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

MSc PNP Study Trip – Day 3: A look inside a different kind of bank

Rise and Shine – this morning we were finally greeted with some splendid sunshine. Hence, the group met at Motel One infused with a lot of energy for the day to come and a cup of coffee in hand. During the morning briefing Daria and Ana informed the class about our program of the day and the organization we were about to visit: The World Bank. They are in charge of developmental work and hence not a bank in the classical sense. Further information was provided about the history, location, and multinational development of the World Bank and most importantly the specifics of the Center for Financial Reporting Reform (CFRR), which is located here in Vienna. We were told some specifics about the representative we were about to meet: Dr. Andrei Busuioc, a Senior Financial Management Specialist for the CFRR. After Sandro Fuchs summarized the big picture and especially highlighted the differences between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, Karin Brunner said her goodbyes and we sent her off to London to meet with our classmates from the health specialization.

After a quick ride on the Metro we enjoyed the sunshine during a more or less anticipated 10-minute walk to our destination. Upon arrival at a super modern glass building a high-speed lift brought us up to the 19th floor where we were greeted with a spectacular view from the offices of the CFRR.

We had the pleasure of being hosted by no less than three representatives of the World Bank: next to the announced Dr. Andrei Busuioc, we were introduced to Goran Tinjic, Senior Operations Officer, and Antonia Ida Grafl, Senior Financial Management Specialist for the Public Sector. Goran managed to grasp our attention from the moment he started his presentation through his charismatic and captivating presence. He provided a very passionate introduction of the World Bank’s history and their activities, along with his projects in Eastern Europe. The main take away from his part was the World Bank’s mission:

Ending poverty, building shared prosperity.

His presentation left us with the impression that the World Bank is a people-oriented organization which builds their capacity on cultural diversity, knowledge transfer and long-term experience of their employees. They furthermore pride themselves as being highly transparent through making every document publically available.
After around an hour Goran unfortunately had to leave for his next appointment, although we had the impression he would have loved to answer more questions from our class.

Following, Andrei presented an overview of the CFRR, with their main goal of capacity building in auditing and improving financial reporting infrastructure. Specifically, we discussed projects in several European and Central Asian countries, many of which received partial funding from Switzerland.

Antonia took over as the last presenter and elaborated on the anticipated implementation of accrual accounting standards. One of the main challenges the World Bank faces in this regard is that countries often underestimate the time it takes to change their public financial reporting system. Interesting enough, implementing accrual accounting alone does not fulfil its purpose if countries and people do not have the capacity to actively use the system. To finalize her presentation Antonia treated us with a nice video on a current program (PULSAR) in partnership with the SECO, in which Sandro Fuchs held a starring role.

Finally, as a key message for the semesters to come:
Not only for us, but it also takes the World Bank and its employees a lot of energy, endurance and passion to initiate and accomplish their projects and goals.

Following our visit, we spent the afternoon enjoying some free time and working on our group assignments. Hours and hours of hard work later we spoiled ourselves with a nice cup of tea…

Just kidding! We met up with the whole class at Garage 01 for one, two, three… drinks and some delicious food.

posted by Group Jenni, Vaquero, Schmidt and Hochstrasser

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.

MSc PNP Study Trip – Day 2: Behind the scences of using public funds to achieve outcomes

From Empress Maria Theresia to Dynasty of Count Starhemberg

As today’s program started a little bit earlier than yesterday, there were still some tired faces when we met at 8 o’clock in the lobby of Motel One. After a short briefing about the program of today, which included some general facts about the Austrian Court of Audit (Rechnungshof), mentioned as a secret highlight of the week by Pascal Horni, and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, as well as information about the speakers, we made our way to our first stop by public transport. The Austrian Court of Audit is located at Dampfschiffstrasse 2 in the financial district of Vienna. On our way we passed the Austrian Federal Computing Center, about which we already received some information yesterday. After a warm welcome from Mag. Sandra Fuchs and Mag. Bernhardt Schatz, we were introduced to the main tasks of the Austrian Court of Audits. Mag. Sandra Fuchs is a member of the General Secretariat of INTOSAI, the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions. She is responsible for regional organisations and member services, as well as bilateral and multilateral contacts.

The Group at the Austrian Court of Audit

The Austrian Court of Audit was founded in 1761 by Empress Maria Theresia as a control body with the rank of a ministry. Within the framework of its constitutional independence, the Austrian Court of Auditors controls whether the public funds are used economically and functional. The exercise of public control is one of the cornerstones of parliamentarism and democracy. Consequently, independence of the Austrian Court of Audit is a big and very important factor. Unlike other ministries, with a normal term of office of 5 years, the independence of the ministry is guaranteed with a term of office of 12 years. The two main tasks of the ministry are; performance auditing and consultancy. 75% of the consultancy recommendations are being implemented. The other 25% often receive creative solutions and a period of 5 years for possible implementation. We were also introduced to the INTOSAI, which is an autonomous, independent and non-political organisation and operates as an umbrella organisation for the external government audit community. INTOSAI’s headquarter has been located in Vienna since 1968. It has 194 member states and Switzerland was one of the co-founders in 1953. Digitalisation is a major issue and regarded as a big opportunity. However, it is difficult and a rather slow process to implement such measures in the Austrian Court of Auditors, whereas at INTOSAI 30 people are already developing an app through a hackathon. After the presentation of Mag. Sandra Fuchs, Mag. Bernhardt Schatz introduced us to the Audit of the Austrian federal accounts. He presented some facts and figures, as well as the main tasks and the timeline of the annual report. We were happy to hear that Switzerland acted as a role model for the components of the federal accounts. One of the challenges is, that the budget regulations influence the budget allocation practice. This raises the question whether the independence of the ACA is guaranteed at all times.
Finally, we had the pleasure to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea and some refreshing drinks while we still had the opportunity to ask questions and continue our discussion.

After an individual lunch we directly met at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), located in the middle architecturally stunning city centre of Vienna.

Entrance to the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research

The building of the ministry once belonged to the dynasty of Count Starhemberg and is mostly in its original state and was redecorated accordingly after the Congress of Vienna. Mag. Dr. Iris Rauskala, head of the section, warmly welcomed us to the baroque style conference room for a 2-hour presentation and discussion. The Ministry’s responsibilities in the area of education cover the entire school system including primary school, secondary school, university colleges of teacher education, adult education and lifelong learning. Since last year, the ministry has changed significantly. Since the formation of the new government, the Ministry has been divided into five sections, whereby the 4th and 5th sections deal on the one hand with universities and universities of applied sciences and on the other hand with scientific research and international affairs.

In total, the Ministry has a federal budget of EUR 78 billion for 2018, of which EUR 8 billion can be allocated to education and almost EUR 5 billion to science and research. The Austrian higher education area offers space for a total of 384’548 students with the majority of students (309’172) studying at the 22 public universities. Despite the Austrian federal system, these universities are regulated centrally by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, with the universities of applied sciences being controlled by municipalities or private sponsors. In comparison to Switzerland, which is also a federal country, this distribution of tasks is a characteristic difference. Austrian universities are characterised by a rather low degree of mobility, with the majority of almost 58’000 students coming from Europe (90.8%), especially Germany and Italy. In a European comparison, Austrian universities have a broad status of autonomy. The education sector is expanding continuously and the number of students is increasing, which is also reflected in an increasing overall budget. However, the number of students is increasing even more and is coupled with further challenges. For example, the study access is rather uncoordinated, there are many inactive but enrolled students, which results in an often long duration of study and high dropout rates. The ministry has defined a total of five impact goals in order to systematically tackle the problems. Mag. Dr. Iris Rauskala was quite critical regarding the impact goals, as they are not measurable, without a timeline and one goal includes different areas. When developing measures, however, it should always be ensured that the public interest is taken care of and the system is being improved. According to the head of the section, Mag. Dr. Iris Rauskala, education as a public good is very important for Austrias society and should/will probably remain so in the future.

Post by Group Keller, Bohn, Schmidli and Garobbio

MSc PNP Study Trip – Day 1: Servus Vienna & Finance Administration 4.0

Our first day in Vienna started in the beautiful „Palmenhaus“ next to the „Schmetterlinghaus“ in the centre of the city. After a warm welcome from our lecturers along with coffee, tea and croissants, we were briefed about our upcoming day. At the memorial against war and fascism in front of the „Wiener Staatsoper“, we met our tourguide Yvonne Heuberger-Dornauer, who briefly introduced us to the history of Austria and particular Vienna. Our first stop was in front of the national library on the place named after Josef II, who is immortalized as a statue. In contrary to his relatives, he went down in history for being an enlighter, who passed many radical reforms. His mother, empress Maria Theresia, perfected the Habsburger marriage policy, by engaging her twelve children with all the important dynasties and acomplished many useful alliances for the Habsburger. After a quick walk through the „Schweizer-Hof“, which was named after a battalion of the Swiss Guards, who were stationed there in the 18th century, we stopped on the „Heldenplatz“.

The MSc Students listening to the explanations of the tour guide

After an individual lunch, we met at the Federal Ministery of Finance. Chief of staff, Mrs. Daphne Aiglsberger, welcomed us in a conference room in the 4th floor of the former winter residence of Prince Eugene of Savoyen. Firstly, she gave us an overview on the ministery. In contrast to Switzerland, in Austria the fiscal sovereignty and tax Collection is entirely in the hands of the federation. She introduced us to the recent developements in digitalisation and New Public Management reforms on finance matters. We talked about the challenges of the departement of finance administration, management and services. For example the growing complexity of economy through globalization and digitalization. She talked on how they intend to improve the usability of the tax declaration and customer service as a whole. The question how to cope with the latest developments and how to engage engage in cutting-edge technology such as blockchain and the concept of big data is still open to some extent. 

Meeting at the Ministry of Finance

In the end, we had time to ask some questions. We noticed that the people of Austria prefer customer-service over absolute data sovereignty in contrast to Swiss people. Centralization of tax sovereignty in Austria also helps to take further steps in digitalization, such as online tax declaration, chatbots or apps for small enterpreneurs. At 4.30 p.m. an interesting presentation and thus our daily program ended.

Posted by Group Rickli, Thierer, Eiholzer and Dudzinska

London Day 1, Departement of Health & Social Care

After arriving from all over the world we enjoyed a delicious apero and a warming welcome from our organisators.

Our first visit out of five upcoming destinations in London was at the Departement of Health & Social Care. We enjoyed our reunion a little too much so we had to rush to the underground. So we decided to brief the class in a typical british environment – the underground station (Mind the Gap!)

After we made it on time Jason Yiannikkou and Jonathan Walden introduced us to the quite complicated structure of the British Healthcare System. After giving us an overview, they talked about current issues like the influence of demographic changes, increasing costs and the newly developed expectations of the English society.

We were astonished to hear that the annual healthcare costs only increased by 1 %, while Switzerland faces 4 % every year. Furthermore Jonathan Walden talked about the increasing importance of prevention and finding individual solutions according to the patients’ needs. Additionally one of the speakers, told us an interesting anecdote about a new diagnosed diabetes patient and a whipped (which is a well known English dog breed). Since adopting the dog the man had to also engage in more health lifestyle: he had to learn how to cook for dog as well as taking him for long walks. By doing so he slowly introduced health habits to his daily life, which as a result help managed his diabities as well. The silver lining of this story is that NHS could safe resources as well as time by introducing a dog into the life of the man. This shows that even simple change in habits could help patients deal with their diseases.

MSc PNP Study Trip to Vienna ~2018~

As part of their unique curriculum, the MSc BA Students with the Specialization in Public and Nonprofit Management embark on a study trip to Vienna to learn about Austria’s government institutions and to dive into its administrative context. In particular, allocating, administering and making effective and efficient use of taxpayer’s money are topics, which will be covered during the visits at the Austrian Ministry of Finance, the Austrian Court of Audit or the Ministry of Science and Education as a budget executing entity. A second focus of the study trip is on digital transformation of public administration, which will be touched by visits of the City of Vienna, which has launched its “Digital Agenda”, or the newly established Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs. An exciting and insightful week is awaiting the students, who will take over this blog and share their experiences. 

ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, School of Management and Law

Looking back and Thank you

SML Emerging Market Fieldtrip 2018 to China and Vietnam

30th June to 14th July 2018

After fifteen days of travelling 2’600 km from Beijing to Hanoi on buses, trains, ships and in airplanes, we look back with great gratitude on a challenging, but highly rewarding journey. It was a unique experience to meet so many entrepreneurial people, to visit the Swiss embassies in China and Vietnam, high-tech Chinese companies in Beijing, consulting practices and financial institutions in Hong Kong, universities and manufacturing companies in Chengdu and Chongqing, an entertainment complex in Macau and textile companies in Hanoi. In addition we were able to discuss topics such as family business and wealth management as well as possible consequences of the harsh trade dispute evolving between the US and China with financial experts, students and company representatives alike.


Students of the SML Emerging Market Fieldtrip 2018 with Ambassador Dr. Jean-Jacques Dardel and Lecturer Dr. Markus Braun at the Swiss Embassy in Beijing, July 2018.

Students from left to right: Gino Mächler, Nico Wyss, Marc Andersen, Lukas Bachmann, Christoph Bänninger, Simon Bärtschi, Davor Gavranic, Robin Chahal, Alessandro Paradiso, Luka Devcic, Jessica Stocker, Michael Trautmann, Nicole Schlierenzauer, André Vonmentlen. Not shown on the picture: Michael Sebastian Henschel, Rubén Ramirez Garcia and Wei Sun, ZHAW Research Associate


There is no doubt that the objectives of getting a real onsite insight into the rapidly growing Asian economies where present and future business partners and employers of today’s ZHAW students and tomorrow’s business people reside were fully achieved as the feedback by the students confirmed.

Despite the packed time table we were also able to take in the natural beauty of China and Vietnam as well as to visit the old cultural heritage monuments and to experience the new traffic and building achievements in Asia’s mega cities.

We sincerely thank all contributors for their generous support in making this unique journey possible. In particular and in order of the companies visited we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to

  • Ambassador Dr. Jean-Jacques Dardel, Swiss Embassy to China, Beijing
  • Dr. Nektarious Palaskas, Head, and Ms. Chenchen Liu, Project Manager, Science, Education and Technology Section, Swiss Embassy to China, Beijing
  • General Consul Frank Eggmann, Swiss General Consulate, Chengdu
  • Axel Menning, Director Public Affairs, Huawei, Zurich
  • Marc Goomber, General Manager, JV Volvo-Geely, Chengdu
  • Danyi Wang, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu
  • Kurt Lötscher, Head Group Public Affairs, ABB Headquarters and John-Hanping Zheng, ABB Transformer Co. Ltd, Chongqing
  • Ms. Zhang, Senior Partner, Ms. Jenny, CIO, and Ms. Alice, Swiss China Corporation (Wealth and Asset Management), Chongqing
  • Dr. Urs Buchmann and Ms. Vanessa Bergqvist, Credit Suisse Greater China, Hong Kong
  • Tom Wilson, Partner, and Mr. Tom Leisinger, Manager, KPMG, Hong Kong
  • Symon Tilberis, UBS, Hong Kong
  • Chan Chee Pong, Facility Manager, Galaxy Entertainment, Macau
  • Ambassador Beatrice Maser, Swiss Embassy to Vietnam, Hanoi
  • Jean-Paul Hässig, President Swiss Business Association Vietnam and Head of Cotton Asia, RDMA Cotton, Singapore

Thank you so much! We will never take your support for granted.

Day 15 – Goodbye Hanoi

After 15 days, 6 cities and more than 11,000 km, the SML Emerging Markets Field Trip 2018 officially ended on Saturday evening in Hanoi.

While for some early risers our last day started with a swim in the sea, many took advantage of the rainy weather to enjoy our comfortable rooms on board of the ship to rest a little longer. After a hearty breakfast our boat chugged back through the rain towards the harbor.

We enjoyed the last moments on the ship before the bus transported us back to Hanoi. Once there, we all signed the banner that accompanied us on our two-week trip through China and Vietnam. After a few final words, we said goodbye to each other and the group split. While some drove directly to the airport, some stayed in Hanoi.

The Emerging Market Field Trip was a complete success. We would like to thank everyone involved for the work and hospitality. The last two weeks have given us a very impressive impression of how exciting and different the culture, the countries and the way one does business in these countries is.