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Final wrap-up

It’s sad to say, but connectUS 2017 is already over. With the Closing Event on May 8, it officially came to an end. But we had a wonderful year with lots of interesting and amazing moments.

 

Everything started in summer 2016 with the planning. The first official event then was the Kick-Off Meeting for the Delegation at the end of December 2016. There, we got to know each other for the first time personally and learned more about the upcoming Preparatory and On-Site Seminar.

 

In February, the Preparatory Seminar took place. We had the pleasure to welcome different high-ranked people from various fields and companies. Furthermore, we had the opportunity to get an insight into the Google Offices in Zurich and the Swiss Embassy in Bern.

 

Then, everybody was really excited and looking forward to April 6. We finally headed off to the USA for our On-Site Seminar! Our first stop was San Francisco. With DocuSign, Swissnex, Swisscom, Microsoft and Xamarin we had absolutely fabulous visits there. Boston was our second city of our On-Site Seminar. We had a speech from the CEO of Swissnex, an MIT tour, a tour and speech by the CIC and the chance to network in the Venture Café as well as a speech from Bettina Hein, the CEO of Pixability. Moreover, we had the chance to visit the Cambridge Science Festival in Boston. Last but not least, we went to New York. The program was packed with insightful visits such as Google, Alex Goldberg – a venture capitalist, MoMA, Swiss Consulate, Brooklyn Grange and Livestream.

 

No doubt, we had a wonderful time. This was for sure a once in a lifetime experience. Now, everthing finished with the successful Closing Event.

 

Our last words are dedicated to all those people that enabled us to have that unforgettable experience such as our supervisor, accompanying lectures, delegates, speakers and of course, a big thank you to our partners!

 

There is one more thing we want to share with you: Lean back, fasten your seatbelt and enjoy our On-Site video 2017!

Wrap up Boston

Boston – the Silicon Valley of the east coast!

Well known for it’s universities, Boston is way more than only a student city. Very fast one considers that there is a high business potential. In more detail it is the health care and tech hub of the United States (or even the world). Of course this is triggered by universities such as the MIT, Harvard, the BU or many more. So, similar to the Silicon Valley with the Stanford engine, but on the other side of the country.

Swissnex Boston added great value to our program and enabled us to get insights into normally confidential areas. We were able to get a tour at the MIT (incl. Media Lab), the Cambridge Innovation Center (incl. Venture Cafe) and also had interesting speeches such as one from Hampus Hillerstrom from Proclara Bioscience or Pascal Marmier from Swiss Re.

Furthermore we had the valuable chance to visit Pixability. Bettina Hein, CEO and Founder, welcomed us and motivated us with her passionate speech to become an entrepreneur. We hope we can contribute to reach her goal of creating 5000 jobs for entrepreneurs!

Big thank you to all these people that made our Boston stay unforgettable. Especially we want to mention here Jonas and Francesco from Swissnex Boston. We highly appreciate your engagement!

Day 9 – Boston

Today, we had the chance to go to the Cambridge Science Festival. It was a pleasure to see all the different types of sciences. For example, we could drive electronic bikes, see a robotic doc or use a 3D printer.

 

After having fun at the festival, everybody could do what they wanted to do.

 

Now, we are looking forward to our final destination – New York.

Day 8 – Boston

Our eighth day or our On-Site Seminar. We had a full program with lots of impressions.

 

Proclara Biosciences

Hampus Hillerstrom, the CFO and Executive Vice President as well as Co-Founder, welcomed us at the office of Swissnex. Proclara produces alzheimer medicine that decelerate this illness. Their goal is to reach all molecule and not only once. This is something unique in this sector.

 

The medicine is actually too expensive for the market, so they have to share the costs with others.

 

MIT Media Lab

This Media Lab was founded by private companies and has nowadays 25 different teams in researching. Phil Tinn who is a research scientist gave us an overview about their activities. The City Science Lab is the second biggest field of these 25. A new project in this field are autonomous vehicles which can be used as a transport method in the future.

 

Pixability

We were welcomed by the founder and CEO of Pixability, Bettina Hein. She is a Swiss who lives in Boston since a couple of years. In 2008, she founded this company. Firstly, they were located at the CIC building. Pixability is a video advertising company that helps media professionals.

She told us that anyone can be an entrepreneur. All you need is:

  • naivité: it doesn’t mean not having a plan
  • chutzpah: this means you need the courage to do new and other things
  • perseverance: you need the power of endurance

 

A good and successful business field is always a market which is disrupted, changes rapidly and is large enough. Really important is the fact that almost each start-up has to change their first business model while growing.

 

In the evening and also tomorrow, the whole delegation will go to the Cambridge Science Festival.

 

 

Day 7 – Boston

Today we had our first day in Boston!

Swissnex Boston

Dr. Felix Moesner, the CEO and Consul of Swissnex Boston welcomed us at their office in Cambridge. He told us that networking is essential and you should prepare yourself for every single event. After the introduction of Felix Moesner, Jonas Brunschwig and Francesco Bortoluzzi – both are Swiss –told us some facts about Boston, Cambridge and the US. There are 75 colleges and universities as well as 265’000 students around Boston. It is actually the world’s leading life science cluster.

MIT tour

We had the pleasure to see some buildings of the MIT and get an insight from Jonas Brunschwig. With his deep knowledge of lots of secrets of the MIT campus, the tour was a blast! Through walking around the campus, we could feel the spirit of entrepreneurship and wanting to achieve more.

CIC & Venture Café

After having lunch at the campus of the MIT, we went to CIC (Cambridge Innovation Center). This is a company who provides workforce spaces for other companies. So, you can rent some space in their building and get a great network, especially for start-ups. Firstly, we got a short presentation of the mission of CIC and afterwards we got to see the different work spaces provided by CIC.

The Venture Café is inside the building of CIC and is thought to be a networking place. Today, there was an event with lots of business people and we had the chance to talk to them in a comfortable atmosphere.

Swiss Re

Pascal Marmier from Swiss Re spoke about digital analytics catalysts and the satelite office of Swiss Re in the CIC building. It was very interesting, why a reinsurer company has made an office in Boston. The reasons are vast, but the most important reason is that Boston is the Innovation Hub/generator. Lots of new ways are developed by start-up on how data can be used to evaluate risk. An important business/skill a reinsurer needs, therefore it is essential to be right next door where these innovations are happening.

Nexus

We are very happy to announce that we published the second Nexus Newsletter today!

The FHNW International Student Projects Insight ChinaFocus IndiaconnectUS, and exploreASEAN have created a corporate newsletter to share the highlights of the onsite seminar.

Fifteen years ago, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) pioneered with International Student Projects (ISP). The ISPs are organised by students for students, which enables more students than ever to travel abroad and get first-hand experiences as well as insights in what we did this year.

We hope you will enjoy reading through the Nexus Newsletter.

Boston – Day 4

Freedom Trail

Today was the connectUS 2016 explore Boston day. The morning started with a special tour which was organized for us. The tour took 90 minutes and we visited some sites of the Freedom Trail which all have a crucial role in the American Revolution. Our tour guide itself was a remnant of the 18th-century, namely John Quincy Adams, which plays a significant role in the history of Boston.

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In the afternoon the delegation had time to visit some more places by themselves.

Boston – Day 3

Biogen

Today connectUS 2016 had the chance to visit the headquarters of Biogen in Cambridge, Boston. The company was founded 1978 in Geneva and therefore it is a company with Swiss roots in the biopharmical industry.

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Nowadays Biogen has strong affiliates in 30 countries and 50 additional distribution partners around the world. The company focuses on three areas namely: speciality, neurodegeneration and rare deseases. Biogen does a lot of effort in the field of multiple sclerose, not only developping treatments to stop progression of the desease, but also to reverse the progression.

The approach of Biogen is always following three steps; discover, develop and deliver. To increase their capacity especially in the production of alzheimer drugs they started to build up a new site in Solothurn, Switzerland which should be finished in January 2017.

Founded on innovation and pioneering the site in Solothurn, Biogen perceive itself as a a game changer, and basing their key to innovation and talent focus which is in the end their road to success.

wordpress-9847After their presentation the connectUS 2016 project team presented the project and gave additional insights about the dual education system in Switzerland. The morning ended with a Q&A session, where representatives of Biogen could ask us questions and some delegates  had the opportunities to share their own experiences.

MassChallenge

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In the afternoon the connectUS 2016 delegation went to MassChallenge a nonprofit organization based in Boston that is  specialized in supporting startups. Their goal is to make entrepreneurs win, thats why they grand access to an extensive network community of cooperators and facilities that cover all needs to establish a company. Being a non-profit organization means that it needs to be backed up with financial support. Among others corporations like Microsoft, Nestlé, Honda and Pepsico, as well as foundations and governments are supporters of MassChallenge.

To benefit from the facilities mentioned, MassChallenge selects every year 128 startups with a jury to participate in the companies four-month accelerator program. The startups need to pass 3 stages until they are accepted: the online application, the pitch and in the end the 12 weeks accelerator program. During the whole selection process the startups are accompanied by experts like mentors and almuni.

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Furthermore we had the great chance to hear a pitch of Hitesh Tolani, CEO of Virtudent and the winner of last years MassChallenge competition. He talked with the delegation about his experiences during the competition and shared his personal and very specific recomendations of how to benefit most of a collaboration with an organization like MassChallenge.

Being placed in Boston gives the startups the advantage of benefiting from the ecosystem in all its extend. This year MassChallenge opened a new office in Lausanne, Switzerland additionally to its offices in Boston, UK, Israel and Mexiko.

The day ended with a reflection session where the delegation could share their thoughts with the project team about how they have felt during the onsite seminar so far.

Boston – Day 2

Swissnex

Today the connectUS 2016 delegation was warmly welcomed by Swissnex at their office in Boston.

As an introduction Jonas Brunschwig briefly explained to us the unique characteristics of the vibrant ecosystem especially for entrepreneurs in Boston. With over 300 universities it is a huge pool of talents. Jonas refered to Boston as Athen of higher education. This makes it also very attractive for startup companies as well as for venture capitalists.

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Furthermore the Consul Dr. Felix Moesner gave deeper insights into the mission of Swissnex. Their overall mission is to connect dots, mainly between public to private partnerships. The areas they focus on are education, innovation and research. Through hosting as well as in participating in selected events like the New York Fashion Week or the MIT Career Fair, they want to strengthen Switzerlands reputation as a center for science and innovation.

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After a short coffe break we could enjoy two presentations about entrepreneurship which enriched our knowledge with new perspectives we didn’t hear so far.

Martin Steinmann, Managing Partner of SteamFab Ventures, told us about his perspective of the differences between Switzerland and the US business culture. He talked about seven variables that are crucial when starting a startup in the US: Culture, Financing, Market Size, Test for Demand, Team, Commitment and the Legal Framework. Especially he pointed out that a good preparation is key, as failure matters and is not easely forgiven by venture capitalists.

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The last presentation of the day was hold by Patrick Anquiel, PhD, CEO of Portal Instruments. He shared his personal success story in the field of life sciences with us which represents his formula for entrepreneurial success: Select a huge market, define a clear value proposition and have a defensible IP.

His presentation ended with a quote of Steve Jobs: “You can only connect the dots backward“.

MIT

In the afternoon after lunch Jonas Brunschwig gave us a tour through the MIT and showed us the most important places.

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Cambridge innovation Center and Venture Cafe

At the end of the day the connectUS delegation had the great opportunity to visit the Cambridge Innovation Center and got a tour through the location. The CIC supports the entrepreneurship community in Boston. In the end we could join a real life networking event at the Venture Cafe.

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Boston – Day 1

This morning our day started early with a four hour bus ride to Boston.

Pixability

In the afternoon we had our first company visit in Boston at Pixability. The company with its offices in NY, San Francisco, Chicago and the only EU office in London was founded in 2008 out of the MIT. Pixability is a video advertising company for premium platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube with around 70 employees.

Bettina Hein the founder of Pixability is an entrepreneur originally from Switzerland and welcomed us in their new office in Boston.

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„Anyone can be an entrepreneur“ was the message of her inspiring presentation where she was talking about the recipe for being an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur needs to stick to the three principles of „Naivité“, „Chutzpah“, „Perseverance“.

Bettina Hein finished her presentation with a Q&A session with the connectUS delegation which was really helpful for delegates that intent to become entrepreneurs themselves. There is a typical saying in Boston which is important for prospective entrepreneurs: „You have to go to where the puck is going, not to where it is now.“