Innovation panel Cleantech summit
Innovation panel Cleantech summit

Three highlights mark 2022’s Science- and Technology-related Activities in Canada

The year 2022 was characterized not by one top event, but three major highlight activities for the Science Office at the Swiss Embassy in Ottawa.

In March, a high-level Swiss-Canadian Innovation Summit organized by the Embassy of Switzerland in collaboration with SERI, Innosuisse, SECO, Switzerland Global Enterprise and the FDFA focused on Cleantech. The two-day online summit brought senior ministers, including Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin, State Secretary Martina Hirayama, Canadian Minister Mary Ng, Deputy Minister Simon Kennedy, State Secretary Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, Deputy Minister David Morrison, together with industry leaders and business representatives from Switzerland and Canada.

The first day gave participants an insight into innovative individual ecosystems from a panel comprising State Secretary Martina Hirayama, André Kudelski (Innosuisse), Robert Itschner (ABB) and moderator Nick Beglinger (Cleantech21) on the Swiss side. On the second day, a panel including State Secretary Ineichen-Fleisch and Fabian Etter (Swisscleantech) discussed business practices together with market trends and opportunities in Cleantech. Both days concluded with B2B breakout sessions featuring topical reverse pitches on hydrogen technologies, sustainable building, smart grid and wastewater management. The high-level event found broad and positive resonance and is a crucial building block for future Cleantech-related embassy and business activities in Canada. The two panel discussions were recorded and are available on YouTube.

The year’s second highlight occurred in April, with the Swiss Innovation Fest 2022 in Vancouver. Organized by the Consulate General in Vancouver, it received planning support from the Embassy of Switzerland. The Innovation Fest offered a wide range of content, with a sharp focus on the link between science and the arts. Attractions included a photographic exhibition, a tech symposium, a film screening, a science forum, and a high-level webinar fireside chat featuring Fabiola Gianotti (CERN) and Nigel Smith (TRIUMF, Vancouver). Collaboration with partners such as CERN and TRIUMF, as well as local academic institutions and art galleries, provided evidence of the valuable synergy between various stakeholders in the arts and sciences. CERN is a fantastic partner to have for a project of this kind. Within the regional ecosystem, the Innovation Fest gave Switzerland a more distinct profile, not least because of the diverse formats in which the various items were presented. In view of the event’s success, we are already planning a further edition for 2024.

In June, the Embassy organized another edition of the Swiss-Canadian Innovation Day. Entitled “Science Diplomacy in the Exponential Age”, it was inspired by Azeem Azhar’s bestseller. The event featured the highly popular Dr. Peter Jüni, who made himself a name across Canada as Chief Science Advisor to the Ontario Covid-19 Science Advisory Table. His connection with the Embassy dates back to a Swiss-Canadian Innovation Day in 2017, thanks to a podcast with him and several private briefings for diplomats. We are happy to report that he was happy to participate as a speaker and panelist on the topic of AI and Health. His public fame indirectly helped to bring Switzerland into the Covid conversations in Canada as well. The event was reported in various newspapers, with articles in print and online reaching a nominal audience of over 6 million. Dr. Jüni’s public renown made it easy to attract a panel of high-level speakers that included Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, INGSA President Rémi Quirion and Switzerland’s Special Representative for Science Diplomacy, Alexandre Fasel. Together, they discussed the role of science diplomacy in this exponential age with Ambassador Salome Meyer. Following this project, plans are already in the pipeline for another Swiss-Canadian Innovation Day on Life Sciences in 2023.