Swiss Innovation Forum 2016

The 11. Swiss Innovation Forum took place last week in Basel under the motto “Play” and attracted over 1,000 decision-makers from Switzerland, southern Germany, Vorarlberg and Alsace. Attendants from business, science, research, education, politics and media heard 25 speakers discuss the meaning of creativity, design and innovation in daily business life. The Forum also hosted a Future Expo and the Swiss Technology Award.

Lego's David Robertson © SIF 2016

Lego’s David Robertson © SIF 2016

Keynote speakers

After an introduction by moderator Kurt Aeschbacher, David Robertson offered some exclusive insights into the LEGO success story. “Really good innovations are created when resources are limited,” said Robertson. Next up were the robotics professors Roland Siegwart and Marco Hutter, who offered live demonstrations of the latest results from robotic research. “Robots should help us in situations where it is dangerous or uncomfortable for people,” explained Siegwart. Robots can be implemented during rescue operations in catastrophe regions, for example.

Swiss blogger Tina Roth Eisenberg explained how she successfully opened a co-working space in New York. Claus Meyer, co-founder of the world-renouned restaurant “Noma”, revealed his recipes for success. Frederik Pferdt, Chief Innovation Evangelist at Google, showed how creative ideas arise in businesses.

Movers, shakers, workshops and exhibitions

The keynote speakers were supported by “Movers & Shakers” as well as workshops in the categories Design Thinking, Gaming, Digital Embodiment, Storytelling, and LEGO Serious Play. Participants received valuable and practical business impulses. The Future Expo, a unique exhibition presenting state-of-the-art knowledge and know-how from a broad range of sectors, provided some 40 exhibitors the chance to present their view of tomorrow’s world.

28. Swiss Technology Award

Innovations are a key driver of the Swiss economy, and the Swiss Technology Award supports and promotes this culture of innovation. Each year, outstanding technology-based innovations and developments from start-ups, universities and technical institutions as well as established businesses are awarded prizes in three categories: Inventors, Start-ups, and Innovation Leaders.

This year’s winner of the “Inventors” category is Project Mesh Mould from researchers at the ETH Zürich. In the conventional production of concrete structures, the steel reinforcement is surrounded by a complex formwork system which gives the liquid concrete its form. This procedure is expensive and the formwork slabs are also not endlessly reusable. The new “Mesh Mould” construction technology unites the two functions of reinforcement and formwork into a single robotically fabricated metal mesh structure. This allows for the creation of cost-effective and enduring reinforced concrete structures of any shape without the need for costly formworks.

The “Start-ups” category winner is Topadur Pharma AG, which has developed two promising drugs in the area of wound healing for the treatment of non-healing wounds and to avoid excessive scar formation in burn wounds. The active substance “TOP-N53” could offer all diabetics with chronic foot wounds essential support in avoiding amputations and extend their lives. The drugs produced by Topadur cover major medical requirements that burden the global healthcare budget to the tune of more than USD 24 billion every year.

Claiming the prize for “Innovative Leaders” is Ampegon AG, an international company operating in the area of high-frequency and power electronics that has specialised in the development of high-value and smart products. Ampegon has developed an innovative short-pulse modulator that is used in large-scale research facilities and medical (e.g. cancer therapy) as well as industrial applications (e.g. disinfection of liquids). The modulator meets the highest technical requirements in terms of pulse precision and operational reliability.

Photo credit: © SIF 2016

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