Author: Gert Christen

Listen to our Radio Talk Show about Smart Cities

How can public-private-partnerships accelerate smart city initiatives? On the morning of January 31 I joined Voice America radio for a talk with other smart city experts. Click here or on the coffee cup below to listen to the show:   The American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s infrastructure only a D+ and estimated that over 3 trillion US$ is needed to upgrade it to modern standards. However, traditional financing sources are often inadequate. How do City leaders find resources for municipal services? Are innovative public-private-partnerships such as City Innovate and Superpublic San Francisco one means to achieve this? The key points from the round of experts and radio host Bonnie D. Graham were: Smart Cities are not about gadgets, sensors or self-driving cars. They are about creating meaningful services for residents. Smart city administrators must become smart city technologists. Public-private-partnerships need to be mutually beneficial or they will not last. Public-private-partnerships combine skills and resources of both the public and private sectors. Social issues & resiliency are taking a front seat for cities.  

Named Digital Shaper of Switzerland

The Swiss business magazine “BILANZ” covered the digital revolution and how Switzerland is coping with it. Proud to be selected as one of the 100 “Digital Shapers” of Switzerland. The article concludes that Switzerland lost the first half-time against US corporations. The main reasons were lack of access to (big) financing rounds, too few visas for foreign experts and risk avoidance in the Swiss DNA. Several initiatives are now on the way to catch up; on federal, state and local levels but also driven by the large companies of Switzerland. The main assets of Switzerland are its engineering tradition, strong universities and the startup eco-system. The article and the list of the 100 Swiss Digital Shapers in ten categories can be downloaded here (Thank you Pascal Ihle of furrerhugi.ch).

Switzerland for Start-ups: More than Chocolate!

Switzerland is a location to consider for startups! It offers so much more than only chocolate. Its main advantages are the central location in Europe, great talent, a vibrant & growing startup ecosystem and excellent quality of life and work!   If you are a startup and are wondering where to open an office in Europe; you should consider Switzerland and the Zurich region. I recently did a live webinar to make the case for SAAS: Switzerland as a service for startups. See my presentation here.           The recording of the webinar can be watched here.             Welcome to Switzerland! Where chocolate is as good as the startups there.

Opening of Superpublic San Francisco City Innovation Lab

Superpublic San Francisco is officially open! This morning the founding partners of Superpublic San Francisco officially opened the lab. We were honored by GSA General Services Administration Administrator Denise Roth, San Francisco San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, Supervisor Mark Farrell of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, City Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath, University of California Berkeley’s Prof. Susan Shaheen and City Innovate Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director, Kamran Saddique. Superpublic brings together the innovation forces of the federal, state and city government with private industry, startups and university researchers to solve urban problems thru open innovation:           We employ our own methodology using user-centered techniques, innovation sprints and consistent community outreach to accelerate the time it takes for public organizations to learn, to research about a problem, to prototype and to document the findings in white papers and policy recommendations. These are invaluable tools for cities to educate themselves on issues and possible paths to their solution and to build capacity within city governments to tackle urban problems. The findings …

Superpublic San Francisco: Solving Urban Problems (thru Technology)

    We today announced* the launch of the Superpublic Innovation Lab in San  Francisco, to tackle urban problems. This is the result of a two-year effort by many in San Francisco, led by City Innovate Foundation, which I joined as COO. Why did I join, what does Superpublic do and why is this important? Cities world-wide grow fast: Two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2020**. Cities do their best to keep up, but problems will arise. Some are of massive ecological, social, and financial nature. However,  some of these problems can be solved thru technology. And that is why I decided to get involved, and that is what City Innovate Foundation does. City Innovate is a San Francisco-based organization taking on urban problems for cities world-wide. The approach is unique because cities are not only members of City Innovate but also the beneficiaries of the developed solutions: The cities provide input which problems should be worked on and they can get involved in the process as much if they desire. Once a solution is ready for global rollout, they have access to tried and tested solutions. What’s more, the development, …

Invitation to BRIDGE SF Summit, San Francisco, September 6-9th, 2016

BRIDGE SF brings public, private, non-profit, and academic institutions together to  drive innovation for a better tomorrow in cities. Organized in conjunction with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office and the University of California, Berkeley, City Innovate  invites policymakers and leading innovators for a four-day event focused on citizen-critical issues. Topics among others are: Mobility in Cities (City of San Francisco, City Innovate and MIT Media Lab) City Planning Best Practices (University of California Berkeley and UI Labs Chicago) City Infrastructure of the Future: (ID3 and CivicMakers) Urban Sensors (City of Los Angeles and Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) Global City Knowledge Transfer (U.S. Department of Commerce and National Resource Defense Council) The Digital Age of Manufacturing (City Innovate) Clean Energy (City of San Francisco and Intelligent City Forum) The full program of the event can be found here. An event brochure can be downloaded. Registration for the Bridge SF Summit here. Looking forward to meeting you at the Bridge SF Summit 2016!

The Future of Currency – According to UBS Y Think Tank

The Swiss Fintech Association produced a video from the event at BlueLion Incubator, where the UBS Wealth Management Think Tank “UBS Y” kicked off their research into: “What currency will we use in the future?”. UBS Y explained their research methodology publicly for the first time that evening. And the guests attending got to use the methodology to give input to the New Currency Theme. This crowdsourcing approach resulted in over 50 inputs for the UBS Y team. A first digest of the evenings findings can be found here. Thank you Marcus Iofcea, Head of the UBS Y Think Tank, for sharing the unique way in which you look into the future of banking. Thanks to you John Hucker of the Swiss Fintech Association and to the team of BlueLion for organizing the event.

“State of the union” of the Swiss Sharing Economy

The association of the Swiss shareconomy startups met at BlueLion Incubator on November 24, 2015 to exchange on best practices for Go2Market strategies. Here is the digest of the evening’s presentations and discussions. Key take aways: Getting customers to pay for sharing services is still difficult, but acceptance is rising Today’s projects know they are trail blazers Many pivot to B2B to find first revenues, intending to expand to B2C lateron Must know the needs of your target segment very very well & design solution precisely And: The enthusiasm and ideas remain strong! Opening remarks by Gert Christen, CEO BlueLion Incubator Sharing economy business ideas will get more important, as they can solve problems, which are not solvable today. In addition, sharing fits with the lifestyle of the young generation. There have been many and impressive ideas over the last several years. However, the success rate has been rather sobering…. We are still waiting for the “killer app” in the sharing economy. All entrepreneurs in this space must know that they are trail blazers and that their time …

UBS Y Think Tank shares their methodology at BlueLion Incubator

The UBS Y Think Tank invited the Zurich Fintech scene to BlueLion Incubator and shared their methodology publicly. Markus Iofcea, the head of the think tank introduced the purpose developed methodology how his team explores the needs of society in the 21st century. Two UBS Y researchers discussed their findings on the topics of “New Wealth” and “New Social Interactions”. Afterwards all participants were invited to practice the UBS Y Vision Cone methodology on the newly launched topic of “New Currency”. Here’s the result: It was impressive how this open crowd sourcing approach yielded lots of good input in no time! UBS Y has published a first analysis of the evening’s surprising results here.