The swissnex Network is celebrating its 20th anniversary on 15 October 2020. Ever since the first location opened in the year 2000 in Boston, USA, swissnex has been connecting Switzerland with the rest of the world in the fields of education, research and innovation. It fosters the international exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent and promotes the excellence of Swiss research and innovation abroad. As it celebrates its anniversary, swissnex is looking into the future, identifiying opportunities and challenges of the ERI landscape in Switzerland.
In its early days, swissnex was experimental in nature with start-up character. Since then, the network has become well established and its core principles have proven to be effective. swissnex was founded on the assumption that in an age of globalization and open innovation processes, Switzerland must have a strong presence in the world’s leading knowledge and technology hubs. Building bridges to the national education, research and innovation landscape, helps to ensure that Switzerland continues to occupy a leading position in these areas on a global level.
A long tradition of Swiss science diplomacy
The swissnex Network’s history dates back to 1958, when the first science attaché was appointed at the initiative of Switzerland’s ambassador to Washington. This proved very successful, and in 1969 science counsellor positions were also created in Moscow and Tokyo. In the 1990s, the Council of States tasked the Federal Council with further expanding this network in order to project Switzerland as an open and modern location for science and innovation.
The first swissnex location was opened in Boston in October 2000, and was known at the time as “SHARE: Swiss House for Advanced Research and Education”. This laid the foundation for what would later become the swissnex Network, which now comprises five locations and 22 science counselors located in Swiss embassies around the world.
nex20: ERI in Switzerland – looking to the future
The swissnex locations connect ERI players in the respective country with those in Switzerland, bringing together people whose paths might not have crossed otherwise. Those somewhat unexpected encounters enabled by swissnex allow project partners to explore new avenues, boosting their competitiveness on the global level. In 2019, the swissnex Network supported over 180 Swiss individuals as well as 58 start-ups seeking to operate internationally, and hosted over 340 activities and events around the world.
For its 20th anniversary, the swissnex Network engages researchers, entrepreneurs, and visionary leaders to imagine the role of the Swiss ERI landscape on the global stage in 2040. What vision of Switzerland can propel the next 20 years of swissnex? How can the network adopt to the changing needs of its partners? Called ‘nex20 – connecting tomorrow’, the swissnex Network will host various activities in different formats across four themes ‘Learning Tomorrow’, ‘Meeting Tommorrow’, ‘Work-ing Tomorrow’ and ‘Living Tomorrow’. One of these is nexHack, which brings together talented young people from Switzerland, India, Brazil, China and the US to discuss and develop innovative ideas to feed into the Swiss higher education system.
swissnex is the Swiss global network for education, research, and innovation. It supports the outreach and active engagement of its partners in the exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent on the global stage. The five swissnex locations and their outposts are established in the world’s most innovative hubs. Together with around twenty Science Counselors based in Swiss embassies, they help to promote Switzerland’s profile as a world-leading innovation hotspot.
The swissnex Network is an initiative of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation and is part of the Confederation’s network abroad managed by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The swissnex activities are based on a collaborative approach, involving public and private partnerships and funding.