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We support the vaccination campaign of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)

The past year has accelerated digital transformation and the public discourse around it. It’s time we continue the conversation in person. We choose to get vaccinated to meet safely with our members, partners and supporters to reconnect, network, make plans and speak about the past year and the goals we have for the years to come. We will see you soon.

Please take a moment to look at our event calendar. Where will we see you next?

Switzerland misses an important opportunity

Bern, March 7, 2021 – The Alliance for a Swiss e-ID notes with regret that the Swiss electorate’s reservations about the e-ID law have prevailed. By rejecting the e-ID law, Switzerland is missing the opportunity for an autonomous e-ID and more legal certainty in digital identification. It is now up to politicians to find a new solution. The Alliance for a Swiss e-ID is convinced of the need for a state-recognised Swiss e-ID and calls for a swift and constructive dialogue.

The Alliance for a Swiss e-ID has to take note of the fact that after 15 years of deliberation, the e-ID law has not found a majority among the electorate. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in communicating to a majority of the population the importance of a recognised Swiss e-ID and successful digitization. As a result, Switzerland is missing an opportunity to take a big step forward in technological development.

Solution sought that is suitable for a majority
Concerns about the Swiss e-ID during the referendum campaign were manifold and now require in-depth analysis. It is questionable how quickly a new majority-capable solution can be developed and adopted.

Nicolas Bürer, Managing Director of digitalswitzerland, appeals to politicians to resume the dossier quickly and states: “We will continue to work constructively for a Swiss e-ID. We are convinced of the need for a recognised Swiss solution. We need to move forward in the interest of everyone and not lose more ground to other countries.”

“We will continue to work constructively for a Swiss e-ID. We are convinced of the need for a recognised Swiss solution. We need to move forward in the interest of everyone and not lose more ground to other countries.”

Watch news clip about e-ID (in German)

Covid-19 triggers a push in digitalisation and thereby establishes a long-term hybrid future in which digital and analogue are seamlessly connected. digitalswitzerland, in cooperation with the Wissensfabrik, developed a white paper outlining five ways of how digital transformation can be continued. It focuses on the potential of digital infrastructure, idea spaces, institutions of the knowledge society, new interfaces and new forms of cooperation.

Covid-19 as a digital stress test

There are many different aspects of the Covid-19 crisis. The virus attacks our bodies, isolates the sick and the elderly, puts a burden on our healthcare system, triggers infodemics and seals up our echo chambers. We are all affected by an ill-defined fear of invisible danger.

If anyone gets too close to us at a railway station, we flinch. We hesitate before touching door handles, or when our shopping cost exceeds 80 CHF and we have to enter our PIN number using dirty buttons. As a result of social distancing, we have developed an unexpectedly intense relationship with ourselves, our living rooms and our nearest and dearest.

Not everything we learn from that experience is positive. From an economic point of view, a continued lack of customers is causing cash flow problems. We face the threat of a deep recession, which can only be overcome by creating new markets and jobs and which could see a withering of our cultural landscape. Ultimately, Covid-19 is a stress test for digital Switzerland. We are finding out where everyday life slips seamlessly into the digital world and where there is an abrupt divide.

The pandemic experience is exposing digital deficits. Without an online presence, revenues fail to materialise and poor digital solutions lead to a loss of image. This is why those companies and public authorities who have been involuntarily exposed are in a hurry to rectify their deficiencies. Not only could the pandemic experience soon be repeated, but the post-Corona world is also likely to see a more digitally conscious approach by customers, citizens and employees.

You don’t have to be a trend researcher to recognise that Covid-19 will trigger a boost in digitalisation and finally lead us into a hybrid future. In that future, we will consume, work, learn, love, and communicate in a way that is both analogue and digital. The transition between those worlds will only become seamless when all documents, identity papers, signatures, decision-making processes, customer and patient records have been digitalised. Security and data sovereignty need to be ensured at all times. If not, there will be a surge of resistance and a flourishing of cybercrime.

The stress test highlights where digital front runners will accelerate in future – digital shapers, disruptors from San Francisco and Beijing, FinTech companies and web designers. E-sport, e-shopping, Zoom meetings, home office, home-schooling and online university all give us a glimpse of how the transformation may evolve over the next few years. In some cases, it started some time ago. A simple mental exercise generated by Covid-19 serves as a key question as we look to the long-term future.

What will the future demand of us in which we no longer want to touch anything, where we can no longer physically meet other people, and where the internet is the only way out of our homes into the big wide world? Many of the technical and ethical limits of this scenario remain unclear. As radical as these changes could be, they also open up our eyes to new markets and social innovations that would previously have been deemed impossible. Is it not important for Switzerland to anticipate, discuss and process these opportunities and risks?

In order for this to be successful, we have to work together to write the progression of the digital transformation. In the last three months, we made things possible collectively that we needed several years to achieve in the past. However, our way into the digital future will continue. digitalswitzerland and Wissensfabrik show how we can continue to tell our digital story.

Digital Infrastructure

The excellence of a digital society is measured by the quality of its digital infrastructure. Upgrading this is clearly the first way of progressing the digital transformation. Over the last few months, it has been made abundantly clear just how dependent work, consumption, culture, science, communication, and democratic debate have become on cables, hardware, software, and platforms. People and companies are paying the price for not investing into a digital landscape. The pandemic experience is a wake-up call to improve this infrastructure.

Covid-19 has shown where slow internet speeds make our lives more difficult, how well our home office works, how synchronised our devices are, and how difficult it is to introduce an app for public welfare. Investing in our infrastructure means optimising the data exchange between people, companies, public authorities, and machines. It still demands tangible elements: new fibre optic cables in cities, fast hotspots in rural areas, secure data centres, and laptops for employees. 

The virus shows us the importance of websites, online shops, social media profiles, customer relationship management, or simply digital contact opportunities. Without online access to archives, documents, databases and agendas, organisations simply stop functioning. Museums, mountain railways, gyms, and open-air swimming pools are now all introducing digital booking systems to ensure social distancing. They recognise how these systems provide knowledge about their businesses and flatten out visitor peaks. Instead of big data and AI, the next few months will require some digital foundation work.

We have identified the gaps in our ability to enable parliaments, law courts, universities, hospitals, public authorities and our employers to function on a digital-only basis for months on end, if need be. These findings are important, because sooner or later, there will be a new pandemic, and in recent weeks, new users have discovered the benefits of the internet. An excellent digital infrastructure protects us from viruses, a volatile economy and infodemics. It is part of our social immune system.

Corona has revealed our vulnerabilities in a number of ways. Legislation does not yet cover all areas of the digital world, which we need to address as a society. Without trustworthiness and IT security, sustainable digitalisation cannot succeed.

Doris Leuthard, former President of the Swiss Confederation & President Swiss Digital Inititaive

The ongoing lack of physical customer contact is forcing many companies to look long and hard at their business models and test offers from the subscription economy. Subscriptions for chocolates and haircuts secure cash flow from an economic standpoint and reduce the volatility of the national economy. The new wave of digitalisation strengthens delivery services and all sorts of home services. Instead of going out for a massage, to a restaurant, or to play mini golf, these services and experiences are delivered to our homes.

Unexpected events like Covid-19 show us how important it is to be able to reach your customers digitally and how customer-driven agility reaches a whole new dimension. As well as workplaces and management principles, it also adds a new dynamism to product ranges, profitability models, and customer relationships. Calida has started offering protective masks, the Berne-based gin specialist Matte-Brennerei produces disinfectant, and restaurants are sending out vacuum-packed 5-course meals. In order to be effective, customers need to be made aware of such changes in strategy.

From the point of view of sellers, platforms, and infrastructure providers, each digital interaction offers new opportunities for documenting customers’ stories, breaking down their preferences and segmenting them into target groups. For the customers, however, digital controlling could increase their desire to avoid being perpetually tracked. In data management, the issue of cyber security is every bit as important as digital ethics.

Our reality has changed in recent weeks and with it our behaviour. We are all becoming more digital by the minute, and this increasingly digital life needs a backbone, a technical system in the background that is more reliable than ever before.

Roger Semprini, Managing Director Switzerland Equinix

These issues should be discussed continuously in transparent and participative processes. Commercial aspects also need to be addressed. We still lack simple ways of storing our data decentrally, sharing it according to different situations, and deleting it upon request. Who sets up the all-important data custodians, exchanges, cooperatives, and vaults? Without trust in data management of providers, we buy books instead of e-books and visit dressmakers instead of buying our fashion online via Zalando. When it is poorly implemented, digitalisation strengthens the offliners.

Idea Spaces

A second progression story of the digital transformation deals with idea spaces. These are spaces in which we can reflect, recognise ourselves, develop new things, and explore options for the future.

While the whole world is navigating in unfamiliar waters, we should create new ways of thinking and solutions that benefit society and not only shareholder profit. This crisi has highlighted the need for digital transformation efforts and strategies that serve society, citizens and consumers.

Sophie Michaud Gigon, General Secretary of the FRC and National Councillor

More digitalisation means more machines, robots, drones, and artificial intelligence working with us and thinking alongside us. They relieve us of onerous tasks, are more efficient than we are, and have better memories and calculating abilities. We remain the masters of sensuality, invention and investigation, feelings, and entrepreneurship. If we don’t want to wake up in a dull world calculated entirely by algorithms, we need to invest in the skills that separate us from machines. Colourful, unstructured, networking idea spaces stimulate our imagination and empathy, our critical thinking, and our self-reflection. They include the places and platforms where we get to know other people, exchange ideas, share inspiration, and seek rest and relaxation. Idea spaces include political activity. If parliament is unable to meet in a digital space, the threat of emergency law always prevails. 

In order for Switzerland to have a rich future of ideas, we need to be investing in restaurants, museums, botanical gardens, festivals, publishers, and theatres, large and small. Our senses are cultivated in places where humans come together. They intensify the moment and allow us to travel through time. We change our perspective, are freed from the constrictions of everyday life, and leave our echo chambers. In unfamiliar surroundings and in lively discussions, we come up with new thoughts.

Equally as important are moments of peace and quiet, when we devote ourselves to exploring a problem in depth. That’s where it gets exciting; that’s where things suddenly click. We need the analogue world in order to bring the digital world to life. This Corona period shows us the value of having time to think. We are allowed to lose ourselves in topics and search inquisitively for origins and progressions. As we slow down, we discover what we enjoy doing and where we stand in our own way. M

anagers who have matured through Covid-19 will allow their employees more time to reflect. Without this, we are not innovative, we can’t practice critical reflection, and the robots have nothing to do.

Innovation requires time and chaos. Work environments should be rambling English gardens rather than formal French ones. Every company is an idea space, where the future evolves through new technologies, materials, offers, and ways of interacting. Taking this vision as a starting point, we should rethink our working worlds. They will be hybrid, and it will no longer matter whether our collaboration is analogue or digital. Office life will fuse into co-working and home offices, and with periods of contemplation in the forest.

The vision now is a work environment in which we no longer meet physically. In video conferences of recent weeks, there has been a definite sense that we haven’t had the time and proximity to discuss issues in proper depth, to perceive our counterpart with all our senses, and to build up genuine relationships. At the same time, Zoom calls have shown us how many meetings and appointments could easily be eliminated. We should meet less often but make our meetings more deliberate so that we can focus on the dialogue itself. Machines should do the administration work for us.

A society of a thousand ideas needs a vibrant start-up scene. Covid-19 is a contrast agent. We recognise which digital applications will become significant. New markets are all about e-shops, delivery services, home services, telemedicine, data and privacy protection. Future technologies will make us smarter in the way we handle knowledge, energy, and resources. The digital and green transformations will intersect.

What does a vital Swiss entrepreneurship need in addition to tax breaks? Subsidies for start-ups, a government start-up fund, crowd-funded venture capital? How can we ensure the emergence of global players who can keep pace with the competition from China and the USA? If start-ups thrive, then the transformation of established companies and the digital fitness of our SMEs will be of the utmost importance. Together, the young, old, large, and small companies will form an ecosystem. It will only truly come to life if skills, knowledge, and data all flow freely.

Institutions of the Knowledge Society

A third progression of the digital transformation involves the institutions of our knowledge society. Covid-19 intensified the digital reinvention of all organisations who generate, distribute, and preserve knowledge. In just a few weeks, media, schools, libraries, and universities adjusted their operations. Securing their transformation in the long term will require evaluation, research, and digital strategies. It would be a shame if the future was not shaped and supported by the findings of this involuntary experiment. Universities and colleges who multiply and generate knowledge are particularly in the spotlight in this respect.

The quality of their research will decide how smart we are in future in terms of how we handle biological, economic, and IT-related viruses. Smart means identifying risks at an early stage, preventing new pandemics, and eliminating their root causes, but also offering orientational knowledge – to break down anxiety and make the economy more robust. It’s up to us to determine how much this horrible virus damages our health, our society, and our economy.

Digital teaching at universities is here to stay.

During the COVID-19 emergency, technology and therefore digital literacy have been more crucial than ever before. The ability to find, evaluate, classify and create information on digital platforms are key competencies critical for all. Lifelong learning is the cornerstone to develop and enhance such future skills.

Luciana Vaccaro, Rector HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland

Students want to be able to work through lectures as podcasts at the time of their choosing. Due to the endless Covid loop, which has kept us isolated at home for weeks on end, we have been forced into new interactive teaching and learning formats. Will students do more private study, coached by their lecturers in video conferences and on walks? Chat bots connect students with data-based networking and encourage mutual learning. Also, collaborative reading, in which students see the markings and questions of their classmates, creates a new interaction. Covid-19 offers the chance to test e-learning environments in a critical fashion and reinforce collaboration between universities.

Students should be able to study for one term at any university in the country without today’s bureaucratic hurdles standing in their way. This proves even more true given that lifelong learning implies that we will, in future, study more than once and at more advanced ages.

The need to access knowledge online strengthens the paperless society. The opportunities here include interdisciplinarity through links and simple networking, immediacy, and a lively culture of expert debate through visible discourses. These benefits also come with some risks: echo chambers, overburdening, congestion, the manipulation of knowledge, and erasure of the past. Theoretical, reflective, and manual digital skills turn risks into opportunities. A paperless society places demands on libraries that have not yet fully digitalised their collections. Does each person really need their own login?

Administration also has some homework to do. The moment has finally come to build portals, similar to e-banking, for taxes, pensions, and official business. The latter should be possible in a single click: certifications, change of residence, residence confirmations and self-employment. An electronic ID is essential in this case. In Switzerland, the government in the role of the issuer enjoys greater trust than private companies do.

Institutions of the knowledge society include medical clinics, dentists, and veterinary practices, hospitals, residential, and care homes. There is no doubt that Switzerland lags behind in this respect. It’s placed near the bottom of the rankings in the Bertelsmann Foundation’s Digital Health Index. Covid-19 could strengthen innovations in telemedicine, psychology, physiotherapy, and dentistry.

We are experiencing the hour of digital medicine. Up until now, the risks rather than the benefits have been the focus, but the corona pandemic is changing this assessment. The acceptance of digital solutions has increased dramatically and will enable more efficient processes, data exchange and communication during the patient journey. The real benefit of this development will be a more personal interaction with our patients and reallocated time from administrative tasks to medical care.

Thomas Huffler, Managing Director Balgrist University Hospital Zurich

Only fully digitalised medical histories can fulfil the promise of personalised medicine and, alongside it, artificial intelligence. AI prescribes medication, recognises patterns in symptoms, analyses images taken by dermatologists, oncologists, and radiologists. Data are also essential for controlling epidemics. As data providers, not only our bodies and our smartphones, but also waste water and exercise frequency can be analysed. This digital future medicine in Switzerland will require more co-operation between hospitals, start-ups, and the digital economy.

New Interfaces

Covid-19 is pushing for the removal of interfaces. Interfaces describe the tools we use to operate machines and surf the internet. Not much has changed ever since smartphones were first introduced. The eleventh iPhone has more or less the same features as the first. Will we be seeing intelligent glasses, rings, and contact lenses next?

Researching and introducing new interfaces could be a fourth progression of the transformation. This would affect phones, tablets, and computers – but also ticket and coffee vending machines, payment terminals, and scales in supermarkets. New interfaces are being driven forward due to the poor environmental footprint of screens. The virus has suddenly given us a view of a society in which we no longer want to touch things and where we shy away from screens, switches, buttons, and keys. In order to prevent smear infections, payment, and ordering systems, doors and vending machines are moving towards gesture control and voice computing. In the first instance, we will have to learn a new language; in the second, we must overcome our reluctance to talk to machines.

Our voice is a powerful information carrier. Like our fingerprint, it is unique. It also holds secrets about our health and personality. Our faces are equally rich in data. It is hardly surprising that wary citizens and consumers eye intelligent cameras and loudspeakers with critical caution. They fear surveillance, constant supervision, and manipulative data leeches. The fact that a digital world with new interfaces – without paper and without the old touch-control options – causes concern is manifested in the debate about a cashless society.

For our digital future, we should, therefore, regulate our data rights before the ubiquitous spread of new interfaces. One alternative to the hyper digital public space would be hygienic mummery with sterile gloves and face masks. In this future, we may leave fewer data behind, but we would pay for our freedom with enforced concealment and a new distance from our fellow humans.

New interfaces will change the way we access knowledge on the web. Basically, the PDF format, like paper, has reached its end-of-life stage. After all, isn’t this a pre-digital format that doesn’t touch upon the requirements of hypertext, scrolling, surfing, and search engines?

Form-filling with PDFs is particularly outdated. Conversely, web-based forms avoid media disruptions, increasing the quality of the data. Ideally, we would have better and more secure meta log-ins so that we would no longer have to enter our contact and key data anew on every website. The password has been searching for a successor for a long time now. If business transactions are to go digital, the digital signature will need to be established for reasons of legal security. Might this be an iris scan at some point, or a voice print?

These prospects show how important felt security is for citizens and customers, as well as access to digital expertise for those institutions of the knowledge society that are willing to transform. Their employer branding decides whether or not it will be able to recruit these specialists. It depends on creative possibilities, management styles, work spaces, and working conditions.

The interfaces of a networked society also include, in a wider sense, logistics. This describes the lines of connection between the analogue and digital worlds.

During the lockdown, the need for our services at Swiss Post was growing rapidly, going beyond the distribution of parcels and letters into the delivery of essential goods. Also the demand for our digital services and processes rose overnight – be it in combination with physical goods or as purely digital services. This required us to act quickly and to offer solutions that were implementable virtually within days to address the needs of our customers and employees.

Claudia Pletscher, Head of Development & Innovation, Post CH Ltd

Covid-19 opens a window of opportunity for rethinking environmentally friendly shipping methods. The virus gives us a sense of a future in which all age segments shop online even more frequently. We need to prepare ourselves for this scenario now and avoid future quota fixing by the government. One of the side effects of an increase in mail order is the resulting mountain of cardboard outside our front doors.

Preferably, we would see the use of biodegradable materials and a more sustainable recycling and returns system. In Scandinavia, Zalando is currently evaluating the returnable system known as Repack – with presently 40,000 reusable delivery bags in circulation. Here, too, digitalisation plays a role. AI-based fleet systems calculate the fastest routes.

New Relationships

At the heart of the digital transformation, the next few months should see a focus on increasing the digital maturity of SMEs, administration, and those institutions of the knowledge society that have not yet become digitalised. Without a basic digital infrastructure, all other scenarios for digital Switzerland will remain nothing more than dreams. One thing that is fundamental for the next steps into the future is the basic digital work of the government. Official paperwork, from vaccination records to e-identity, should be issued by the government itself. Digital IDs should remain voluntary, or data protection must be guaranteed and controlled.

The more digital the functioning of the government and the more data it collects, the more urgent the question becomes of how controls can prevent the rise of a surveillance state and how its development can be supported through inspiring and networking sounding boards. Overall, Covid-19 creates an opportunity to rethink co-operation in business, society, politics and science. It is needed where companies are unable to solve social problems on their own.

Digital transformation requires a transversal and interdisciplinary approach as well as collaboration to break silos and be adaptable and economically sustainable. This paradigm shift can only be managed if academia, politics, administration, business, NGO’s and civil society join forces.

Eric Saracchi, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Firmenich

Promoting this cooperation for and through digitalisation is a fifth way to progress the digital transformation. For this purpose, companies with little or no digital experience need to obtain advice from experts. This will prevent the same errors from being repeated for years to come. Co-operations bring added value, not just with basic tasks but also with data management and visualisation, artificial intelligence, and gesture and voice-controlled interfaces. Working together enables cost-saving and sharing expertise.

When vets support other vets or custodians support other custodians, cooperation merges with competition. Those who enter into partnerships can also exploit untapped innovation potential. This potential detects who is able to co-use data, employees, and infrastructure. One core rule of innovation applies: it arises through combinations. The more surprising the choice of partner, the greater the potential for innovation. Such partnerships demand a degree of sharing – including customer access and profits. Solutions range from project exchanges to co-working and data partnerships.

Covid-19 has made us more aware of how important a modular understanding of infrastructure and workforce is in extreme situations. When you think in a modular way, cinemas soon become storehouses for hygiene articles, and taxis become delivery services for freshly picked asparagus. The vision of a modular economy could be a flexible skills market. Overnight, dentists will become hygiene specialists, and hairdressers will become fruit pickers.

A democratic society demands this agility not through force but through financial safeguarding. In order to strengthen the robustness of the economy, we need to rethink the concept of agility. A company is not agile just by introducing Scrum methodology, offering a home office day, or the CEO turning up in trainers. Instead, radical agility demands overnight action to establish new offers and customer relationships using the infrastructure, the raw materials, the skills, and the networks that are available in the ecosystem.

The corona pandemic is a socio-economic as well as a disruptive driver of digitalisation. We have yet to see the far-reaching structural impact it will have on the demand for mobility and on the way we are working. Already we can see: Companies that are only now starting with digitalisation and new ways of working like WorkSmart are at a disadvantage. At SBB we are well positioned. Up to 13’000 employees have worked from home at the same time. This requires solid digital infrastructures, data protection and cyber securtiy. We are happy to see our customers coming back gradually, it is a clear proof that personal relationships will remain essential in the future.

Monika Ribar, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors SBB

Ultimately, the time-out of the last few months has given us the chance to create even stronger links between the mega trends of digitalisation, demographic change, and green transformation. They will be connected through future markets and social innovations in the area of personalised health, the ecological design of hardware or smart agriculture featuring drones, and the Internet of Things.

Neither the future markets nor the desired social innovations can be realised without a high degree of digital maturity in terms of the processes, structures, and cultures of the players involved. Just as important are the relevant skills of employees. They will become all the more relevant the deeper the recession is triggered by the virus. You can interpret the pandemic as an opportunity for Europe. We might not be at the forefront of the platform economy, but now we could take up a leadership role in green digitalisation or the digitally supported green transformation.

Outro: Achieving the Digital New Deal

In recent years, a certain fatigue regarding issues of digitalisation has been creeping across the country. That is not surprising. There was hardly a workshop, a conference, a title page, or a bestseller where the buzzwords of digital transformation were not repeated. At the same time, many people had no reason to get involved in digitalisation, let alone actively promote it.

Why should they bother to increase their surf speed, shop online, talk to the machines, be examined by a doctor in their own living rooms via webcam, offer lectures as podcasts, or think about futuristic post-smartphone interfaces? Were we lacking persuasive reasons to progress the digital transformation? Has the stress test shown that so far, it has failed to live up to its potential to connect Switzerland?

Covid-19 changes the starting position to the extent that in the last few weeks, we have all intensively experienced, explored, and trialled the digital world. It was the biggest experiment in the short history of the digital era. Strengthened by this experience, we have been given the chance to choose a new narrative for our future.

The Covid-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated the importance of digitalisation for business, public administration and society. It significantly increased the pressure to act decisively and quickly. It’s obvious that we have to strengthen out digital infrastructure, further digitalise business processes, invest in digital innovation and develop new digital business models, which accelerate our transition to a digital economy and society.

Ivo Furrer, President of digitalswitzerland

Should digital be an underworld that we retreat to in emergency situations? Does the digital world hold the roots of our economic, creative, and social evolution? Could we make better use of the web to identify damaging all sorts of viruses at an early stage and contain them using smart means? The last few weeks have made clear how little we know about our co-existence with plants, animals, and viruses. Does the internet not offer us the means to deepen, expand, and multiply our knowledge of the environment? Experts can easily share knowledge without institutional and disciplinary hurdles and publish their data. Plus, we can make direct contact with them.

Regardless of which narrative we choose, we need a Digital New Deal in order to make our infrastructure, institutions, and power of innovation future-proof. This new deal combines analogue with digital, digital professionals with digital beginners, natural sciences with the arts, the governments with its citizens, economy with society, nature with technology. The Digital New Deal must be part of the Green New Deal in order to avoid intensifying the dangers of climate change and a society of inequality.

The first seven months of the year are already history and much has happened in our digitalswitzerland universe. Let me take these slower and hot summer days as occasion to have a look back and give you a short overview about our activities in the first half of 2018.

With more members comes more responsibility

Our valued member base is continually growing: we are delighted that as of today, we count more than 120 members to our digitalswitzerland family. In less than three years, we were able to build a strong alliance with stakeholders from the private and public sector, academia and non-profit organizations with the common aim to bring Switzerland forward. Together, we are the digital voice of Switzerland. Our team is committed to our cause and with now 16 people in our Lausanne and Zurich office, we strive to really make a difference.

Politico-Economic Environment: Cybersecurity and blockchain on top of the agenda

In our project pillar ‘Politico-Economic Environment’, our main project is the Digital Action Plan (short: DAP). Within the Digital Action Plan, we push concrete projects and recommendations in seven action fields, such as infrastructure & data policy, cybersecurity, health, society & digital transformation, regulation, ecosystem & innovation, education.

The last two focus topics within the DAP were blockchain and cybersecurity. Next up: health. Let us share some of the key take-aways:

Focus topic blockchain:

Focus topic cybersecurity:

Startup Enablement: digitalswitzerland Startup Bootcamps to help startups and corporates fly

To know the right people at the right time can be challenging.  That is why we launched our Startup Bootcamps. We see us as an enabler who can make this first connection as easy as possible – by bringing the corporate innovation managers and the startup co-founders together in one room. The success was remarkable: 80 one-to-one meetings took place during one bootcamp day. Each of the participating 20 scale-up companies was able to arrange between four and seven follow-up meetings throughout the day. The satisfaction of the young entrepreneurs and corporate representatives was accordingly high.


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Want to know more? Read here about our Scale Up Bootcamps and here to get insights into our Marketentry Bootcamp.

Corporate Enablement: Under the banner of the digitalswitzerland Challenge

In April, we celebrated the first year of our digitalswitzerland challenge and elected the bet winner of the first season: Riva Digital. The winning reason: The E-Health team has not only won its bet but is also creating a project for the general public.

Inspired by what is possible when interdisciplinary teams work together on projects, which pave the way for a digital future, new companies and organizations pitched new bets. The second round of bets are in full swing and we are curious to see who will make it to the finish line in 2019.


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With the open challenge in June, we were looking for potential Matterhorn projects and hope to turn into reality those ideas with the potential to transform Switzerland and the world in a sustainable manner.

Education & Talent: nextgeneration summer camps are preparing kids for the future

Today, children are still learning the same content as 40 years ago – while our world is becoming more complex, required skills and the job market are changing. That is why the topic of education is so important for us and we called into life our nextgeneration initiative. Already in its second year, children had the chance to learn how to code, build robots or think computational during our nextgeneration summer camps. The second season of the nextgeneration camps were a success and several media reported from site

For schools, students and teachers: We are currently calling for a video competition! The theme this year is centred on what a digitalised playground (“playground 4.0”) looks like. The idea is to produce a 90-second film, using a smartphone, with a vision of what a playground 4.0 may look like. Click here to participate and for more information.

Public Dialogue: Experiencing digital together!

For the second Digital Day, we reached out to all regions and more partners to make it a truly national and inclusive event. And we are very happy to have all regions on board and even more! Besides the main hubs in the train stations of Zurich, Geneva and Lugano, the cities Chur, Yverdon, Sion, Fribourg, Basel, St.Gallen, Lausanne and even Vaduz will participate in the national Digital Day. 

This year’s Digital Day 2018 invites the Swiss population to take a closer look at the topic of digitalisation, to ask questions about opportunities and challenges and as our main claim states: experiencing digital together. In 7 so-called Theme Worlds, new technologies and all questions around digitalisation become more concrete. Our pre-campaign will be launched soon, stay tuned and keep your eyes, ears and mind open!

New project pillar International Connectivity: More visibility for Switzerland

We added another project pillar to our portfolio: our sixth pillar is called International Connectivity and aims to make Switzerland better known abroad as a deeptech nation. We want to connect with other international tech hubs to learn, exchange and foster the international awareness for the Swiss innovation and technology ecosystem.


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Looking forward to the second half of 2018 and the second edition of the Digital Day

What’s next? In the coming months we will further intensify our activities and besides our daily business in pushing our projects forward, we have several activities and events coming up:

We are optimistic that within the coming months, we can increase the impact for Switzerland, foster innovation and collaboration, raise awareness and involve all stakeholders, from the company to every individual in Switzerland in a dialogue about the challenges and opportunities digitalisation holds for all of us. Become part of the conversation: Either through Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin. Or the old-fashioned way: You find us at the Kraftwerk Zurich. And of course: Be part of the Digital Day 2018 – we are looking forward to meeting you!

Subscribe to our newsletter und if you have anything on your mind, please feel free to contact us anytime.

digitalswitzerland is pleased to be an active content partner at the third Digital Festival (September 13–16, 2018 in Zurich) and to make an active contribution to the leading meeting of the digital scene in Switzerland as a Content Partner. digitalswitzerland will also curate an Executive Talk with exciting personalities from the Swiss digital economy at the event.

The Digital Festival will bring together more than 3,000 people for the third time. Whether you are a hacker, manager, scientist, programmer or CEO – the Digital Festival puts people first and addresses those who want to actively engage with digital trends and topics.  By working together, we can expand the network and establish an exciting platform where communities can mix together. The festival sees itself as an incubation platform for the next steps and future ideas. And the multitude of exciting keynotes, workshops, labs, and parties provide a valuable impetus and plenty of opportunities for networking. For example, Vlad Yatsenko (Co-Founder & CTO of Revolut), Chris Slowe (Co-Founder & CTO of Reddit) or Margarita Quihuis (Founder of the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab) could be recruited to participate as speakers.

Executive Talk on Thursday – together with digitalswitzerland

The Executive Talk on Thursday, September 13, which will be held in cooperation with digitalswitzerland, will be devoted to the topic of “Hello Optimism.” Panelists will include such top personalities as Philomena Collatrella (CSS), Urs Schäppi (Swisscom), Marc Walder (Ringier), and Tom Hanan (WebRepublic). The audience will have the opportunity to interact live with the four panelists.

Also with the HackZurich as part of the Digital Festival

HackZurich is also part of the Digital Festival. HackZurich has quickly become the leading technology and talent platform with international appeal. Meanwhile, more than 550 international specialists, programmers, and engineers who were selected from about 5,000 applicants from 50 countries will come to Zurich to develop innovative product prototypes in teams over the course of 40 hours. digitalswitzerland is pleased to further expand and strengthen the international significance of the festival.

More information and tickets for the Digital Festival can be found at

Stay tuned and subscribe to our digitalswitzerland Newsletter!

As part of our strategy 2018-2019 at digitalswitzerland, we are developing new activities in the area of international visibility and connectivity. We aim on one side to increase the visibility of the Swiss digital innovation ecosystem abroad, on the other side it is also about connecting with other digital and innovation hubs and developing collaborations. We believe in increasing the attractiveness of the Swiss ecosystem with these international objectives and help our members to also profit from such activities.

But first, we had the opportunity to do two conference visits at the Wolves Summit in Warsaw and the EU Startup Summit in Barcelona.  The Wolves Summit is with more than 2’000 participants one of the most important tech conference in Eastern Europe. This summit focuses on tech and innovation, mainly with participants from Eastern Europe. Very positive was the quality of speakers and panellists on stage but also the possibility to conduct many 1:1 meetings during both days, a very efficient way to get to know many interesting people. The EU Startup Summit, now in Barcelona but previously held in Berlin, gave a very good perspective about the Western Europe Tech Ecosystem. Many startupers, investors and accelerators met during one day and showed their perspectives and visions. Main attends were from Spain, France and Germany I would say.

Now what are the insights and interesting matters from both trips and compared with our Swiss digital ecosystem?

Insights from Poland

Poland is great for building strong IT or industrial products. Good and committed workforce, average cost of producing compared to many other countries. Also, the people have developed a very good sense for product quality. Poland seems to have affinity with the blockchain technology with many startups in this sphere. The ICO topic is also in all mouth, nevertheless uncertainty remains rather high due to lack of clear regulations.

On the other side, and maybe because the market is pretty big with its 38Mio users, majority of startups are not able or not willing to scale internationally. Reasons are mainly due to the fragmented CEE and Europe in general, but also because many startups think that the market is big enough to build successful ventures, which is somewhere true.

Digitalpoland, a similar initiative to digitalswitzerland but in Poland, is doing great progress since their launch about one year ago. Besides developing their member base, they are launching new initiatives (digital shapers, hackathon) and it seems that they have very good traction so far. Bundling forces in this digital revolution is the best answer to deal with current challenges.

Finally, good news for Poland is the fact that the government is investing much money, about €300Mio, in many different existing or new funds to invest in Polish startups. These €300Mio are completed with about €200Mio from the private sector. A very high amount of money which should boost the ecosystem. Although if the structure is different from the Swiss Entrepreneur Fund, the vision is very similar.


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Insights from Spain

In my opinion Spain has a pretty different focus so far. Majority of startups, as I could see, are focus on B2C business model, more consumer goods or consumer services. Of course also with a strong tech in the background, but for sure Spain has a good momentum in consumer-facing business models. Spanish startups, although the country is big enough, tend to quickly go international, either in Western Europe or even in LATAM.

Spain is also lacking Venture Money as we do in Switzerland and startupers have to pitch abroad (Mainly France, UK and Germany) as soon as they raise their Series A, B or C. Also I could not meet any startups in deeptech topics like robotics, IoT, VR, etc and I have not the impression blockchain is a main focus of the tech ecosystem so far.

Anyway, Barcelona acts as magnet in the region with a strong growing startup ecosystem, since many of the startups are consumer-oriented, they are strong in marketing and visibility, helping for sure the entire ecosystem also abroad. Several European VCs are interested in investing in Spanish startups, which shows the current quality growth of the business models.


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How good is Switzerland known in these two tech ecosystems?

Switzerland as a tech and innovation hub is rather known and respected when speaking with participants at the conference, but for sure not really appreciated for its quality. People knows at best the Crypto Valley and our affinity to Blockchain, or sometimes our high quality in robotics or deeptech topics in general. Almost no one knows we have raised almost 1Mia in capital for Swiss startups in 2018, positioning the country in the 5th position in Europe. This shows that we have much work ahead in order to strengthen Switzerland’s position and visibility as an innovative and tech hub, especially by explaining and showing our assets.

2 final remarks for today:

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A strong network to achieve an even greater impact

Our members are private companies from all sectors, public organizations, academia, non-profit organizations. But they all have one mission: Making Switzerland a leading digital innovation hub – worldwide. Digitalization will disrupt existing structures and business models at unprecedented speed and even challenge states. So, it is high time to start innovative and forward thinking to bring Switzerland to the next digital level. This is why digitalswitzerland exists: We wand to bundle forces and make Switzerland the place where digital innovation starts and our future is created. We know, this is a very ambitious mission, but as a proverb goes: Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Sounds great – but you still need a deep dive into digitalswitzerland?

We have five major pillars: education & talent, start-up enablement, corporate enablement, public dialog and political-economic environment. In each of these pillars we have several projects with the aim to advance digital innovation. And overall, we try to coordinate between different stakeholders, to offer services on questions about digitalization and to bring light into the dark by organizing events and workshops on topics such as blockchain, cybersecurity, e-health and so on.  Some examples with regards to our projects:

We would like to thank our more than 100 members for everything we achieved in such a short period of time. We know that without their power and endurance in all the initiatives and projects we would not be where we are today. So thank you very much for your continuous support!

Exciting times ahead

After not even three fulminant years and many implemented projects, we are looking very optimistic into the future. With the support of more than 100 members and our high-level network, we will tackle the coming challenges and our aim is to create an even bigger impact for our members and Switzerland as a whole. Are you ready for the ride? We are!

Get involved in our projects or please subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter and we will keep you posted about all things digitalswitzerland!

First, I would like to wish you a great start into 2018 and much success in achieving your New Year’s resolutions. Maybe some of you made some digital resolutions as well. For example, learning how to code, build a website, but also smaller things such as buying a smartphone or a tablet, buying an online-ticket or using Google Maps to find a location. Or you’re going for a big step in the digital world, like founding a new AI startup or raising money in an ICO.

We Live in a Digital Revolution


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As in every revolution, live as we know it will be turned upside down. With digitization, the revolution is fast paced and extremely global, meaning less time to adapt, more chances to grow and become international, but also many more competitors from bigger countries and markets. An easy example of this is the smartphone as we know it today, which only turned ten years old recently. In this short amount of time, it turned whole industries upside down while also creating many new young but already very big companies such as UBER, Whatsapp, or Instagram, to name just a few.

Making Switzerland a Leading Digital Innovation Hub. Worldwide!

Our mission at digitalswitzerland is rather broadly formulated to include the whole spectrum of digitization. We are convinced that there is no aspect of business, politics and society that will remain unaffected by digitization. Hence, only digital innovation in Switzerland can bring us forward.

To be more exact, digitalswitzerland acts as enabler and executioner at the same time. With our many initiatives, we try on the one hand to enable existing activities, bundle them and thus achieve a wider reach (e.g. On the other hand, we execute initiatives such as the Digital Day and many others, where we invite the public together with our members and partners to start the important dialog on opportunities and challenges coming from digitization. Where are we heading? What are the challenges ahead? How can we best prepare to take advantage of the opportunities ahead?

Pushing Ahead in 2018

In 2018 we will use our member base as an additional accelerator for our cause. Meaning, we will push the initiatives we started even further and aim for even more impact.

In 2018 we will use our member base as an additional accelerator for our cause. Meaning, we will push the initiatives we started even further and aim for even more impact.

Political Framework
With the Digital Action Plan, we aim to reach further milestones on the concrete implementation projects defined in 2017. We will use the knowledge gained from this profound work to address challenges and raise our concerns regarding the political framework. With regard to the political sphere, we consider the implementation of a sense of urgency concerning the digital revolution as even more important.

Education & Talent
In order to make Switzerland future ready, we need to give our children the right tools and prepare them now for a digital future. Our education system is definitely top-notch compared to other countries. However, we are convinced that we need to adapt that system or at least part of it. We have to invest our resources towards a modernized education system that is able to keep up with the fast-paced technological developments. Thus, coding and entrepreneurship must become a priority for the future curriculum. Furthermore, we need to invest not only in our children, but in all generations and make lifelong learning a new state of mind in Switzerland.

Startup Enablement
In the last two years, we helped accelerate the Swiss startup system with the Kickstart Accelerator and connected startups with investors and corporates. We learned that there are already many fantastic initiatives for Swiss startups to receive “seed money” (to start off). The gaps we are trying to close in 2018:

Thought Leadership
The digitalswitzerland challenge is one of our main initiatives and involves by far most of our members and partners. 2018 is about pushing the bets and roundtables ahead to more collaboration and ultimately bigger bets, in order to take full effect for all of Switzerland.

Public Dialog
The dialog with the Swiss public was started at last year’s digital day and we will keep it ongoing throughout 2018. We will involve SMEs, startups as well as schools in this dialog and will enable regional initiatives to bring more regions onto our platforms as well.

With all these impactful initiatives, we will invest some of our resources to receive increasing global attention as a digital innovation hub. In concrete terms, the goal is to aim very high with a few Swiss specific projects in order to receive international media coverage for what Switzerland is able to achieve when all relevant players work together towards the same goal.

In Short, This is What Our Masterplan looks like