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Switzerland showcases science globally

Swissnex enabled Swiss television to broadcast the launch of the country's first satellite, the SwissCube

Swissnex enabled Swiss television to broadcast the launch of the country's first satellite, the SwissCube

(swissinfo.ch)

Swiss science and technology is continuing to push back global boundaries with an ongoing programme to promote collaboration projects worldwide.

Swissnex - a global network of bureaus focused on intensifying global partnerships in the fields of science, education, art and innovation - presented an update on its activities in Winterthur on Thursday.

The organisation outlined its achievements in the four main branches of Boston, San Francisco, Singapore and Shanghai. Much of the work focuses on forging links between Swiss higher education institutions, such as the Federal Institutes of Technology, and overseas counterparts.

The rewards of such labour have reaped bilateral research projects and student exchanges. In China, Swissnex helped set up a water purification project with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland.

In India, Swissnex made it possible for Swiss television to broadcast the launch of Switzerland’s first satellite, the SwissCube. Plans to open a fifth Swissnex office in Bangalore are in the pipeline.

Entrepreneurial spirit

The agency also helps promote Swiss commercial activity abroad in the broad fields of science and information technology. Swiss universities are increasingly producing spin-off companies, but getting established is hard enough in Switzerland let alone in other countries.

The Swissnex offices in San Francisco and Boston have combined with the Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency to help entrepreneurs break into the United States market. New entrants are given office space, coaching on presenting business ideas and link-ups with local talent.

This year’s Venture Leaders programme in Boston connected Swiss entrepreneurs with marketing, legal and other experts for one-on-one coaching.

“The trend is not so much increasing numbers of entrepreneurs, as the way they are going about things,” Swissnex Boston director Pascal Marmier told swissinfo.ch. “They are thinking about the transatlantic connection a lot earlier.”

“Our activities add a lot of value to the high-tech entrepreneur wanting to establish operations in the US.”

Notable success stories to date have included internet scheduling services firm Doodle and community website Amazee.

Place to be

The Swissnex office in San Francisco is also dedicating more time to helping Swiss entrepreneurs set up shop in the world renowned hotbed of IT start-up activity.

“This is one of the most innovative areas in the world and one that welcomes entrepreneurs and puts them on a pedestal,” Swissnex San Francisco head Christian Simm told swissinfo.ch. “This is one of the places you have to be if you want to be active worldwide.”

But many Swiss companies are put off by the enormity of setting up in an unknown market with no contacts and little knowledge of business procedures.

Simm said the Swissnex office acts as an “accelerator” for penetration into the local market. “We help them do whatever they need to do faster – and to do it correctly from the start,” he said.

Matthew Allen, swissinfo.ch

Swissnex

Swissnex is a network of global centres that promote Swiss science and research around the world and strengthen Switzerland’s reputation as a country of innovation.

The organisation is run and mainly funded by the State Secretariat for Education and Research with cooperation from the Foreign Ministry. Additional funding is provided by the private sector.

Swissnex has five main outposts: Boston (opened in 2000), San Francisco (2003), Singapore (2004), Shanghai (2007) and Bangalore (2009).

Each bureau establishes links with local universities, research centres, companies and with national and regional governments. Through such links, bilateral research and applied projects are established in the domains of science and technology.

Swissnex locations also help Swiss companies penetrate global markets through extensive networks of contacts.

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