We’re continuing the trip around Europe meeting with our present and future clients. Our next destination after Belgium ( click here ) was Switzerland. The plan was to meet with our business partners in Geneva, Zurich, Nyon and Basel, where we had also the chance to take part in an amazing Fasnacht festival.
Switzerland - background
Switzerland is known for skiing, cheese and watches, but it’s worth remembering that it’s also one of the richest countries in the world, and Zurich and Geneva placed among cities with the highest quality of life.
Technology and science play an essential role in Swiss economy. There are 12 universities, the first one in Basel founded as early as in 1460, and numerous research institutes among others the Swiss National Science Foundation. There’s also a surprisingly vibrant (knowing the Swiss aversion to risk) and ambitious startup scene, just take a look at The Best Swiss Startups 2015 list or browse Swiss Start-up Monitor .
A lot of support is offered to private enterprise, public-private partnerships and university spin-offs are a common phenomenon. The short distances and fast and punctual transportation facilitate networking. But there are also drawbacks, mainly scaling a business in a country with high salaries and costs of living may be a real challenge for startups.
The most populous city of Switzerland, hub of web technology and a cradle of most famous Swiss startups. The largest engineering office of Google outside US is located there. If you’re interested in startup events you should definitely visit the city for Startup Weekend Zurich, FinTech Startup Weekend or Pitch Bootcamp.
Second most populous city in Switzerland located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It is a financial and diplomacy center, with headquarters of many United Nations agencies. One of top 5 most expensive cities in the world. It is beautifully located at Lake Geneva and surrounded by Alps.
Our CEO Chris and the SkyDog during Geneva sightseeing ;)
Basel and Basler Fasnacht
Basel is located in Switzerland where three borders meet, and what’s quite unusual it has suburbs in Germany and France. Thanks to the specific location it has been a commercial hub for ages. Currently it is known especially for pharmaceutical industry and banking. The city hosts variety of events all year long among others Basler Fasnacht.
The Carnival of Basel is the biggest festival in Switzerland organized every year between February and March, which lasts precisely 72 hours. During that time the city is crowded with people - all families, kids and grandparents together celebrate on streets. There were so many tourists that we had to book a hotel in nearby France.
People wear costumes and masks and normally clean Basel becomes covered in confetti, all streets are decorated ankle-deep with it (no other city uses as much confetti as Basel during Fasnacht). If a passer-by doesn’t wear a costume and/or buy a special carnival badge they will very probably be attacked with confetti. It applies especially to young girls.
Cliquenkeller is an interesting phenomenon - these are cellars decorated and operated by the official groups taking part in Fasnacht parade (called Cliques), which serve as pubs and restaurants during the carnival. People sit there and enjoy mainly variety of cheese and beer/wine. The cellars are often located in medieval buildings, so definitely worth visiting.
Cliquenkeller during fasnacht:
Business Park in Nyon
Nyon is a small city but increasingly popular among businesses, a part of Geneva metropolitan area. It is known for being the headquarters of UEFA. There are located two business parks, in one of them, Regus we’ve met with our business partner.
Vitra Design Museum
Heading back home we’ve visited Vitra Design Museum located in Weil am Rhein, Germany close to the border with Switzerland. It is an internationally renowned and privately owned museum. The current exhibition that time was Bauhaus. Vitra itself is a Swiss furniture company with its headquarters in Birsfelden.