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Digital solutions take centre stage at WEF 2023 Breakfast

Tech leaders from industry, academia and government gather to address sustainability challenges.

Many countries and businesses have made it a top priority to become more sustainable and climate neutral. But how can the two driving forces sustainability and digitalisation be combined to safeguard our future? Both today and in the coming years. Considered together, these two key topics can create ecological, economic and social benefits. A challenge as tall as sustainability can’t be addressed alone and collaboration is key.


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This was the central thread woven into a world class event during our recent World Economic Forum 2023 Breakfast event in Davos. digitalswitzerland, in partnership with Palantir, hosted an engaging event titled “Tech for Good – addressing Climate Change with Digital Solutions“. It brought together an esteemed lineup of speakers, including Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Dr. Alex Karp of Palantir, Dieter Vranckx of SWISS, and Dr. Peter Richner of EMPA. The format, with keynotes and a panel discussion, allowed for a rich exploration of the topic and a dynamic exchange of ideas and insights.

L-R Dr. Alex Karp, CEO Palantir and Marc Walder, Founder digitalswitzerland

Marc Walder (Founder of digitalswitzerland) and Dr. Alex Karp (CEO Palantir) welcomed our members and partners before introducing the keynote speakers. The panel that followed discussed the role of technology in addressing the pressing issue of climate change and the potential for digital solutions to have a significant impact.

Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research

Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin highlighted the importance of Tech for Good for the Swiss economy and Swiss corporations, as well as for Swiss research and innovation. “It is important to promote the synergies between these two worlds as much as possible. This is to ensure the well-being of all in our country, but also beyond our borders. Digitalisation is a huge engine of change that is transforming society and the economy at a rapid pace. The potential is immense. Switzerland absolutely must make use of them”.

Dieter R. F. Vranckx, Chief Executive Officer at Swiss International Air Lines

Dieter Vranckx of SWISS shared his insights on the airline industry’s efforts to reduce emissions. During the pandemic, SWISS set environmental sustainability as its top priority. Vranckx is convinced that, “in the long term only airlines that become much more environmentally friendly than they are today will have a significant place in this world and contribute to the mobility of the future”. 

Peter Richner, Head of Department Engineering Sciences at Empa

Dr. Peter Richner of EMPA discussed the potential of reliable and consistent greenhouse gas data. The goal is a digital solution that simplifies the modelling and analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in all international value chains. “If we want to achieve the goal of net zero, we can only do so if we measure what we do. We need a tool that enables us all to make smarter decisions when building value chains. This is exactly what WISER makes possible”.

The event provided valuable insights into the potential of technology to address climate change and the importance of collaboration between government, industry and academia. It was a great opportunity for digitalswitzerland members and partners to learn more about the latest developments and initiatives in the field, and to network with other experts in the area.

View more images from the event and read more about our Lunch Event Creating Value in the Metaverse, held at the Wipro Pavilion.

Photography by Moritz Schmid of Chilyvent.

The global pandemic has continued to drive rapid digitalisation, while also revealing digital inequalities resulting from differences among people in their digital skills, competences and usage. The digitalswitzerland Foundation addressed this topic through its Digital Xchange, a series of interactions on “digital divides and digital inclusion”. From expert interviews, Swiss-wide public focus groups and a high-level forum, diverse stakeholders from the private and public sectors, academia, NGOs and civil society organisations came together to discuss and identify ideas and opportunities to tackle the issue.

Learn more about the stakeholder’s different perspectives on digital divides and what can be done to be more digitally inclusive in the synthesis written by the digitalswitzerland Foundation team.

Zurich, 28 October 2022 – One and a half months, 7 weeks, 49 days: the Swiss Digital Days 2022 and its main formats came to an end on 27 October with a diverse closing evening. The focus of this year’s edition was to empower and support the population on their way into the digital future. Around 350 free events attracted over 100,000 people to Swiss Digital Days, both on-site and online.

On the closing evening, organiser digitalswitzerland and invited guests looked back on the highlights of the seven-week, Switzerland-wide tour and its main formats GreenTech Startup Battle,#herHACK and NextGen Labs. This was followed by a panel with top national and international guests on “The Power of Collective Action”. Finally, the result of the AI art project swissp[AI]nt was unveiled: three animated NFTs that showcase the artworks created by the population.

Find the press release in German, French and Italian.

Find images from the Closing Event and our seven-week programme here.

Oliver Wyman study “Switzerland’s Digital DNA”

Confidence in the Swiss population’s own digital competence is growing only slowly. More than a fifth of all people still feel unable to keep up with the pace of technological progress. The benefits of digitalisation are nevertheless considered high in all areas of life. The willingness to disclose personal data for digital services is growing – despite an increased awareness of cyber risks. At the same time, satisfaction with digital services varies. This is the result of the sixth edition of the study “Switzerland’s Digital DNA”, which is published jointly by the international strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman and digitalswitzerland as part of Swiss Digital Days 2022.

Selected highlights:

Find an infographic with further key findings here in German.

Read the full press release in German, French and Italian.

5 September marked the kick-off of Swiss Digital Days 2022, which include more than 200 free offers for the population. The big highlight on opening day: the unveiling of a unique, Switzerland-wide crypto-art project in cooperation with Swiss Post. The study “Opportunity costs of the ICT skills shortage”, also published today by digitalswitzerland, once again highlights the importance of the Swiss Digitaltage, as it impressively shows the consequences of the skills shortage on Switzerland’s competitiveness in the medium to long term. To actively address this problem, a substantial part of the Digital Days programme revolves around the promotion of future skills of young talents, for example through the main format “NextGen: Future Skills Labs”.

Read the press release in German, French and Italian.

Read the press conference presentation in German.

Read the study in German.

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.

One of Switzerland’s most important current challenges is how to digitalise its healthcare system. It is essential for Switzerland to find a common strategy and vision for it. It has been proven that this can only be solved through a joint collaboration of all ecosystem players. Switzerland must also address how to position the patient at the centre of the ecosystem, enabling them to have an optimised and efficient journey.

In the early lights of Tuesday morning, inspiring stakeholders exchanged around this topic at digitalswitzerland’s WEF Breakfast event, held on 24 May during the WEF 2022. Renowned experts arrived at 7am at the ETH Pavilion in Davos to discuss the different challenges and opportunities that Switzerland is currently facing to digitalise its healthcare system.

Breakfast by Taselab and networking

Setting the scene

The event was launched with opening speeches from our two hosts, Prof. Dr. Joël Mesot, President of ETH Zurich and Marc Walder, founder of digitalswitzerland. “eHealth is one of the core topics of digitalswitzerland and of every country. Imagine that my mother goes to the doctor and the doctor pushes a button and he knows the health story of my mother: how wonderful would that be and how far are we in our country,” remarked Marc Walder, CEO and founder digitalswitzerland.

Dr. Joël Mesot (President of ETH), Marc Walder (CEO of Ringier and founder of digitalswitzerland) and Stefan Metzger (Managing director of digitalswitzerland)
Dr. Joël Mesot (President of ETH)

Keynote: Federal Office of Public Health’s activities to promote digitalisation (FOPH)

Anne Lévy opened her speech by outlining the government 2030 Health Strategy which priorises digitalisation. “We are actually promoting digitalisation and the use of data in order to reinforce the public’s ability to take informed decisions about their health, improve quality, increase efficiency and improve research through data. Experts all agree, digitalisation gives a multitude of benefits for patients and the health system in general. This can include better health outcomes, better quality of treatment and increase patient involvement in the treatment processes.”

Anne Lévy, Director of Federal Office of Public Health

Anne Lévy wanted the audience to reflect on the lessons learned from COVID-19 and how FOPH already improved in terms of digitalisation during the pandemic. The government is currently working on three projects to reduce the digitalisation backlog in the healthcare sector:

She stated that the healthcare system will face high investment costs in the coming year to implement new technologies, leading to more patient empowerment. There are three distinct categories of technologies to mention:

Anne Lévy concluded with a strong statement: “We want to create regulatory frameworks that encourage and support innovation. We are very aware that the pace of this development and innovation is extremely high. We need hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, insurers, the pharma industry, researchers, medtech companies and other players in the healthcare sector to work together to establish a useful ecosystem that we can benefit from. And I would be delighted if digitalswitzerland is willing to work with us to reach this goal”.

eHeath panel: how to transition into the digital world?

“eHealth” top-notch panel, moderated by digitalswitzerland’s Managing Director Stefan Metzger, was an insightful exchange between an insurance leader, a pharmaceutical leader and a medical tech-savvy doctor:

Trust in digitalisation and transparent communication on data usage

Philomena Colatrella, CEO of CSS stated, “Trust is the main issue when we talk about digitalisation strategy in the healthcare system because the data is very sensitive. We have to explain WHY and make sure the BENEFITS are given and make this through transparency.” CSS has launched an initiative to start a dialogue with their insurers to make sure they understand how their data is being handled within the insurance. CSS also build up small ecosystems to connect the different stakeholders, such as MyCSS platform to interconnect insurers with the stakeholders and Well, a joint initiative from CSS, medi24, Visiana, Zur Rose Group and Alliance Care, which create an ecosystem that can become scalable at a federal level.

Education in digitalisation

Digitalisation is already present in Switzerland. Doctors have multiple applications but rarely know which ones are really useful.“We have a big gap in education in the hospitals and for the doctors,” said Conrad Müller, President of UKBB. Apart from ETH medical school, there is no education in AI and digitalisation. The big problem identified by our tech- savvy doctor is that there is a lot of data but no place to connect the data together. “We have to educate the systems and not the products.”

In the Digital Pill, co-authored by Christoph Franz, it was stated that “digital literacy is now a prerequisite of health literacy”. Digitalisation happens inside each industry but Switzerland lacks the tools to exchange these data within the overall system. His book shows how the healthcare system could look like if we were already using these tools. “We could connect the dots and make electronic health records become a reality and not only a plan which will be implemented next year and this since ten years. In that sense, it’s something that should open the willingness of the public to want to make this a reality.”

Panelists: Philomena Colatrella (CEO of CSS), Christoph Franz (Chairman of the Board of F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG) and Dr. med. Conrad E. Müller, President UKBB, Foundation of Children’s University Hospital of Basel

Artificial intelligence key to a robust system focussed the patient

Artificial intelligence is important to set up a robust system which will help the patient be aware of what diagnosis is to follow, what treatment to prioritise and who has the decision power over the shared medical information. As mentioned by Conrad Müller, “We have to build up an Electronic Patient Record, which is empowering the patient and it must be built from the bottom up.”

Digitalisation for exchange of data

According to Christoph Franz, in order to have large data sets of health data for research, we need to hurry. “The first step is that we put them on a PDF and one day, we might even have a standardised format to use these data for example for research in an anonymised way.” It is very important that this data can be easily exchanged in the ecosystem and be stored in the next version of the electronic patient record.

Three reforms which support digitalisation

Philomena Colatrella outlined three key ongoing reforms which will support digitalisation:

Electronic Patient Record, a solution to renew or to change?

All panelists gave perspectives on the Electronic Patient Record and agreed that there is room for improvement:

Denmark: a digital health nation based on a trustful mindset

Denmark is a very digitally-advanced nation in terms of digitalisation of its healthcare system. The big difference between Switzerland and Denmark lies in the population’s attitude towards data usage. Switzerland needs to become more digitally literate. This would induce a population mindset-change and a more positive attitude towards data usage.

A participant from the audience, Soren Mose (Chairman of Twint) also shared his perspective on the difference between both countries as he holds both nationalities. Switzerland should take inspiration from Denmark’s e-ID and digital healthcare system, which would bring more trust and help the country move forward. Swiss citizens also need to realise that the highest threat to data is paper and not digitalisation.

Soren Mose, Chairman of Twint

Importance of prevention

“Currently, we don’t have a health care system, we have a “sick care system” and we need to make sure that the incentives are designed to specifically help people live healthier for longer,” mentioned the Chairman of Roche. Prevention will play a key role in the Swiss population which is continuously becoming older. By 2050 more than 1.1 billion people will be over 80 and have multiple comorbidities mentioned Conrad Müller. We need to take action and digitalisation can help.

Working together for a digital healthcare system

Marc Walder (CEO of Ringier and founder of digitalswitzerland) and Stefan Metzger (Managing director of digitalswitzerland)

At the end of the panel, Stefan Metzger, the Managing director of digitalswitzerland echoed this momentum. He quoted a Swiss Author, Friedrich Dürrenmatt “An individual approach to collective problems will fail”. We have seen this today, we need to all work together to change the ‘illcare system’ to a healthcare system. This is what digitalswitzerland stands for. We will not initiate one single new initiative. Our aim is to bring all the existing initiatives together to foster collaboration and orchestrate it.”

Anne Lévy (Director of Federal Office of Public Health) and Philomena Colatrella (CEO of CSS) in conversation

To find out more about our work in eHealth, contact our topic lead Jade Sternberg.

The whitepaper Building a Swiss Digital Trust Ecosystem – Perspectives around an e-ID ecosystem in Switzerland is intended to serve as an initial contribution to the ongoing meta-level debate about the development of the e-ID ecosystem in Switzerland. 

How might a Swiss e-ID ecosystem look like that delivers on its promise?

To begin to answer this question, experts from +10 digitalswitzerland member organisations have developed an initial discussion input. This is a first contribution to the E-ID debate initiated by the directional decision by the federal government.

Join the conversation

Share your thoughts via our Thread in the GitHub Forum, which was set up by the Federal E-ID Project Team.

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The ePower parliamentary group discussed the highly topical and virulent subject of cyber security at its traditional session event on Tuesday evening. National Councillor Franz Grüter, member of the ePower core team, welcomed top-class representatives from politics, administration, business and science. The cross-party audience agreed: cyber security is the order of the day.

Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer

The evening was opened by none other than Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer. The head of the Federal Department of Finance left no doubt about the importance of the topic: the cyber threat is one of the four main risks for Switzerland.

The complete article is available in the national language German and French.