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.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 4

On the fourth day of our Study Trip in Israel, we visited one of the oldest and most historic cities in the world, Jerusalem. We departed early in the morning to visit Mobileye, the global leader in the development of vision technology for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles headquartered in Jerusalem. The US giant Intel Corp. acquired Mobileye in 2017 for 15.3bn, marking the largest purchase of an Israeli tech company. Gaining valuable insights into the future of safe and autonomous driving prompted students to ask questions facing the firm on relevant topics such as cybersecurity, safety, ethics, and industry competitors.

The second part of the day consisted of a guided city tour through the old city of Jerusalem. Our Norwegian tour guide Ruth took as on the hilltop of Mount of Olives which delivers beautiful views over the city. The spot is associated with many events in Jesus’s life including the ascending to Heaven. The students then followed the 14 stations of the cross while exploring the narrow alleys of the old city ending where Jesus was supposedly laid in the tomb and covered in incense.

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Before taking the bus back to Tel Aviv, the study group had the opportunity to soak in the unique atmosphere surrounding the Western Wall which symbolises the holiest place where jews are permitted to pray.

The trip showed us that peaceful coexistence between different religions is possible. We are happy to have witnessed this truly amazing place together with our study peers.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 4

Day four of our study trip started off nicely with a bright sun and a temperature similar to what we usually only experience during the summer months in Switzerland. The very first item on today’s agenda did not require us to embark on a long journey, since we were given the opportunity to enjoy a highly interesting and insightful lecture by Ohad Meyuhas from the company Stratasys on 3D-printing in a conference room at our hotel. During his lecture, Ohad not only told us facts about the firm and the various processes that can be used to print objects, but also gave interesting anecdotes about how a frog inspired the creation of 3D-printing or even how Minnesota is not a pleasurable place to go to. In a subsequent Q&A session, we were then able to ask Ohad our various questions regarding 3D-printing and related subjects.

Ohad telling us about one of the processes used in 3D-printing

After the lecture on the highly promising technology, we boarded our bus in order to leave for the Museum of the Jewish People. As we have learned from our lecturer Dr. Leslie Broudo-Mitts during our visit at the Tel Aviv University, one of the major reasons why Israel is considered a start-up nation with great companies and entrepreneurial spirit is that people are able to adapt to changes quickly. Our flexibility was tested as well when our dear bus driver Hagi informed us about a power outage at the museum and therefore our planned museum tour was now cancelled. Inspired by the Israeli can-do attitude and high degree of adaptability, we quickly changed plans and decided to instead spend the afternoon in the old city of Tel Aviv, Jaffa. Luckily, our bus driver turned out to be an exceptional tour guide as well. Hagi led us from the historic port of Jaffa through an artistic village over a wishing bridge to a view point providing us with a beautiful view of Tel Aviv, all while sharing interesting facts and stories about the city’s history. We were also able to fully indulge in Middle Eastern delicacies in Jaffa due to the old city being filled with small, vibrant cafes and restaurants offering various tasty dishes such as Falafel or Shawarma.

Bus driver / last-minute tour guide Hagi sharing historical facts at the Jaffa port
Group picture in the old city of Jaffa

In the evening, we were honored to be received at the residence of the ambassador of Switzerland in Israel. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by several members of the team at the embassy as well as refreshing beverages and tasty finger food. Following the reception, a presentation was held by Anna-Lise Cattin Hennin, the Deputy Head of Mission, as well as by David Biegeleisen, who is the Innovation Advisor at the embassy. Topics such as the political system of Israel as well as the country’s challenges and opportunities were addressed, including the role of Switzerland in all those aspects. The presentation also offered us new insights into the specific tasks embassy staff fulfils, such as planning and coordinating events involving Swiss and Israeli companies for an intercultural exchange. After, we were given the opportunity to ask questions, followed by a delicious dinner and interesting conversations with the embassy members.

Handing over presents after the interesting presentation held by the embassy members
Group picture at the Residence of the Ambassador of Switzerland in Israel with embassy members and Ruedi Büchi from Swiss Global Enterprise

It was an exciting day with some unexpected turns but a lot of new insights gained and experiences made. Today marks the half-time of our study trip, and we hope it continues to be as amazing as it has been so far! We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ruedi Büchi from Switzerland Global Enterprise, who helped organize major parts of the program of our study trip and happily joined us for multiple activities.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 3

The day began with another healthy breakfast at the hotel Tal by the Beach. Filled with a lot of energy, we drove to the University of Tel Aviv by bus. There, we had the privilege to attend a lecture about the ongoing transformation of the Israeli economy by Dr. Leslie Broudo-Mitts. After this highly informative presentation, we gathered and had the possibility to discover the campus with Sam.

Around noon we had a light lunch on the university campus. Ready for the afternoon, we took the bus to our next stop: The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya. This is the largest private university in Israel and is only 25 years old. First, we had a short introduction from the head of Adelson School of Entrepreneurship, Mr. Amir Lewkowitz, who explained the entrepreneurship programs at IDC. Thereafter, a tour of the media lab was given to us and we had the chance to test the developed robots and toys. Additionally, a former student of the university gave some insights about the study programs and the student life at this special university. In the end, we enjoyed a guided and interesting tour around the campus of IDC by Amir Lewkowitz.

Having gathered many information throughout the day, we drove back to the hotel. As an optional activity, our bus driver gave us the possibility to gain more insights into the Israeli culture by stopping at the Carmel Market in the city center.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 2

The second day of the study trip for the International Management Program started with a visit to the HQ of Ltd. The company is a cloud-based web development platform that allows every customer to create their own website very easily. The representative of first showed us the HQ right at the beach of Tel Aviv.

There upon we visited the conference and gained some insight into the company and the innovative drive of the company. The representative was very eager to answer any questions not only related to the company itself but also regarding Israel’s culture.

Our second stop of the day took us to one of the leading cyber security companies in the world Check Point Software Technologies. The building was highly secured and even visiting the bathroom had to be overlooked by one of the employees. We were introduced to the company in a fairly futuristic setting and surprisingly our presenter, Raphael Bitterli introduced himself in Swiss-German as he is Swiss.

We gained an insight into the easiness of hacking and its various forms as well as measures to prevent being hacked. Most of us were extremely surprised and will definitely give cyber security a second thought. Since most of us were close to starvation we were very thankful for the apéro provided at the end of our company visist.

The last activity of our second day in Tel Aviv took us back to the city center where we enjoyed a guided tour of the city’s infamous white city.

Our guide was a history graduate specialized in Bauhaus architecture and gave us a lot of interesting facts about how history is reflected in Tel Aviv’s architecture.

It was an exhausting but interesting day and we are looking forward to the rest of the week.

Greetings from Tel Aviv.

International Management Study Trip Israel: Day 1

The International Management cohort under the guidance of Program Director BSc IM, Dr. Michael Jan Kendzia, and Deputy Head Competence Team Luxury Management, International Business, Maya Gadgil, are located in Tel Aviv, Israel. This year 34 students were lucky enough to get a spot on the highly desired study trip. The students were informed at a briefing in the hotel lobby about this week’s program.

Welcoming of students & briefing about program milestones

After checking into the Tal by the Beach Hotel, the students enjoyed the breath-taking view on the beach from the rooftop and had the opportunity to gain some first insights of the marvellous city. Later the same night, an informal get-together was organised in a close bar. After a warm welcome, by the one and only Mr. Dominik Suter, the cohort enjoyed the delicious foods and drinks offered by the bar.

Happy informal get-together
Fancy drinks!
Tasteful Israeli wine!

MSc PNP Study Trip – Day 5: e-ID & Pfiati Vienna

Time flies! Today was already the last day of our Study Trip. When we met in the morning, some seemed a bit tired, others very excited for this interesting final day. We started the day like always with a presentation of the program and a short introduction of the topic at Motel One. Since the best always comes last, today was the day we visited the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW). The ministry only exists in its current form since the first of January 2018. Therefore, we felt truly honored to be some of the first students to visit this ministry. Until 2018 the BMDW was part of the ministry of Science Research and Economy. After the reorganization, the goal of the BMDS is to enhance the development of Austria as a business location and boost opportunities for digitalisation. This is a very important task as ICT is the main economic driver of Vienna! The current Minister of the BMDW is Dr. Margarete Schramböck who studied Business Administration at the University of Economics and Business in Vienna. Subsequently to her studies she held numerous positions in the private industry and was also CEO of A1 Telekom Austria.

On our way to BMDW

After the program presentation we immediately made our way to the ministry in great anticipation.

As a result, we were a bit too early and used the time to take some pictures with the stunning scenery of Vienna.

At the ministry we were then warmly welcomed by Mag. Daniel Medimorec and escorted to the third floor where Dr. Bernhard Karning awaited us. After we already learned about the digitalisation strategy of Vienna in general yesterday, today was all about the very specific topic of electronic identities. Contrary to Switzerland, Austria has already implemented an electronic identification system more than a decade ago. Since then the system has continuously been updated, remodified and improved. What started in 2004 with an electronic identification number embedded in the insurance card is a holistic electronic service for the citizens of Austria by now.

But what is e-ID all about and how does it simplify the daily life of Austrians?
In a nutshell; the e-ID is an electronic citizen’s card based on a personal identification number. This card allows Austrians to deal with the authorities in a fast, uncomplicated and convenient way. The citizen simply logs into the system using his mobile phone number and password, he/she is then able to request a new parking card or to file a motion. Therefore, Austrians are no longer dependent on the opening hours of their authorities. Furthermore, the e-ID can also be used to sign or cancel contracts and replaces the classic signature. Today, more than 1 million Austrians are already using the system and the number of users is increasing day by day. Recently the BMDW has introduced a new feature which allows to log in the system using a fingerprint instead of a password, this shows that the BMDW is not resting on its laurels. Furthermore, data protection and security are major concerns for the BMDW, consequently every e-ID is linked to different numbers for each ministry. This system ensures the highest levels of data protection.

After the presentation, we were invited to visit the “3D photo studio DAGUBERT” which is currently exhibited at the BMDW. DAGUBERT is the first fully automated, mobile 3D studio. It collects 3D data on a one-millimeter accuracy level. Soon, this system can be used for electronic fitting rooms or ordering custom made clothes.

With this, the official part of our study trip to Vienna ends. On behalf of the whole class, we want to thank Dr. Brunner, Dr. Fuchs, Dr. Brüesch, Dr. Mertes, Mr. Horni and everybody else involved in the organisation of this amazing trip. We learned a lot and gained insight into ministry activities of Vienna, which we would never have been able otherwise. We return to Switzerland inspired and motivated for our next semester. And with a last goodbye coffee we leave this vibrant, buzzing and modern City. Thank you Vienna for your modernity, for your value of history and your amazing citizens!

Posted by Group Spälti, Feubli, Engler, Imboden

MSc PNP Study Trip – Day 4: Digitalisation Vienna-Style & E-Voting in Austria

Today is the beginning of the second part of our study trip which is dedicated to one of the most widely-discussed topics nowadays, namely the DIGITALISATION. Yesterday Pr. Dr. Caroline Brüesch and Dr. Alexander Mertes joined us in Vienna and will accompany us during the rest of our trip. 

Daily Briefing at the Hotel Motel One Westbahnhof

Probably no other town in Europe can offer you a more comprehensive insight into this topic as the city of Vienna (and if you have doubts about it, just continue reading and they will surely be dispelled before this text ends).

Entrance to the Vienna City Administration

After a usual kick-off briefing at the Motel One we hit the road to the Chief Executive Office of the city of Vienna. It was represented by Thomas Schuhböck who is part of the Executive Group for Organisation, Safety and Security and is responsible for process management and ICT strategy.

Before embarking on the topic of Vienna’s Smart City approach Mr Schuhböck gave us a general overview of the key data on Vienna. Here are some of the most interesting facts:

  • Vienna is not just a city, it’s also a municipality and a federal state (and on top of that a capital)
  • Vienna has 30’000 civil servants (which is much more than the European Commission)
  • With its 220’000 city-owned apartments Vienna is the biggest public housing administrator in Europe (fun fact: the municipal tenement complex Karl-Max-Hof is over a 1 km long)
  • Vienna is the No 1 liveable city in the world and the 3rd most innovative city
  • However, not everything is so rosy: Vienna’s biggest challenges are urbanization and climate change

Then Mr Schuhböck turned back to the actual digital agenda. On average, the people in Vienna are quite well advanced in using the Internet (utilization of the Internet comprises 86%) and they prefer surfing on their mobile devices and not on PCs (the municipality labeled it as the “mobile first” trend). Mr Schuhböck also drew our attention to the fact that the ICT’s added value in Vienna is threefold higher than the added value of tourism. Also, the city of Vienna is supporting “digital salons” aimed at promoting IT themes among women. 

During the presentation of Mr Schuhböck

Subsequently Mr Schuhböck moved to the Smart City Wien principles: While the main components of the Smart City concept are quality of living, resources and innovation, social inclusion is crucial. The same emphasis on the citizen’s participation was manifested in Vienna’s digital strategy. According to Mr Schuhböck, it is the first digital strategy that was developed together with citizens. In a first step, an Internet based participation platform was created in 2014 in order to involve citizens in the idea generation process. In a second step, the conceptualized ideas were presented to the public for discussion. Because as Schuhböck put it, “an informed citizen is a satisfied citizen”. The finalized strategy was published in June 2015.

To demonstrate the concrete output of Vienna’s digital strategy, Mr Schuhböck highlighted a couple of “lighthouse” projects. For example, “Sag’s Wien” (or for anglophiles “Tell it Vienna”) was established to report defects which Vienna people spot on the street; DigitalDays2018 was created as a coordination platform for Vienna’s citizen-oriented participatory activities.

And the concluding message and a personal “lesson learned” from Mr Schuhböck: Don’t be afraid to launch a project even when it’s just 80% ready. People will be there to help you fix it.

Does E-Voting Have a Future in Austria?

The focus of our afternoon programme was the future of e-voting in Austria.  We went to an outpost of the Federal Ministry of Interior where we were welcomed by a very enthusiastic Mag. Robert Stein, head of the Department III/6 for Electoral Affairs, and Renate Strohmaier, Senior Specialist for Electoral Affairs. With his witty comments Mr Stein instantly managed to raise our interest in the topic. After a brief intro to Austria’s federal system, he dwelled into the specific features of Austrian electoral processes. He explained that the principles of Austria’s electoral legislation are stipulated in the federal constitution and therefore must be applied in every federal state and municipality. One of those principles states that a citizen must cast her/his vote in the presence of an authority representative or per post (postal vote was introduced in 2007). This means that in order to introduce any e-voting system, the Austrian constitution would need to be amended, which would require a two-third majority in the Parliament. Since this majority hasn’t been secured yet due to controversial and sometimes opposing views of Austrian decision-makers, there is no legal basis for e-voting in national and local political elections, Mr Stein concluded. He mentioned the Austrian Students’ Elections (2007) as a pilot project to test how an e-voting system could be implemented. The Constitutional Court ruled in 2011 that the legislative implementation of e-voting was in compliance with the constitution, but high standards must be fulfilled.

During the presentation of Mag. Stein at the Ministry of Interior

Regarding the outlook for e-voting in Austria, Mr Stein argued that the introduction of an e-voting system should still be possible in principle. Should the law-makers now decide to introduce it, one requirement would already be satisfied as an Electoral Register was established in Austria in 2016. However, e-voting still faces fundamental challenges. For example, there are still concerns over the issues of one-to-one identification and data protection.  

Another exciting day has come to an end! To be continued…

posted by Group Kasumovic, Küng, Liewvanich, Sass

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.