Three strategic themes marked our third year at Pier 17: Consolidate, Collaborate and Create Shared Value.
To streamline our messaging both in Switzerland and locally, consolidating the programming and communication of our activities has become ever more important. In 2018, we sought to understand the emergent future through the lenses of five focus areas: Energy and Environment, Intelligent Machines, Storytelling and Interaction, Structures of Society, as well as Next Horizons – the yet-to-be-discovered challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.
Under these focus areas, our programs – from exhibitions and public events, to innovation journeys and designathons – have explored topics as diverse as urban swarm behavior, climate risk monitoring in finance, the impact of smart speakers on traditional media, and human rights in the age of AI. In our tenth year of working with Innosuisse to promote and internationalize the Swiss entrepreneurial ecosystem, we further consolidated our startup support programs, drawing lessons from past experience and participant feedback. The new reality of Pier 17 allows us to employ a cohort approach, providing a rich program of workshops, presentations and peer learning sessions to a group of eight or more startups, twice a year. As a result of this, as well as a new partnership with EPFL’s Vice Presidency of Innovation, aspiring student-entrepreneurs now have the chance to learn from more seasoned founders coming through the Innosuisse Startup Camp.
Our very existence has roots in collaborating with an ever-expanding group of partners. Always committed to connecting new dots, we expanded and strengthened the collaboration with Swiss stakeholders. In 2018, we tied the knot with new partners such as Fondation Bertarelli, Policy Kitchen, Blue Horizon and swissinfo, and worked closely with the City and Canton of Zurich to make the Zurich Meets San Francisco Festival a success.
Understanding that collaboration is a mindset that must apply externally as much as internally across teams, our programming culminated in the swissnex Salon: an experimental blend of activities with a shared theme. Inspired by the Preamble of the Swiss Constitution, we explored the values at the core of our democratic societies in light of rapid technological change. Generously supported by the swissnex network’s founding father Thierry Lombard, in the last quarter of 2018, our space turned into a gathering place – a Salon – hosting ten conferences, five workshops and twenty-three short-term residents, within a thought-provoking installation.
Throughout the year, creating shared value was top of mind for our team. Beyond implementing impact objectives in all our activities, we put specific focus on engaging our resident community to maximize the serendipitous potential of Pier 17. Through new on- and offline initiatives, we kept working on creating the best possible conditions to connect dots in our community. Coming up with novel ways to transfer insights and knowledge back to Switzerland, 2018 also witnessed the launch of nextcast – a podcast series allowing anyone to eavesdrop on some of the most interesting exchanges and conversations happening at swissnex San Francisco. Finally, the Mental Work exhibition allowed our audiences to playfully explore the avant-garde of man-machine interaction, all the while contributing to an important brain research project.
Well aware that the core value of swissnex lies in its capacity to stay ahead of the curve and experiment, we look forward to another year of many firsts!