With the attendance and support of the Department of Economic Development, Research and Innovation (DERI) of the State of Geneva, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), the Innovation Center hosted the First Annual Blockchain in Healthcare and Life Sciences Summit (agenda here)

4 Reasons Why Switzerland Will Become The Hub of CryptoHealth Innovation

Some countries are Blockchain-friendly, others have robust Healthcare and Biomedical Research, but Switzerland has both…

On November 30th CryptoOracle, GenesisBlock, Antion Biosciences and the Innovation Center at the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), hosted the First Annual Blockchain in Healthcare and Life Sciences Summit (agenda here), with the attendance and support of the Department of Economic Development, Research and Innovation (DERI) of the State of Geneva and the University of Geneva (UNIGE).

Described by the Innovation Center as the largest summit to date and reviewed by the newspaper LeTemps (read Sebastien Ruche’s article here), the first half-day brought together investors, policy makers and lawyers to discuss STOs as an alternative way to raise capital for bio-pharma and med-tech companies, whereas the second half of the day gave scientists, researchers and local and international start ups an opportunity to showcase their blockchain-based solutions. The day concluded with an excellent panel moderated by New Economies.

We brought together healthcare professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers and policy makers

With the CryptoHealth Landscape overview talk rated as most relevant (75%) to the audience in our post-summit survey (you can see the talk here), 85% of the attendees either enjoyed or very much enjoyed the summit, whereas 89% found the two half-day format satisfying or very satisfying and want to come to next year’s meeting. The audience surveyed would also like to see more women involved, more CryptoHealth solutions in production (so do we!) as well as a discussion about the use of DLT in clinical trials.

What also was clear from the day was that Switzerland and Geneva in particular are uniquely positioned to implement, innovate and lead in CryptoHealth for four main reasons:

Reason #1: Switzerland has a Robust Biopharma and Digital Health Landscape

The Bio-pharma industry in Switzerland directly and indirectly employs about 150,000 people, contributing almost 6% of its GDP and 30% of the country’s exports (report here). Ever since Hoffman La Roche produced vitamin C in 1896, Switzerland has been a leader in bio-pharma and today it is a global hub to almost 50 pharmaceutical companies, many in the Lausanne-Geneva region, also know as the Health Valley. With federal research institutes like the EPFL and the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne that are well funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and life science accelerators like Switzerland-Innovation, it is not surprising Switzerland is an innovation powerhouse, including in Digital Health (see below).

In Q4 2018, almost a dozen of the 115 healthcare startup are developing distributed CryptoHealth solutions using ledger technology (health-trends.ch)

Reason #2: Switzerland has One of the Best Healthcare Systems in the World

The Swiss healthcare system is globally known as an outstanding model, and although it spends the highest percentage of GDP on healthcare compared to other EU countries (11.4%), it is still much lower than the 18% spent in the US. Life expectancy is 2.5 year longer than in the US (81.75 vs. 79.25) and basic health insurance, which is compulsory, equals around 10% of the average Swiss salary (or $450 per person/month to date). ­

The Swiss healthcare system is decentralized and is largely organized and funded by the 26 individual cantons (states) and local communes. The health ministers from all cantons form the Swiss Conference of the Cantonal Ministers of Public Health, which aim to promote cooperation and implement common policies. Cantons also supervise, own, maintain, and combined with manda­tory health insurance funding, co-finance hospitals and nursing homes. This decentralized system has gained Switzerland the number 2 overall ranking in the 2017 Euro health consumer index, based on clinical outcome, waiting times and patient satisfaction (below).

Reason #3: Swiss Legislation is Blockchain Friendly

Even more known than Switzerland’s Health Valley is its Crypto Valley that offers a business environment with regulation security, investor protection, reasonable tax rates and ICO and STO friendly lawmakers. Home to the Ethereum Foundation, ICOs in Switzerland are legal so long as companies register with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) (review on how to submit an ICO is here and for STO here).

Also on December 14th the Swiss government’s published its latest legal framework for DLT and Blockchain (full report here), aiming not only to create the foundation for blockchain law by amending existing laws rather than creating new ones, but also to consolidate Switzerland’s status as a blockchain-friendly country.

More importantly, individual cantons, like the Department of Economic Development in Geneva have already prepared the necessary policy rulings to facilitate ICO launches (here).

Reason #4: Decentralized, Semi-Direct Democracy Offers Switzerland a Better Governance Structure

Switzerland is well-known for its neutrality, humanitarian traditions (like the International Red Cross [ICRC])and as a home for many international institutions (UN, UNHCR, WHO, ILO to name a few). However Switzerland is also a 728 year-old democracy and an ardent guardian of canton (state) sovereignty. Since the pact of the original three cantons (Schwyz, Uri, Unterwalden, [now Nidwalden and Obwalden]) to protect each other from external threats through judicial and administrative cooperation (the Grutli oath), Switzerland has functioned peacefully as a multi-lingual, multi-cultural confederation (the symbol CH stands for Confoederatio Helvetica, the Swiss Confederation).

Swiss governance is unique because the Federal government is elected by representative democracy (like the US), however the cabinet (known as the Federal Council) is limited to 7 members and is balanced according to the election results, the size of the cantons and gender (never less than 3 women). This “magic formula” ensures that even minority parties are in the government (so no opposition) and the head of the Council (the President), rotates annually in a ceremonial role.

What makes Switzerland’s ability to maintain decentralized governance is by its unique use of direct democracy instruments when electing state, county and municipal officials. This allows citizens to have more influence on their daily life (like education, health and infra-structure). More so, citizens can also propose changes to the constitution (popular initiative), or ask for an optional referendum to be held on any law voted by the federal, cantonal parliament and/or municipal legislative body.

Swiss use representative democracy for federal elections and direct democracy for state, county and municipal elections. Citizens have the ability also to propose constitutional amendments to any legislative body (source)

Final Thoughts:

Many CryptoHealth companies are quitting the US market place. Between the difficulties of any start up to execute an idea, the lack of investment in a bear market and legislative and political hurdles, many feel that the CryptoHealth market is just too challenging.

But Switzerland has a Health Valley and a CryptoValley. The Swiss have a century-long tradition of technical research and innovation. They have over 700 years of direct-democracy, based on decentralized consensus and governance, judiciary cooperation and respect of administrative tradition. And after our CryptoHealth Summit one this is clear: the Swiss simply get it…

Finally, thank you to the speakers, attendees, co-organizers, sponsors, guests, dignitaries and media for making the Geneva CryptoHealth Summit such a success.


Do not forget to register to the First Geneva Annual Blockchain Summit, on January 21st, 2019, in Palexpo Conference Center, in Geneva, Switzerland


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