Swiss Innovation on the Grounds
Globalized Universities – World's top 3
In the rankings of the globalized universities Switzerland is in the top three. 25% of the students and 50% of the teachers in Swiss universities are non-Swiss, a feature seen by one of the persons in charge of the education system as being a key to prepare “a nation to be internationally competitive”. One of the top universities in this ranking is ETH Zurich. 21 Nobel Prize laureates originate from it including Albert Einstein, who studied and taught there. 18,000 students are currently attending ETH, and Mr. Satoshi Kawamorita, an exchange student from Japan, who is in his second year of graduate studies, comments that “the classes are stimulating as the students are proactive and speak up. The exams are also designed to truly test one’s understandings”. Ms. Nao Uchida, from the second year of her graduate studies at Tokyo University adds that “the level of the students is high and the school has excellent facilities” her face glowing as she speaks.
“The students are free to debate with the teachers and the teachers also very much expect that. New ideas emerge from the trust between the two parties” says the university staff in charge of supporting entrepreneurship. The success of research and development in Switzerland comes from the perfect match between the instructors who convey their knowledge and the students who absorb it.
There are also boarding schools in Switzerland, where students are provided with high education, while staying in dormitories away from their homes. Le Rosey, La Garenne, Aiglon College all have a history of attracting a diversity of students to an arena where international education is provided from a young age.
Pursuit of vocational training schools – 80% choose to become industry-ready personnel
Elites who bear the future of the country gather at ETH and EPFL, the two national universities in Switzerland. However, it is not only these young students who support innovation in Switzerland. After the mandatory education, young adults have two paths to choose from: be certified to enter universities or to pursue the vocational training. In Switzerland, 80% of the students choose the way of vocational training, contrary to the traditional Japanese thinking that “attending university is a key to success in life”.
“It is inefficient to force academic studies to those who may not wish to continue with them. Companies also appreciate those who were trained at an age when they absorb best, as there will be no need for additional training by the companies”, explained a person in charge of the education system , explaining the efficiency of the system.
In addition, 80% of the vocational schools combine academic studies with on-the-job training, thus creating a dual education system. This system consequently allows the companies to hire highly competent employees, which already have industry-specific knowledge and experience at an age when others are just starting university.
ABB, an electronic automation giant, has fully implemented the system. “I wanted to work hands on at an early stage in my life and chose to go to vocational school. The products I work with are now out in the world”, a former apprentice who is now an employee, proudly comments.
Around the world with solar energy - Making the "impossible" possible
Flying around the world with solar energy; this dream is about to be realized in Switzerland. The aircraft “Solar Impulse” is 72m wide and weights 2,300kg. Its body is covered with solar panels. We met the two initiators of the project. The airplane is almost ready in a facility of the Swiss air force in Fribourg. Dr. Bertrand Piccard, the main brain behind this project explains: “in the beginning no one thought that it was possible. With new technology and the power of the will, the impossible can become possible”.
Solar Impulse will take off from the UAE next March and is scheduled to fly over Japan in April. “It will be beneficial to both the economy and the environment. Solar Impulse is an inspiration for Swiss innovation”. Dr. Piccard expressed confidence in the success of his endeavor.
If Solar Impulse is what shapes the dream of a nation, another Swiss creation may provide happy moments in the everyday life: “Nespresso” delivers convenient, quality coffee all over the world. A little capsule is transformed into a perfect roast by their original coffee machine.
The coffee company’s factory looks like a cutting edge research center. Computers are lined up in an orderly manner. The employees taste the coffee every day to ensure top quality. “Nespresso will be introduced worldwide”, commented the spokesperson.
Matured beauty in all places – Nature and the hospitality
Switzerland is the size of Kyushu and half of its land is covered with mountains. While agricultural production is limited, brainpower is the resource, which made it possible for such a small country to survive. As is often remarked by the Swiss, the limiting conditions forced the country to modernize and excel in science and technology.
As one of the foremost developed countries, Switzerland attracts people from all corners of the world. The high-end watch brands like Breguet, Rolex, Omega and Blancpain are all symbols of the “Swiss brand” characterized by quality and precision.
Then, there are the beautiful landscapes and nature of the Alps. Visitors boarding the train heading to the famous Jungfraujoch cannot help but admire the beautiful scenery that lies before them: the mountain chains covered with snow against a blue sky. The many cows with their cow-bells sitting on the grass just seem relaxed, as if one could hear the sound of the alp horn. The train travels through a 100-year-old tunnel until reaching the “Top of Europe” at 3,454m. The 7km long railway track required 16 years of hard work to complete. “They must have been desperate to share the beauty of this mountain”, says one of the managers of the Jungfrau Railways, passionately explaining how executives from these old days must have felt.
We were then invited to a Swiss home where my host commented with a smile: “I have always wanted to host foreign guests”. He prepared a salad, sausages and cakes together with his wife for our welcome. Science and technology, the finance sector, nature and the hospitality… Everything seems well-developed in this country.
Montreux Jazz Festival – National festival with an audience of 250,000
The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the most renowned festivals in Switzerland. Another famous festival, for classic music lovers, is the Lucerne Festival. Montreux Jazz Festival began in 1967. From a tiny audience of 1,200, it grew to 250,000 visitors last year within just half a century. The festival is known to generate an economic value of about JPY6 billion for the region. It is one of the world’s top three Jazz Festivals after Monterey and Newport. “Not only jazz is featured at the festival. From the beginning, it included leading performers of blues, rock, reggae and pop. There is a wide range of music you can enjoy and many collaborations between musicians”, says Mr. Shohachi Sakai, representative of Montreux Jazz Festival in Japan. “Every year, unique workshops and opportunities to interact with artists are introduced. The program is filled with a large variety of activities and attractions”.
Famous artists such as Miles Davis and Phil Collins have played at the festival multiple times. This year, Stevie Wonder made his first appearance at the festival. There was also a “Japan Day” on 11th July with the performances of Ms. Hiromi Uehara and the guitarist Mr. Tomoyasu Hotei.
<Montreux Jazz Festival in Kawasaki>
The Montreux Jazz Festival in Kawasaki will be held this year from 21st to 30th November. Last year, 11 shows took place within the 11 days of the festival. This year, a young pianists’ competition will be held for the first time.
A very special classic music Festival, entitled Lucerne Festival Ark Nova, will also take place in Japan this year. The festival was held last time in Higashi-Matsushima.