Interview with Iris Gaudras, Director Key Accounts and Blockchain Coordinator at the GGBa

The Greater Geneva Bern area (GGBa) is the investment promotion agency for Western Switzerland, bringing together the cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Geneva and Valais. Its mission is to support foreign companies in establishing and developing their activities in the region as quickly and easily as possible.

How important is the blockchain technology to the GGBa?
Blockchain technology is rapidly growing in Switzerland. If the country was described as being a “crypto-nation”, we at the GGBa consider that our region possesses all the assets to position itself at the heart of this ecosystem. Hundreds of jobs are being created in Switzerland around blockchain and Western Switzerland is fully benefiting from the development of this new industry. We have a high density of companies active in blockchain, whether it be start-ups or well-established companies. We offer an environment favorable to ICOs and are working on a better banking offering – a critical point for the development of companies who are looking to raise funds through the emission of tokens. We have excellent lawyers and advisors who understand the blockchain industry and its stakes. Finally, from EPFL to the Blockchain Lab of the HES-SO in Valais, to the CAS (Certificates of Advanced Studies) offered by the universities of Bern and Geneva, as well as by marketing and communication school CREA, our academic offer and research centers are expanding. As Western Switzerland’s investment promotion agency, the GGBa is interested in the potential of this field and aims to consolidate the positioning of the region as a destination for innovative and value-creating blockchain projects. With this in mind, we have organized the “Blockchain (R)evolution in Western Switzerland?” conference in Crans-Montana last September.

What are some examples of blockchain companies that you have helped set up camp in Switzerland?
We are currently accompanying many companies active in blockchain whose names we unfortunately cannot disclose at this time. We can name the French asset management company Trecento, who chose Geneva to establish its branch specialized in blockchain and launch its ICO.

What are the global leading clusters in blockchain and where does Switzerland position itself?

Blockchain technology is used all over the world. Strictly speaking, there isn’t one leading cluster in this field, but there are countries offering a supportive framework in terms of innovation, which is favorable to the development of this type of companies (France, the United States, Israel and Singapore, for example). And then there are countries that offer both a fertile ground for innovation and a regulatory, legal and tax framework favorable to the development of companies launching ICOs. Among these countries, Switzerland is at the top of the list.

You are involved in the upcoming Blockchain Leadership Summit (BLS) at the end of November in Basel.
Yes, we are looking forward to taking part in this event. We have up to this point not been very vocal regarding blockchain, as we are focusing on approaching companies directly through our network of representatives, who make Western Switzerland known throughout the world. This is how we work, regardless of the sectors we promote. But since Western Switzerland’s blockchain ecosystem is currently not very well known internationally, we have decided to use the Blockchain Leadership Summit as a platform to offer our dynamic region a greater global visibility.

 

This article was originally published in AGEFI on 16 October 2018.