Innovation in the Diagnostics

On Thursday, Dr. Dirk Schneider, the president of the Förderverein swissbiolabs, introduced us to the “Innovations in Diagnostics”. One of his main topics covered the personalized healthcare, which is stimulated by the possibilities arising from the use of diagnostics. By tailoring healthcare to patients’ needs, they are allowing the right treatment to reach the right patients at the right time and move away from a one-size-fits all approach. Personalized healthcare shifts health-systems from being treatment-centered to being comprehensively patient-centered. In this evolution the diagnostic industry plays an important role as it is growing at a rapid pace. Especially the molecular diagnostics has the potential to cut down on overtreatments, reduce waste in the practice of healthcare, and give physicians a new arsenal in their fight to treat patients. Molecular diagnostics is one technology of In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD), which can make an important contribution to make the healthcare systems more efficient. IVDs are tests on bodily samples like blood, tissue or urine and are used to detect diseases, conditions, or infections. IVD companies embrace technological innovations, e.g. remote monitoring through phones. The diagnostic testing play an important role in increasing the knowledge base, as they provide insights into the links between individuals, their illnesses and their treatment. Therefore, the scientific understanding of health and wellbeing is constantly improving. In future, we will not all be taking the same medicine for the same diseases, but we will have the best treatment for every individual patient.

The innovations in diagnostics have a high potential to improve medical services. They can lead to personalized medicines and treatments, what not only for institutions can be an interesting evolution as it reduces various costs but also for patients as they do not have to try multiple treatments with different side effects. As in the other fields, it will be a question for companies to adopt the innovation or stay stuck to traditional ways. Dr. Dirk Schneider provided us with some very interesting insights into the industry of diagnostics. He also added theoretical knowledge about genetics, different cancer types, and how they can be cured or at least be treated.

Embassy of Mexico Visit

Today we visited the Mexican Embassy in Bern. For the first time the project connectUS will visit Mexico on the On-Site Seminar. For the Mexican Embassy it was also the first time a group from an university visited their embassy in Bern. The presentation was hold by the representative of the Mexican Embassy and the head of press.

The history of bilateral relations between Switzerland and Mexico goes way back to the year 1945, when diplomatic relations between Mexico and Switzerland began. The current topic between the two countries right now is the unique Swiss dual education program, in which Mexico is very interested in. At Swiss companies in Mexico the Swiss dual system is already integrated.

It is a very important year for Mexico because of the election, which takes place on the 1st of  July. The last big election was 1992 and this year a third of the government and senators will change, as well as the president. Mexico is a political and economic stable country with an open market and has the 15th largest economy of the world. Mexico is the largest exporter of silver, beer, flatscreen tv’s and avocados. They are also the 3rd largest exporter of smartphones and 5th largest exporter of automobiles.

Guadalajara, the city which we will visit on our trip to Mexico, is the most important technology hotspot and set to become the next Silicon Valley, where thousand startups are founded. Most of the companies which transfer their production to Mexico do that because of the production costs. Mexico has changed its main focus from oil industry to technology products. There are also many Swiss companies, which are major investors in Mexico as Nestlé, Roche, Novartis and Hilti.


Swisscom Visit

The first company visit with our delegation led us to the headquarter of Swisscom in Ittigen. After a quick introduction by a former FHNW student to some important figures regarding Swisscom’s business environment, a data security specialist presented us the main challenges in data security. Whereas trust is a positive feeling in personal relationships, it could pose a major threat for security systems. In order to make a system as save as possible, it is essential to create distrust within a certain network system. That prevents full access to a whole network after an attack. Since it is very difficult, time-consuming, and costly to detect the numerous attacks which are being performed on Swisscom’s network every day, the hackers can be roughly categorized into vandals, hacktivists, criminals and governments. In order to improve and strengthen their security systems, Swisscom uses an interesting approach where employees are being allocated to a team of defense and a team of attackers. This approach aims to detect potential security issues and hopefully leads to the improvement of their defense capabilities.

The second part of the presentation was devoted to design thinking. During this workshop, we have learnt the approach of hear – create – deliver. We started off by interviewing another student about his interests, needs and wants for the perfect wallet. Once we knew each other’s preferences we were asked to draw the ideal wallet, whereon we reflected on our first drawing and generated 5 alternatives which were supposed to meet the opposite’s desired ideal wallet as good as possible. After presenting our solutions, we were asked to build our final solution which led to very interesting and quaint results.

The first presentation gave us a basic understanding about data security and the potential impact of hacker attacks. It was insane to see how many times such businesses actually are being confronted with attacks and inappropriate content. The design thinking workshop introduced us to the process of how to analyse a market and develop an appropriate product. The main message was to rather do than overthink things in the early stages of product development.

U.S. Embassy Visit

The US Embassy manages the official relationship between the United States and the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein. They represent the interests of the United States. One of the main commission is to issues passport, birth certificate and other documents for US citizen and visas for non- US citizen. Another important commission is to talk with Swiss politicians about taxes, jobs, etc.

In case of the US-policy there are two main tasks. One about the media and the other about the culture and admission. On the media task they have to monitor the newspaper, television and radio and rapport (and sometimes comment them) to Washington.

In the US Embassy, the nationality of the employees is a mix of US citizen and Swiss or people who live in Switzerland for a long time. For the US Embassy, it is important to have a mix as the officers with US citizen change after three years their location. Locals who work in embassy help US officers to get a better understanding of the culture and language.

The visit of the US Embassy was very interesting. Especially because they give us an insight about the pros and cons of the life of an officer and how to become an officer of the US Embassy.


Culture USA

The purpose of the lecture ‘Culture USA’ from Kathy Hartmann-Campbell was to ensure that delegation members are able to make the best possible experience in the United States of America. Furthermore, to ensure that participants understand how culture is impacting people and how small talk is practically working in the appropriate way when it comes to networking in the USA. To fulfill the mentioned goals, the lecture has been conducted in form of an interactive workshop.

Students had to name words which they would use to describe their gained experiences and impressions of US Americans. Terminologies like outgoing, patriotic, open-minded, conservative, divided, mass consumers, shallow, traditional and self-focused came up. The lecturer was happy with the result and stated that the mentioned words are not reflecting the truth but are also not completely non-connected to US Americans. The words represent a mix between the given values and the gained experience of each participant. That is also the reason why some of the mentioned terminologies are contradicting each other.

Culture is a word with various definitions, from “programming of the mind” to “just how we do things here”. After a short discussion, the participants of the workshop concluded, that culture is mostly shaped by historic events, given geographical conditions as well as by minor players like the media. For the USA with its young history, the most important historic event was colonialism. People came to the USA with the drive to seek freedom and to be innovative and explore the limitless possibilities such a new land can offer. This led to the American dream culture and the understanding that if you want to, you can do anything. So, succeeding in the USA is a point of high importance. Many people still believe in the “nothing is impossible if you try hard enough”-philosophy. Unfortunately, this is not anymore like that in reality which leads to a lack of solidarity in certain social layers and a general division of the popularity.

Genome Editing

The Genome Editing conference was given by Dr. Daniela Suter, a biologist that talked about the human genome, what CRISPR is and what it is used on, new technology regarding genomes, the definition of epigenetics, the importance of data science in medicine, breakthroughs on cloning, genetic testing and of course, the ethics that are involved on this subject. She explained to us basic concepts, starting by defining what a genome is. She then talked about Gen Suisse, the company she works for.

She then gave us a biological explanation of the genomes, and continued by talking about the initiative to read a human genome. Some data she shared with us was the cost of the project, the effort, and the advances that had happened in only twenty years. About CRISPR, she basically said that it was a new technology that could change the world, and that it is doing just that. It is used on rats, food, fuel, surgery and drugs. Every aspect of human life can be affected by it. And on the topic of epigenetics, she made it very clear that your experiences may impact your DNA since the codes are passed on your DNA, but they are choices you have and can revert. With the data, scientists will be able to build sequences that will form patterns and help fight and give a better understanding of diseases. She talked about cloning, and how it has evolved from being an idea to a rapidly advancing reality, since just a couple of months ago a monkey was effectively cloned. And she finished the conference with a couple of ethical questions that were left open, because there is no correct way of answering them.

Driving Innovation

Mario Schmuziger from company Zühlke hold a refreshing presentation on the topic “driving innovation – how organization discover, select and execute on innovation.” But what is innovation and what’s not?
One definition of innovation says that it is “the process of translating an idea or invention a good or service that creates value of for which customers will pay”. No Innovations are ideas or services that sells well but the customer loses money. So there is no added value.
Global competition today puts all industries under pressure to be innovate. And there are some very popular companies like google, Uber, tesla that everybody knows. They are common for their innovations, which have a big impact and can changing the future.
Very important of driving innovation is the adaption rate. Mores Law implies the exponential growth. This law tells for example, that the performance of the processors doubles approximately every year.
One of the key things for innovation is to know as followed:

  1. Understanding target group: Because you have to know which are the drivers.
  2. Ideation: Be as creative as possible.
  3. Prototyping: The earlier the decision for an idea, the better and the lower the costs. For that
    you should go into discussion as soon as possible with customers.
  4. Testing: It is very simple and useful to do a testing. Furthermore, repeat the testing from time
    to time.
  5. Development: Ask customers, which added features they like.
  6. Operations: Be reminded that things are changing all the time.

In addition, Schmuziger gave us some take aways. He mentioned that digitally comes, if somebody wants or not. Go with the time and make use of opportunities but also be aware of the risks. Be brave because you can not lose anything and definitely go beyond borders.
Finally, he told how to hold up the innovation over the years as a company. It is simple, because the staff of Zühlke get educated in different topics so that they can expand their experiences. Keep people up to date and speed for driving innovation.

Blockchain Technology

Kevin Leuthard and Mirco Klaus introduced us to the processes of the blockchain. It was a complex but an interesting topic.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger. It works in a decentralized network and guarantees security through broadcasting all new information to all participants. Therefore, each transaction adds to the ledger. In order to get the hash value, you need all inputs. An immutable record with fine stamp is added each time a new transaction is added. After a block of the chain is filled the block gets a final value that is incorporated in the new one. Advantage is that there is no financial intermediary needed. The other big potential is the so called smart contracts. As all the regulations and transactions are recorded, and thus secured and controlled. Not all information (private) can be recorded on the blockchain, as it does not allow data to be deleted. There is however a private blockchain, where there are parties with more authority and the number of participants is limited. More suitable for industrial use or internal use.

This technology has a great potential for humanity. It is important to take this transition, and help people in their ordinary life.

Digital Health – From Hype to Impact

Christine K. Jacob gave us a thrilling lecture about the digital health sector and told us what it is about, and what the advantages and challenges are.

Two main factors differentiate between digital disruption and traditional competitive dynamics: the speed of change and the high stakes involved.

Some industries face greater risks than others. Industries poised for greatest disruption are those in which the most digitalization is taking place.

We had a brainstorming session within little groups and discussed a mobile health solution that can help kids to be more compliant with their medication.

She showed us the importance and improvements in the health sector by implementing the digitalization. Success of digital health relies on how it is done.

„It is a social and behavioral science.“

The Impact of Positive Appearance

What is your first impression? What are influencing factors? Corinne Staub was introducing us to the impact of a positive appearance in a very lively and personal way. The image that others have of you, is not controllable. But some factors you can impact. Self-branding is the key because you can control who you are, how and what you communicate, or the way you act and interact with others. Factors that help to leave a good first impression. Firstly, show positive emotions and gain trust. Next steps are to garner respect and show interest.

She showed us a model of Marc Bowden. Humans are scanning people whether they could be a friend or an enemy. She encouraged us to have the focus on the friend side and look for the positive, because the enemy side is mostly a personal problem in our head and not a real issue of the person itself. This is very crucial for doing business.

Corinne Staub made interactive sessions, in which the students could practice their skills in presenting themselves and how to introduce a group of people to a company in the right way.

Also, the culture, the environment, character and values are important elements that influence who you are. It is relevant to gain experience and catch the interest of the other party by being authentic and natural, making your listener curious, being interesting and beginning with why.