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Abstract & Publication

Christoph A. von Arb PhD



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From Fundamental Research to Industrial Application: The Global Competitiveness of Swiss Universities

Christoph A. von Arb PhD 


The pivotal role academic institutions play today as essential drivers of innovation, which

creates market value and warrants a high standard of living in a fiercely competitive global

economy, is unparalleled. 

For Switzerland, where the cost of living is among the highest in the world, it is a must to perform at the very top now as the impact of deficits will only be felt years later. Therefore, one needs to ask if the academic institutions are performing at the required level? In a benchmark study, Swiss universities were compared with some of the world’s leading research institutions through the analysis of 40 performance indicators with a focus on the efforts “Science to Market.” Looking at higher education in Switzerland, it is notable that the student population has been growing disproportionally since 2010, due to the higher enrolment of foreign students. Furthermore, Swiss universities are known for their

excellence in fundamental research including public/private partnership projects. This was

confirmed, with the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in front. However, when

focusing on “Science to Market” efforts, the rankings were pretty low. 

Whether looking at invention disclosures, patent applications, technology licensing, university spin-offs, or venture capital deals, a significant weakness in the competitive position of Swiss universities vis-à-vis its global competitors became apparent.

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Christoph A. von Arb PhD

Executive  Vice President for Strategic Development and International Outreach –  In 2008 he founded and is currently President of Swiss based  International Initiatives Inc. - TRIPLEYE, a private consultant firm  with a specific focus on Education, Research and Innovation at the  interface between industry, academia and government.

From  2002 to 2008, Dr. von Arb was Consul General and Director of the  world’s first Digital Science Consulate called swissnex in Boston, a  novel concept of Diplomacy based on public-private partnership, which he  initiated and implemented, while he was Head of International Affairs  in the Office of the State Secretary of Education, Research and  Innovation. He also negotiated a number of bilateral agreements  including Switzerland’s full participation in the EU-Research Framework  Programs.

His  diplomatic service began with a 5 year posting at the Swiss Embassy in Washington D.C., where he was a member of the Swiss Delegation  negotiating the launch of the International Space Station. Dr. von Arb  is a frequent lecturer at universities and public events and serves on  various boards of research-oriented organizations. He received his Ph.D.  in Plant Molecular Biology in 1984 from the University of Berne.

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