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Showing posts from 2017

The Internship

During the summer month, our offices are buzzing with young, enthusiastic people from all over the world - a sign that it's intern season. Internships are the closest that academic professions have to the apprenticeship model still common in Germanic countries. Students get to experience professional life for a few months during semester breaks and learn some practical skills that might improve their perspectives of employment, while employers get to build relationships with some of the most promising students before they officially enter the job market. Some employers complain that students don't leave university with the exact skillset that they are currently looking for in their entry level applicants. However the most important skills a good university should teach are the ability to reason, to learn and to understand the underlying scientific foundations of a given field. Many of the practical skills needed to excel in a certain profession are best acquired on the jo

Startup Scene: Why are there no Unicorns in Switzerland?

Since the term has been coined a few years ago, unicorns have become the mythical creature of the venture capital industry: privately held (tech) startups with a valuation of more than a billion dollars. What is a Startup? While indeed extremely rare (about 200 globally), the concept of unicorns helps to clarify what people instinctively mean when they say "Startup" - specially when used as an anglicism in other languages. The most literal definition is a new company. But for that matter, most new companies are restaurants, gas stations and other small business. Or maybe being high-risk? By that definition restaurants qualify as well as many fail within a year. What about being innovative? Most successful innovation is created by large established organizations which have large R&D budgets and who can often attract the top talent in a given field. My favorite definition of a "Startup" is the one by Steve Blank : A startup is an organization formed to se