2023: A year of cultivating Swiss-Brazilian collaborations

Take a look at our 2023 through the eyes of our CEO. Malin shares her insights on successful and some unexpected achievements during an “essential year for generative AI but a pivotal one for Swissnex in Brazil”. Read in full here!

– by Malin Borg, CEO of Swissnex in Brazil

In the dynamic landscape of technology and innovation, a single year can encompass an impressive array of progress and transformation. Casting our minds back to the inception of ChatGPT just twelve months ago, it’s astonishing to witness the whirlwind of exploration that ensued, akin to the pioneering days of the internet in the 1990s when users eagerly tested the waters of novel search engines.

As we glance over the canvas of 2023, it becomes evident that it was not merely an essential year for generative AI but a pivotal one for Swissnex in Brazil. Positioned strategically amidst Swiss-Brazilian ERI collaboration, Swissnex has assumed a more important role in bolstering Switzerland’s engagement with Brazilian education, research, and innovation institutions.

A strategic role in Swiss-Brazilian ERI collaboration

In July 2023 Brazil welcomed the largest official delegation ever, led by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and accompanied by State Secretaries Martina Hirayama and Helene Budliger-Artieda. Swissnex, in close collaboration with the Embassy of Switzerland in Brazil, played an unusually active role in orchestrating the visit. By integrating cleantech startups into the mission within the framework of an Innosuisse camp, the delegation not only showcased cutting-edge technologies but also provided Swiss startups with unparalleled access to potential partners and clients.

In the realm of bilateral research collaboration, meetings of the science delegation with the São Paulo Research Foundation and the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation identified synergies where Swissnex offers content, context, and contacts. Witnessing the prowess of Brazilian research collaboration firsthand certainly played a pivotal role in securing the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation for the Amazônia+10 initiative that will enable Swiss researchers to participate in research expeditions in the Amazon: an opportunity first presented to the SNSF by Swissnex in Brazil.

Scientific and Economic Delegation Mission to Brazil visits Fiocruz, an institution of excellence in public health and the pharmaceutical sector in Rio de Janeiro.

A respected player in the (open) innovation space

Beyond diplomatic feats, 2023 marked Swissnex as a respected player in the (open) innovation space. Record numbers of Swiss startups penetrated the Brazilian market through tailor-made Innosuisse camps, with the swisstech booth at Web Summit Rio becoming a stage for 13 startups to captivate a relevant audience and garner media attention.

Expanding its footprint and increasingly recognized as a center of expertise for Swiss technology match-making, Swissnex initiated collaborations with five large corporations, bridging the gap between corporate innovation demands and solutions, thereby offering unparalleled opportunities for Swiss startups and researchers.

Eduard Muller, from UpGrain connecting with Aysu Bilgin, from BRF during the Web Summit Rio 2023, at the swisstech pavilion

Ecosystem access and collaboration beyond borders

Swissnex’s convening power materialized in collaborations that transcended borders. Collaborating with Pro Helvetia, the Fungi Cosmology program united artists, scientists, and curators from Brazil, Chile, and Switzerland in exploring the kingdom of fungi across the Amazon, Patagonia, and the Swiss Alps. Swissnex connected the participants with the local ecosystems through two events and targeted introductions in both Manaus and São Paulo.

Our visiting researchers from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW, Anna Wiedemann and Catherine Hartmann, became temporary yet integral parts of our teams in Rio and São Paulo, where they researched DevOps and environmental psychology, respectively, in the Brazilian context.

The power of networks became particularly evident at events like our Swiss Alumni Night that tapped into the potential of alumni of Swiss higher education institutions or the co-organization of the first conference of the Rede Brasil Suiça, which brought a full house and a Brazilian spirit to the University of Zurich.

Swiss Alumni Night at the Swiss Residence in São Paulo on October 2023

What’s next?

While 2023 showcased visible triumphs, it was also a year of less conspicuous groundwork. Research and partnerships were forged for initiatives set to unfold in 2024, including the VET NextStep internship programthe Future of Food Bootcamp, and nexBio Amazônia, the latter two in partnership with the Leading House for the Latin American region. As we sail into the uncharted waters of education, research, and innovation in a changing world, we extend our gratitude for your invaluable partnership. Here’s to navigating the choppy seas together in the years to come!