High-Quality Windows in Brussels

Brussels, the Belgian capital and the headquarters of the European Union and many of its institutions, is going through a modernization of its territories. Through the modernization and its commitment to adhering to the complete values and aspirations of the European Union in terms of supporting their environmental-friendly policies. Hence, when it comes to the construction of buildings, the quality of the windows is of vital importance in order to preserve energy. Through this individuals can contribute to preserving the environment and working towards a greener future.

For a company to successfully enter the Belgian’s capital city of Brussels some factors are important to consider.

In the last decade, Brussels has turned from the being at the end of the list of role models for preserving energy to a leading figure, through renovating many older building and constructing many new ones. As older buildings tend to have older windows which to not retain warmth and therefore lead to a loss of energy.

Modern City Center – Place Charles Rogier

The city consists of nineteen districts where each boasts their individual unique construct of architecture and originates from different eras. When wanting to enter the market possible adaptions to the individual needs should be considered. Additionally, being at the heart of Europe and a role model for the rest of the modern world, a complete adherence to the local regulations is strictly enforced. Therefore,  a complete understanding of the heritage perseverance laws and energy perseverance windows has to be followed. For instance a law in Brussels that requires when rebuilding or constructing to follow guidelines in terms of thermal isolations, which are known as the “Performance Enérgétique des bâtiments”.  

Old and renovated windows at Rue de la Bourse

As Brussels is home to many ancient UNESCO heritage sites and protected buildings, the reconstructions of these building are complex. Therefore, when considering rebuilding these ancient building, an utterly strict law must be adhered to at all times to ensure the conservation of the heritage of Brussels. This also applies to the window industry, where installing high quality windows bring a certain risk of not fulfilling the complete requirements of the heritage laws.

Our Recommendation

In order to set up a window business successfully, the company is recommended to set up an office in the heart of the city, where many modern building are already built and are further being constructed. Therefore, the European Quarter is suggested as a hub for the Belgian market. In the European Quarter it is vigilant that construction of buildings containing large windows is of strong fashion. The skyline, which is in an ever-growing state, boasts scenery of modern artifact for the window market.

The competition is fierce, with company’s such as “protect house group”, “Building Windows” and “Monument Brussels” already dominating the market. Many more companies are present in the market of high-quality windows. Thus, a unique business model must be presented to the market in order to successfully differentiate themselves from the already strong positioned competition.

We believe, that Brussels is a highly developing city that could always use a fresh player on the market when it comes to high quality windows. Therefore it is recommended, to concentrate on the business districts and developing areas, rather than the heritage sites, due to the reasons mentioned above.  On behalf of our group, we wish the new entrant the best of luck.  

Group 8 on Boulevard Roi Albert II
from left to right: Béatrice, Dominik, Karin, Jeremy, Estrella, Miriam

Pierogi’s – A Polish Food Truck in Brussels

Pierogi´s is a Polish food truck offering vegetarian varieties of the traditional Polish dumplings called pierogi. Brussels is a multicultural city and residence to various foreign communities. Polish inhabitants constitute the sixth largest foreign group in the city. In addition to this population, Pierogi´s can also take advantage of and target the Eurocrats as they are always willing to try different cultures´ gastronomy. Furthermore, food trucks are very common in the city as they offer convenience and most of the international people working in Brussels get their daily lunch in the form of take away food.

Pierogis, a traditional Polish dumpling

A food truck is the optimal way to enter the market as it requires low initial investment and operation costs and involves low risk. Due to mobility, the food truck can also attend events (e.g. conferences, exhibitions, and Brussels Food Truck Festival – the biggest food truck festival in the world) to reach more customers.

Food trucks in Brussels

Market Environment

Belgium is rather conservative when it comes to food. Traditional Belgian dishes revolve around meat or fish. Belgium has only recently begun to embrace the idea of vegetarianism, reflected by an increasing number of vegetarian options (i.e. restaurants, quick foods, and cafes). Because it is a relatively new concept in Belgium, it would be advisable for Pierogi’s not to sell the offer as “vegetarian,” but rather as the pierogi dish itself. The potential for Pierogi’s is high however since there is only one Polish restaurant in Brussels and moreover, one vegetarian food truck.

Because a big target group are the so-called Eurocrats working around the European district, the food truck should operate within that area (indicated in the graphic below). The truck will operate Monday to Friday at the locations Porte de Namur metro station, Trône metro station, Square Frère Orban, Boulevard de l’Impératrice and Square De Meeûs. Moreover, the city of Brussels provides a monthly updated schedulewith food tracks circulating around Brussels.

Locations to position the food truck

The main competitors will not be the other food trucks since there is always only one truck at each spot, but more the local restaurants around each spot. Nevertheless, the city of Brussels does not accept an endless number of food trucks, to limit competition with local businesses.

Logistics

Permits, License and Insurance – approx. costs 3100 – 6900 euros

In order to start a food truck business in Brussels, the entrepreneur has to obtain a license from the Foodstuffs Inspection Department which is the part of the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC). Other required license and permits include: a business license which tests the legal right to operate the food provider in the particular location; food-handler’s permit which ensures that employees’ safety in the cooking environment. Liability insurance is also required.

Operational costs – Monthly

Operational costs include costs such as parking, food inventory and labor. These costs can vary every month. The average operational costs are around $30’000 per month depending on the expenses. The labor costs constitute 25-35% of the operational costs.

Expansion Possibilities

Having experimented in different locations throughout Brussels in its first two years, Pierogi’s can open a permanent restaurant in what it experienced to be the most lucrative. Upon doing so, Pierogi’s will need to register the restaurant, as well as consider the size and potentially expanding its menu offering.

Potential concept for Pierogi’s restaurant
Employees of Pierogi’s

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 7

On the last day of our study trip we went to the national park of Masada.
Located on the top of an isolated rock plateau, it provides majestic views of the dead sea and the surrounding Judean desert.

On our way from the hotel to this historic site we had the opportunity to visit the cosmetic producer Ahava. The visit included an overview of the company‘s core activities followed by a shopping spree through the on-site store. The company is known for its natural ingredients and vegan friendly approach to beauty. Ahava‘s products are based on 4 main ingredients: Water, Mud, Salt and Plants. After the shopping tour, students were equipped with new moisturizers, mud masks and skin treatments.

Getting to the rock plateau we had two options. One group decided to walk the narrow ‚snake path’ up to the hill while the other half took the cable car to look at the acient structures on the mountain. Masada was the last pastion of the Jewish Freedom Fighters and is regarded as a Jewish cultural icon as its last days were overshadowed by tragic events where the freedom fighters had to face the choice of death or slavery by the Romans.

The last stop of the day was at the dead sea where we could enjoy the unusual experience of floating in the ocean. En Boqeq is known for its free beaches and is a center medicine tourism. The healing properties of the dead sea have been used for hundreds of years and people from all over the world travel to this area to make use of them

All in all, it was a great trip with a lot of impressions and insights into Israel’s culture and business environment. Many thanks to the organization team from all the students!

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 5

After a one and half hour bus drive we arrived in the southern part of Israel. The region of Negev is covering 60% of Israel’s territory but is home to only 10% of the Israeli population. Since David Ben-Gurion initiated the development of this particular region, many companies settled down in the Negev region. 5 years ago, Sodastream was among the companies that opened a manufacturing plant and since then produce their bottles as well as the fizz machines which are later on distributed to 46 countries everywhere in the world. Only glas components are sourced through third party delivery. We got a very interesting insight into the whole manufacturing process and were made familiar with the company’s vision of being highly environmentally responsible. At the end of the tour the whole group got a Sodastream bottle displaying their vision of Israel, Jews and Arabs working side by side in peace.

After another 45 minutes bus ride we arrived at the second stop of today’s program, Soreq Winery. The winery school teaches interested people the finest art of wine making, from harvesting the grapes to the final step of bottling the wine. After an authentic tour we were able to participate in a wine tasting. Everybody got to taste three different sorts of red wine and enjoy some snacks.

Since the study trip is slowly approaching the end, the ZHAW invited everybody for a beautiful and delicious supper. The restaurant Yulia was situated at the Tel-Aviv’s port, giving us a stunning view on the waves of the agitated ocean. We all had a wonderful time and enjoyed the company of each other. Hereby we would like to thank ZHAW, in the name of all 34 students, for this delicious meal.

Health Foundry incubator

After an interesting morning at Bristol-Myers Squibb we made our way back to the city center leaving one person behind, which in the end was faster at the meeting point than the whole group, due to prior experience with missing connections.

 

In the afternoon we visited the Health Foundry, which is a collaborative workspace for Digital Health start-ups. The Health Foundry is exactly as one would image a start-up incubator – young, a little chaotic, a touch of hipster and with a powerful and innovative atmosphere. Since its foundation in 2016 the Health Foundry supported more than 125 start-ups from all branches of health technologies and can show a diverse portfolio. The Health Foundry supports start-ups in all stages. One of the recent emerged successful start-ups is DrDoctor, a digital outpatient platform, which is used by hospitals all over the country and facilitates over 4 million doctors’ appointments a year.

We get to hear an insightful talk from a start-up consultant turned clinician Dr. Somauroo about the difficulties of starting a company under the NHS regulations. He practiced under the NHS and has now been involved in supporting over 120 health-tech start-ups with his accelerator called HS. This accelerator works closer with the start-ups than Health Foundry and focuses on late-stage start-ups. The industry of health technology has many challenges that need to be addressed due to its involvement with various stakeholders, ranging from the patients to clinicians to the NHS. The next two talks were held by founders of health tech start-ups.

Hello daisy tackles the problem of loneliness among older people, which can lead to a number of conditions costing several billions a year. A small device aims at creating a private social media platform that connects older people, without the need of being proficient with modern technologies and platforms.

Wellbones tries to circumvent the NHS and go directly to the customer, with the aim of getting NHS support once it can prove its utility with real-world data obtained by their product. Osteoporosis has not been the priority of the NHS funding so far, which is where Wellbones wants to make their impact. Misinformation and outdated “best practices” need to be corrected. The approach is a video-based platform with current information, free content on different aspects of the disease from nutrition to recommended exercises. Additionally a monthly subscription will unlock even more content and access to face-to-face support with professionals.

The start-up environment made for a nice contrast to BMS, the pharmaceutical giant we got to know better in the morning. We went from suits, ties and clean shaven faces to hoodies, shorts, stubbles and proper beards. The talks were less serious and more fun while being at least as well pitched as by the professionals at BMS. From the start-up point of view the biggest barriers to success seem to stem from the slow and fragmented, yet gigantic bureaucratic processes at the NHS. This makes predictions and market analysis rather difficult, with the consequences of struggling for funding. The incubator experts and environment help by tackling some of these points with experienced support, insight and mentoring.

After a very interesting day we are looking forward to our last dinner together and a fun night out. Friday morning we will conclude our study trip with a visit of the Royal Free Hospital. There we will be able to gain strategic insight on the positioning of the Royal Free NHS trust environment. Further talks on the performance and collaborations of the Hospital will be followed by a visit to different sections of the Hospitals.

In the end we would like to thank our supervisors Alfred Angerer, Karin Brunner Schmidt and Eva Hollenstein for organizing the details of our study trip. We enjoyed learning about the British health system from different perspectives and getting closer to our fellow students and supervisors, more than once during extended talks over a few pints.

 

 

 

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

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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!