Interview with Ralf Haller: 5. Silicon Valley meets Switzerland Event

5. Silicon Valley meets Switzerland on March 28 in Zürich

Q&A with Ralf Haller, President “High-tech Connect suisse” and initiator “Silicon Valley meets Switzerland” event.

Is this still interesting? Don’t we have enough events by now?

Haha. Yes, good and very justified question. After we did the 1. Silicon Valley meets Switzerland event five years ago lots of similar events popped up in public and behind closed doors or existing – different events – copied our event ideas, event titles even, topics, speakers you name it.

So, there is indeed too much out there now.

But nothing is as original and authentic as the first and real event. And we remain exactly that.

It also helps a lot if you have lived and worked in Silicon Valley. I can use this experience, cultural know-how and of course network and don’t have to rely on consultants.

So nothing has changed?

Oh, of course there has. Lots has changed in fact. The first event cannot be compared with the current one.  We have more moderators, we actually do the event just half day now but combine it with a half-day workshop event called “Unicorn Switzerland” for ambitious Swiss SMEs and startups and we also improved the event experience although it will never be a show event nor a yoga stretching event. If people need to do yoga – as I have seen with another new event – then something is for sure wrong. Also, we will not stay overnight in a resort place with caviar and champagne. Not that we don’t like it but we are a serious event with highly relevant topics and we don’t want to keep people away from their work or families. We invest instead into authentic content and address real high-tech business issues! We also don’t hire professional speakers and fly them in for lots of money.

The event sub-themes are: “Change the world. Make lives better. Create new jobs.” Can you elaborate?

Silicon Valley has done all these there. Let’s start from the back “Create new jobs”. Every high-paying job in high-tech creates 5 more jobs in no-tech industries. So it is extremely important for an economy to create them. Unfortunately, while we are quite good in perfecting existing businesses, we so far have not created thousands or more jobs in new high-tech firms at all. SV and Asia/China have done it and btw also Israel. We address this with the Unicorn Switzerland workshop event.

“Making lives better” is a goal most successful entrepreneurs have. They are passionate about what they do and have very often the goal to make things better and do something that creates value for people.  At High-tech Connect suisse we believe high-tech is for making lives better. It will allow to do things in a better way or allow to do entirely new things to serve us for good.

“Change the world”. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, … these are people from SV who want(ed) to change the world for good reasons and have/had visions for it. We lost this desire here in our efficiency economy; we are not creating this desire to change the world. It is one of the reasons why we started this event in the first place. We wanted to have people here be inspired by this passion in Silicon Valley. Of course this idea has been copied by many other events as well but we think true authentic talks on high-tech trends creates also true passion. We want to keep this purity. Tech nerds, high-tech marketing and international business engineering and of course investors keep Silicon Valley running, not smart talkers that charge for that.

What are the event goals?

We want to give a glimpse into current high-tech topics and explain why these are important ones. If someone is then interested in more can talk to top experts at the event and of course follow up.

One cannot learn in workshops what is needed in any of these topics so that would make little sense. We keep it short and answer the most important question:  why? Different though at the Unicorn Switzerland morning event: here we want to ask the question what is missing and must be done differently?

Who are the target groups for this event?

Managers from large and medium sized Swiss companies and all who are interested in high-tech business trends and want to know what it takes to be in the Champions League – and Silicon Valley is exactly that for high-tech.

The Unicorn workshop event is for ambitious SMEs, entrepreneurs and investors.

What are the topics at the 5. event?

Oh I won’t tell you. Otherwise we are copied again before we even have the event. No, just kidding; it is Ok. I think it is good when events take speakers and topics from us as it shows that we do the right thing.

We talk about IT Security and if it will ever be controlled by us the good guys, we look into the – near – future of transportation, the future of the internet as a business platform, the future of energy management and the future of learning using technology.

What are the highlights of the event

We only have highlights,  I don’t want to pick anything or anyone. It is a personal preference I guess so pick what interests you most…

You will also address challenges we have and do a panel discussion, what will be the topic this time?

Yes indeed. This is important. We want to discuss challenges and not just showcase or even glorify. That is not us. We will ask the question if Europe/Switzerland has lost the high-tech platform business and jobs race already against the US and Asia?

I think this is a very relevant and urgent question and despite outstanding (Switzerland has an extremely good startup, entrepreneurship support community) activities done in the startup scene in Switzerland, we must ask this question also if, what we have invested so far, is enough to create many future jobs and enable us to compete internationally?

Sounds like you have the answer to that question?

I have mine – yes. But I am not the panel moderator, that will be a journalist and he will do again a great job asking this question to a most excellent panel. That group of panelists is in fact an event highlight.

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