Less foolish, yet no less hungry

December already…? It is the time of the year that inevitably calls for reflections about the past and resolutions for the New Year: an opportunity to stop for a moment to fully absorb that swissnex Brazil is approaching its third anniversary. The youngest member of the swissnex family is starting to grow up and we are looking back on three years marked by a steep learning curve, countless new connections and a steady transformation into an actor of local and international relevance in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Imagine yourself walking into a networking event. First, you’re slightly uncomfortable, screening the room for familiar faces or a group that looks like an easy entry-way to join a conversation. Upon joining, you first listen to get a sense of what the topic is, awaiting the right moment to casually and naturally insert yourself in the conversation. Carefully weighing your words and inputs, you tiptoe your way into a possible new relationship, latching on to shared ideas, hoping to find a match that can lead to a follow-up.

This, and more, is what we did – and keep doing: we are well aware that we are guests in Brazil, warmly welcomed but, as newcomers, students of our hosts and the knowledge they hold. Keeping a low profile, yet exhibiting personality, professionalism and commitment, we very quickly found partners and friends in Brazil who joined us in implementing concrete common activities.

2014 was dedicated to learning: learning about the Brazilian context and its culture, learning about ourselves and the role we can and want to play in the country. In 2015, we started to feel a bit more comfortable in our skin, not only joining more conversations, but also starting new ones and experiencing the satisfaction of seeing others proactively seeking us out as interlocutors. Two gigantic projects related to the Landeskommunikations (country communication) campaign launched by Presence Switzerland and the Embassy even allowed us to rise above the crowd, getting up on stage to present Swiss ingenuity and tie close and trusted relationships. In the process, we learned that concrete actions and shared projects help you build the social capital that is the oil needed to become an integral part of the local ecosystem.

This year, 2016, is when we finally evolved into confident networkers, walking into the room with self-assurance and poise, talking with more buoyancy about ourselves and our mission, even working as a matchmaker, introducing partners to each other. We learned along with our stakeholders and partners as we brought grassroots technology for urban pollution to São Paulo and Rio, celebrated sports and innovation at the House of Switzerland Brazil 2016, implemented the third edition of the AIT program, brought together local alumni of Swiss higher education institutions, and discovered the amazing world of social innovation along with our guests from Swiss universities.

Today, we can rely on our own experience, we have built expertise in specific areas, and we know whom to talk to when we need support, insights or contacts.

This is the basis for swissnex Brazil in 2017: we can now play the role of connector, facilitator and expert better than ever. Yet, we will not rest and keep challenging ourselves to discover new goldmines for Swiss-Brazilian collaboration in science, research and innovation. Our strategic focus will lie on consolidating and strengthening existing relations and programs, responding to demands and needs that reach us, yet never cease leaving our comfort zone to reach new horizons.

The big geographic leap for 2017 will be the Amazon region: this uniquely rich, diverse and largely inaccessible region shall become an essential element of what swissnex is in the Brazilian context. In this coming year, we plan to shed light on the largely unexploited opportunities for research and innovation in this region, opening channels for collaboration for our Swiss stakeholders. We just returned from a scouting trip to the Amazon and established a solid list of opportunities. The next step will be to present these findings and co-create a plan for concrete actions in 2017.

As always, our goal is to identify the needs, match-make and assist in the follow-up and implementation of new partnerships.

So, here’s our call to action:

  • If you are in Switzerland, come join us on December 15 for the swissnex Day in Basel, where we will also hold a workshop related to the Amazon region.
  • If you are in Brazil, please send us your ideas or inputs, stay in touch and help us keep learning and growing.
  • And if you are in the rest of the world, keep following us and find a good excuse to pay us a visit for an inspiring exchange on our beautiful roof deck!

Rio de Janeiro, 7 December 2016

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Gioia Deucher

CEO swissnex Brazil