Squibb not Squid

Today was our 4th visit during our study trip to London. We had the pleasure to have a new member joining us, also known for her busy jet-set life, Dr. Karin Brunner Schmid. Fortunately she left Vienna for London. But actually, we were lucky to have the chance to visit the UK & Irish headquarters of the American pharmaceutical company, Bristol-Myers Squibb (which has nothing to do with a Squid). The employees we were able to meet during our 2h visit were very professional, despite a few technical problems at the beginning, but let’s be honest we are all human :-). They were very proud to share with us the company achievements as well as its mission, which they dedicate their work life to: ‘’the best people helping patients in their fight against serious diseases’’. They were able to share a lot of information about their company. One of them surprised some of us, in other words, they spend 25% of their total revenue of 4.8 billion on R&D, which fights against the stereotype of ‘’greedy Pharma’’.  Additionally, another anecdote which we found impressive, is that it takes around 2 billion USD to develop a new drug until its release to the market.

One of the speakers came from the medical affairs department and he enlightened us with some key information such as another mission of their team is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients over serious diseases. Also, they base their research on end to end development, from the very basic discovery in science to the development and research and finally to the commercial step. Their key focus lies on innovative medicine, which tackles new diseases with high morbidity rates. In order to achieve this, they also co-develop medicine with strategic partnerships such as academic partnerships as well as other big Pharma and biotech companies. In order to blend the experience of yesterday’s visit to NICE and today’s visit, we asked a few questions about the relationship between NICE and Pharma. We found out that 20% of NICE’s work comes from Bristol-Myer Squibb, this number alone represents the relevance of their impressive pipeline for oncology, cardio vascular diseases and fibrosis. They are very fast in creating new products since they have a new one launched every 4 months. The relationship between NICE and the company can be also described as a dynamic tension. Since NICE does not always approve their innovations and this mechanism pushed them to continuously improve and continue to research. Additionally, the toughness of NICE on regards of  product approval is actually being mirrored by other European countries, who follow the recommendations NICE gives to companies based in the UK. Even though some products are approved in other countries before the UK, the company does not see this as a back-leap, since they have a better access to patients in comparison to other European countries.

This high level of complexity, has created a job pool, that gives access to students as wells as professionals from other countries to develop and grow with their career (yes, Kevin, please do send your CV). They spoke highly about their company and it their devotion to the unmet needs of cancer patients, but this counts only for patients in countries where costly treatments are being payed for. Can we continue to go down this path or has the Pharma industry to adapt in the future? We finished our visit with a lovely lunch (for those who remembered to bring their sandwiches.. no names will be disclosed :-))  and headed to our next meeting to the Health Foundry.

Study Trip MSc HC HCM: Day 3 in London – our NICEst Visit


NICE Alfred

After yesterday’s ducking sightseeing tour we returned to the lying lying lions today and are happy to visit the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in London. After the short briefing outside and signing in at reception we were NICEly welcomed with coffee, tea and biscuits. Please, help yourself!

NICE briefing

NICE was established in 1999 and is today a Non Departmental Public Body of the Department of Health & Social Care developing guidelines and quality standards. NICE supports decision making at a national level and evaluates the allocation of the limited health care budget. Basically, NICE builds an evidence-based bridge between a new product and its market launch. The ultimate goal of NICE is to ensure more equitable access to healthcare in England and by its purpose reduces post code lottery of care.

The first speaker emphasized the focus of NICE which is value, not price. Budget constraint implies that whenever one treatment is approved and going to be funded by the NHS England, another treatment will no longer be funded. NICE’s role is to support decision making through appraisal programmes. Therefore, NICE compares costs and benefits in order to decide whether a new treatment shall be funded. In detail, NICE assesses how well the new technology works and how much it costs compared to the established practice in the health service.

The second speaker talked about the NICE health technology assessment (HTA) programmes. Basically, the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation has HTA programmes in the following four fields: (1) Technological Appraisal, (2) Diagnostics Assessment, (3) Medical Technologies Evaluation and (4) Highly Specialised Technologies.

Our three key takeaways are:

  1. Once a product or service has passed the technological appraisal it is going to be funded by the NHS England. This implies that the product has to be available to all patients within 90 days.
  2. Unlike Switzerland, NICE sets a cost-effectiveness threshold at £20’000-£30’000 per QALY gained when a new technology is being assessed. In the case the technology is beyond the threshold NICE considers it as cost-effective.
  3. The NHS England has newly introduced a budget impact threshold which considers the costs of a technology after its market launch. The threshold is at £20million/year in the first 3 years.

The third and last speaker talked about the development of quality standards in the health and care system in England. The goal of quality standards is to improve outcomes. NICE quality standards are derived from NICE guidelines and contain a small number of measurable, action-focussed statements that focus on priority areas for quality improvement. The quality standards do not replace the guidelines, but go along with them.

NICE conference room

After three interesting presentations we would like to take this opportunity to say a great thank you to the speakers. You did an excellent job. Thanks to you we gained a unique and valuable insight into the activities at NICE.

And now it’s time to call it the day – have a NICE evening!

NICE table tennis









posted by Raphael, Nicolas, Julia & Monika

London Day 2: NHS Improvement and sightseeing tour

Hello folks and welcome to the second blog entry about our study trip here in London!

The agenda promised a variety of exciting presentations followed by some “ducking around” in the heart of London City.

In the morning we met at 8:30 at the NHS Improvement HQ. After a short briefing and a recap about yesterday’s events we were eagerly queuing up for our badges to get inside and improve our knowledge about the complexity of the English healthcare system. Starting with a brief introduction into pricing methods of the NHS Improvement, Paul Healy-Pricing Policy Manager explained how they set 2500 prices per year. In comparison to the Swiss healthcare system there is no negotiation between healthcare providers and the government. As a matter of fact, the NHS Improvement has full power in defining the prices for health services. However, with the option “payment by results” they also try to set some incentives to increase quality of care. His presentation was followed by an interactive and philosophic mini-experiment to better understand the influence of individual interpretation and perception on leadership, in general and of course in healthcare.

Toby Austerten gave us an insight of how health economic studies are applied as a support tool in decision making processes. Patrick Fraher introduced us on how the monitoring of the different trusts are managed. After 4 hours, almost no breaks, lots of useful information and good insights however, we were happy to finally get some caffeine and lunch.

We had some more fun afterwards on our sightseeing tour on the “Duck-Truck”, where we learned how laying lions lie.

The day ended with a delicious dinner and beer tasting. 😉

We are looking forward to the rest of the week. Greetings and cheers from the healthcare class 2017.

Day 8 & 9 – Hong Kong

After one week of China it was time to change the scenery and go to Hong Kong for 2 days. We arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday evening and most of the people had a bright smile on their face. No hot pots, no chicken feet – finally more western food again.

After a night out on Saturday in lan kwai fong it was time to do some sightseeing on Sunday. Most of us went up to the victoria peak and enjoyed the impressive skyline of Hong Kong.

As we are not only in Hong Kong for pleasure, we met at 0900 on Monday to visit Credit Suisse and KPMG. The Cedit Suisse offices are located in Kowloon in the ICC building. Located on the 88th floor we had the presentations with beautiful views of Hong Kong and the harbour. Mrs Bergqvist organized the event and invited guest speakers that spoke about various topics. Those included the liberalization of the chinese capital market, change in labour and domestic bond market.

Key points were that China has a huge potential and is slowly opening up the market and Credit Suisse tries to take advantage of that. Also there is a change in labour. China used to provide cheap labour where as now, cheap and educated engineers are available. In 2016 only, 1.4 million chinese people graduated. (Bsc, Msc or PHD)

After having lunch at the shopping mall we continued our day with a visit at the KPMG office in central Hong Kong. In a short time, we had 4 presentations about various topics. Most interesting presentations were the virtual banking and the insights of symon and oliver about the expat life in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong lacks behind China when it comes to digital payment. That’s one of the reasons why the HKMA (Hong Kong Monetary Authority) started an application process and will issue 4 virtual banking licenses. KPMG estimates that around 81 firms are interested in the 4 licenses. However, it is not clear if all the interested firms will apply and go through the difficult application process.

Symon and Oliver wrapped up the session at KPMG. They gave us various and interesting insights about living and working in Hong Kong. Topics discussed where the rents, way of living in Hong Kong and the working culture.

All in all it was a very interesting day with valuable information.

Now it is time to take the speed ferry which brings us to the Las Vegas of Asia – Macau 🙂


Here some further impressions about Hong Kong and its gold fish market. – poor fish 🙁





Day 7 – Chongqing

Dear Blog readers from all around the world 🌍

Big, Bigger, Chongqing!

Chongqing is the world’s largest municipality, with a population of about 30 million people, is surely enough to make anyone sit up and take notice.

Everything about Chongqing is hot and spicy: the weather, the people and most notably, the cuisine. The city of Chongqing is not a vast boundless plain, but rather a unique landscape set in mountains and rivers. You can see a light rail passing through a building, experiance a cable car ride across the Yangtze River, and watch a mystical mirage upon the mist and clouds. One thing is for sure, nothing is usual here.

In the morning the delegation of the students had the opportunity to visit the Swiss China Center (SCC). SCC is a non-profit organization established in 2016 in Mainland
China, Hong Kong, London, and Switzerland. It was founded by a diverse group of Swiss and Chinese entrepreneurs with the main objective of providing a dynamic platform for business and cultural exchange between the two countries. SCC can be seen as the gateway between China and Switzerland!

After highly interesting presentations from both side, SCC and Mr. Braun (ZHAW), a lively discussion started. Topics like the trade war between China and US or the free trade agreement with Switzerland were on the list.

After the mandatory photo session the time has come to say goodbye to SCC and Chongqing. Next destination ✈ Hong Kong!

Arrived in Hong Kong we noticed the difference to “real” China heavily. Finally we were able to communicate with the people in English again. Ordering food in a restaurant was not a challenge anymore.

We are looking forward to our free day in Hong Kong tomorrow!

Why opening a jogging equipment store in Brussels?

Why opening a jogging equipment store in Brussels?


During our weekend in Brussels we had time to explore the outdoor areas and the environment surrounding active people in the capital of Belgium. We have been asked to give recommendations to adapt a brand or product in the “jogging equipment” industry. Therefore, we investigate for the opening of a jogging equipment shop in the city.

To get more insights from the sport equipment industry of Brussels and to understand the possible adaptations that the company should make to be successful there, we approached the concept of the Contextual Intelligence. In particular, we made a city tour and looked for places where runners are training, explored the incentives of the city to encourage running and interviewed a successful athlete.



We went on an adventure tour! The impressions were, that there are many beautiful parks and buildings to pass by while running – sightseeing and jogging combined! We arranged an interview with the local expert Luman Kinali @luman_kinali, who provided us with valuable insights concerning the running tracks. He told us, that the most popular place for jogging is the beautiful river canal close to the city center. Furthermore, the city already organized running events like the ‘Brussels Night Run’, which took place last summer. This event aims at bringing people of Brussels, locals and foreigners, together to practice sports and bring the physically, mentally and socially aspects to society.


Infrastructure and Conditions

We went a step further and did some online research to gather more information. Brussels is one of the greenest European capitals, offering kilometers of running tracks with plenty of nature. In fact, there are 45 parks suitable for jogging activities. Therefore, Brussels offers everything a runner’s heart wants. However, the drawback about Brussels is the weather, with an average of 200 rainy days during the year.


Healthy Lifestyle & Competitors

Despite being famous for Belgian chocolate, beer and waffles…

Brussels also has a lot to offer to people willing to have a healthy lifestyle. We saw a lot of bio shops, healthy restaurants, smoothie places, protein product shops. You can find all global sport brands shops as well as local ones. In the city center, more than hundreds of shops are either specialized on jogging equipment or healthy nutrition to boost a healthy lifestyle.

Our recommendations

Considering the healthy lifestyle of Belgium people, Brussels is a very attractive city for the establishment of a jogging equipment store. The best location for a shop could be next to a park, where most of the runners are training, e.g. selling equipment like smart watches and other wearables. Furthermore, they could sell some rain apparels specially designed for running activities since the weather conditions are not ideal. Regarding advertising, it is recommended to use the local press as well as the dedicated events to inform about the opening of the shops. Also, they can gain advantage of EU initiatives promoting health worldwide to communicate about their opening and localization in Brussels.

Anton, Charlène, Diana, Emanuelle, Milica & Sead


Swiss High End Watches in Brussels

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is welcoming around 5 million tourists every year. Although the region is not widely known as a watchmaking cluster, there is a yearly meeting of the Belgium Watch Club, in which more than 30 brand representatives are meeting to discuss the industry and future trends.

When people buy a luxury Swiss watch, they are mostly at first oriented by buying a watch with a reputable name and secondly by buying the product specifications and watchmaking complication. Swiss watch brands should certainly aim at placing themselves in the top of their industry and compete with local Belgium and other international brands. Examples of reputable Swiss luxury watches are: Rolex, Jaeger Le Coultre, IWC and Patek Philippe.

All the above-mentioned brands are more or less in the same price class (roughly starting at 2000-8000€ for an uncomplicated piece up to several millions for the most extravagant and limited pieces). Instead of focusing on just building the brand name for social recognition, the Swiss watch brands should focus on the product specification and quality to address the practical needs of its target customers.

While Swiss watch brands operate in a high-end segment, best locations in Brussels would be Waterloo Boulevard and Galerie Royales Saint Hubert.

Galerie Royales Saint Hubert is a glazed shopping center, which is home to lots of luxury boutiques, watchmakers and chocolate shops as well as many high-cuisine restaurants. Therefore, the target customers for Swiss high-end watch brands are already formed at this place. Moreover, this location might be attractive for wealthy tourists.

Galerie Royales Saint Hubert

Waterloo Boulevard is on the other hand more appropriate for local citizens. It is a famous shopping street in Brussels, mainly for haute couture. Moreover, one of the most famous Swiss high-end watch brands “Rolex” is already located at Waterloo Boulevard. As observed in Switzerland, many watch brands are located on the main street of Zurich – Bahnhofstrasse. Having closely located competitors attracts the interest of customers and leads to mutual benefit of all brands. Hence, following this common way of Swiss watch-retailing, Waterloo Boulevard could be an attractive location for many Swiss high-end watch brands.

Waterloo Boulevard

A swiss-high end watch brand will face major competition. Major luxury watch brands are offering their products in flagship stores or noble boutiques. Rolex, for example, has three official retailers, Patek Philippe has one, Jaeger-Lecoultre has three as well as IWC, to name a few. In general, Brussels is offering all kind of high end watches, this, however, does not have to mean that the market is saturated, but that demand is high.

To conclude, the city of Brussels presents a strong potential for Swiss luxury watch brands mainly thanks to 500 million European consumers that are present in this city. Moreover, the city offers strong infrastructure, a good diplomacy cluster as well as multilingual experts in the watchmaking industry. In order to be successful and attract a large number of tourists as well as wealthy locals, the company should focus on language adaptation (primarily French, Dutch and English). We also recommend opening a flagship (brand) store in order to rapidly build a strong brand awareness and presence. Sponsorship combined with a solid marketing strategy will make Belgian and foreign consumers actively experience the brand. Overall, the business environment is highly favorable for Swiss luxury watch brands to enter.

Akshita and Anne-Sophie in front of the Patek Philippe store in Brussels


Group 7: A.Sophie Couvez, Florian A. Graf, Michelle Hoffmann, Akshita Jain, Dzhessika Mariia Kardakova & Ana Viljac

Day 6 – Swissnex: Our outpost in China

On our last day in Shanghai we went to visit Swissnex.

Many people in Switzerland may have never heard of Swissnex but Swissnex does actually an import job for Switzerland abroad. Swissnex is a public-private venture and has offices in Boston, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Bangalore and Shanghai and many science counselor locations all around the world. They work together with the Science, Education and Technology Section in the Embassy of Switzerland in China and regional consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou. Their goal is to promote Switzerland’s excellence as one of the world’s leading countries in the fields of innovation, research, technology and higher education, to connect academia and business and to facilitate cooperation between, in this case, China and Switzerland. Along with individual science and technology counselors around the world, they work on behalf of Switzerland to expand education, research, and innovation. Vital financial support is provided by donors and sponsors for the respective country of each outpost. In other words, without Swissnex many people in China may not know Switzerland.

Once we arrived, we received a warm welcome from Isabel Götz, General Manager, ad intermin of Swissnex. The first speaker was Erwin Lüthi, Deputy Consul General of Switzerland. He gave us an understanding of what the Consulate of Switzerland is doing in China and why a Consulate is important next to an Embassy. Isabel Götz introduced us to Swissnex and gave us a deeper understanding of their work and operation in China in the second speech. At the Q&A she was able to answer a lot of our questions regarding the life here in Shanghai. For example, she always has to think twice whether she really wants to lower the window shutter on a sunny day as it might lead here Chinese neighbors to hang out their clothes on it.

Leo Peng, Promotion Officer, Swiss Business Hub Shanghai, explained us the function and work of Swiss Business Hub China. The Swiss Business Hub China is a part of the Embassy in Switzerland the representative of the official international trade and investment promotion agency Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE). It is responsible for implementing Swiss export strategies in China and for promoting Switzerland as a business location. On the one hand, they inform Chinese companies about the key advantages of Switzerland as a business and investment location. On the other hand, they are the key contact point for Swiss SMEs looking for export opportunities in the Chinese market.

The last presentation of the morning was, in our opinion, the highlight. Michael Lehmann, Managing Director of Selective International Management [SIM], introduced us to services of his company. SIM is a Swiss consultancy with its main operations in Shanghai providing support to European and Chinese Companies. They provide transparent and pragmatic professional solutions to their clients with their internal and external experts through Management Consulting, Corporate Services and Project Management. One of their key activities is the yearly Swiss Week which is the only platform in China for Swiss companies to promote their products directly to the public. On the second part of his speech he illustrated in a fun way his own developed strategy of how you should start a business in China and what you should be aware of the differences in culture and life in China.

After the four interesting presentations, we had lunch at a nearby by Japanese restaurant together with some of the speakers and people of Swissnex. After this it was time to say goodbye to Isabel Götz and her team and also to Shanghai.

Our journey went on to Hong Kong where we happily arrived in the evening by plane.

Group Shanghai
André Birri, Floriane Bopp, Sergio Galli, Philemon Gschwend, Richard Lauper

Day 5 – Ship Ahoy

On the fifth day, our program was slightly different compared to the previous days. Instead of visiting companies, participating in exciting presentations, exploring different parts of cities and cultures, or spending the evening at the local Swiss embassy, we were allowed to visit the port of Shanghai – by now the biggest port of the World!
After a good night’s rest from the previous evening, we were picked up at the hotel to be driven to the port. As we later were told the port of Shanghai is not a consecutive site but rather split up in several unique sites that were located around the Shanghai area. Indeed, we were brought to the newest expansion of Shanghai port infrastructure – Yangshan Port. Located on an island surrounded by 15-meter deep water to allow even the biggest of all transport ships to dock and load their precious goods. To get there we were heading southwards to the ocean right through the city of Shanghai. This journey once again enabled us to try to grasp the unbelievable vastness and growth of this city or rather China as a whole. Grasping the sheer speed at which China grows (or has grown so far) became even harder once we realized that the by fog engulfed bridge we were driving on was not simple any bridge. It was a 32.5-kilometer-long bridge right through the ocean that connected the main land with Yangshan Port. This alone already made an impressive achievement (2x the length of the Gotthard tunnel), but the fact that it was built in only 2 years (!) finally made most of us realize the true commitment China invests in its growth.

The Yangshan Deepwater Port Project commenced in June 2005 and Phase I Terminal put into operation already at the end of 2005. Yangshan Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III Terminal were fully completed in 11 years. For the time being, the three terminals totally have a 5.6 kilometers quay length and equip 16 berths. To further consolidate and improve the status of Yangshan Phase IV Terminal began construction in 2014. Planned is a fully automatic terminal with five 50 thousand tons container vessel berths, two 70 thousand tons berth, one working vessel berth and other facilities. It will be put into operation at the end of 2017. In the near future, there are almost no people planned in the dock site of Phase IV Terminal as all the operation will be intelligent and automatic. The group was astonished by the size, the efficiency and the huge numbers of containers. Finally, our bus driver was able to drive us directly through the port between narrow corridors and in the midst of thousands of containers – an impressive sight indeed.

After a delicious meal we looked forward to spend the rest of the afternoon back in the downtown of Shanghai. Unfortunately, we had to realize that our driver was not able to meaningfully increase his driving skills over night as most of us were suddenly kicked out of their sleep at a particularly bumpy section of the road. After this shock we were free to spend the afternoon individually. Many small groups formed and discovered Shanghai on their own for the rest of the day and night.

Group Shanghai

André Birri, Floriane Bopp, Sergio Galli, Philemon Gschwend, Richard Lauper


Day 4 – Welcome to Shanghai

After three days in Beijing, it was time for us to move on and explore more of this exciting country. Just as we were getting ready to leave for the railway station the air started to get darker and coarser – the famous Beijing Smog that we have rarely encountered during the previous days seemed to be coming back. Or as our tour guide Eric put it: “When you were coming to Beijing the sky was washed clear and blue by the rain and now that you are leaving it turns gray with smog again – so come back soon!”.

The newly built high-speed rail network between Beijing and Shanghai reduced the travel time between those cities from 10 to 5 hours. Our train was racing through the country with a top speed of 350 km/h. While some took a nap and recovered from previous days and nights others enjoyed the diversified landscape that our 1318 km drive right through mainland China had to offer.

We arrived at noon in Shanghai at one of the biggest railway station in Asia. After meeting our new guide Issac and a quick lunch break at the station we were already on our way to the next company visit at Autoneum. Sadly we had to realize that our new bus driver was not as qualified and gentle as our previous one in Beijing as he was driving at top speed through several bumpy sections of the road. Still, we arrived as one piece at the local factory of Autoneum in Shanghai. Autoneum is the global market and technology leader in acoustic and thermal management solution for vehicles. The company was founded 2011 in Switzerland as a spin-off of Rieter Holding AG. The Autoneum Group holds several strategically placed factories all around the world – in Asia, Autoneum currently employs around 1900 employees. The factory we were visiting in Shanghai was relatively new and regularly expanded and updated on a yearly basis. After a short presentation, we were guided through all relevant process steps that were executed in the four factory building on the plant by the Product Manager.


Here we were getting our first taste of the manufacturing industry in China. It was interesting to witness the manufacturing process from raw material to finished goods first hand. We appreciated that Autoneum provided us the opportunity to experience how international companies do business in Asia.

After leaving the factory we were driving right to the hotel in the middle of Shanghai – the Bund Riverside Hotel. After Check-In most of us were swarming out to explore the surrounding area. Later we all met again in the hotel lobby to go for a drink at the famous Bar Rouge with a beautiful view of the modern skyline of Shanghai.

Group Shanghai

André Birri, Floriane Bopp, Sergio Galli, Philemon Gschwend, Richard Lauper