital artefact. 

A holistic approach is needed: From research to expert interviews

Switzerland has set clear goals of reducing its food waste by the mid-2030s (bafu.admin). Each person in Switzerland generates 330kg of avoidable food waste per year. Considering this rather high number, it became clear that a holistic approach is crucial to enable a behavioural change of the consumer to avoid throwing away edible food. 

Based on their research, the students created a complete overview of the consumer journey to identify the pain points where food was wasted the most (See image below).

To get different insights, the students interviewed key experts from WWF, ZHAW, Coop and Swiss Food Nutrition Valley to understand perspectives and expectations regarding the reduction of food waste on the consumer side. Based on this evaluation, they defined common ground for the multi-stakeholder workshop, which was summarised in a one-pager briefing and shared with all participants prior to the workshop.

Multi-stakeholder workshop

On 18 November, multiple stakeholders such as BAFU, fenanco, WWF, Accenture, Eatable and more, met at Impact Hub in Bern to brainstorm together on the potential digital solutions to tackle the food waste challenge together. It is only through a transversal approach that we can identify the best-suited solution for this systematic challenge. 

The workshop was structured according to the double diamond process (See image below), meaning that the stakeholders could ideate and expand their ideas first to finally prioritise and select the most promising ideas. The conceiving solutions would be further elaborated on by the students.

The following four key ideas came out of the workshop:

“Kitsch” is born: Creation of the prototype

The students aimed to create a convenient, integrated solution combining multiple ideas in an easy-to-use artefact. They validated their concept through expert interviews with WWF, BAFU, Coop, Migros, Accenture and Kitro

What came out of their hard work is a smart and digital food guide at home called “kitsch”, serving as a food assistant for the consumers. The vision is defined on this landing page and serves to identify if consumers share a similar vision. This group of innovative students put in place this platform to look for stakeholders who are willing to co-create the solution. For the project to be successful, it is key to create a community of early adopters which support the idea. 

In this video, the students show the advantages of the application through the full consumer journey. To outline how to best continue the development of the concept, the students also provide a clear handover document for the ecosystem. 

The comprehensive documentation of the students’ digital artefact will be used as a baseline to build an MVP fitting the market’s demand. To start the development of “kitsch”, the students recommend starting with the implementation of the expiration date feature, alerting the consumers of the food which will soon not be edible.

We are pursuing this partnership with ZHAW and are currently working with a new group of students on sustainability topics in Switzerland.

Fears and hopes of the population on digitalisation, Series of public focus group 2022

As part of its Digital Xchange project, the digitalswitzerland Foundation organised in collaboration with some of its partners, a series of Swiss-wide public focus groups. The aim was to offer an open forum for the population to raise questions and discuss the opportunities and challenges of a rapidly advancing digital future. As a result, key fears and hopes were captured. 

Sharing hopes and fears

In different parts of Switzerland and in collaboration with  partners such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Kanton Aargau, Ville de Martigny, and Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse occidentale (HES-SO), diverse groups of participants expressed their views, shared their experiences, their hopes and fears, as well as their ideas on how to foster an inclusive digital transformation. The content of these interactions fed into the discussion between decision-makers about our digital future on 5 September in Bern at the Digital Xchange Forum.  The exciting event to place on the same day as the launch of Swiss Digital Days in Bern.

Sébastien Kulling, Executive Director of the digitalswitzerland Foundation

Change is the only constant

Overall, people’s mindset is adapting to the evolving digital environment. Generally, many people have a positive view of the new digital technologies and see them as a tool that has the potential to generate value for business and unlock benefits for society.

However, deep fears remain.

Preparing for a digital future

Many of the participants realise that mastering digital tools is becoming a prerequisite for economic, social and cultural integration, and worry that digitalisation can amplify pre-existing socio-economic inequalities. In particular, older generations fear being left behind by failing to use new digital tools.

On this point, everyone agrees that the key answer to “keep up with” and “benefit from” digital technologies is training. There’s an urgent need to develop skills and competences by setting up adequate training for various types of users (i.e., children, teenagers, adult workers, retirees…). Nevertheless, the question remained as to what are the skills needed? How can we train people who are professionally active and/or retired? Who is responsible for providing such training? Many participants raised the importance of having regular support, for example, by providing a space where people can go to get the digital support they need.

Public focus group: Audience

The importance of governance

Furthermore,  the  majority of people were  concerned about the grey areas of digital governance: fear of the consequences of a lack of limits, framework, and regulations with regard to fundamental aspects of our lives, such as use of private data, security, mass surveillance, individual freedoms or polarisation of opinions. 

A strong consensus arose that the discourse surrounding digitalisation can be too complex and technical, which can generate mistrust and even self-exclusion.  As a result, there is a clear aspiration to put the human back at the centre and to strengthen the debate on the human and social aspects of digital transformation. This will enable each of us to benefit from more information and to be better integrated in the associated decision-making processes.

Would you also like to be part of these discussions, collaborate with different stakeholders and become a partner of the digitalswitzerland Foundation ? 

Please, email Sébastien Kulling, sebastien@digitalswitzerland-foundation.org

Or Sandrine Denti, sandrine@digitalswitzerland-foundation.org

In the autumn session from 12 to 30 September 2022, more than 30 items on digital policy are on the agenda – one of the main focuses in the Council of States are on the area of Digital Health.

The complete outlook is available in the national languages German and French.

In a letter dated 18 May 2022, the consultation on the Maturity Recognition Ordinance and the Administrative Agreement on the Recognition of Maturity Certificates was launched. digitalswitzerland thanks economiesuisse for this opportunity and is happy to comment from the perspective of the digital economy. We would like to state that we fully support economiesuisse’s statement.

Read our full consultation in German or French.

Be part of something big

During the sixth edition of the Swiss Digital Days, which will run under the theme „Together we create the digital future!“, we will explore the technologies of AI-based art creation and the associated minting of NFTs. These two technologies will be combined in a touchscreen art generator, which will tour throughout Switzerland on a large-scale roadshow with 19 locations from 5 September 2022 until 27 October. 

You have a chance to help create the largest digital artwork in Switzerland

We invite the public to participate in an attempt to create one of the world’s largest collaboratively created digital artworks. Here’s how it works: participants can choose two terms related to digitization and Switzerland. A state-of-the-art artificial intelligence then transforms them into a digital piece of art. We expect about 8,000 – 10,000 unique artworks to be created by the Swiss population during the Swiss Digital Days.

In the end, participants can download the corresponding artwork created with AI (for personal, non-commercial use) and become part of the next Swiss Crypto Stamps edition, issued by the Swiss Post.

Get involved

Simply register via e-mail address in order to be informed by the Swiss Post of what is happening with the artwork and the project itself further along the road. 

These artworks will be brought together in a large mosaic as the largest participatory NFT in Switzerland attempt, which will then be auctioned off for a good cause at the closing event of the Swiss Digital Days on 27 October.

Take a look to see when this exciting project is coming to your city.

Today, 5 September marks the launch of the Swiss Digital Days 2022, which includes more than 200 free events for the population. This is a unique opportunity to exchange, discuss and access numerous events on the topic of digitalisation. For seven weeks, from 5 September to 23 October, digitalswitzerland and its partners will be touring across Switzerland with a series of events in seven regions and 19 locations. You too can experience the digital future in our bubbles, a unique setting in a city near you, or visit one of the online events. The opening takes place on the Bundesplatz in Bern. We look forward to seeing you there!

You can find a series of pictures here.

You can find the accompanying press release here in German, French and Italian.

What Problem(s) does GAIA-X tackle?

Every initiative, whether domestic or pan-european, exists primarily to solve a problem. GAIA-X is no exception. What makes the European initiative unique is the diversity of interrelated problems that it aims to solve all at once. This makes it ambitious and daring, while simultaneously raising expectations and pressure. As such, it is even more important to know concretely what it is and what it is not. And above all: what problems it actually aims to solve. So let’s start there.

The modern world runs on that data, which opens up a world of possibility for government, academia, organisations and SMEs. This is no secret. However, there are a number of obstacles to accessing their innovation value. Most importantly: stakeholders today cannot make entirely self-determined decisions. Why is that, and what really stands in the way?

Let’s take a look at six concrete barriers that exist today.

The unfortunate fact remains that all these barriers continue to persist. They are preventing stakeholders from unlocking the full value of their data. GAIA-X promises to address these obstacles in a manner that is true to European values and standards, and paves the way for a future-ready data infrastructure.

What is GAIA-X in short?

At its core, GAIA-X is a European governance project aimed at building the foundation for a data-driven economy. Therein, it can be interpreted as a ‘proposal’ for the next generation of a federated data infrastructure based on the latest thinking that is in line with European values, namely openness, transparency, and trust. 

How exactly is GAIA-X accomplishing this task? Short Answer: Through guidelines, policies and software frameworks. Indeed, the key deliverables of the initiative are documentation, notably the GAIA-X Policy Rules Document, GAIA-X Architecture Document, and Data Space Principles, which collectively form the de-facto ‘GAIA-X Standard’. The architecture of GAIA-X is based on the principle of decentralisation. GAIA-X is the result of many individual data owners (users) and technology players (providers) – all adopting a common standard of rules and control mechanisms – the GAIA-X standard. 

This GAIA-X Standards has a ‘harmonising’ effect. In this envisioned infrastructure, stakeholders would always be given the “option but not the obligation”. Once adopted, the de-facto standard would allow for self-determined decision making when it comes to data and cloud. The end result is aimed to obtain transparency, controllability, portability and interoperability across data and services, which allows for self-determined decision making and raises the competitiveness of Europe in the digital age. 

How can we conceptualise the GAIA-X framework?

Fortunately for us, it’s in the name. ‘Gaia’ is the Greek goddess of Earth, symbolising a nurturing growing ecosystem, whereas the ‘X’ hints at the framework that is followed to achieve it.

In essence, the intended set of rules and regulations (i.e. the GAIA-X Standard) and the implementation of GAIA-X provide for the linking of data ecosystems and infrastructure ecosystems. As such, in its most abstract form, GAIA-X has three distinct components:

  1. Data Ecosystem (i.e. the upper part of the X). Here, the initiative fosters ontologies for interoperability and API within and across sector-specific data spaces. Why does this matter? It provides Swiss organisations with one additional tool to empower collaborative data spaces and to develop innovative data-driven business models (referred to as Advances Smart Services) via a common framework that is standardised, efficient and self-sovereign (see example below).
  1. Federation Services (i.e. the intersection of the X). Here, the initiative builds on EU policies & code of conducts that already exists to develop a so-called ‘Architecture of Standards’. That said, Federation Services go beyond compliance-supporting elements and will also include identity and  trust services, and a catalogue of GAIA-X compliant services. Why does this matter? It allows Swiss organisations to develop GAIA-X compliant services offering an easier mechanism to be compliant with the European Data Protection Regulation, the ‘Free Flow of Non-Personal Data Regulation’ and the European Cybersecurity Act. It includes the minimum technical requirements and services necessary for security by design and privacy by design.
  1. Infrastructure Ecosystem (i.e. the bottom part of the X). Here, the initiative establishes portability and interoperability between network and interconnection providers. Why does this matter? It allows Swiss organisations, from corporates to SMEs, to have a more transparent view of the cloud offers and the dependencies (‘lock-in effects’) on individual providers would be reduced.

These three components in aggregate constitute the “GAIA-X Standard” in its most abstract form. It needs to be noted that the initiative aims to build this standard, and significant adoption thereof, within five years. The initiative further envisions the EU becoming a significant player in the global economy of data by the end of 2025.

What is GAIA-X NOT?

While it is important to understand what GAIA-X is, it is equally critical to comprehend what the initiative does not do. At minimum, there are two elements that are frequently misunderstood or misinterpreted: 

First, some people suggest that GAIA-X builds infrastructure that stands in competition to existing cloud providers. This is not true. The initiative does not build any infrastructure itself. It fundamentally aims to connect and harmonise (i.e. through guidelines, policies and software frameworks) based on the principles of decentralisation. As such, GAIA-X is not an infrastructure itself but more a multitude of individual platforms that all follow a common standard – the GAIA-X standard. 

Second, other critics may suggest that GAIA-X intends to form a new digital oligopoly with exclusive access. This is also not true. The initiative is open to all organisations (from small Swiss SME to international cloud providers). Further, the GAIA-X European Association for Data and Cloud AISBL is a non-profit association that ensures the equal contribution possibility of all members. This, coupled with its ‘harmonising effect’, paves the way for fairer competition instead of a novel oligopoly. 

Why should Swiss companies care about GAIA-X?

Let’s start at the problem: despite its potential, effective cross-organisational data collaboration doesn’t happen. But what exactly is the root cause of that? 

First, there are technological barriers that impede data collaboration. At present there are multiple technology stacks, unclear and inconsistent standards, a lack of APIs and limited interoperability. This, in aggregate, results in additional coordination efforts on both technical teams, and a prominent reason why you could not engage in cross-organisational data collaboration. Secondly, there are governance considerations that need to be taken into account which, even if you could, cast doubt on whether you should. There has been limited transparency on how the data exactly behaves once it is shared. 

Specifically, who gets which data under what conditions. The inability to make self-determined decisions regarding shared data further hinders effective cross-organisational data collaboration.

It is precisely here, where GAIA-X, and specifically the de-facto standard, provides one part of the solution. The common governance specifically helps companies that intend to create data rooms in their respective sector/industry. This has three concrete benefits: 

  1. The GAIA-X Standard helps with regulatory compliance at an EU level, while setting out clear APIs/Standards for interoperability and portability.
  1. The GAIA-X Standard provides clarity about terms of engagement via a single ‘agreement’ between organisations, which has been validated through the EU working groups.
  1. The GAIA-X Standard sets out a framework for data collaboration wherein decision-making is possible on how, where and with whom data is shared – always on the basis of having the option (but not the obligation).

This has a very concrete impact as it paves the way for national and international data spaces for trustworthy and autonomous collaboration between organisations. 

According to a survey by Bitkom, the digital industry association in Germany, one in seven companies wants to build its core business on data in the foreseeable future while 75 percent of companies lag behind in the development of data-driven business models. Many organisations see part of the solution in GAIA-X. Indeed, 46 percent of German companies are interested in European cloud and data infrastructure according to a survey in June 2022. Some organisations are actively investing in GAIA-X initiatives. Consider, for instance, the Catena-X Consortium, focusing on the automotive industry in Germany. 

Through an open data ecosystem, governed by the GAIA-X Standard, it connects all players to end-to-end value chains. This allows for radically different business models, specifically traceability of CO2 footprint across the supply chain. Its ecosystem approach, alongside the ability to make self-determined decisions about data, has incentivised even long-standing competitors to come together. In the case of Catena-X, several staunch automotive competitors are collaborating including BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen. As this example indicates, GAIA-X remains part of the solutions (via the GAIA-X Standard), while the implementation of such consortia are usually led within the industry itself.  

More interestingly still: countries seem to be focusing on their nationally relevant industries: automotive in Germany, finance in Luxembourg, tourism in Italy. The reason for this is simple: Data ecosystems have an economic gravitas and are forming an inimitable competitive advantage. Such ecosystems aim to become local focal points for digital value creation via data collaborations. They further safeguard and expand the industrial competitiveness of many European economies.

The question becomes, where does Switzerland want to focus? At present, there are several important national initiatives underway: 

Further, there are two GAIA-X use cases that have been put forward by Roche. Namely, the “Framework of medical records in Europe” and the “Patient Empowered, Privacy Secured”. More will likely follow across different industries. 

How to connect to the GAIA-X initiative?

There are multiple ways to connect to the Gaia-X Initiative. It is possible to connect existing organisations directly to the data-spaces which are currently forming abroad via the local coordinators (see summary of European data spaces above).

Another possible avenue is the creation of a local GAIA-X Hub, specifically targeted to the needs of Switzerland and its organisations. GAIA-X Hubs are the central contact points for companies, stakeholders, initiatives, associations, and public sector bodies in each country contributing to the GAIA-X and its standard. Internationally, the role of the hub is to nurture a dynamic, grassroots ecosystem that will help to conceptualise use cases that can be joined or replicated, and to shape the “GAIA-X Standard” at a European level. Domestically, the focus is to bundle national initiatives in alignment with the GAIA-X Standard, while creating use cases as part of working groups to shape an innovation-friendly data ecosystem. GAIA-X Germany, for instance, features the following domain working groups: Agriculture, Energy, Finance, Geoinformation, Health. Industry 4.0/SME. Mobility, Public Sector, Smart City/Smart Region. Smart Living.

As of June 2022, there are 15 GAIA-X Hubs either established in Europe, while others are in the process of setting up their local Hub. Japan and South Korea, despite not being in Europe, have also set up their Hubs. This underscores the critical point that GAIA-X builds a future-ready infrastructure on European principles, which resonate far beyond Europe.

What has happened? What’s to come?

In the fall of 2021, several digitalswitzerland members raised the importance of GAIA-X for Switzerland. Ever since, digitalswitzerland has worked towards establishing a connection between the European initiative and Switzerland and representing the view of the private sector in the dialogue. We connected with the GAIA-X CEO Francesco Bonfiglio, and with representatives of the German GAIA-X Hub. In parallel, Swico surveyed its members, which revealed that 77 % of organisations believe that a connection to the Gaia-X initiative can bring advantages to the industry.

Based on these findings, digitalswitzerland launched broad outreach to 10 European hubs in order to learn from their experience about the formation and operation of the Hubs. The purpose was to understand what we, as Switzerland, could learn from our European neighbours. The table below summarises the most important statements given by representatives of the associations that are leading the GAIA-X Hubs. The statements have been anonymised.

Armed with a better understanding of the exact nature of GAIA-X Hubs, digitalswitzerland prepared a workshop with representatives from governance, academic and industry associations to jointly develop an understanding of the scope/role of a potential Swiss GAIA-X Hub. On December 1st 2021, the workshop took place in Bern with the following participants: FDFA, Federal Chancellery, Swico, Swiss Data Science Centre (ETH, EPFL), SATW, and Swiss Data Alliance. The workshop included a Q&A session with representatives from GAIA-X Germany. 

The workshop came to two conclusions: First, there is consensus about the importance of advancing data spaces in Switzerland among all participants. This means that the existing data spaces need to be examined and that GAIA-X, as an enabler, should be closely monitored. Second, there seems to be interest to further explore a vehicle (called a “Swiss Data Hub”) that has the task of empowering and connecting the currently fragmented national data spaces. Here GAIA-X could be “one tool in the toolbox”.

In January and February, representatives from digitalswitzerland and the FDFA, jointly refined the concept of a so-called Swiss Data Hub, including its vision and underlying objectives. In March, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Office of Communications published the “Report: Promotion of trustworthy data spaces and digital self-determination”, which includes various measures to promote trustworthy data spaces and digital self-determination in Switzerland and abroad. Therein, an official recommendation for action is the investigation of a possible “Swiss Data Hub”. This hub should act as a central point of contact for data rooms and empower them. The report further calls for the development of a voluntary “Code of Conduct” for Swiss data rooms. 

The Digital Self-Determination Network, which has been designated as the vehicle for further developments. The next concrete steps will be the development of a voluntary national code of conduct for the operation of trusted data rooms. This should happen by June 2023 with the involvement of all relevant actors. Interested parties can become a member of the network here

What’s the position of digitalswitzerland?

digitalswitzerland is a Swiss-wide, cross-sector initiative that aims to strengthen and anchor Switzerland as a leading digital research and innovation location. Herein, supranational efforts are relevant in positioning Switzerland as a leading digital nation. In addition, digitalswitzerland shares the underlying value of the GAIA-X initiative, namely openness, transparency, and trust. 

digitalswitzerland welcomes this development and wants to continue the discussion. In principle, we are prepared to support such a data hub in cooperation with other associations, provided that the Swiss government ‘matches’ the joint investments from the private sector (i.e. 50/50 split). We see this as the most sensible option given that the GAIA-X has advantages for both the Swiss private sectors (via data rooms) and for all of Switzerland (via digital sovereignty). In the interim, digitalswitzerland will continue to advocate for maintaining a connection to the GAIA-X initiative, support national data rooms and liaise between international data rooms and national organisations.

We are delighted to once again launch into the exciting quest to find and celebrate this year’s 100 Digital Shapers. This would not be possible without our strong partnership with Bilanz, Handelszeitung and PME. The 2022 edition of 100 Digital Shapers will be published in late August. In the meantime, our jury members have been busy assessing more than 270 applications.

A changing digital landscape

2022 is a particularly interesting year for our 12-strong jury to assess and narrow down hopeful nominations. Innovative minds, deep thinkers and action-oriented digital enthusiasts have been busy pushing boundaries. These are the people that our jury will take pleasure in identifying. Without their thoughts and actions, Switzerland would not stay on course for digital success Since these individual powerhouses make rapid advancements possible. We look forward to shining a light on the many digital strides and achievements that have taken place over the last 12 months.

And now it’s time to meet our esteemed jury members, who with their unique skills, extensive knowledge and finger on the pulse of digital change, can appoint our winners.

Marc Kowalsky

Marc Kowalsky has been Deputy Editor-in-Chief at BILANZ, Switzerland’s biggest business magazine, for 14 years. His journalistic focus includes digitalisation, IT and telecoms as well as the start-up scene. He has interviewed personalities such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt. In the course of his career, he has written for Fortune Magazine, SPIEGEL and SPIEGEL Online, BILANZ Deutschland, Die Welt, Facts and Weltwoche, among others.

Stefan Metzger

Stefan Metzger is the Managing Director of digitalswitzerland. Until 2021, Stefan was the Country Managing Director of Cognizant Technology Solutions, responsible for the company’s business in Switzerland as well as the Market Leader for the Insurance Vertical across Continental Europe. Stefan has worked in the ICT Industry for more than 30 years, with focused experience in Insurance, Technology and Consulting. Prior to his current position, Stefan held various sales management and consulting roles at IBM Corporation across different countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Central Europe.

Thierry Vial

Thierry Vial has been editor-in-chief of the French-language business magazine PME for seven years. He studied political sciences at the University of Lausanne before working in asset management (BCV), then as an economic journalist for Bilan. He then managed Inédit Publications SA, an SME active in custom publishing, which belonged to the Gassmann group before joining PME.

Caroline Widmer

Caroline Widmer is the Director of -Pulse Incubateur HES, an incubator for talents coming from the six Universities of Applied Sciences of HES-SO Geneva. She previously held strategic positions in the public administration, in the areas of Security and Economic Development. She has conducted major digital transitions while also participating in the elaboration of the State of Geneva’s digital and innovation Policy.

Andri Silberschmidt

Andri Silberschmidt is an FDP National Councillor, Vice-President of the FDP.Die Liberalen Schweiz and gastro-entrepreneur from Zurich. Today, Andri Silberschmidt works as an assistant to the management of Planzer Transport AG. Furthermore, Andri is co-founder and chairman of the board of kaisin. – a catering company with branches in the cities of Zurich, Basel and Zug, a member of the board of directors of Jucker Farm AG and president of FH SCHWEIZ, the umbrella organisation for graduates of universities of applied sciences.

Luciana Vaccaro

Luciana Vaccaro is an Italian-Swiss physicist and Rector of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland (HES-SO) since 1 October 2013. The HES-SO comprises 28 institutions of higher education spread across seven cantons, with more than 22,000 students. She is also vice-president of Innosuisse and president of the chamber of HES of swissuniversities.

Arijana Walcott

As the founder and managing partner of DART Labs | Ventures, Arijana accelerates and invests in early-stage startup founders using deep-tech solutions with a positive impact on people and planet. In addition, she is the Director of Studies at Zurich’s HWZ, leading the Disruptive Technology program and is engaged as a Board Member at the Swiss Startup Association and at Somniacs AG.

Eric Saracchi

Eric Saracchi is the Chief Digital & Information Officer at Firmenich, the largest privately owned Perfumes & Flavors house globally. With an innovative and strategic mindset, Eric transforms businesses by converging purpose, people and technologies together. Eric was awarded “Swiss CIO of the Year (2018)”, “Digital Shapers of Switzerland (2020)”, and received the “Digital Innovation of the Year (Digital Economy Award 2021)”.

Domenico Scala

Domenico Scala has served as President of Basel Area Business & Innovation since 1 January 2016. He has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of Basilea Pharmaceutica AG since April 2016, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BAK Economics AG since May 2014, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Oettinger Davidoff AG since August 2017. He is also a member of the Bank Council of the Basler Kantonalbank. In addition, Domenico Scala is a member of the Healthcare Advisory Board of an equity investment and M&A company and a board member of two private US biotech companies.

Roland Siegwart

Roland Siegwart is professor for autonomous mobile robots at ETH Zurich, founding co-director of the Wyss Zurich and board member of multiple high-tech companies. He was professor at EPFL and Vice President of ETH Zurich. He is among the most cited scientist in robots worldwide, co-founder of more than half a dozen spin-off companies and a strong promoter of innovation and entrepreneurship in Switzerland.

Aleksandra Laska

Aleksandra Laska

Aleksandra Laska started her career on the Goldman Sachs trading floor in London. She went on to co-found a mobile payments platform, followed by a stint in VC and as an angel investor. She has built the enterprise division for Improbable, supporting the business in its $600m fundraise and hyper growth from 20 to 400 employees. Before joining Redalpine, Aleksandra set up US operations for a Swiss multi-million dollar robotics software company. She sits on the boards of Razor Group, Portify, Beams and 9fin.

Jelena Tasic Pizzolato

Jelena Tasic Pizzolato is Managing Director at the LifestyleTech Competence Center. Jelena is a digital leader, specialised in corporate and science-based innovation. Actively collaborating with corporates, start-ups and researchers internationally, her sectors of expertise include digital & e-commerce, ICT, fashion, retail, lifestyle and finance. She has 15+ years of international business experience across several European markets, including UK, Italy, and Switzerland.

Nomination Categories

In 2022, we again have 10 categories that Digital Shapers can be nominated for. As digitalisation continues to evolve and change the way we live, so do our categories. This year we have six new categories including; The Connectors, The Unicorn Breeders, The Digital Manufacturers, The Avatars, The AI Masters and The Foodies. Along with our partners, we sent out a public call on social media for those who identify themselves as Digital Shapers. The big question is: Which digital leaders will make it into the top 100? Only time will tell…

1. The Infrastructure Builders
People who contribute to a solid digital infrastructure in order to allow digital change. Includes politicians & administration.

2. The Connectors
People who build ecosystems, connect actors and bridge regional gaps for collaborative projects in the digital sphere.

3. The Unicorn Breeders
People who are about to build or are of critical importance to build a startup company, which is now valued at over US$1 billion.

4. The Digital Manufacturers
Leaders of digital manufacturing companies or technology solution providers and subject-matter experts who are an inspiration for the future of Swiss digital manufacturing.

5. The Avatars
People who create or make use of new realities (Augmented, Virtual, Mixed) to enable great things.

6. The AI Masters
Masterminds who are revolutionising Artificial Intelligence.

7. The eMedics
People who use digital transformation to enhance different aspects of wellbeing, health and medicine.

8. The Foodies
People who use digital transformation to reshape our current nutrition towards healthier and more sustainable solutions.

9. The Nature Techies
People who use digital transformation for the sake of protecting, monitoring or enhancing nature.

10. The Cybersecurity Guards
People who, with protective solutions, regulations, awareness-raising and innovations in cyber space, enable us to move safely and not be victims of cyberattacks.

The deserving winners will be celebrated in a dedicated Bilanz publication on 26 August, in PME on 31 August and Handelszeitung on 1 September.

Take a look at past winners and in-depth interviews from 2021 and 2020.

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Outlook for 2022

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.

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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.

Review of 2021

Members & Partners

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

Education & Skilled Workforce

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.

Engaging youth

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.

Collaborative Innovation

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. 

Collaborative Innovation | WISER

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. 

Public Dialogue

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.

Cybersecurity

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.

Cybersecurity Committee

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.

Startup & International

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.

Politico-Economic Environment

e-ID

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.

Political statements

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.

  1. 26 February 2021 – Statement on the amendment of the Federal Act against Unfair Competition (UCA): Read the statement (only in German)
  1. 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)
  1. 17 August 2021 – Statement on the redesign of e-voting trials. To the press release and statement: German and French
  1. 15 September 2021 – Statement on the amendment of Ordinance 2 to the Labor Code: To the media release and statement (German and French)
  1. 14 October 2021 – Revision of the Ordinance to the Federal Act on Data Protection: Read the statement (only in German)

Position papers

The following two position papers were published in 2021:

  1. 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
  1. 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.

What’s to come: 2022 and beyond

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.

Regional stretch

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.

Member Relations

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.