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Friday, May 17, 2019

CEIBS and Credit Suisse Co-host Zurich Forum on Innovation

May 17, 2019. Zurich – A comparison of Switzerland’s long history of innovation and China’s emerging global recognition as a major player in innovative processes and products provided the framework for spirited discussions during today’s Zurich leg of CEIBS Insights 5th Europe Forum 2019. The event, which also explored ways in which both countries can work together, was co-organised by China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and Credit Suisse. It brought together thought leaders, innovators, and business minds from Europe and China to look at China’s evolution from copycat culture to leading innovator as well as how Switzerland has developed its own unique ecosystem for innovation. During the event, speakers and panellists explored a range of real life examples from areas such as AI, drones, automotive, hospitality and healthcare, and offered ways in which China and Europe can collaborate to develop new high tech fields, innovations, and business models. The venue was the CS Forum Üetlihof in Zurich. The forum’s theme was The Evolution of Innovation: A Comparison Between Switzerland and China.

H.E. Qinghua Zhao, Consul General for the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Zurich and the Principality of Lichtenstein was among the speakers at the event, delivering an opening address in which he drew attention to the opportunity presented by the forum to get to know each other better and exchange ideas. There were also welcome addresses by Credit Suisse Managing Director Nannette Hechler and CEIBS Vice President and Dean Yuan Ding.

China: The Emerging Global Innovator was the topic explored by Created in China author and Prof. Emeritus for Technology and Innovations Management at IMD Georges Haour. He took a look at some important indicators signalling China’s status as a growing innovator. In particular, he highlighted China’s focus on R&D investments, the implementation of government policy, incentives driving patent applications, and fierce competition as playing important roles in the country’s achievements. He also said that, in elevating certain innovation hotspots – including Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou – China has demonstrated an impressive level of speed and agility, a relentless customer-orientated approach, as well as a keenness to acquire knowledge and skill from which many others may learn.

“Patents are an important innovation indicator but the quality of the patent is more important than the quantity of patents,” Prof. Haour stressed. He added that competition is driven by the fact that “[many] managers of companies operating in China say that their Chinese competitors are now better than” they are.

Next, MOVU Co-founder and Chairman and Digital Switzerland Director Nicolas Bürer gave a presentation on how innovation has helped Switzerland become one of the most important economies in the world. In particular, he emphasised the fact that the amount of available brain power in Switzerland has allowed the country to become a leader in areas such as blockchain technology and improving energy consumption.

CEIBS Associate Professor of Strategy Yu Zhang then presented the view from China with a speech on China Market 2025 – Outlook on Innovation. In outlining some of the forces behind China’s “Made in China 2025” initiative, he pointed out how the country’s high concentration of manufacturers and suppliers has helped boost domestic productivity and accelerate innovation in the country. While noting that more and more patents are being registered in China, Prof. Zhang echoed Prof. Haour’s earlier statements about the importance of quality over quantity, adding that innovation is key to China’s development on a path to high-quality and sustainable development. He expects the advancement of innovation in China to continue, helped by a number of key factors, including improved IP protection, better access to customers, and better educated talent – the latter, a trend which has been reflected in China’s climb up the university and research institute rankings over the past decade.

Creaholic Partner Naomi Bitmead then conducted a short session on Innovation Ecosystems in Switzerland and what makes them tick, in which she stated that innovation is not possible in isolation, but instead requires the right combination of factors to develop. In particular, she explained that, on one hand, innovation necessitates the right balance of technology, customer desirability, and business viability. On the other hand, she argued that innovation also requires the right processes and right environment, as well as great teams made up of both specialists and generalists. Ultimately, however, Bitmead pointed, it takes both bravery and the desire to break through to achieve success.

The event continued with a series of case studies about various Chinese and Swiss success stories, including a talk by Adoodoo CEO Pu Zhou, who offered insights into how the company has drawn on China’s traditional gift-giving culture to market edible gifts – which are fashionable with young people – that can be used to mark happy occasions such as weddings, births, or moving into a new home. He also explained how Adoodoo’s focus on digitalisation and plans to integrate online and offline marketing channels has helped the company succeed in “transforming customer needs very quickly into products,” reducing both delivery time and the need to maintain stock, while offering a customised product which is made-to-order.

yamo AG Co-Founder & COO José Amado-Blanco also presented a brief case study examining how its highly-competitive R&D department has helped the company become Europe’s first (and largest) vertically integrated kids food brand. In addition, he explained how both digital technology and high pressure processing (HPP) have allowed yamo to overcome some of the biggest challenges in producing and delivering fresh, organic food products to customers. He also told the audience that a major factor in yamo’s success has been the availability of highly-educated talent in Switzerland.

Other speakers at the CEIBS Insights Zurich Forum included Piëch Automotive CEO Toni Piëch, Geniuswork CEO Mr. Peter Fisk, and Yuneec Technology Director Glen Stark. Each round of speeches was concluded with a panel discussion, in which participants discussed more opportunities for China and Europe to continue innovating together. The forum was moderated by Sabine Zhang Consulting founder and CEIBS MBA 1999 alumna Sabine Zhang.

The Zurich Forum is the second of five major ones being organised around the world by CEIBS as part of the school’s 25th anniversary celebration. The first was in Boston on May 15. The next two will be in Munich on July 1 and Brussels on July 12. These are just some of the activities planned to mark the CEIBS 25th Anniversary Celebration in Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America, before culminating in a closing ceremony at CEIBS’ flagship Shanghai campus in November. The activities will span 11 cities across four continents. In Zurich, CEIBS will also celebrate by inaugurating the extension of the CEIBS Zurich Campus in Horgen on October 7. The theme of the eight-month-long celebration is China Essence, Global Significance. For more details about CEIBS 25th Anniversary Celebration visit http://www.ceibs.edu/special/25/en/index.html


China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) is among the top international business schools in Asia, where it is the only one to have simultaneously made it to the Financial Times’ top 5 list of global MBA and EMBA programmes.

CEIBS has more than 22,000 alumni from over 80 countries worldwide, and over the last 25 years has provided a broad range of management programmes to more than 160,000 executives both at home and abroad. It also offers a Finance MBA, Hospitality EMBA and a wide range of Executive Education programmes. With a faculty team that has extensive China knowledge and global insight, CEIBS is uniquely equipped to nurture business leaders, at every stage of their careers, preparing them to make a global impact. An unrivalled China expert, CEIBS is guided by the concept of China Depth, Global Breadth. This is tangibly reflected in the school’s activities and operations at its 5 campuses across 3 continents. CEIBS has campuses in Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen in China, as well as Zurich in Switzerland, and Accra in Ghana.

About Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse is a leading global financial services company, offering clients financial advice in all aspects of investment banking, private banking and asset management.

Founded in 1856, Credit Suisse today has a global reach with operations in about 50 countries and 46,840 employees from over 170 different nations. A broad footprint helps Credit Suisse to generate a geographically balanced stream of revenues and net new assets and allow it to capture growth opportunities around the world. Credit Suisse serves its clients through three regionally focused divisions: Swiss Universal Bank, International Wealth Management and Asia Pacific. These regional businesses are supported by two other divisions specialising in investment banking capabilities: Global Markets and Investment Banking & Capital Markets.

Michael D. Thede
Charmaine N. Clarke