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SUISSE news Spring 2019 / March 2019

Business News (March 2019)
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Zurich ‘s Best Airport in Europe

Zurich Airport has been placed third worldwide in a ranking compiled by online travel agency eDreams. It is number one in Europe. The airport has also won an award for customer satisfaction.

Zurich Airport has been placed third in the eDreams Best Airport Ranking 2019. Only Singapore Changi Airport and Brisbane Airport in Australia rank higher. According to this study, Zurich Airport is therefore the best airport in Europe. It was awarded top marks for shopping experience, waiting area and choice of restaurants.

Zurich is followed in the rankings by Munich Franz Josef Strauss Airport, Istanbul Atatürk International Airport and Stockholm Arlanda Airport. London Heathrow came in at number seven. The list of top ten airports in the world does not include a single U.S. airport. For this study, eDreams evaluated approximately 80,000 reviews from customers. The airport assessment takes into consideration variety and quality of restaurants, shopping facilities, airport service and waiting areas.

In tandem with the publication of the eDreams study, Zurich Airport also received an award for customer satisfaction. It is among the winners of the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award 2018 in the category of 25 to 40 million passengers in Europe. The Award is bestowed by the global trade representative of the world’s airports, the Airports Council International (ACI).

“I’m particularly proud of this ASQ Award. It’s great to see that our passengers appreciate the efforts of our employees and those of more than 280 partner companies at Zurich Airport. Our aim is to maintain the airport’s high quality in the future too,” commented Stephan Widrig, CEO of Zurich Airport AG.

ETH promotes Data Science Research 

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) has launched an initiative in which researchers active in various disciplines can dedicate themselves to the field of data science. Here, the focus will be on mathematical theories and algorithmic methods.

A total of eleven professors from the Departments of Mathematics, Computer Science and Information Technology at ETH Zurich are increasingly dedicating their work to the foundations of data science as part of a new initiative. The focus is on fundamental questions of mathematical theories and algorithmic methods. Two programs have been established: one for postdoctoral students and one for visiting researchers, as ETH Zurich explained in a press release.  The new initiative was launched in January and, according to reports, has received support from ETH+ in the form of 2.7 million Swiss francs. The ETH+ initiative is the university’s vehicle for supporting interdisciplinary projects.

Peter Bühlmann, Professor of Mathematics, comments: “Data science is something new. It’s not just statistics, not simply computer science and not merely information technology, but instead a combined effort of all three fields”. ETH Zurich is strengthening the exploration of the fundamentals of data science with the new initiative by bundling existing expertise. 

According to Bühlmann, a particular challenge will be developing algorithms “that can deliver causally correct, stable, reliable and easily interpretable results even in the case of complex data sets.” This is particularly relevant in the application of intelligent algorithms in sensitive areas – for example in court proceedings: if computers can provide judges with clues about the probability that a defendant could be guilty, then it shouldn’t result in any disadvantages. Discussing his area of research, Bühlmann explains: “As a researcher of the fundamentals of the subject, I want to produce something useful for society. I want to know when an application delivers reliable results, and when they are less reliable”.        

Basilea and Roche

Join Forces to Fight Cancer   Basilea and Roche, two Basel-based pharmaceutical companies, have entered into a collaboration. Drugs from the two companies will be used in combination to explore treatment for patients with urothelial cancer. 

Basilea and Roche plan to treat patients with urothelial (bladder) carcinoma using a combination of Basilea’s derazantinib and Roche’s PD-L1-blocking immune-checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab. According to a press release from Basilea, a biomarker-driven multicohort phase 1/2 study is expected to begin mid-2019.

Derazantinib “inhibits the colony-stimulating factor-1-receptor kinase (CSF1R),” explained Dr Marc Engelhardt, Chief Medical Officer of Basilea. “CSF1R inhibition has the potential to enhance the response to atezolizumab’s immune-checkpoint inhibition.” This combination potentially offers a promising new treatment approach in patients with urothelial cancer. “We are very pleased with this collaboration. This is an important study as it explores a novel targeted treatment approach that addresses the high medical need of patients with urothelial cancer,” said Dr Engelhardt.

Basilea will be the sponsor of the study and Roche will provide clinical supply of atezolizumab. The planned study will assess the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the derazantinib-atezolizumab combination.

Basel-Stadt Ranked Top for Accessibility

According to the BAK Accessibility Index, Basel-Stadt was again one of the most easily accessible Swiss cantons in 2018. This applies to both motorized private transport and public transport connections. 

BAK Economics has again analyzed the accessibility of Swiss cantons. The analysis covered both motorized private transport and public transport connections. The cantons of Zurich and Basel-Stadt were again the best performers in terms of motorized private transport. Basel benefits from its easily accessible urban area, while the relative dearth of rural areas means the canton average is not compromised. The cantons of Aargau and Geneva follow behind Zurich and Basel-Stadt.

The canton of Jura has improved its accessibility rating more than any other canton between 2016 and 2018. This improvement is all thanks to the completion of the final sections of the A16. The 84 km-long motorway starts in Biel and stretches all the way to the French border, crossing the Jura mountains in the process. Construction of the motorway lasted three decades.

In terms of public transport, BAK Economics also rates the agglomerations of Zurich and Basel as the most easily accessible regions. BAK Economics collects data for this index on behalf of the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Zurich and Aargau as well as Zurich Airport AG. 

Swiss Government to Fly in Pilatus Business Jet 

Swiss Federal Councilors can now use the Pilatus PC-24 from the Nidwalden aerospace manufacturer Pilatus for travel in Europe. The aircraft was delivered on Monday and replaces the government’s former business jet supplied by a North American manufacturer.

President of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer, officially took delivery of the Pilatus PC-24 on Monday. The new jet sports a modern, white-grey livery with striking Swiss cross on the tail fin plus the words “Swiss Air Force”. The cabin offers space for eight passengers plus crew and luggage. It was made by aerospace manufacturer Pilatus, which has its headquarters in Stans.

According to a media release from Pilatus, the aircraft will be used primarily for travel within Europe. PC-24 has a range of 3,704km and flies at a speed of 815km per hour. The new jet will be stationed at the government base at Bern-Belp Airport. It replaces a business jet supplied by a North American manufacturer that was previously used for government flights.

“I’m delighted the Swiss government opted for a Swiss product and will travel aboard the PC-24 – the new ‘Swiss Air Force One’ – in the future,” commented Pilatus Chairman, Oscar J. Schwenk, adding: “This choice sends a very important signal for our brand-new business jet. I’m confident that other governments will adopt the PC-24 once they see the unrivalled opportunities and flexibility which it offers.”

Credit Suisse Invests in Drone Startup 

Major bank Credit Suisse is investing a seven-digit amount in Fotokite. The spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich is developing a tethered drone capable of aerial photography and videography. 

Credit Suisse has invested a seven figure sum in Fotokite via its venture capital vehicle Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital, as was reported in a press release. The company produces tethered drones that can be operated autonomously over unlimited periods of time. These drones have been developed for aerial photography and videography. The captured images can be streamed in real time and this could be beneficial to fire crews in the field, for example. By delivering valuable information on an emergency scene first, these drones can help emergency response teams decide how to best proceed against the fire.

Fotokite was founded in 2014 as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) and currently has 25 employees. This investment from Credit Suisse will allow Fotokite to accelerate its growth and create additional jobs in Switzerland. Last year, the startup also impressed across the pond, winning the main prize worth US$1 million in the U.S. business accelerator program GENIUS NY.

Since 2010, Credit Suisse has invested venture capital amounting to 130 million Swiss francs in more than 50 SMEs and startups through Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital Ltd. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of its founder Alfred Escher, Credit Suisse this week expanded the successful investment vehicle by a further 70 million francs to a total of 200 million francs. “With Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital Ltd. we are not just investing in the companies themselves, but also seeking to ensure that Switzerland remains a globally leading center of innovation and business in the future too,” commented Didier Denat, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital AG and Head of Corporate Clients & Investment Banking at Credit Suisse in Switzerland, in a press release.