In partnership with Bilanz, Handelszeitung and PME, digitialswitzerland is once again celebrating the 100 people changing the face of the Swiss digital landscape. Read the full interviews with all 100 Digital Shapers in their dedicated Bilanz publication. They are also featured in PME on 31 August and Handelszeitung on 1 September.
The 100 Digital Shapers 2022 are relentless in their pursuit of a digital future that serves all of us. Their continued efforts and commitment inspires and bring those around them on a journey to challenge what’s possible. We are delighted to celebrate and support this annual campaign. We took the opportunity to find out what makes these Shapers tick and what we can learn from their unique way of looking at the world.
And without further ado…let’s hear from some incredibly deserving winners!
People who use digital transformation to reshape our current nutrition towards healthier and more sustainable solutions.
Tobias Gunzenhauser is Co-founder and CEO at of Swiss FoodTech Startup yamo. This company produces plant-based, fresh and organic food for children of all ages. Established in 2016, yamo is one of the current top three FoodTech Scaleups in Switzerland.
Q: What is the biggest learning in your career to date?
A: “The path of a startup entrepreneur is one of constant learning. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop moving. Naming the one and only ‘biggest’ learning is very difficult. So here’s one of my biggest: it’s all about the culture and the people (and it’s the people defining the culture). As a startup you’re the underdog, building something from nothing. You and your team need to have the mental strength to overcome all the obstacles in your way, always keeping the focus on your vision and having fun along the way.”
People who contribute to a solid digital infrastructure in order to allow digital change. Includes politicians & administration.
Dr. Florian Evéquoz is Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES-SO). He co-founded datastory.ch – a data science and visualization startup – and Youser – a UX agency. He is involved in various digital projects shaping the social and political landscape of Switzerland.
Q. You have been involved in re-writing the constitution of Valais, which includes digital transformation and our relation with robots. What is your biggest learning from this work?
A: “Writing a Constitution offers a chance to state our long-term common ambitions, taking into account for instance robots and ubiquitous digital technologies. On the one hand, it lets us invent new tools to protect society and institutions from potentially detrimental effects. Individual rights to digital integrity and to an interaction with human beings (not just artificial agents) are responses to these risks. On the other hand, anchoring in the Constitution that government data should be freely available opens new horizons for innovation.”
Leaders of digital manufacturing companies or technology solution providers and subject-matter experts who are an inspiration for the future of Swiss digital manufacturing.
Anna Valente is Head of ARM automation, robotics, and machines laboratory at SUPSI-DTI, Member of Swiss Science Council SSC and an expert at Innosuisse. Her vast fields for expertise count the manufacturing of complex shape components in composite materials for Aerospace, to Design of intelligent and reconfigurable manufacturing systems and robots.
Q. What technologies are you most excited about at the moment?
A: “At ARM laboratory, we’re currently immersed in an extremely challenging activity targeting a new generation of robotic platforms. We call them Deliberative Robots. Deliberative robots adapt their behaviour from cobot to industrial arms as a result of the interaction dynamic with the human operators, especially considering their cognitive and physical loads, as well as the surrounding production context. This powerful capability is instrumental to boost robots’ adoption within typically manual manufacturing contexts, by enhancing productivity while preserving human safety and job quality.”
People who build ecosystems, connect actors and bridge regional gaps for collaborative projects in the digital sphere.
Charlotte Axelsson is Head of the subject area E-Learning @ZHdK. She initiated and co-developed the federal project LeLa, Lern Labor Hochschuldidaktik (Learning Laboratory for Higher Education Didactics), and also launched the international art university exchange “Exchanged”. She is a member of the Koordinationsgremiums Bildungsförderung of the Digitalisierungsinitiative DIZH (Education Funding Coordination Committee), has developed the podcast platform Modcast and is committed to digitality in the educational ecosystem that can be experienced sensually and tenderly.
Q: You are head of the subject area E-Learning at the ZHdK. What is the biggest opportunity or challenge for Switzerland when it comes to this topic?
A: “Digitality is in a transformation itself – to be digital is no longer a separate world, it becomes a part of our DNA: especially in the future generations which are still in primary school. They don’t distinguish between analogue and digital – they learn and think in a different way. We in the subject area E-Learning at ZHdK try to prepare our teaching and learning culture for this transformation. Because we need strong creative, unconventional solutions and strategies for a future-oriented Swiss educational system.“
Masterminds who are revolutionising Artificial Intelligence.
Nadja Braun Binder is Professor of Public Law, University of Basel. Nadja has worked on numerous reports that are shaping global discussion on how to advance the infrastructure for AI. This forward-thinking approach is contributing to a debate about how to use digitisation and AI for the public good.
Q: You are a main author of the TA-SWISS report “Wenn Algorithmen für uns entscheiden: Chancen und Risiken der künstlichen Intelligenz”. What legal framework is needed for AI to thrive?
A: “I think that we do not need a comprehensive “AI law”. But we should examine which existing regulations are applicable to new technologies and methods, for example by taking them into account when interpreting existing norms. In addition, sector-specific regulations will be needed. For example, in the context of public administration to ensure the legitimacy of automated decisions or to create transparency about the use of automated decision-making systems.”
People who create or make use of new realities (Augmented, Virtual, Mixed) to enable great things.
Laetitia Bochud is Director at Virtual Switzerland. Laetitia is structuring the XR industry with professionalism and continued enthusiasm. She is a catalyst for XR development within Switzerland (XR = eXtended Realities, comprising of Augmented, Mixed, Virtual Realities, virtual/immersive/interactive environments “Metaverse”) and abroad, while fostering a qualitative ecosystem.
Q: You work at the crossroads of government and public entities, academic institutions, and the private and associative sectors. What are the biggest challenges that you encounter in your work?
A: “Funding is the main challenge: we seek to gain more financial support for the creation, distribution, and promotion of immersive and/or interactive, narrative formats. The ongoing structuring of the XR industry and its lobbying are key, and we do this at the European and Swiss levels. In Switzerland, public institutions, and their funding instruments, are organized in silos; yet digitization is cross-disciplinary, horizontal. As a result, funding mechanisms can be ill-suited for XR developments. I would also stress the sustainability aspects: the recycling and upcycling of head-mounted displays and other gear, sending them to low-capacity countries for example. I would like to engage in such initiatives.”
People who, with protective solutions, regulations, awareness-raising and innovations in cyber space, enable us to move safely and not be victims of cyberattacks.
Adrian Perrig is Professor at ETH Zurich, Co-Founder Anapaya Systems, SCION next-generation Internet Evangelist. For more than a decade, Adrian has been driving the next generation (secure) internet initiative SCION. His work has the potential of considerable security improvements in the critical infrastructure for digitalisation.
Q: You work with both private industries and governmental bodies in the United States, Western and Eastern Europe. What’s the biggest learning from these negotiations to date?
A: “Everyone struggles with achieving security. At many places, an economic approach is used: so if the economic impact of attacks is less than the cost of a security system, then the security system is
not deployed. It was reassuring to experience that in Switzerland, especially financial institutions strive to achieve strong security, even if the cost is higher than the expected damage. This strategy
will likely provide higher trust with consumers and market success in the long run.”
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.
Wiktor Bourée is CEO & Founder at Technis. This French-Swiss technology company provides a sensor-to-dashboard comprehensive solution for real-time infrastructure performance management. It is the most successful Software as a Service (SaaS) for SMEs in Switzerland.
Q. Your platform is incredibly successful and well adopted by SMEs. How does Technis help them?
Ans: We collect all types of data useful to physical stores (occupancy rate, time in store, receipts, product category, etc.). Our dashboard communicates in real time this processed data and provides useful information to retailers such as the conversion rate, the product engagement, or the customer journey. Our customers can now act directly and in real time on their productivity and customer experience in order to increase the average basket.
*Image source, header: Matthias Schardt, Kombinatrotweiss.ch / Digital Shapers