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Switzerland’s first female ambassador in Paris

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 15:55
It’s still rare for top diplomatic postings to go to women, but things are changing. Livia Leu, who since September has represented Switzerland in France and Monaco, agrees. Swiss public television, RTS, accompanied her during her first day at work in Paris.  Men cover the portrait wall of Leu’s predecessors. She is the first woman to get the job in the city where she did her apprenticeship in the diplomatic services almost 30 years ago.  Leu is well-known in the Swiss diplomatic corps. She is one of the few women at the top level. In 2009, the then Foreign Affairs Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey sent her to Tehran, where she represented the interests of Switzerland and the United States, because Switzerland has served as the United States’ protecting power in Iran since 1980.  She also is the Federal Council’s delegate for trade deals and head of the bilateral economic relations section in the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). There are currently 155 ambassadors ...
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How Swiss cities could still improve rankings

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 12:00
Swiss cities often rank highly in global quality-of-life surveys. But when their urban policies come under closer scrutiny, how do they compare? A recent study by the liberal think tank Avenir Suisse has taken a closer look at the urban policies of Switzerland’s ten biggest cities and ranked them based on 47 indicators in eight specific areas, ranging from the quality of local administrative services to mobility and life-work balance.  Avenir Suisse “City Monitoring” urban policy ranking (2018)  1. Zurich: 64.7% of possible points; 2. Basel: 62.8%; 3. Bern: 62.7%; 4. Lucerne: 58.3%; 5. St. Gallen: 53.8%; 6. Winterthur: 52.8%; 7. Lausanne: 49.3%; 8. Biel: 48.9%; 9. Lugano: 43.1%; 10. Geneva: 38.8% As in the 2018 Mercer quality-of-life survey, Zurich came out top (with 64.7 points out of a total of 100) in the Avenir Suisse ranking. It said Zurich excelled in managing state budgets, and praised its cultural offerings and education policy, the city’s work-life balance and its ...
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ABB chief Ulrich Spiesshofer under pressure to reinvent group

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 09:32
The strange and cumbersome corporate beast that is the industrial conglomerate must adapt — or die. In the US, General Electric’s share price has collapsed since its troubled power equipment division slumped to a loss and concerns grew about its financial health. In Switzerland, speculation swirls over Zurich-based ABB, which is in talks with Japan’s Hitachi about divesting all or part of its power-grids division. In the limelight is Ulrich Spiesshofer, ABB’s Germany-born boss since 2013. A company veteran, he transformed ABB’s robotics division, which is now its fastest growing unit. As chief executive he has cut costs and focused the group, which has annual sales of $34 billion, around four pillars: industrial automation and electrification, as well as robotics and power grids. Yet ABB continues to underwhelm investors. Its share price has fallen 20 per cent over the past year, compared with 13 per cent at German rival Siemens. (GE is down 55 per cent). Two years ago, ...
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Country kids outperform city kids on motor skills

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 18:28
The more children move, the better they are at balancing, rolling and catching a ball, a pioneering Swiss study has found. This is especially clear when you compare children growing up in the country to those in the city – and there are differences between boys and girls too. This is the first study to investigate the differences in motor skills among pre-schoolers in Switzerland – motor skills being a key part of the early development of children – the authors said. The results have been published online in the journal Swiss Sports & Exercise Medicine. Using a newly developed test instrument called MOBAK-KG, researchers compared the motor skills of around 400 four-to-six-year-old children, looking at how they moved on their own and how they dealt with an object, like a ball. Taking part were 12 Kindergarten classes in the more rural canton of Uri, and 14 Kindergarten classes in the city of Zurich. “The first results show that clear differences between the sexes are already ...
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Basel and Zug rated most popular Swiss expat cities

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 12:06
Although expats in the Swiss cities of Basel, Zug and Lausanne enjoy a very high quality of life, those in Zurich and Bern struggle with settling in and those in Geneva say finding somewhere to live is a nightmare.  The six Swiss cities are among 72 around the world analysed in the Expat City Ranking 2018, published on Tuesday by InterNations and based on its annual Expat Insider survey.  The Swiss cities’ popularity among expats varies quite strongly, with Basel coming 22nd and the capital Bern 61st. Taipei, Singapore and Manama came top, while Rome, Jeddah and Riyadh propped up the ranking.  Basel (22 out of 72) did very well regarding quality of life (10), with expats particularly satisfied with the transport system. It was also the best-rated Swiss city for “personal finances and housing” (28) and “economic climate” (5). On the other hand, 32% said they didn’t feel at home (compared with 23% worldwide) and 54% said it was hard to forge new friendships (worldwide 34%).  + ...
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What’s the secret to Finnish school success?

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 12:00
At a Swiss event, a top Finnish education official explains why the country’s schools are so good - and what the Finns could learn from Switzerland. Anita Lehikoinen, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education in Finland, recently attended the Worlddidac fair in Bern, which highlights the latest educational trends. Finland, known worldwide for its high-quality public education, was the official guest country for the event. Switzerland is no slouch in the education stakes either. It came 12th out of all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in the 2015 PISA educational assessment of 15-year olds, whose focus was on science performance. + Read more about how Switzerland did in the 2015 PISA survey here This compared to Finland’s third place for science among OECD countries. But it was not all jubilation in Helsinki - performance had dropped by 32 points since Finland’s record high score in 2006, the last time PISA focused on science.
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Pharma companies put faith in AI for breakthroughs

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 11:10
Global pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis and others based in Switzerland, are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence to develop new drugs. But this may not lead to lower prices. In 2013, US start-up Berg was asked by the Department of Defense to help improve the detection of prostate cancer, a disease common among pilots. Less than five years later, an artificial intelligence-driven tool has been tested on more than 1,000 patients with promising results. Excitement about AI, machine learning and big data have prompted a boom in health-tech start-ups in a market traditionally dominated by big pharma. Despite debate over the extent to which AI will revolutionise medical science, billions are being bet on something revolutionary emerging to drive the next big leaps in drug development This year has seen a jump in investment from big pharma and a range of joint ventures with health tech groups. In 2018, at least 15 companies have integrated AI into their drug ...
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