Highlights from our events during the Olympics


Energy Day biking Urban Flow HEMU Cybathlon Pres Cyb


As most Olympic Athletes, swissnex Brazil closed the Olympic Games with a feeling of accomplishment and was once again reminded of the importance of preparation and training. This was essential to endure that marathon of events and activities we organized in those four weeks at the House of Switzerland Brazil 2016.

For swissnex Brazil, it has been a unique opportunity to realize events in the heart of the official Swiss representation, energized by the Olympic atmosphere and appreciating the spectacular view of the lagoon and Rio’s mountains.

Each event swissnex Brazil has organized gathered Brazilians and Swiss from the fields of Science, Education, Art, and Innovation. In addition to that, every event got, coherently with the Games, a creative touch linking it to sports.

The opening of the House of Switzerland Brazil 2016 was a perfect match with the Swiss National Day, the 1st of August. The long yearned for celebration included an exclusive concert from the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne (HEMU) called “The Orbital Choir.” This performance was a fruit of a partnership between HEMU and the National School of Circus, stemming from Rio de Janeiro. Their show involved choral singers, studying at HEMU, who sang harmoniously with the performance of the acrobats. Throughout the concert, they were spectacularly hurled from a catapult, developed in Switzerland specifically for this show, and landed on mattresses in front of the scene. The acrobatic element of the concert built the bridge between Brazil and Switzerland, giving it the international spirit of the Games in Rio.

The energy was one of the chosen themes from swissnex Brazil for two events at the House of Switzerland. On 5 August, we had the pleasure to organize a high-level debate between Swiss and Brazilian stakeholders, experts in climate change, land-use, (renewable) energy and more. The speakers shared their insights in a private setting, leaving room for exchanging ideas with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Johann Schneider-Ammann. After the debate in the morning, the President Johann Schneider-Ammann visited two exceptionally innovative startups from Zurich. Both are providing solutions for urban challenges: food security and global warming. One, Urban Farmers AG with its aquaponic technology, producing greens, vegetables and fish in a closed cycle with minimal use of water and transportation. The other, UrbanFlow, with its highly efficient wind turbines, canalizing and accelerating the wind, turning the wind-to-electric-energy conversion in an urban environment much more profitable.

The debate on 5 August was in some way a “warm-up” for the Energy Day, which was held on 8 August and organized by swissnex Brazil in collaboration with the Swiss Business Hub. The Energy Day participants varied from researchers to young entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises, as well as representatives from the Swiss and the Brazilian government. Besides a workshop and pitching session from startups, the Energy Day was marked by the transformation of the open to the public activities at the House by generating its own electrical energy. The objective was raising awareness on energy consumption. Hence, for the first time in the world, cyclists and visitors of the House, cycled on e-bikes and generated enough electricity to activate a traditional “Raclette” machine, which melted the typical Swiss cheese “Raclette”. The gold medal for each participant was to taste the Raclette they’ve produced with their own muscular energy.

swissnex Brazil designed an “Urban Corner” at the House, exposing the two above mentioned Swiss innovations: Urban Farmers and Urban Flow. Thanks to them, a variety of vegetables were grown and plenty of mobile devices charged, from 1 August to 18 September. Urban Flow is a typical spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) whereas Urban Farmers stems from the Agriculture Department of the University of Applied Sciences Zurich. Taking advantage of their presence at the House of Switzerland, swissnex Brazil organized a round table discussion on 10 August about Urban Solutions. Additionally, speakers from the area of urban transportation and waste recycling joined – sharing surprising experiences and projects with the audience.

Regularly, kids and students from schools of the State of Rio de Janeiro visited the container called UFBox. The State Schools “Infante Don Henrique” and “André Maurois” were some of them who benefitted from a hands-on demonstration of how farming can look like in the future.

The third edition of the Sports as Business Conference, organized by swissnex Brazil in collaboration with the University of St. Gallen, could not have happened in a better place and moment: right at the House of Switzerland during the Olympics in Rio. The conference, realized on 15 August, was a unique opportunity and gathered renowned speakers. Thanks to the Olympics, the city was full of sports enthusiasts who eagerly debated about the globalized business environment of sports and its legal, educational and entrepreneurial implications. After that day, we thought we had crossed the finish line already – but it was merely the distance of a half-marathon. Despite that, there was just enough time to recharge our batteries for what was waiting during the Paralympics. Check out the video of the Sports as Business Conference!

The first event of the Paralympics, which was held on 1 and 3 September, presented the work of historical urban images of georeferencing, a result of a partnership between the Instituto Moreira Salles and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL. This event was made possible by “Présence Suisse” together with the Consulate General of Switzerland in Rio de Janeiro and the support of swissnex Brazil.

On 7 and 8 September, together with the start of the Paralympic Games, swissnex Brazil presented a unique and novel competition that the world has not seen yet: Cybathlon. This sports event, organized by ETHZ, unites robotics and assistive technology for disabled people to compete in 6 disciplines. The Brazilian team from the University of Brasília, who successfully competed at the Cybathlon in Zurich, presented their athlete Estevão and the electric stimulation technology on the main stage of the House of Switzerland. Read more about the story behind the event and the rich presentations here.

Having the finish line ahead already, everyone took the last breath for the final conference about Food Security. The audience, containing nearly half of the House of Switzerland staff, listened curiously to hear the vision of each speaker on how to feed the planet in 2050. Apart from that leading question, technology and sustainability experts from agriculture highlighted the role of innovation in sustainable agriculture – particularly with regard to precision farming. Find out more about the story of Gamaya in the interview with the CEO Yosef Akhtman, who opened the conference presenting the global challenge of food security.

With the closure of the Food Security Conference, the entire team completed our “Olympic Marathon”, feeling exhausted, inspired and proud.

Rio de Janeiro, 10 October 2016


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Adriano Bürgi, Project Manager

Sebastian Zumbühl, Junior Project Manager