SDE : Digital Entrepreneurship

Everyone has already heard about entrepreneurship and digitalization, but can you define what it exactly means? Let me f*** google this for you! Digital entrepreneurship is the combination of traditional entrepreneurship, defined by Wikipedia as “the capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks to make profit”, and novel ways of leveraging new technologies, such as social mobile, analytics, cloud solutions and many others.

Digital entrepreneurs tend to thrive in specific urban environments where start-up and scale ecosystems are available and where policies, culture, supports, human capital (Universities etc.), markets (Venture Capital etc.) are forming a harmonious network. Cities, therefore, really play a role in innovation. The best cities for start-ups in Europe are listed here, with Zurich at the 15th place. Here is the ranking for tech start-ups. What matters is not only the right start-up ecosystem itself, but also the cost of living, the competitively priced office space, and most importantly the cultural diversity and the cost of beer. That is certainly why Berlin is stepping up as leading start-up hub.

Let’s leave the beer aside for the moment and focus a little more on the new technologies you should be aware of. The hottest babes in the sector are artificial intelligence and Blockchain technologies. Some experts claim these will deeply transform society, others claim that it won’t have such a big impact, but that men will interact efficiently with these to encounter optimal solutions. Defining what AI and blockchain requires more than a paragraph, therefore I’ll leave you links to be explored here : 1 & 2.

Besides artificial intelligence and Blockchain, we will focus on emerging and digital communication technologies in this article. However, here is a link to a great report by the government of Canada exploring other fields such as neurotechnology and cognitive science, nanotechnology and material science, energy technology and more.

The evolution in electronics is about speed, size, flexibility, printability, and sensibility of sensors, while in networking the general direction is rather towards more interoperability and higher bandwidth. Finally, the progresses in human interface are towards telepresence.


Digital currencies, allowed by the underlying blockchain technology, took the markets by surprise, and will probably thrive in the near future.

Botsourcing, simply put, is the process of replacing human jobs by robots. The upside of this trend is that it will make offshoring less attractive, therefore nurturing and sustaining local jobs. Teaming up with robots is most likely what is going to happen in the first stage.

Smart dust sensors are complete sensor/communication system that can be integrated into a cubic millimetre package. The possibility of usages is endless, going from inventory control to interfaces for the disabled. Think about your five senses, and now imagine you could equip whatever you want with these. These sensors could even sense things you cannot, such as chemicals or magnetism.

Printed electronics will enable smart labels, flexible displays, and anything you can think of while combining electrical circuits and a printer.

Memristors are a kind of electrical circuit that has the particularity of retaining memory without power. It’s also considered to be a sub-category of resistive RAM and may replace flash memory.


MOOCS: You probably already know what these letters stand for (Massive Open Online Courses). As for now, it hasn’t had a huge impact on our education model, but this will eventually occur.

About connection, 5G, the future of 4G, will soon appear in the US and China. WiGig, Wireless Gigabit, will deliver up to 6 Gbps connections between devices in interior space. Finally, high-altitude stratospheric platforms will facilitate connections in developing countries. The technology consists in an aircraft that will provide network for an area while floating at a very high altitude (17-22 km).


Context-aware computing, which means that computer will be able to do what computers do plus sensing and reacting to their environment.

Wall sized screens, the sort of screens you have seen in sci-fi movies, where the protagonist can swipe through contents on a wall like you would on an iPad.

Annotated reality glasses, telepresence and immersive multi-user VR will also be part of the future. Immersive VR is virtual reality at a much deeper level, where all your senses would be stimulated, temporarily erasing the boundary between reality and fiction for the users.

Now that you’re bored with all these techy stuff, let’s come back to the Swiss ecosystem for start-ups. Switzerland is well known for its financial place; therefore, it was obvious that Fintech start-ups would set roots in this country. Here is an overview of some of the most successful ones, plus some from other digital areas, such as digital marketing.

Digital Marketing

The Advertima Experience Management system is an intelligent management software that uses all types of sensors, machine learning and big data to provide a positive tailored advertising experience for the customer.

Einstone Smart Retail is an intelligent marketing solution that will increase customer loyalty and sales in retail stores for their clients. This works with location-based marketing: a beacon installed at the shop sends you push notification directly on your phone, which, among other features, sends you coupons that you can immediately redeem at the cashiers. This will allow the retailer to know their customer base better and react upon that.

AuxD is an out-of-home audience analytics system based around an IOT (internet of things) face detection and emotion recognition camera system combined with an analytics solution. This allows the user to analyse an audience based on emotional and demographic recognition of people.

Fintech has listed some of the most successful Fintech Swiss start-ups of the year. We have selected only 3 of those in this article, but feel free to check out their webpage.

Sonect is a cool venture that will soon disrupt the ATM world by allowing you to withdraw cash at any shop. This will not only be an advantage for customers but also for shops by growing their business without much effort and for banks, saving them the cost of ATM’s.

Proxeus integrates a blockchain layer into the existing enterprise system. This allows to suppress any manual verification or copy-paste processes and to develop future business models. The product is the equivalent of WordPress for website creation but for the blockchain, replacing the heavy process of coding the underlying structure.

Netguardians, a software platform that reads the mind of a fraudster like no other. Mainly targeted for banks, to correct personnel fraud and meet compliance. Classic Swiss invention!


Charles Emsens