Francophonie - A Call to Gather: Café des Sciences Special Edition

By Yao Lan, Junior Project Manager Interdisciplinary & Special Projects & Luca Mondada, Junior Project Manager Innovation & Entrepreneurship

To celebrate the Francophonie month of March, Café des Sciences Lecture series presented a special edition co-organized with other French speaking countries and regions on Thursday, 21st of March. 5 Scientists and startups from Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland were invited to present their research and pitch their projects. Creative design, sustainable energy, botanical science and various other topics are discovered and explored through the lecture. An audience of more than 70 French speakers in Shanghai gathered together in the swissnex China conference room to exchange with the speakers and enjoy the social networking Apéro.

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The first speaker — Arthur Limpens from Belgium - introduced the development and keys to success of the startup DesignNest, a consumer product design platform. He started DesignNest during his studies and the company is today present across the globe, with a valuation around USD 30M and 120 employees across 5 locations as well as its own factory. He focused on widely used products, but proposed innovative designs focused on what purpose the product really serves. A good example is a multi-plug that looks unexciting at first; but its thought-through functional design made it an extremely popular product. The startup now launched a platform where designers from around the world can collaborate with the company to realize their products using their expertise and experience.

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The second speaker is Prof. Gilles Vincent. He is a Canadian scientist now based at the Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, where he can grow plants in a controlled environment on a real-life scale. This setup is unique in the world, as most botanic experiments are either on a very small scale or have external factors that cannot be controlled. His research focuses on two questions very relevant for urban Shanghai: waste water treatment and “phytoremediation”: the use of plants to clean polluted soil. His team has successfully recognized plants suited for both tasks and the results of his research is already being applied by the municipality of Shanghai.

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Our third speaker is Pierre Angot from France. He is Co-Founder of ProtectorChain, a startup that helps companies improve the security of their supply chains using blockchain. He shared the blockchain technology with the audience. The blockchain allows every actor in a supply chain to record and store information that will be accessible to everyone. What makes this special and particularly useful is the fact that no actor can modify the data once it is stored. It thus acts as a proof of everything that has happened.

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After developing a prototype for robot vision during his PhD at ETH, the fourth speaker — Prof. Laurent Kneip from Luxembourg worked on extending his research to self-driving cars. He is now Assistant Professor at Shanghai Tech university, where he is developing a tool to drive cars autonomously based on the sensors that are already present today in cars on the market. His team is hoping to achieve that by limiting autonomous driving to a controlled environment; in particular, they hope to enable cars to park autonomously in certain parking lots. This technology allows to track movement using only a limited number of sensors, which can have many attractive real-world applications.

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The last speaker Laurent Coulot is from Switzerland. He graduated from EPFL, where he started working on solar panels with the goal of increasing their efficiency. Using technology usually reserved for space equipment and smartly focusing the light to reduce the costs, Laurent and his growing team came up with a design of solar panel that is viable for large scale production and commercialization. They are therefore moving to the next step, where China will play a decisive role for them: finding partners for the production of their solar panels.

From Left to Right:  Arthur Limpens  (Speaker), Co-Founder of DesignNest;  Marie-Adélaïde Matheï , Consul for economic affairs, Consulate General of the Kingdom of Belgium / Wallonie-Bruxelles International;  Gaétan Messin , Science & Technology Attaché, Consulate General of France;  Pierre Angot  (Speaker), Co-Founder of ProtectorChain;  Anneleen Van Landeghem , Consulate General in Shanghai, The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg;  Prof. Laurent Kneip , Tenure-Track Assistant Professor at Shanghai Tech university, Shanghai Tech University;  François Dansereau , Head of Political and Public Affairs, Vice-Consul, Consulate General of Canada / Québec Government Office in Shanghai;  Prof. Gilles Vincent  (Speaker), Special advisor to the Executive President, Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden;  Laurent Coulot  (Speaker), Co-Founder and CEO, Insolight;  Dr. Felix Moesner , CEO & Science Consul, swissnex China;  Rahel Gruber , Operations Manager & Co-Deputy CEO, swissnex China.

From Left to Right: Arthur Limpens (Speaker), Co-Founder of DesignNest; Marie-Adélaïde Matheï, Consul for economic affairs, Consulate General of the Kingdom of Belgium / Wallonie-Bruxelles International; Gaétan Messin, Science & Technology Attaché, Consulate General of France; Pierre Angot (Speaker), Co-Founder of ProtectorChain; Anneleen Van Landeghem, Consulate General in Shanghai, The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg; Prof. Laurent Kneip, Tenure-Track Assistant Professor at Shanghai Tech university, Shanghai Tech University; François Dansereau, Head of Political and Public Affairs, Vice-Consul, Consulate General of Canada / Québec Government Office in Shanghai; Prof. Gilles Vincent (Speaker), Special advisor to the Executive President, Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden; Laurent Coulot (Speaker), Co-Founder and CEO, Insolight; Dr. Felix Moesner, CEO & Science Consul, swissnex China; Rahel Gruber, Operations Manager & Co-Deputy CEO, swissnex China.

Café des Sciences - Francophonie special edition, was co-organized with the Consulate General of Belgium / Wallonie-Bruxelles International, the Consulate General of Canada / Québec Government Office in Shanghai, the Consulate General of France / French Tech Shanghai and the Consulate General of Luxembourg. We'd like to appreciate our thanks and appreciation to their great support in co-organizing this event!

Café des Sciences is a new format at swissnex China offering a monthly platform for Swiss Spotlight Scientists and Start-ups to present their projects and connect with the local community. The lectures will offer a casual setting in which speakers can present their work and engage with the attendees during a Q&A period. Audience are welcome to enjoy the networking reception with Swiss flavour after the talk. The lecture is scheduled to take place every third Thursday each month at swissnex China or our partner spaces.

Swiss Materials for a Better Future: Empa @ Design Shanghai

By Yao Lan, Junior Project Manager Interdisciplinary & Special Projects

The arrival of spring has brought forth a good variety of cultural events. At the top of the list comes Design Shanghai, one of the leading design events in Asia. This year swissnex China has been invited to represent Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, at the New Material and Application Exhibition area curated by Neuni.

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On March 8, Dr. Felix Moesner, Science Consul and CEO of swissnex China, represented Empa as a guest speaker to share the latest Swiss development and achievements in science, technology, ecology and materials with the audience at the New Material Workshops. The fresh topic attracted a large audience who were eager to learn about cutting-edge Swiss contributions in the field.

Throughout the 4-day exhibition from 6-9 March, innovative materials and applications from Switzerland were placed in the spotlight. New materials created with leading-edge Swiss technologies and products were prominently featured as part of Material Trends on “Future Craft,” “Residual Impact,” and “Bio-Digitalization”. Materials and products from all over the world have been presented in this 1,000㎡ exhibition area. It was the first time for many of these designers and material manufacturers to be introduced to the Chinese market.

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As an interdisciplinary research institute of the ETH Domain, Empa conducts cutting-edge materials and technology research and showcased at Design Shanghai innovative product such as Sonowood, Gold Coated Fiber, Optical Fiber Sensors and Smart Textiles etc. In addition to the exhibits from Empa, the world’s most advanced anti-counterfeiting technology as seen on Swiss Bank notes were also on display while Swiss brands such as Egli studio and Schoenstaub also brought their products to the show, which was supported by the Consulate General of Switzerland in Shanghai.

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HEC Lausanne, EPFL and Zhejiang University Establish the China Economics and Finance Center

By Victor Dietrich, Junior Project Manager and HEC Lausanne Ambassador

On the 24th of January, swissnex China participated in an Innovation and Development Dialogue between Sino-Swiss Enterprises and the "Opening Ceremony of the China Economics and Finance Center" in Hangzhou (Zhejiang University). The center was been co-created by Zhejiang University in collaboration with HEC Lausanne and EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne).

After an introduction to the China Economics and Finance Center (CEFC) and Opening Ceremony performed by Dr. Matthew Wang, Chairman & President of Cybernaut (China) Investment and Executive Dean of ZII. Pr. Dong from HEC Lausanne offered a traditional Swiss bell with the colors of the University of Lausanne as a symbolic gift.

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During the forum, Prof. Jean-Philippe Bonardi, Dean of HEC Lausanne - The Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne showed us the key Swiss trends in innovation, entrepreneurship and global trends. He stressed the importance of promoting an entrepreneurial spirit in our universities. Prof. Rongxiao, Dean of the Industrial Technology Transformation Research Institute at the University of Zhejiang, then demonstrates all their efforts to create a great innovation ecosystem, and develop a win-win model for industry-university-research.

Mr. Bo Ji, Chief Representative for Europe and Assistant Dean at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. He aims to provide European businesses with executive training to understand China and how to successfully do business in this dynamic market. This experienced TEDx Speaker gave us a speech as well.

We concluded the morning with a round table discussion on "The Digital Age, the New Model for Innovative Cooperation between Sino-Swiss Entrepreneurs" with directors, representatives of institutions and entrepreneurs. Prof. Minyue Dong and Mr. Victor Dietrich from swissnex China represented the Swiss side. swissnex China had the opportunity to present their activities and how they help build bridges between China and Switzerland in the field of innovation, sciences, and education. During this discussion, interesting ideas were raised such as making the data public to generate more rapid innovations. This new center also generates a lot of prospects in establishing new partnership between China and Switzerland.

Successful Launch of the “Café des Sciences” Event Series with Deep Insights into Shadow Banking

By Sacha Pantillon and Victor Dietrich, Junior Project Managers

On January 23, swissnex China, in collaboration with the HEC Lausanne, organized an event focused on “Shadow Banking in China”. It was also the launch of our new “Café des Sciences” event series, which is scheduled to take place every third Thursday each month at swissnex China or our partner spaces and offering a monthly platform for spotlight scientists and startups.

First, we had a brief opening speech by Dr. Felix Moesner, Science Consul and CEO of swissnex China, which was followed by a short introduction to the presentation’s topic by Victor Dietrich, HEC Lausanne Ambassador and Junior Project Manager at swissnex China.

Opening speech by Dr. Felix Moesner, Science Consul & CEO, swissnex China

Opening speech by Dr. Felix Moesner, Science Consul & CEO, swissnex China

Victor Dietrich, HEC Lausanne Ambassador and Junior Project Manager at swissnex China

Victor Dietrich, HEC Lausanne Ambassador and Junior Project Manager at swissnex China

Victor Dietrich consequently gave the floor to the speaker Prof. Ying Liu, Assistant Professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and an esteemed graduate of HEC Lausanne – The Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne, where she obtained her PhD.

Prof. Ying Liu recounts her time at HEC Lausanne.

Prof. Ying Liu recounts her time at HEC Lausanne.

Prof. Ying Liu discussed the Shadow Banking System in China

Prof. Ying Liu discussed the Shadow Banking System in China

She gave an insightful presentation on the Shadow Banking System in China and provided an overview of activities related to credit intermediation, liquidity and maturity transformation that takes place outside the regular banking system. She also presented the reasons for the fast growth and associated risks.

She illustrated the differences it has with traditional banking, the advantages and the drawbacks of this practice, as well as the differences in this practice between China and the world. 16% of the whole world's shadow banking come from China even though it is a decreasing slightly as the government wants to regulate and control a bit more this domain. We had then a deeper look at entrusted loans, a major part of shadow banking in China. Entrusted loans are the inter-corporate lending facilitated by financial companies as trustee. Finally, we explored into products such as Asset Management Products in depth and more specifically Wealth Management products.

Prof. Ying Liu illustrated the differences between shadow banking and traditional banking.

Prof. Ying Liu illustrated the differences between shadow banking and traditional banking.

The participants made meaningful connections around finger food and drinks after the presentation.

The participants made meaningful connections around finger food and drinks after the presentation.

This talk generated a great interest both abroad, where a lot of people were keen to have more information on the topic and in Shanghai were participants posed many questions during the presentation, generating some very dynamic dialogue.

Finally, we pursued the discussions and made meaningful connections around drinks and finger food served in a very professional manner by Geneva Catering. The participants expressed positive feedbacks and are excited to attend the next event at swissnex China.

Thank you to all attendees for their participation.

Thank you to all attendees for their participation.

We thank all the attendees for joining the first “Café des Sciences”, the HEC Lausanne for co-organizing this event, Geneva Catering for providing the excellent food and of course Prof. Ying Liu for sharing her research in this presentation who made this event an excellent Alumni gathering for the University of Lausanne - UNIL. We are looking forward to collaborating with all these partners again in the future.

From left to right: Dr. Felix Moesner, Prof. Dr. Ying Liu and Victor Dietrich

From left to right: Dr. Felix Moesner, Prof. Dr. Ying Liu and Victor Dietrich