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Innovation learned from Switzerland

In October, we, Trsuted, opened a branch office in Switzerland. This enables us to provide Japan with more timely information on business trends and start-up ecosystems in the European region.

Switzerland has been ranked top in the Global Innovation Index (GII) for 11 consecutive years (Japan is ranked 13th), making it one of the world's leading areas for innovation. It is also a highly competitive country with the world's second highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. 

In this issue, we visit Switzerland and interview Matthias Rischer, head of the promotion and investment department of Lucerne Business, an organisation affiliated with an independent administrative body that manages the ecosystem, to introduce the roots that support innovation. 

After studying mechanical engineering at technical school and working for a machine manufacturer, Mr Rischer moved to the USA to learn English, did business in Taiwan and then built his career as a manager at another machine manufacturer. The various transitions were supported by Swiss government-supported vocational and continuing education. 

In Switzerland, experienced craftspeople and middle-aged and older workers are not economically disadvantaged, so continuing education is essential to maintain and improve acquired knowledge and skills and to acquire new knowledge and skills in response to changes in the economic environment, and private companies are also active in supporting employee learning. With this support, Mr Risher was also able to learn management and brand marketing while performing his job and advancing his career. 

Education here is completely in line with current business trends. From the company's point of view, considering the time and costs involved in recruiting high-calibre personnel, it would be faster to revitalise internal talent by re-learning. The universities can also quickly catch up on the skills and knowledge that companies are looking for in the future and strengthen their education programmes.

Currently, Rischer's team is on a mission to catch up with local companies and start-ups by interviewing them in depth about their challenges and situations. The aim is to involve and support different opinions in the local community and bring added value to the participating companies. Only then can the government and other companies provide concrete and multifaceted support. 

In addition, the team acts as a promoter of the ecosystem, communicating with start-ups from all over the world and acting like entrepreneurs in order to provide the support they need to make their start-ups profitable. They have certain decision-making powers and budgets, and do not need to go through the approval process or consult their superiors. 

In Japan, opportunities for governments and large companies to communicate with start-ups tend to be limited to predetermined tools such as events and seminars, and it is rare to have the opportunity to contact them at your own discretion. However, in order to realise innovation, the governments and companies that support them need to voluntarily visit the community, interact with start-ups, and constantly take an interest in what is needed and put it into action. 

Continuous education that does not waste the careers of middle-aged and older people, and a community-oriented approach to creating ecosystems, are the roots of Switzerland's 11 years of being a top GII country. 

Born in Uzbekistan. Graduated from Samarkand State University of Foreign Languages with a degree in English and Japanese linguistics. Founded SOPHYS, a human resources development consultancy, and Trusted, a global business development support company, in Tokyo.


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