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What is the recipe of University of St.Gallen to make its continuous success?

The University of St.Gallen (HSG) was founded as a business academy in 1898 and is nowadays a School of Management, Economics, Law, Social Sciences and International Affairs. The practice-oriented approach and integrative view have characterized the education we offer since those early days.

In 2001, we introduced Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses across the board and fundamentally reformed the education we offer. Since then, we no longer focus just on professional training but also on character building. At our university, you can complete studies at Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. level. The close integration of studies, further education and research is important to us.

Furthermore we have close to 200 international partner universities. Our students have the option to gain a double degree in cooperation with other universities or to spend an exchange term abroad.

Our close link to top corporates, but also our entrepreneurship center with a founders’ garage and incubator allows us not only to enrich the students experience but also to provide high-class career services and services for students engaged in startups. And our more than 30 research institutes provide an inspiring ecosystem for frontend research.

This is just a few reasons why we are in the fortunate position to be one of Europe’s leading business universities for education and research. Rankings, such as the Financial Times ranking, help to underline this position.

What mega-trends are you currently working on at the forefront?

“Strengthening strengths” is the motto of the University of St.Gallen when it comes to being perceived as one of Europe’s leading business universities in the future, too, and to advance to a top position in global research in selected fields. Therefore we launched in 2014 a Global Center for Customer Insight, which tries to understand purchasing decicisions and purchase behavior. And we founded a Global Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, which wants to cover the entire corporate cycle from start-up to business model development and innovation and corporate succession and corporate exit.

In order to meet the challenge oft he digitalization, the HSG is pursuing a strategy in several steps. In a pilot project, the certificate programme in Data Science Fundamentals for an initial 60 undergraduates has been launched in autumn 2017. From 2018/2019 onwards, four new chairs in the field of information science will secure complementary methodological competence (software, algorithms, databases, artificial intelligences) in research, as well as teaching capacities. From 2019, a new chair of Technology Studies will be established to deal with the social and cultural questions and consequences of digital change. In addition, we are considering to establish a major that combines IT with business. In its maximum configuration, the programme would extend to approx. 100 undergraduates and about 50 students at the Master’s Level. The establishment of a major with an additional four or five chairs will have to be assessed by politicians. If they should grant funds for the purpose, this might result in a separate School in the long term.

Currently, we are also working on a Joint Medical Master with the University of Zurich. The Bachelor’s programme started this autumn in Zurich and in 2020 40 students are expected to begin their Master’s programme in Medicine in St.Gallen. This would give us also access to the fields of life sciences and the growing healthcare market. Whether the new Master’s programme can be offered in St.Gallen will be decided by St.Gallen’s voting population in 2018.

Your university is very active in China with close collaborations in the academic world and vivid student exchanges. What are the highlights and how did this collaboration change the perception of China at the University of St.Gallen? How is University of St.Gallen perceived in China?

The University of St.Gallen since decades offers an intensive student exchange programme with top universities in China like Fudan, CEIBS, Bejing University or Tshingua. In addition, together with Tsinghua we are members of CEMS, a global network of leading business schools, that offers the CEMS MIM as a joint degree. There are various forms of cooperations also in the field of executive education. The university also has regular students from China. This year we had over 80.

Chinese students appreciate our links to the industry, the relevance of our courses and programmes and the research foundation of our teaching. But they also like the active student life and not to forget the beautiful environment of St.Gallen with its mountains and lakes as well as its location less than one hour from Zurich and two hours from Munich.

What is the reason for your current visit to Shanghai?

I had the honor to chair the peer review team for the EQUIS reaccreditation of the school of management of the Fudan University.

Do you have a message for the students in China?

It is impressive to see the speed of progress and change in China. Also how easy it has become to connect and to do business. I encourage all students to take advantage of this inspiring business climate and to learn about and in China.

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars

More than 50% of students in Switzerland study at a Top-200-university according to the Shanghai ranking – by far the highest percentage worldwide. Seize the opportunity to fulfill your studies and research in Switzerland, in one of the Swiss universities, Federal Institutes of Technology or Universities of Applied Sciences. The application deadline is 31 October, 2014. There are two scholarships offered:

1. Postdoctoral Scholarships (12 months)

Intended for highly qualified postdoctoral researchers from all academic fields

Application Criteria:
• PhD degree
• Not more than 5 years after the award of the PhD at the moment of application
• Letter (e-mail) from a Professor from the Swiss host institution stating that he/she is willing to supervise the postdoctoral research
• Research proposal including a timeframe

 

2. Research Scholarships (12 months)

Intended for highly qualified postgraduate researchers from all academic fields as well as young medical doctors

Application Criteria:
• Master degree or equivalent
• Not more than 35 years old at the moment of application
• Letter (e-mail) from a Professor from the Swiss host institution stating that he/she is
willing to supervise the Research
• Research proposal including a timeframe

 

Eligible costs

The scholarship amount depends on the scholarship:
• Postdoctoral Scholarship: 3500 CHF / month
• Research Scholarship: 1920 CHF / month
• Mandatory Swiss Health insurance paid by the FCS
• 1 year half-fare public transportation card
• a special 300 Swiss Francs lodging allowance
• various trips, dinners and sight seeing tours organized for Swiss Government Scholarship holders
• International returning airfare (provided by the China Scholarship Council)

Exclusion criteria

Applicants must be in command of the necessary language skills required for the research/studies. Applicants who have already benefited from a Swiss Government Scholarship or who are in Switzerland for more than 1 year at the beginning of the scholarship are not eligible for a scholarship. Applicants should also meet the requirement of the China Scholarship Council. For more information please refer to the website: http://www.csc.edu.cn

For evaluation procedure and how to apply, read it here.

More detail info: http://www.sbfi.admin.ch/themen/01366/01380/02175/02215/index.html?lang=en

Contact 

Fabio Molo
Deputy Head of Science, Technology and Education Section
Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing

fabio.molo@nulleda.admin.ch
www.eda.admin.ch/beijing

 

香港/Hong Kong – the Asian Tech Hub?

Luca Delacretaz
the swissnex China scout in Hongkong

 

What comes to your mind when you first think of Hong Kong? Dim sum? Dragon boats? Flashy Lights? Busy financial centre? What about entrepreneurship? Although few people would have associated Hong Kong with the tech industry a few years ago, the recent boost in the local startup scene and innovation parks has drastically changed the game, making Hong Kong an important player with formidable potential for the upcoming years. But before I introduce you to one of the world’s most vibrant and multifaceted cities and its rapidly growing tech scene, let me first tell you a bit about myself.

First of all, I am neither an engineer nor an entrepreneur — I am a theoretical physicist. But don’t run away! My boss at swissnex won’t allow me to write equations, so you are safe.

I first discovered Hong Kong a few years ago during an exchange year abroad from the Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL). It didn’t take long for me to fall for the city, and once my exchange was done, I couldn’t wait for the next chance to return. That opportunity came this Spring, between the end of my Masters in Columbia University and the start of my PhD at Stanford. After reconnecting with the research groups at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), I learned that a new Particle Theory Group had been formed, led by Henry Tye, a renowned cosmologist from Cornell University. I now have the privilege of working in this group, collaborating with the local postdocs and PhDs, and enjoying the view on Clear Water Bay for coffee breaks.

Now how is all this connected to entrepreneurship? During my stay, I wanted to discover more of what Hong Kong had to offer, and decided to work part-time for swissnex as their official scout in the area. So when I am not busy developing mathematical tools to describe neutron stars and black holes, I visit incubators and co-working spaces, interview young and ambitious or experienced and insightful entrepreneurs, and take part in pitching nights or other startup events.

The Hive, one of the many co-working spaces of Hong Kong

The Hive, one of the many co-working spaces of Hong Kong

In a nutshell, my job is to determine whether (and how) Switzerland should strengthen ties with Hong Kong in the Research and Development sectors, both academic and entrepreneurial. In particular, should budding Swiss startups start looking towards Hong Kong as a potential launching platform? I believe the answer is YES.

Hong Kong has long been a strategic location to set up small businesses. Visas are easy to come by, taxes are low for SMEs, and the city offers access to the enormous Chinese market, without the legal fuss of starting a business directly in the mainland. There is virtually no language barrier, and making connections is so easy it is practically inevitable. However, Hong Kong has traditionally not had a very entrepreneurial spirit. The widespread money-driven mindset has lead most fresh graduates to choose finance over science, or large and well-known companies over young startups.

“Budding Swiss startups should start looking towards Hong Kong as

a potential launching platform”

That being said, public opinion is changing and Hong Kong now has the necessary infrastructure to become Asia’s tech hub. Less than 4 years after the launch of HK’s first co-working space, the city now has over 20 freelancer-friendly locations (5 of which opened in the last 2 months), making the high rent problem virtually obsolete. It has become difficult to decide which of the numerous startup-related events to attend, these ranging from startup weekends and pitching nights at CoCoon, to startup grind events hosted by the Hive and other co-working spaces. The change in public opinion can also be felt in universities, where entrepreneurship is now considered a viable career path (see e.g. HKUST Entrepreneurship Center). On the R&D side, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC), Cyberport and the Hong Kong Design Centre have defined sectors where Hong Kong could potentially become the center of excellence in Asia over the next few years. For instance, the HKSTPC has formed 5 technology clusters (which match very well Switzerland’s areas of expertise!) and is looking for additional research groups to join. The Hong Kong government has also shown keen interest in intensifying development in innovation by increasing support from the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), and proposing to “set up an Innovation and Technology Bureau as a centralized body to co-ordinate and promote innovation and technology policy” (source: gov.hk).

Hong Kong Science & Technology Park

Hong Kong Science & Technology Park

An entrepreneur who had recently expanded his business to Hong Kong once told me: “In my state in the US, I had 300 competitors for a market of 1M people. Here in Hong Kong, I have China as a market, and 10 competitors”. Whether you are a young engineer with a new product or an experienced entrepreneur wishing to expand your SME, now is the time to pack up your ideas and head over to Hong Kong to catch the wave before it leaves!