Innovation experts and lateral thinkers in Basel

The 9th Swiss Innovation Forum (SIF) opened its doors in Basel last week, where 1000 decision-makers from the world of business, science, education, and politics gathered to present and exchange ideas.

©SIF 2014

©SIF 2014

Opening speaker was Swiss politician Johann Schneider-Ammann, who stated that competition and rivalry help to ensure quality and performance, which he believes is what creates the success of Switzerland. To promote innovation, he emphasised the principle of cooperation and efficiency in business as well as in research, whereby international exchange is also important.

Many speakers reiterated the need for creativity and global perspectives in order to promote innovation. American top hacker and inventor Pablos Holman put it this way: “You can’t get new technology by reading directions. You need crazy people.” Richard Florida, professor at the University of Toronto, sees the creative value in not only managers and researchers, but in the region and community; economically flourishing cities tend to have a larger population of artists and people with creative jobs, who end up inspiring those around them.

A concrete example of innovative technology was presented by Festo AG. Their bionic kangaroo “Carmen” jumped across the stage using pneumatic and electric drive, displaying how energy can be stored and released. Dr. Heinrich Frontzek explained that it had been built by an interdisciplinary team, which had observed and developed it as close to the original animal as possible. Since nature has evolved over millions of years, it makes sense to base technology on natural phenomena, he commented.

The Future Expo offered 40 exhibitors the chance to show their newest technology and network with experts. Tyre Recycling Solutions SA was one of them, who transform scrap tyres into a valuable and sustainable resource using novel Swiss technologies. Swisspower Energy AG presented their smartflower™, a photovoltaic solution for household needs, a mobile all-in-one plug & play solar power station.

While the winners of the SIF Technology Award went to medical inventions, it was reassuring to see a firm presence of environmentally sustainable innovations both amongst the contestants and Future Expo exhibitors.

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