The most inspiring digital innovators and trailblazers were celebrated at The Digital Economy Award at the Hallenstadion in Zurich on 11 November.

In an inspiring opening speech, Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter declared, “Digitalisation must serve people – and not the other way around.” This is also the declared goal of the Federal Council’s ‘Digital Switzerland Strategy’. The first principle of this strategy is: “Putting people at the forefront.’


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The winners of the Digital Economy Award 2021 were selected by a 40-member expert jury. Adding to the celebratory atmosphere, 1,000 guests from the digital industry, research, business and politics gathered to watch winners take to the stage as the most inspiring digital innovators of 2021. The audience also honoured two young people who were crowned this year’s NextGen Heroes. These inspirational digital leaders are changing the world with innovative digital solutions.

Next Global Hot Thing: Labster

Labster offers virtual labs to support the increasingly complex science curriculum through game-based learning, engaging stories, and 3D visualizations. Their aim is to engage students’ interest in learning at a deeper level. Jury President Pascal Kaufmann, founder of Starmind, paid tribute to the winners: “Labster has impressive growth figures and millions of users worldwide. Science and knowledge transfer are accessible to the whole world via state-of-the-art virtual reality, mobile, and desktop technology. With over CHF 100 million in fundraising to date, this has also inspired investors from all over the world.”

Digital Innovation of the Year: Firmenich

Firmenich is a 125-year-old privately-owned Swiss company and one of the world’s largest developers and manufacturers of perfumes and flavours. Jury President Lukas Bär: “Together with EPFL Lausanne, Firmenich developed a digital lab where the world’s first AI flavour was developed in Switzerland. The combination of people and technology (augmented perfumer) in an emotional area – the sense of smell – is daring, courageous and innovative. This co-creation makes digital work a highly emotional one. Firmenich has reinvented itself! And this in a traditional luxury sector: anyone who wants to reinvent the profession of perfumer must have a phenomenal amount of courage.

Digital Excellence SME: Belimed

Belimed supports the smart hospital, which relies on optimised and automated processes. Jury President Samy Liechti: “In a challenging, highly regulated and international environment, Belimed has enabled a transformation from a hardware provider to a service provider. The company presents a convincing vision with a clear strategy, including a roadmap and satisfies an effective customer need. This is reflected in a clear data strategy, in which data is seen as the basis for further innovation. Belimed is working on the hospital of the future with a lot of courage and innovative spirit – and we are proud that a Swiss company is shining out into the world as a beacon with its work. They call themselves “Engineers of Confidence.”

Digital Excellence NPO & Government: Finanzdirektion Kanton Zug

Digitalization in the canton of Zug does not just mean tools and technology, but a different mindset and the courage to embrace cultural change. Jury President Anke Bridge Haux: “The Canton of Zug has achieved far-reaching digital development with “Digital Zug” – for the entire cantonal administration and inhabitants. A broad portfolio of diverse, concrete projects has been implemented, based on the Zug ID. The jury was impressed by the large scale of implementation and the courage of the canton to play a pioneering role. The inclusion of cultural elements, such as the “Customer Chair”, which represents the perspective of the inhabitants was highly regarded by the jury. The canton drives the development in the municipalities and offices of the canton with a holistic view.

Digital Excellence Large Enterprises: Mobiliar

Mobiliar invested in IT and digitalisation early: since 2018 alone, CHF 300 million has been invested in related projects, and 150 additional specialists have been recruited. The insurance company relies entirely on the public cloud and builds its solutions. Jury President Bramwell Kaltenrieder: “Mobiliar is strategically investing in ecosystems that will ensure customer access along the customer journey in the future. Mobilar is set up according to the most modern principles and skilfully combines digital and traditional sales channels cleverly with each other.”

Highest digital quality: Värdex Suisse

With the sale of cryptonow vouchers in retail outlets in Switzerland, Värdex Suisse SA enables easy access to cryptocurrencies even for non-experts. Jury president Marcus Dauck: “CryptoNow creates a simple bridge between digital and analogue with a voucher for Bitcoins. Highest quality and security in a regulated environment, combined with Swissness (Designed, Hosted, Engineered in Switzerland), good branding, high market market penetration through existing distribution channels (kiosks, retailers, etc.) provide a very strong overall package. The strategic focus on a business case offers the possibility to fully integrate the customer journey completely into one’s own hands.”

NextGen Heroes: 2021 digital trailblazers

The NextGen Hero category was created to showcase the extraordinary potential of young people who are helping to actively shape the digital future of Switzerland. The audience chose two young personalities under 25 years of age via live voting. In a public vote on 10 November during digitalswitzerland’s Digital Day, a broader public already participated by means of telephone voting.

Alessandra Capurro and Alexander Corin emerged as NextGen Heroes 2021.

Alessandra Capurro is working on the development of Ecolens, a database-linked rating system that allows restaurateurs to calculate the carbon footprint of dishes on their menus. In its other commitments, it is committed to sustainability in the space industry.

Alexander Corin works with Mindfuel to implement digital innovations in international companies. The start-up is focused on innovative approaches in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and business intelligence.

Digital Economy Award Certificate holders

During the gala awards, additional Highest Digital Quality certificates were awarded to the following companies and organisations:

Innovation Management:

o Gold: Värdex Suisse, Greenliff, HeyPatient

o Bronze: Neosis Solutions, Vaud cantonal compensation fund AHV

Customer Experience:

o Gold: Zeix

o Bronze: Värdex Suisse, Greenliff, Xappido, Zurich Airport, SVA Aargau,

Process Automation:

o Bronze: Neosis Solutions, Vaud Cantonal Compensation Fund AHV

For high resolution images of the awards, visit our Flickr.