Panel Discussion: Future High-tech Jobs in Silicon Valley vs. Switzerland

Experts from the IT industry, proven entrepreneurs, politicians, university innovation experts from Switzerland and from Silicon Valley will discuss what is happening and what must be done to win in the high-tech future job battle.

Why should we care about high-tech jobs in Switzerland?

Are we not successful enough with those working in the no-tech or low-tech (carpenters, construction, tourism) and medium-tech (electrical, mechanical) industries?

Are Switzerland’s innovation and competiveness rankings flawed?

Although Switzerland regularly tops lists in innovation and competiveness rankings, as well as with money spent on R&D per capita (s. numbers below), it is not very often shown that these numbers are highly distorted, as there is only one very dominating industry where this is really true: the Swiss pharma industry. In reality, in no other list will Switzerland have a top position, and if digital high-tech is taken into consideration, Switzerland will sink to very average and even insignificant position. But it’s in precisely these areas that most new jobs are being created, and will continue to be in the future.

Why Google hiring 250 A.I. experts in Zurich is good and insignificant

Google is planning to hire about 250 (a few hundred it is to be expected) A.I. experts for their new European A.I. lab in Zurich. This is great news for Zurich and Switzerland also because none of the traditional businesses and companies we all know would dream of hiring such a large number of highly-paid people. Now what is wrong here? Well, on my recent trip to Silicon Valley, I was told by a reliable, highly-connected venture capitalist that Google will hire 25’000 people in the next few years, and that Facebook is planning 20’000 new jobs. So in a region that is size-wise comparable to Switzerland, these two companies alone will hire 45’000 highly-paid experts. Those 250 jobs in Zurich suddenly look pretty insignificant. Also bear in mind that Google will open an A.I. center also in Beijing, as just announced in December 2017.

U.S. venture capital: investing 0.2% of GDP in high-tech startups leads to annual revenues of 21% of GDP and creates 11% of all private sector jobs – and in Switzerland?

“Most people outside Silicon Valley think of venture capitalists that they might be a small quirky coterie. After all, less than 1% of new businesses started each year in the U.S. receive venture funding, and total VC investment accounts for less than 0.2% of the GDP. But the results of those investments disproportionately propel the entire economy. Venture-backed companies create 11% of all private sector jobs. They generate annual revenues equivalent to an astounding 21% of the GDP. Indeed, the dozen largest tech companies were all venture-backed. Together, these 12 companies are worth more than $2 trillion, more than all other tech companies combined.”
by Peter Thiel in Zero to One

Where is the problem now? Well, in Switzerland, venture-backed high-tech startups are still relatively underdeveloped and have not yet arrived on the radar of large Swiss companies and organizations, let alone pension funds. Hardly any of the large companies are acquiring or investing in startups.

Looking at high-tech jobs created, Switzerland compares very badly to Silicon Valley and other high-tech innovation centers.

Some numbers/facts:
The below numbers prove the above made statements. If we take out the pharma industry from R&D investments Switzerland will vanish from the top rankings and be mere average.

Swissquote, N°6 December 2017

What are high-tech jobs actually?
Because the high-tech sector of the economy develops or uses the most advanced technology known, it is often seen as having the most potential for future growth. This perception has led to high investment in high-tech sectors of the economy. High-tech startup enterprises receive a large portion of venture capital; However, if investment exceeds actual potential, as has happened in the past, then investors can lose all or most of their investment. High tech is often viewed as high risk, but offering the opportunity for high profits. Wikpedia

Swissquote, N°6 December 2017
Google Announces First AI Research Lab Outside US
Google to Open Beijing AI Center in Latest Expansion in China
Zero to One by Peter Thiel


Franz Grüter

Franz Grüter war von 2008 bis 2015 gleichzeitig CEO und Verwaltungsratspräsident der Gruppe.

Per 1. Januar 2016 übergab er sein Amt als Geschäftsführer an einen Nachfolger, um mehr Zeit für sein Nationalratsmandat zu gewinnen.

Er verantwortet aber weiterhin als Verwaltungsratspräsident die strategische Ausrichtung des Providers und Rechenzentrumsanbieters.

Jane Royston

Jane graduated in Pure Mathematics from the London School of Economics. She then worked in IT and became the head of IT for DuPont France.

Jane left DuPont to create her own company, NatSoft, at the age of 27.

NatSoft grew to 120 people, and was sold ten years later to the NASDAQ quoted company, Cambridge Technology Partners.

After serving as VP for Southern Europe for CTP, she then became the Branco Weiss chair of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the EPFL, the first professor of entrepreneurship & innovation in Switzerland, and the first named chair at the EPFL.

Today Jane serves on the board of a number of high-tech companies and charitable foundations, and is a member of the Swiss Science Council.

Philipp Löpfe

Philipp Löpfe was named Swiss Economic Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2015.

He works for the online news portal «Watson». He has a Masters degree in Arts (University of Zürich) and an MBA (Universitiy of St. Gallen).

In his long career Mr. Löpfe was editor-in-chief of «Tages-Anzeiger» and «SonntagsBlick».

He has written several books, the most recent one, together with Oliver Fiecheter, is called «Aufstieg der digitalen Stammesgesellschaft» (Ascent of the digital tribal society).

Philipp Löpfe is married and lives in Zürich.

We've set out to build a completely new user experience in the area of news and entertainment on mobile devices.

Our first focus will be Switzerland, especially the German speaking part.

Nick Triantos

Nick Triantos is a Venture Partner at Ignition Partners.

He has previously worked in venture capital at numerous firms, as well as an entrepreneur (x2) and startup guy (x6).

Nick was one of the first software engineers at NVIDIA, as the guy who created their OpenGL software.

He became chief software architect there, and led teams working on 3D software, embedded software, Linux drivers, and compilers and tools for programming GPUs.

Most recently, Nick was a managing director in the ventures team at SRI International, a world-class research firm where inventions ranging from the computer mouse and the ARPANET to Siri were birthed.

Nick has a BS in Computer Science from SUNY Buffalo, and MBA degrees from Columbia University and UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

Ignition Partners

Ignition is a venture capital firm dedicated to helping the best entrepreneurs seize opportunity. With over $2B under management, Ignition invests in emerging and future leaders in enterprise software.

Ignition brings together an unparalleled combination of domain focus, technical expertise, and global operational experience. Ignition's partners are proven business leaders who have built some of the world's most successful businesses of the last two decades, including Microsoft Windows and Office, McCaw Cellular Communications, AT&T Wireless and Starbucks.

Ignition helps entrepreneurs by turning their early idea into a business, to hiring the right team, providing the right industry and functional insight and connections, to growing the business strategically, globally, financially, to realizing the best ultimate outcome, Ignition is ready to go the distance.

Terrence Schweizer

Terrence graduated in electrical engineering from ETH Zürich. After dismissing his childhood dream of being an astronaut, Terrence started his career building data networks.

Having earned the highest technical certification from Cisco, Terrence helped building and migrating worldwide networks, including the merger between Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft (SBG) and Schweizerischer Bankverein (SBV).

Later, Terrence joined a startup company based in San Francisco and Los Angeles developing software for network acceleration in low bandwidth, high delay networks. In his role he consulted providers like Sprint, British Telecom, China Mobile and of course Swisscom.

After enriching his background with a Masters in business engineering from HSG, Terrence today works as Chief Digital Officer for Bison IT Services, one of the biggest national system integrators. He is responsible for all transformative initiatives and is also consulting customers in the field of digital transformation.