Swiss-US Energy Innovation Seminar
On July 11, 2014 swissnex Boston and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy continued their celebration of the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days with a daylong seminar devoted to energy innovation. The Seminar provided a forum for bilateral, transcontinental discussions among experts from both the US and Switzerland on issues pertaining to the challenges posed by a changing energy landscape.
The Swiss-US Energy Innovation Seminar commenced with keynote addresses from Northeastern University, Provost, Steve Director, as the institutional hosts of the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days, followed by a speech from Swiss Federal Councillor, Doris Leuthard, who underscored the unique opportunity this ‘meeting of the minds’ – the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days - presents for innovation and collaboration in energy matters. Senator Benjamin B. Downing of the Massachusetts Senate followed with a discussion on Massachusetts’ efforts towards clean technology and sustainable operations. Lino Guzzella, President-elect of ETH Zurich, brought home the message that we, as a society, cannot afford to wait to act, reminding the audience present that scientific innovations take a very long time to reach their full benefit, as is the case with photovoltaic technology, which began more than 100 years ago with Einstein’s development of theory on the photon.
Energy Research Experts & State Representatives from Switzerland and the US discuss public sector energy research policies.
The Seminar then continued with an array of panels, lectures and presentations on different aspects about energy, such as: energy research policy and organization, meeting energy demand, bringing technologies to market, and adapting to new business models in a changing environment. Each panel included experts from both the US and Switzerland from academic, research, governmental and corporate sectors, offering a broad perspective and rich discussion of each of the issues put forth. In addition, as part of the celebration of the world premiere of the Watt d’Or exhibition this month, the Seminar also included brief project pitches, at intervals throughout the day, from five of the twenty-five winners of the Watt d’Or award. The Watt d’Or exhibition is currently on display at the International Village at Northeastern.
Marianne Zuend, Head of Communications and the Political Division at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, and Kevin Baltus, Junior Project Leader at swissnex Boston offered closing remarks. Over 100 American and Swiss participants attended the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Seminar.
Robert C. Armstrong of the MIT Energy Initiative discusses how energy research and how best to meet demand.
Donald Sadoway, the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT, presents “Liquid Metal Batteries” at the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Seminar.
Powerpoint presentations of the panels can be found here: http://wattdor.swissnexboston.org
Photography: Dave Green
Water Diplomacy Workshop 2014
swissnex Boston was pleased to host the Water Diplomacy Workshop 2014 this past monthin partnership with Tufts University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 34 participants from all over the world attended the workshop to improve their trans-boundary water negotiation skills. The objective of the workshop is to provide training on the negotiation of trans-boundary water issues. Switzerland’s role as the “Water Tower” for Europe puts Global Water Management at a high priority on the agenda of Swiss Foreign Policy.
The special guest at this year’s Water Diplomacy Workshop was Dr. Tena Alamirew Agumassie, Research Associate at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and Deputy Director of the Water and Land Resource Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Water and Land Resource Center is fully financed by the Swiss Development Agency, a directorate of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The projects of the Center are coordinated by and affiliated with the University of Bern.
The program of the Water Diplomacy Workshop focused primarily on lectures from Professors Larry Susskind and Shafik Islam in the morning, with the afternoon program reserved for the investigation of case studies, in which negotiation skills could be put to practice.
Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and ETH President-elect Lino Guzzella Join The UZH and ETHZ Boston Alumni Chapters For A Special Event
On July 11, 2014, swissnex Boston in collaboration with the ETH Zurich Alumni New England Chapter and the University of Zurich Alumni & Friends of Boston Chapter had the honor and pleasure of welcoming Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, a University of Zurich Alumna, and President-elect of ETH Zurich, Lino Guzzella, for a special alumni event at swissnex Boston.
ETH Zurich President-elect, Lino Guzzella, speaks to the ETH and University of Zurich alumni.
Accompanied by a delegation of over 70 executives from Switzerland’s academic, governmental and private industry sectors, Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and Rector Lino Guzzella visited Boston to celebrate the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days and the world premiere of Watt d’Or, a travelling exhibition showcasing Switzerland’s best energy innovations: the Watt d’Or award winners.
Around 30 Alumni of the ETH Zurich Alumni New England Chapter and the University of Zurich Alumni & Friends of Boston Chapter attended the event to receive Doris Leuthard, Minister of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, and Lino Guzzella, Rector of ETH Zurich. Councillor Leuthard delivered a speech sharing her experience as an UZH Alumna, and expressed gratitude to all the Alumni present, who she considers to be ‘Swiss Ambassadors’. Rector Guzzella also gave a presentation on the impact of the ETHZ Alumni around the world providing the audience with impressive facts and figures, e.g. over 80% of ETHZ graduates acquire employment within 3 months.
Swiss Federal Councillor, Doris Leuthard, meets with Swiss alumni.
Representatives of the ETH Zurich Alumni New England Chapter and the University of Zurich Alumni & Friends of Boston Chapter also had the opportunity to present their association chapter, thank their alumni for their attendance, and, in particular, thank Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and Rector Lino Guzzella for taking the time to be present at this special event.
Dr. Alexander Wolkaun, Head of Energy Research at the Paul Scherrer Institute, engages with alumni at the reception held at swissnex Boston.
After the presentations, attendees were invited to mingle in a casual reception with the Federal Councilor, the Rector and with 18 members of the Swiss delegation visiting Boston and Washington, DC. The Swiss alumni were very pleased to have the opportunity to meet and engage with Councillor Leuthard in a very intimate and relaxed setting.
Watt d’Or Exhibition Premieres at Northeastern University
On July 10, 2014, swissnex Boston and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (BFE) celebrated the opening of the new exhibition: Watt d’Or.
In an exclusive, VIP event, Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, and Northeastern University Provost, Steve Director, together inaugurated the world premiere of Watt d’Or in conjunction with swissnex Boston and BFE. This as part of the roster of special events taking place during the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days held from July 9th – July 12th, 2014 at Northeastern University.
Watt d’Or showcases 25 of the 50 winners of the Watt d’Or award since the award program’s inception. Awarded annually by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, the Watt d’Or recognizes the best energy projects and innovations from Switzerland. It is the most prestigious award in the energy sector in the country.
During the reception, Councillor Leuthard, Provost Director, and Consul Moesner each delivered a speech to kick off the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days and to celebrate the premiere of Watt d’Or. The reception also included brief presentations from 5 of the 25 Watt d’Or winners on display. More than 100 guests from the energy sector from both Boston and Switzerland attended the event.
The exhibition will be on display at the International Village at Northeastern University until September 14, 2014. It will then continue on to other swissnex locations abroad.
Press coverage of the event can be found here:
Photography: Dave Green
swissnex Boston hosts the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days
During July 9th through July 12th, 2014, swissnex Boston hosted the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days in conjunction with the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (BFE).
Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard speaks at the world premiere of Watt d’Or - an exhibition featuring Switzerland’s most innovative energy projects.
Taking place at Northeastern University, the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days included a series of events centered on energy innovation and bringing together the best minds from both sides of the Atlantic. The Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days included as one of its highlights, the world premiere of the Swiss traveling exhibition: Watt d’Or.
The Watt d’Or exhibition on display at Northeastern University.
The Watt d’Or exhibition is a showcase of Switzerland’s most innovative projects on energy: the winners of the Watt d’Or award from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. Twenty five of the fifty Watt d’or winners of the past 8 years are now on display at Northeastern University’s International Village. The grand opening of the exhibition was inaugurated by Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and Northeastern University Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, Steve Director, and Swiss Consul Felix Moesner.
Federal Councillor Leuthard’s delegation was accompanied by 70 executives in energy from Switzerland’s academia, governmental, and industry sectors. The Swiss delegation visited Boston to partake in the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days.
The delegation not only celebrated the opening of Watt d’Or, but also participated in the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Seminar that took place on Friday, July 11, 2014. The seminar included lectures, talks and panels with experts on the latest innovations, trends and challenges in energy and clean technology.
Senator Benjamin B. Downing delivers a keynote address at the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Seminar.
The Energy Innovation Seminar was a transatlantic, bilateral dialogue between members of academia, industry and governmental entities from both America and Switzerland on topics surrounding innovation in energy.
Lino Guzzella, President-elect of ETH Zurich, speaks at the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Seminar.
In addition, the Councillor Leuthard and the delegation met with many of Boston’s key experts in energy innovation, as well as with governmental leaders from both Boston and Massachusetts governments, such as Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and Undersecretary of Energy, Mark Sylvia. Corporate visits included excursions to MassChallenge, Greentown Labs, the Wind Testing Technology Center of MassCEC, and to Enernoc. In addition, the delegation visit also included, as part of its agenda, the execution of an agreement between representatives of MIT and ETH Zurich enabling greater collaboration between the two institutions and an exchange of students and researchers.
Councillor Leuthard also participated as a panelist at the MIT Energy Colloquium hosted by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI). Also on the panel were Alexander Wokaun, Head of General Energy Research at the Paul Scherrer Institute, Lino Guzzella, President-elect of ETH Zurich, and Susan Hockfield, President Emerita of MIT, as fellow panelists .
The Swiss-US Energy Innovation Seminar
The Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days proved to be a fruitful program, one that will inform and assist Switzerland in moving forward with its plans to shift away from nuclear energy in the forthcoming decades. The Watt d’Or exhibition will remain open to the general public until September 14, 2014. The exhibition will then travel to other swissnex locations. Admission is free to the general public.
Photography: Dave Green
Venture Leaders 2014: A 10-day Bootcamp in Boston & New York City
The Swiss National Startup Team 2014 at the EPFL Rolex Center in Lausanne
swissnex Boston was excited to host the Swiss National Startup Team for the 14th time in Boston this past June. Since 2000, swissnex Boston and Venturelab have jointly organized “Venture Leaders”, a 10-day business development ‘boot camp’ held annually with a selection of the 20 brightest entrepreneurs from Switzerland. This year, for the first time, the program also extended to New York City, where swissnex Boston has had an outpost since 2013. The Swiss National Startup Team had the opportunity to dive into the entrepreneurial ecosystem and get a grasp of the business spirit within both cities.
This year’s team consisted of a large array of high-tech startups with activities ranging from recovering paraplegic patients’ locomotion to an insect-inspired micro-drone. The profiles of the individual venture leaders can be found here.
The intense program included business trainings at Babson College, company visits, coaching sessions and workshops with successful local entrepreneurs and investors, as well as pitch competitions and networking events. This unique experience provided the venture leaders not only with team-bonding, but a new perspective with a ‘think big’ attitude. In the following sections, we feature some of the activities that the Venture Leaders participated in during their stay in the US.
The venture leaders benefitted from a three-day intensive program at Babson College, one of the highest ranked business schools in the world, specializing in management and entrepreneurship. The team attended classes led by Prof. Les Charm and Prof. Ed Marram on team building, decision-making processes, strategy, and leadership.
Expert sessions at CIC
The 20 entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their businesses in front of industry experts from various sectors. These sessions provided the entrepreneurs with valuable feedback for refining their business plans.
The sessions took place at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), a startup incubator hosting more than 600 startups. CIC is considered the ‘Mecca’ of startups in Boston, where many large corporations decide to have a presence and access to a strong pool of resources for innovation. The cross-pollination between the different groups here is successful and generates many business opportunities for foreign startups cropping up in the US.
Matthias Ivarson, CEO of Inositec, receives feedback from a panel of industry experts at CIC
Meetings with VCs
The venture leaders had the opportunity to visit several major venture capital funds and meet with experienced investors in both Boston and New York. Their businesses were challenged in terms of disruptiveness towards the current industry trends. In addition to receiving incredible exposure through this exercise, the venture leaders could also being to understand what are the present ‘sweet spots’ of Venture Capital investments, and with this insight refine their pitches respectively. The group visited Third Rock Ventures (current lead investors in revolutionizing biotech companies such as Editas), General Catalysts (host of Kayak in the early days) and Highland Capital Partners (investors in paper.li and Vista print) in Boston, while in New York they visited New Leaf Ventures and Beta works (where bit.ly was founded).
Bob Davis, General Partner at Highland Capital Partners challenging the Swiss National Startup Team.
Company visits were an integral part of this program and provided the budding entrepreneurs with a broader understanding of how the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Boston and New York is nurtured by innovation. Key leaders from top Boston and New York City-based companies were invited to offer their insights and inspire the entrepreneurs in their quest to success. The venture leaders visited the following companies:
Parexel (Boston) is one of the world’s largest CROs serving the biopharmaceutical and medical industry. Operating in 50 countries around the world with 15,335 employees, this was one of the highlight visits of the program in Boston.
Mr. von Rickenbach, Chairman and CEO of Parexel, gave an inspiring speech sharing his experience as an entrepreneur - the sacrifices, the challenges, the rewards and the troubles he endured. During his career, he was able to take Parexel from its beginnings as one of the first clinical research organizations (CROs) in the early 1980s to its current position as one of the top three public biopharmaceutical service providers. He has led Parexel through its IPO, multiple public offerings, and over 35 mergers and acquisitions during the company’s three decade history, expanding its portfolio to meet changing client needs and market demand.
Under his leadership, Parexel has evolved to provide a broad range of services, including globally integrated clinical development, regulatory affairs consulting, commercialization services, and technologies that expedite time-to-market. In addition to the inspiring speech given by Mr. von Rickenbach, the venture leaders received insights in regulatory and corporate partnership strategies.
The program in NYC was quite packed and included a variety of visits and fruitful discussions with successful entrepreneurs having started startup ventures. These visits included among them Tumblr, reddit, Zkipster, Art Sy, and Chromocell.
Mr. von Rickenbach,Chairman and CEO of Parexel gives an inspiring speech to the venture leaders @ the global headquarters of Parexel in Waltham, MA
swissnex Boston organized a series of events around the venture leaders program. The landmark event in Boston was the Global Pitchfest 2014, which took place at Boston’s District Hall. This pitch competition was organized jointly with MassChallenge, the world’s largest startup accelerator. The pitch competition consisted of Swiss entrepreneurs competing alongside local entrepreneurs for the best pitch. Each startup had to convince both the live audience and a panel of Swiss and American startup experts that their business was the best venture to invest in. The rules were simple: one minute and one slide per pitch. The audience could vote in real time through an SMS-based polling system, while the jury made the selection based on a number of criteria. This year, the audience and the jury were unanimous in their selection of a winner: One Drop Diagnostics, an EPFL spinoff that developed a mobile medical diagnostics device that can provide laboratory quality diagnostics in a more mobile fashion, either at the doctor’s office or the patient’s home.
The Pitchfest winner and the participating audience also had the opportunity to win various prizes awarded by raffle, and generously sponsored by Swiss International Airlines, Victorinox and Lindt.
The Swiss National Startup Team at the 2014 Global Pitchfest.
In New York, the venture leaders had the opportunity to partake in another pitch competition: the Swiss Tech Night, which took place at WeWork and was co-organized with VentureOutNY. The New York audience and jury chose another winner, Versantis, an ETH Zurich spinoff developing versatile antidotes, capable of removing diverse toxic agents from the organism and saving patients from metabolic, medicine and drug overdoses.
In New York, The venture leaders joined the Swiss Business Hub USA and Switzerland Global Enterprise to celebrate the 10th Annual Tell Awards, which recognize U.S. companies with significant investment projects in Switzerland. Recipients this year included Google, MSA Safety and Novocure. The awards, named for the legendary Swiss hero William Tell, were presented on June 19 by Ambassador François Barras, Consul General of Switzerland in New York and Daniel Küng, CEO of Switzerland Global Enterprise. Bloomberg hosted the event at its New York headquarters. Following the Awards Ceremony, the Swiss National Startup Team was invited onstage to showcase Swiss innovation projects.
The Venture Leaders program received broad media coverage both in Switzerland and the US. A selection of video news clips can be found here:
Bloomberg Government (video): http://bit.ly/1r6uOgc
News RTS, June 21 (video): http://bit.ly/1tVSI1G
News RSI, June 21 (video): http://bit.ly/1pHWmpF
Executive MBA-FSI Group at swissnex Boston
From 27th April to 2nd May 2014, 23 executive MBA-FSI students from the University of St. Gallen had the opportunity to come to Boston to experience the entrepreneurial spirit in one of the biggest innovation hubs worldwide. The MBA in Financial Services and Insurance (FSI) is an international executive MBA management program designed for participants with high potential for top executive functions in financial firms. The program is divided in different modules and one is spent in the US, i.e. Boston and New York. swissnex Boston had the pleasure to welcome the group for different workshops during their stay.
From Monday to Wednesday, Oliver Gassmann gave a 3-day workshop on Managing Innovation. The idea was to give the right tools to the MBA students to enable innovation within their companies, to use the crowd sources to open the ideation process, to develop new business model’s ideas and to protect their innovation.
On Monday, the students had the chance to go to the Fidelity Center of Applied Technology, which is a center dedicated to customer success. They serve as an innovation catalyst and have a focal point for emerging technology research. Chuck Pickelhaupt, Vice President Emerging Technology R&D, gave them a presentation.
On Tuesday, they had lunch at MIT Sloan School and met Karl Kulling. In the evening, the group went to the Swiss Residence for a nice reception with the Boston community and Alumni of HSG, welcomed by our Consul Dr. Felix Moesner.
On Wednesday, the group had a lunch-presentation by Prof. Edward Roberts. He is the founder and chair of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is an expert in advanced technology management and entrepreneurship, a serial high-tech entrepreneur and a leading angel investor. In the afternoon, the group went to MassChallenge for a presentation of Stuart Paap, who taught them how to pitch. Stuart is financial advisor at Paap Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. The group could exchange with Stuart their experience to try to find out new ways of bringing innovation within the company.
On Thursday, the students had a presentation of Michael Scharge, who is a research fellow at the MIT Center for Digital Business and a visiting fellow at the Imperial College London’s Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Michael gave a presentation on big data and the impact for FSI. During the afternoon, the group went to visit the Cambridge Innovation Center. Situated just next to the MIT campus this center is an incredible opportunity for start-ups to set up their business because of the community diversity and more than 400 companies operating in the building.
Finally, on Friday, the MBA students went to visit Pega Systems, a company which has envisioned a new type of software that unites customer engagement with the business processes that fulfill a company’s promise. They spend the last afternoon at swissnex with two presentations from Michael De Marco and Leonard Singer.
After this intensive week in Boston and at swissnex, the MBA-FSI students went to New York for another week of learnings.
swissnex Boston welcomes 25 international nursing students from HESAV, Boston College and Ponticifia Universidad Catolica
On June 10, swissnex welcomed 25 students studying nursery - 16 of them were students at the University of Health Sciences of Lausanne (HESAV), 4 from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, and 5 from Boston College.
During a four-week summer program, the students from the three different institutions learned about issues on the forefront of global health. The program, “Global Healthcare: Meeting Challenges and Making Connections” was designed to bring together students and faculty from around the world to discuss and synthesize perspectives on global health, specifically the challenges and common connections experienced across patient centered care, health education, healthcare systems and policy development.
The group had the opportunity to listen to two speakers, Christine Mitchell, Associate Director of Clinical Ethics in the Division of Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, and Janna Hutz, Applied Human Geneticist at Pfizer. Each gave a 45-minute presentation at swissnex Boston.
Christine Mitchell developed and teaches an annual Harvard Bioethics Course. She also leads the monthly Harvard Ethics Consortium, teaches in the Ethics Fellowship Program, and organized and co-chairs the Ethics Leadership Council for the Harvard University teaching hospitals and healthcare facilities. Mitchell gave an interesting presentation on the ethical problems in the practice of nursing.
The second speaker was Janna Hutz, Applied Human Geneticist at Pfizer. Ms. Hutz utilizes genetic information to support drug discovery and development efforts. Pfizer is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to discovering and developing new and better ways to prevent and treat disease.
Following the program, the group came back to swissnex Boston on June 26 to celebrate a farewell party. After four intense weeks of collaborative learning, the students were very happy to engage with their peers and enjoy a nice apero.
swissnex Boston welcomes Prof. Janos Voeroes on Micro/Nanotechnology
July 1st 2014 – swissnex Boston in collaboration with ETH Zurich and the ETH Alumni New England Chapter had the pleasure to welcome Prof. Janos Voeroes for a unique presentation about micro and nanotechnology based tools for diagnostics and experimental neuroscience.
Janos Voeroes is Professor of Bioelectronics and leads the Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, a joint institute of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich. He has interests in research and teaching in the areas of Biosensors, Biolectronics, Biophotonics, Biomaterials, Nao-Biotechnology, and Biophysics with a special focus on the understanding, monitoring and controlling of molecular and cellular processes at bio-electronics interfaces.
Prof. Voeroes initially presented the origin of his research question: Micro-/Nanotechnology has enabled the informatics and communication revolution by contributing to the quantitative understanding, miniaturization and manufacturing of semiconductor devices. His team tries to find out a solution with a similar approach to address biological and medical problems.
Janos Voeroes introduced the different concepts and nano-devices that have emerged recently. He gave some examples focused on tools that can be used for cancer diagnostics and fundamental neurosciences:
First, plasmonics, an interesting new area, based on a truly “nano” phenomena that has the potential to introduce novel possibilities into communication technology and medical diagnostics. Plasmonic particles can enable the determination of specific mRNA sequences in single cells without using PCR.
A second example was nanotechnology, which provides the possibility to interface cells in their natural environment at the nanometer scale. The FluidFM is a nanosyringe that can be used to inject, patch, or manipulate single cells without compromising their integrity. Such a tool proves to be also highly useful for fundamental neurosciences.
Finally, he gave the example of stretchable and biocompatible microelectrode arrays which can be used to stimulate intact spinal cord circuits below an injury to control the movement of the limbs aiding rehabilitation and increasing recovery of spinal-cord injured patients.
The 30 people attending the presentation were extremely interested and curious about the research of Prof. Voeroes. The audience had the opportunity for a Q&A and to engage in an interesting discussion during the apero afterwards.