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

«Es können nicht alle Banker Yoga-Lehrer werden»,
What makes an entrepreneurial ecosystem and does Switzerland has one?
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.

Shomit Ghose

Shomit’s data-centric vision of the future has helped lead ONSET’s investments in software.

Prior to entering venture capital, he was a startup software entrepreneur with a career of operating excellence spanning 19 years.

Shomit’s startup roles included three highly successful IPOs as SVP of Operations at Tumbleweed Communications; VP of Worldwide Services at BroadVision; and software engineer at Sun Microsystems.

He was also CEO and board member of ONSET portfolio company, Truviso, for two years leading to its acquisition by Cisco Systems.

At ONSET since 2001, Shomit has represented ONSET on the boards of Adara, HyperGrid, Imanis Data, Pancetera (acquired by Quantum), Polymorph, Truviso, Vidder and Vindicia (acquired by Amdocs.) In his private life he has been committed to coaching girls’ sports for many years in softball, high-level club soccer, and club and high school varsity and junior varsity lacrosse.

At the age of 15, Shomit was awarded two academic scholarships to the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated with a degree in Computer Science.

He serves on the advisory boards of UC Berkeley College of Engineering’s Sutardja Center, Innovation Center Denmark’s ScaleIT program, and the Lundbeck Foundation Clinical Research Fellowship Program.

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.

Prof. Dr. Harald Gall

Harald Gall is Dean of the Faculty of Business, Economics, and Informatics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland (UZH). Furthermore, he is full professor of Software Engineering in the Department of Informatics at UZH. He was Deputy Dean and program director for four years. Before joining UZH in 2004, he was associate professor at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria, in the Distributed Systems Group (TUV). He studied at TUV and holds a PhD (Dr. techn.) and master's degree (Dipl.-Ing.) in Informatics.

His research interests are in evidence-based software engineering with focus on quality in software products and processes. This focuses on long-term software evolution, software architectures, software quality analysis, data mining of software repositories, cloud-based software development, and empirical software engineering.

He is probably best known for his work on software evolution analysis and mining software archives. Since 1997 he has worked on devising ways in which mining these repositories can help to better understand software development, to devise predictions about quality attributes, and to exploit this knowledge in software analysis tools such as Evolizer, or SOFAS,

He was associate editor of IEEE's Transactions on Software Engineering and currently is associated editor of Springer's Computing Journal. He was the program chair of the two flagship conferences in the field of software engineering: ICSE in 2011 and ESEC/FSE in 2005.