Closing Event Invitation

You want to be part of connectUS or another International Student Project in 2018?
You think about applying for the project or PR team 2018?
Or you just want to know everything about this years edition of the student projects?

There is one opportunity to get answer to all these questions during one evening: COME TO OUR CLOSING EVENT 2017

See you there!

Gold Partner: MAN Truck & Bus Schweiz AG

Please welcome our new Gold Partner „MAN Truck & Bus Schweiz AG“

They offer a wide range of products such as trucks, transport and urban buses. Moreover, they provide services for the whole area of utility vehicles.

Read more about MAN on their website:

First neXus newsletter 2017

We are very happy to announce; we published our Nexus Newsletter today!

The FHNW International Student Projects Insight China, Focus India, connectUS, and exploreASEAN have created a corporate newsletter to share the highlights of the Preparatory Seminar week.

There are very interesting articles about globalisation, innovation and many insights into the Preparatory Seminar 2017!

Finally you also get the chance to get to know more about some selected delegates from each project in the sections “Key Learnings”.

You can download the newsletter here: Nexus February 2017

Fourth day of the preparatory seminar 2017

After a very insightful day at Google and the U.S. Embassy, today we were back at the FHNW Campus in Olten to listen to the next speakers.

Innovation in the Swiss industry – Robert Rudolph, Swissmem

We started with an interesting talk from Robert Rudolph about Innovation in the Swiss industry. Since 2012, he is the head of training and innovation at Swissmem. Swissmem is an industry association for the Swiss metal, electronic and machine industry. They provide individual services from legal advice to lobbying for their members. As an industry association, they are representing the MEM industry in politics and the public. Especially the SMEs (small and middle enterprises) are Swissmem’s focus.

As the Swiss euro exchange rate pegging was lifted in 2015, the industry in Switzerland had many challenges to overcome. Within a day, they lost about 15% of their margin by exporting their products. Due to the fact that 78% of the produced goods will be exported, the companies in the MEM industry must be competitive in the world market. Because of the strong Swiss Franc, the competitiveness of Swiss companies in the world market dropped significantly. Needing to keep their competitiveness, the companies must be more efficient and at the same time keep the Swiss quality high, as one of the unique selling points. To keep up with the world market, they need to constantly improve. Thus, innovation is a key task for their survival. Swissmem helps their members to establish an innovative working culture and recommend the following:

  • Collaborate to innovate
  • Create a new business model that includes the customer’s needs
  • With digitalization try to be more efficient
  • Push industry 4.0

To conclude, innovation is very important for the MEM industry and especially for the SMEs to keep their competitiveness in the world market.

We want to thank Robert Rudolph for his interesting speech and for his time.

CS Innovation Challenge – Enrico Salvadori, Credit Suisse

Enrico Salvadori, the COO of Products and Investment Service at Credit Suisse, holds a speech about their project “Innovation Challenge” at Credit Suisse. So, we could learn how new ideas for innovations are found in the banking sector.

Nowadays, the banks are confronted with different types of pressures, such as new technologies, new business models, enhanced client expectations and regulatory changes. He told about innovative products which are designed by Credit Suisse. The first one is called “SmartATM”. People are now able to take or deposit cash from a Credit Suisse ATM without using a card. This cardless possibility works with your smartphone and a produced QR-Code. Credit Suisse was actually the first bank in Switzerland who introduced this new system. The second product is “MyIBAN” where you can create your personalized IBAN number. Impressing, Credit Suisse was the first bank in the world with this innovative product.

Regarding their Innovation Challenge, which started in 2014, they motivate each employee to find new ideas for products. Therefore, it’s like a competition with a winner in the end. The idea must be simple, understandable for everyone and has to be pitched passionately in front of the upper management. For making it successful, there are several key factors to bear in mind. For instance, an intense internal and external communication must be provided, the top management pays attention to you and your idea or the winner will get attractive rewards.

Thank you very much, Enrico Salvadori, for coming and showing us how a Swiss bank can be innovative.

Innovation through automatization excellence and intelligent solutions – Thomas Neuhaus, Autexis

Autexis combines two different companies – Autextis Control AG and Autexis IT AG. With the CEO of the Autexis IT AG, Thomas Neuhaus, we had the pleasure to welcome our main partner today.

The core business of AUTEXIS is the following:

  • Control technology with Siemens-regulation and other systems
  • Automation in industrial plant
  • Integration of control and management systems
  • MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) of SAP and other partners
  • M2M (Machine to Machine) communication and IoT (Internet of Things)
  • Consulting, development of strategies and trainings for the industry 4.0

He talked about how automatization processes are created and implemented. What are the qualities and innovations of the Industry 4.0 as well as what are central challenges of them?

Qualities and innovations Central challenges
Costumer product Increase flexibility
Competitive price Increase efficiency
Short delivery time Reduce time to market
New business model Cross enterprise and cross customer network


Furthermore, Thomas Neuhaus spoke about the key success factors of automatization. Corporate culture, security, usability and technology as well as benefits are these key success factors. Getting a successful implementation, design thinking, scrum and continuous integration are important. Besides, the digital transformation will have a great influence on the market success in the future. Also, a company needs the right people who introduce these changes in automatization. Integrate safely and user-friendly! In the end, innovation means always change, thus, the most important task when an innovation is implemented, is that everyone involved knows why and how the situation changes. Therefore, change management is essential.


We would like to thank Thomas Neuhaus for his time and absolutely interesting speech. We are glad to have such an amazing company on board of connectUS.


The day tomorrow will be together with the other three projects. Jean-Pierre Lehmann will start with his speech, followed by a panel talk of four experts in globalization. In the afternoon, there will be a career fair and the final apéro. We are looking forward to this last day of our preparatory seminar.


Third day of the preparatory seminar 2017

Today the motto was “expand your mind”.  the whole delegation went to Zurich and Berne to visit Google and the U.S. Embassy.



Dr. Javier Bargas welcomed us at the Google campus in Zurich. He holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology. Since 2012 he leads the Video Ads UX research team at Google in Zurich and San Francisco. Before joining Google, he was the manager of the HCI lab at the University of Basel (Switzerland). He published over 25 peer reviewed papers in HCI journals and conferences, covering topics such as user satisfaction, mental models in website perception, website aesthetics, webform usability and internationalization of products.


Firstly, we got a tour through the office. We saw a lot of interesting way to design a special workspace. Fun fact, every employee in Zurich needs to be within 100 feet walking distance to the nearest coffee and snack bar. To enable and encourage the work-life-balance, Google provides hairdressers, massages, fitness centers and playing rooms for their employees.


After the coffee break in one of Google’s many coffee bars, Dr. Javier Bargas talked about what makes a product great and how important a user centered design is. The product needs to be accessible, usable and understandable for a lot of customers, thus, the design of a product is essential. Lastly, he presented us the process of how a real case project at Google is started and how the corporate culture is lived.

© Google

We thank Google and especially Dr. Javier Bargas for their time and effort to show us their work environment and giving us a glimps of how it is to work for the tech giant.


U.S. Embassy

In the afternoon, the delegation visited the official United States Embassy in Berne. We were welcomed by Stephanie Morimura, Alexander Sigrist and Kim Hunziker. During an introduction, we learned what the main tasks of an Embassy are. These are the followings:

  • Official representation of the U.S. government
  • Diplomatic relations between two countries
  • Protect and help U.S. citizens
  • Represent interests of the United States regarding education, development, political and financial affairs
  • Explain U.S. policies

It was very interesting to hear how the diplomatic system in the U.S. works. For example, there are two different diplomats in the State Department: Career Diplomats and political appointed Ambassadors. After 3 years in one country, a career diplomat must change the country and task. So, you should love changes!

Thank you very much for having us at the U.S. Embassy and answering all our questions.

Tomorrow we will have an interesting day with talks from Autexis, Swissmem and Credit Suisse.

First day of the preparatory seminar 2017

This year’s preparatory seminar 2017 started with three absolutely interesting presentations. But first of all, we got a short introduction by Prof. Dr. Ruedi Nützi, the director of the FHNW. Now, we would like to give you some insight into our key learnings from today and share it with you.

Influence of a Positive Appearance – Corinne Staub, ONE

The first presentation of Corinne Staub from “ONE” was the perfect start in this preparatory seminar. The aim was to transmit some great insights into the business world in terms of appearance.

“You cannot control what other see in you. But you can control who you are, how and what you communicate as well as the way you act and interact with others.”




She transmitted her statements involving members of the delegation to show how you can build up trust or how you have to correctly introduce yourself and colleagues. You should think about what makes you likeable to the others. Aspects of getting likeable are smiling, eye contact and body language. Surprisingly is that 55% of the first impression is due to the outfit.

Moreover, she talked about different categories when we see somebody for the first time. These categories are designed from Mark Bowden. The first one is “Friend” and this is also the best category. Enemy and Indifferent are the other ones.


She designed her presentation on a very interactive way, including a pleasant mix of theory, examples of experience in real life, funny anecdotes and gave some historical background to explain where some current customs come from.


Furthermore, she highlighted the importance of preparing yourself about who you are going to interact with and which message you want to transport with your introduction. It’s important to have a tailored description of yourself that is short and meaningful. You have to walk your talk and your message should always be consistent. Additionally, you have to consider the environment you are in, such as habits, values, customs and does and don’ts. Everything depends on the country and their culture.

Last but not least, we focused on dress codes for men and women. She gave us some concrete recommendations and showed us good examples. Dealing with rank, gender and age in business and private life were also discussed. Now, we feel well prepared for all upcoming events and situations as well as are aware of the impact our appearance.



We want to thank Corinne Staub for the amazing talk.

Driving Innovation – How organizations discover, select and execute on innovation by – Harm Flik, Zühlke

The second talk of the day was about innovation in an organization. Harm Filk, employee of Zühlke, is a consultant for organizations on how to make use of digital and mobile technologies and innovative business models to create profitable and sustainable competitive advantage in a digital and connected world.


In his speech about driving innovation, Harm Filk talked about the process of being and staying innovative to help keeping the company competitive. As an organization, it is essential to constantly change their exposure. There are four key skills that drive innovation forward.

  1. The only constant in an organization is change
    Organizations need to keep moving, otherwise they will cease to exist
  1. Disrupt yourself, or otherwise someone else will
    Organizations actively need to seek and explore ways to disrupt their own business, in order to be prepared when the time comes and someone else is disrupting the organizations business model.
  1. An explosion of exponential
    Competition is global, and well-funded. People and organizations should think big, not the next 10%, but the next 1 million %, and embrace a culture of experimentation (fail fast, but fail forward).
  1. Your mindset matters
    An organization has to live an experimental and innovative enabling culture. To enable the employees to be innovative and working on their own projects is a key point.

In the end, as an organization you need to be on top of your game, be active and try to constantly evolve who the organization is and where the organization is going. Therefore, enabling and living innovative thinking.

We want to thank Harm Flik for the incredible talk.

Innovation politics – Dr. Fabian Schnell, Avenir Suisse

The last speech of the first day of the Preparatory Seminar was held by Dr. Fabian Schnell. He is a senior fellow and the head of the department “Smart Government” at Avenir Suisse. Innovation politics is a very important topic for Switzerland.


He talked about the strengths and key factors of the success of Switzerland’s innovativeness. But why is Switzerland the most innovative country in the world? Past political decisions enabled Switzerland to be the world champion in innovation.

Strengths & key factors

  • Switzerland is the most competitive country before Singapore and USA
  • Openness to trade: Switzerland is high depended on trade with other countries but also benefits a lot from trade.
  • Openness to people: Switzerland is one of the most international country with a lot of resistant with a foreign passport.
  • Excellency in education: Switzerland has with the ETH and other Universities an excellence source of education and knowledge. With the successful dual education system, Switzerland has a unique education system.
  • A high number of investments in research & development from companies (mainly private expenditures)


  • Little knowledge absorption: Foreign countries invest less in Switzerland and thus create less jobs than Swiss companies invest in foreign countries.
  • In Switzerland, it is difficult of getting venture capital as a start-up.
  • The labor market is less flexible than it used to be, therefore generating more structural unemployment.
  • Lack of qualified workers
  • Falling behind in ICT and E-Government

But how can Switzerland overcome those weaknesses and keep its leader position as the most innovative country in the world? Switzerland has to reform its self. First of all the economy needs more qualified workers (especially specialists), thus the migration is a very important topic and should be enabled. Also, the access to foreign direct investments should be improved. Thirdly, the access to the labor market must be simplified and labor market regulations should be adopted to the digital economy. Lastly, the environment for start-ups has to be improved and start-ups should be better supported to bring their ideas to market.




We want to thank Dr. Fabian Schnell for the very educational talk.



The whole connectUS team had an incredible first day and the team is looking forward for tomorrows speaker Dr. Louis Perron and Michael Schranz.