Swiss Economy Minister Visits Zug to Learn About Blockchain and Crypto Valley

by Ian Simpson.

The growing ecosystem in Crypto Valley isn’t only attracting interest on the international level. Some of the top politicians in the land are taking notice as well.

On Thursday, 17 August, Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann paid a personal visit to Zug to – in his words – “learn about all this.” He didn’t go away disappointed.

During a more than three-hour session held at Lakeside Business Center that was organized by the City of Zug and Lakeside Partners, Mr Schneider-Ammann had an opportunity to learn about blockchain technology and meet several of the top startups in the area.

Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann addresses the Crypto Valley Association.

After an introduction by Matthias Michel from the Canton of Zug, Dr Sebastian Bürgel, CTO of Validity Labs gave a concise overview of the theory behind blockchain – including a unique “thought experiment” to illustrate its properties.

He was followed by Mathias Ruch, Managing Partner of Lakeside Partners, who outlined the investment perspective for startups seeking to establish themselves in Crypto Valley. He highlighted the potential in talent and infrastructure that is currently attracting blockchain startups to the area – as well as the need for more development and the challenges they face in settling in Switzerland.

The “learning experience” for Mr Schneider-Ammann also featured an example of one startup that has committed wholeheartedly to the Crypto Valley ecosystem, Melonport. Its CEO Mona El Isa gave a full demonstration of the asset management platform for crypto assets that Melonport has built over the last months. She was followed by Stephan Karpischek, co-founder of Etherisc – one of the most innovative insurtech startups using blockchain.

Mathias Ruch, Managing Partner of Lakeside Partners explaining the startup development cycle in the blockchain space.

The final portion of the day’s agenda included a roundtable discussion with Mr Schneider-Ammann himself as well as all of the individual speakers plus Managing Director of digitalswitzerland Nicolas Bürer and Melonport CTO Reto Trinkler – and moderated by Crypto Valley Association Treasurer and Professor at the Lucerne School of Applied Sciences René Hüsler. The conversation centered around the possibilities for promoting the expansion of the Crypto Valley ecosystem and the challenges of attracting and keeping foreign talent and creating jobs.

And while there was acknowledgement on the part of Mr Schneider-Amman that his goal of allocating CHF 150 million for startups in Switzerland might face an uphill battle in the Federal Council, he declared quite plainly that, “this is the future [and] I don’t want us to be stuck in bureaucracy anymore.”

The Swiss Federal Councillor’s visit came on a day that saw blockchain and Crypto Valley featured in the news on several other fronts – including a feature from Swiss television station SRF and an interview with Crypto Valley Association President Oliver Bussmann (in German).