Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence

"… but for me the most interesting new technology is machine learning, where there has been unbelievable progress in the last few years. This technology is likely to be more important than the personal computer was. So if I was starting a new company I would look closely at that."
- Andy von Bechtolsheim, at our Silicon Valley meets Switzerland event, March 31, 2016 in Zürich

The London-based startup DeepMind got acquired by Google for $ 500 million only four years after its founding. The company made headlines in 2016 after its AlphaGo program beat a human professional Go player for the first time.

What many don't know is that some of its key people and technologies came from Lugano, the SUPSI / IDSIA Lab which is among the top 10 research facilities in the world.

The new Google Zurich Lab will employ 250 Machine Learning and A.I. experts.

Background information


Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence

moderated by Prof. Dr. Marco Zaffalon, Professor, IDSIA / SUPSI


Prof. Dr. Marco Zaffalon

Marco Zaffalon is a Professor at IDSIA, the "Dalle Molle" Institute for Artificial Intelligence, where he has founded and leads the research group on probabilistic machine learning - 14 full-time researchers.

The group has hundreds of publications and has been granted several millions of francs from competitive research funds.

Marco has a PhD in Applied Mathematics from University of Milan (1997).

His research interests are in reliable methods for learning from data and experts and on the foundations of probability and statistics.

On these topics he has published many papers in first-rate Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning journals and conferences, and has a long track of successful applications to real-world problems in collaboration with private companies as well as public institutions.

He is one of the recipients of the selective grants by the Swiss National Research Programme 75 on Big Data.


The Swiss AI Lab IDSIA ( is a non-profit oriented research institute for artificial intelligence, affiliated with both the Faculty of Informatics of the Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI) and the Department of Innovative Technologies of SUPSI, the University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland.

IDSIA focuses on machine learning, operations research, data mining, and robotics.

Founded in 1988, it currently employs about 60 researchers and collaborators.

The experience of IDSIA in AI comprises both theoretical and applied projects

Pascal Kaufmann

Pascal Kaufmann is a neuroscientist-turned-entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Starmind.

Having received his Master’s Degree in Neuroscience and Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (USA), Pascal has worked at the prestigious Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich, Switzerland and on numerous projects researching the interface between brains and machines to unravel the secrets of neural networks and brain activity.

  • Degree in Neuroscience and Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (USA)
  • Several years experience in the Financial Services sector and in the field of Business Development at Bank Julius Baer
  • Together with Marc Vontobel founded Starmind International in 2010
  • As Starmind CEO Pascal Kaufmann is responsible for strategy, stakeholder management, business development, branding and expansion

Dr. Philippe Luginbühl

Philippe Luginbühl works for the Swiss Confederation, in the Federal Office for Defence Procurement armasuisse Science and Technology.

Since 2009 he is in charge of managing the CREDO project in collaboration with the IPG research group on probabilistic machine learning at IDSIA, the “Dalle Molle” Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Manno, Switzerland.

Philippe has more than 20 years of confirmed experience in project management, technical negotiations and contracts, technology transfer, knowledge assessment, decision support, creation of patents, teaching and team coaching in the fields of knowledge mapping, complexity management, risk assessment, Microsystems R&D, innovative medical device technology, material, process, and packaging.

He co-created more than 12 patents in the fields of liquid micro dosage, piezoelectric sprays, HF-SAW filters, including strategic analysis and technology surveys.

Philippe Luginbühl earned a PhD in Microsystems Technology from the Institute of Microtechnology (IMT-SAMLAB) and a M.Sc. Degree in Physics from the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.



A new generation of user-friendly decision support system based on imprecise probabilities.

The general purpose of the software tool is to easily create "artificial experts" in various domains.

Such a software tool can support experts in a simple yet effective way during complex decision processes.

CREDO has been used in 2013, during the seventh Multinational Experiment of NATO/PfP (Partnership for Peace) to evaluate the political acceptability of specific military strategies related to space defence (military satellites).

The effectiveness of the software developed by IDSIA has been validated in a contest between a team of renowned NATO international experts and the artificial expert designed with CREDO.

The software tool achieved a performance similar to NATO experts in a large number of benchmark scenarios.

The partnership with the Swiss Confederation is evolving in the direction of increasingly bigger and global models.

It is in this context that new collaborations have recently arisen: with the Armed Forces Command Support Organization, in charge of the national defense from cyber-attacks and electronic warfare and with the Armed Forces Staff, in charge of the implementation of political resolutions and operative guidelines at strategic and military levels.

Umang Maradia

Umang is the head of university research and deputy head of innovation in EDM at GF Machining Solutions.

Umang has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zürich, for which he was awarded Hilti prize for innovative research.

His research interests mainly lie in the field of manufacturing and machine tools, specifically EDM and non-conventional manufacturing processes.

He has received more than CHF 4 million in research grants, including seed grant from ETH Zurich, where his activities focus on high precision, economic-energy efficiency, zero-defect manufacturing, self-learning and enabling functions such as self-cleaning in mass produced consumer products.

GF Machining Solutions

GF Machining Solutions provides milling and electrical discharge machines (EDM), additive manufacturing solutions, laser texturing, automation, tooling, and spindles.

These complete solutions make it one of the world’s leading provider to the tool- and mold-making industry and to manufacturers of precision components.

The most important customer segments are the aerospace industry, ICT, and the automotive sector.

Based in Switzerland, GF Machining Solutions operates its own sales companies in more than 50 countries to provide customer services locally.

Production facilities as well as research and development centers are located in Switzerland, Sweden, and China.

A company belonging to Georg Fischer Group (Switzerland), GF Machining Solutions has 3,003 employees and generated sales of CHF 902 million in 2015.

Jason Maynard

Jason Maynard is the Director of Data Products at Zendesk.

He heads up Zendesk's analytics and machine learning teams that builds products that improve customer relationships using data.

Previously, Jason worked at Deloitte, figuring out how much the next blockbuster would gross and built prototype LEDs at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.


Zendesk builds software for better customer relationships.

It empowers organizations to improve customer engagement and better understand their customers.

Zendesk products are easy to use and implement.

They give organizations the flexibility to move quickly, focus on innovation, and scale with their growth.

Prof. Alessandro Barazzetti

Professor Alessandro Barazzetti is the founder of QBT and the director of the R&D unit.

He is an aerospace engineer in charge of the development of new products of QBT in the financial sector.

Alessandro widen the expertise of QBT introducing new technologies in the fields of Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning in collaboration with main research institutes in Switzerland and in Italy, that allowed QBT to develop innovative software.


QBT is an acronym for Quantum Bit Technology: QBT was founded in 2008 as a software house operating in the financial and banking sector.

Over time, however, we have diversified our business, specializing in the development of complex algorithms for the purpose of simulation and predictive analysis mainly in financial sector.

In this activity we have collaborated with leading universities and research institutions.

We promote the idea of a continually evolving company and we have therefore given a strong impetus to research and development, which in recent years have matured technologies in the field of Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning at a state of the art.

These studies are mainly applied in the financial sector, in the field of trading of asset classes but recently we have launched a series of sentiment analysis for the study of politics.

QBT retains a strongly able to crawl and analyze large amounts of data and information (Big-data) in order to extract behaviors with which we build simulation models and scenario analysis.

The team of QBT is highly multidisciplinary and covers skills ranging from cognitive science to machine learning, economics, with a strong and well-established vocation developing proprietary software.

Nicola Colombo

Passionate entrepreneur in the Digital Industry, started his career with Selerant in 1997, in 2016 moved to new challenges coming from the industry 4.0 transformation, leveraging artificial Intelligence to deliver solutions that would help the consumers goods industry delivers safer products to the market.

With substantial expertise in business and software development, has a thing for motorcycles, his passion for challenges and adventures is not changing over the years.

In 2013 he travelled his Electric motorcycle across Asia from Shanghai to Milan achieving a Guinness World Record as the longest Electric motorcycle Journey with 12.376 KMs.

The passion for electric vehicle is also becoming a business being part of Italian Volt , a luxury electric motorcycle brand.


C-LABS SA was established in 2016 by me with the idea of developing a platform that would facilitate Food Industry professionals in comply with regulation and monitor emergent risk.

I have decided to establish the company and myself in Ticino as I have seen there was a good environment for start-ups and IDSIA was already well known as an excellence in AI.

Few months after the company was funded we have started a project with IDSIA called "Intelligent text mining of food-related documents” in which I have also involved SGS providing domain knowledge and contents.

The very first launch event will be at the end of February at the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) in Houston.

Andy von Bechtolsheim

Andreas Bechtolsheim is a Founder and Chief Development Officer of Arista Networks, a high-speed datacenter and cloud networking company. Previously, Andy was a Co-Founder and Chief System Architect at Sun Microsystems, responsible for next generation server, storage, and network architectures.

From 1995 to 1996, Andy was CEO and President of Granite Systems, a Gigabit Ethernet Switching startup company he founded that Cisco acquired in September of 1996. From 1996 to 2003 Andy was General Manager for the Gigabit Systems Business Unit at Cisco System that developed the Cat-4K Switch family, which became the highest volume modular switching platform in the industry.

As a private venture investor, Andy has been involved in the funding of numerous companies including Google, VMware, Mellanox, Brocade, and Magma Design. He has served on the Board of Directors of 25 companies, the majority of which went public or were acquired.

Andy earned a M.S. in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1976. He was a doctoral student in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University from 1977 to 1982. He has been honored with a Fulbright scholarship, a German National Merit Foundation scholarship, the Stanford Entrepreneur Company of the year award, the Smithsonian Leadership Award for Innovation, and he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Stefano Mallè

After his graduation in Computer Science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Stefano Mallè has worked for a decennial in the Swiss financial sector, including managerial positions at UBS AG and Credit Suisse First Boston, before joining the Technical Evangelist team at Microsoft in 2003.

Since April 2014, he is member of the board of directors at Microsoft Switzerland and he leads the Developer eXperience and evangelism team.

Inspiring and helping Developers, Startups, and ISVs to build what’s next at Microsoft is his passion, sustained by his restless appetite for learning new (development) technologies and their applicability to improve our life and our businesses.

Microsoft Switzerland

Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company with the mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to add value/contribute/achieve more.

Microsoft Schweiz GmbH is a subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (Redmond USA). Since its foundation in 1989, the subsidiary has developed into a typically Swiss SME and now employs 620 people.

Microsoft Schweiz is closely connected with Swiss economic and political institutions and actively involved in the public/societal dialogue on innovation, security, and education.

It has a network of 6000 local business partners and 14,000 certified product and solutions specialists nationwide.

Microsoft Schweiz GmbH is headquartered in Wallisellen near Zurich, with further offices in Wollishofen, Bern and Geneva.