New Partnership Brings Swiss and Boston Business Schools Together

The School of Management Fribourg (HEG-FR) and Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School (SBS) have signed a new five-year agreement that deepens collaborations between the Swiss and Boston-area business education ecosystems.

The agreement is designed to create new contacts and programs between the two schools in the areas of teaching and research, as well as student and faculty exchange. The Dean of HEG-FR, Dr. Rico Baldegger, and the Dean of Sawyer Business School, Dr. Amy Zeng, signed the agreement in March 2022 following several months of discussion.

“Working with the Sawyer Business School gives us a concrete partner in the Boston area and allows our students and faculty the chance to really immerse themselves in a world-class innovation hub,” said Baldegger. “Internationalization is key in today’s business world, and we’re delighted to provide our students in Fribourg with these new opportunities.”

Zeng noted that this is the first program in central Europe for Sawyer Business School, allowing them to extend their reach to a new part of the world. “Based on the up-to-date activities between the two schools, especially the virtual mixed student project teams, I believe the two schools are a great match and am looking forward to continuing and expanding the collaborations,” Zeng said.

The new agreement is already bearing fruit for both schools. In April 2022, a group of 20 Swiss MBA students focusing on entrepreneurship visited Boston for a week-long deep dive into the Boston innovation ecosystem. Over the course of two days at Suffolk, the Swiss students sat in on MBA lectures, participated in a joint design-a-thon, and attended a sustainability hackathon.

“The events at Suffolk really gave the Swiss and US students the opportunity to interact on a peer-to-peer level,” said Leslie Reinhard, Academic Engagement Associate at Swissnex. Reinhard was Swissnex’s lead organizer of the study tour, accompanying the students at their various stops, including the energetic design-a-thon at Suffolk. “It was great to see the energy and enthusiasm in the room.”

The new partnership grew out of a pandemic opportunity. With in-person classes closed, Swissnex coordinated a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program for MBA students at Suffolk and HEG-FR. The students formed international teams that worked virtually together to solve real-world business challenges posed by startups recruited by Swissnex. The COIL program, now in its third semester, provided the foundation for this deeper collaborative agreement.

In Spring 2023, Sawyer Business School is planning to send its Boston students to Switzerland, where HEG-FR will host them for a global travel seminar. Students will learn about entrepreneurship and innovation, with a special focus on the Swiss watchmaking industry.

“We’re excited to be able to connect these two schools, virtually at first, and now in person,” says Brendan Karch, Head of Academic Engagement at Swissnex. “It’s a post-2020 success story of adapting to our shifting educational landscape to enhance peer-to-peer connection and co-learning.”

Suffolk University Sawyer Business School (SBS) was founded in downtown Boston in 1937 by Gleason Leonard Archer, a writer and radio broadcaster. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a number of areas including accounting, finance, marketing, management studies, and public administration.

School of Management Fribourg (HEG-FR) is part of the Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO). It offers bachelors and masters degrees in business administration as well as certificate and EMBA programs. Founded in 1991, the public university serves approximately 850 students hailing from Switzerland and abroad.