If you are walking along the piers in San Francisco, as a swiss citizen, you will probably see a familiar clock, like the ones in railway station in Switzerland, at the beginning of the pier number seventeen. A small part of Switzerland is standing here, between the City and the ocean.
Next to the Consulate General of Switzerland, in the same building, you can find Swissnex. If you have never heard about this swiss organization before, it is probably because you cannot find any Swissnex office in Switzerland! (In fact, this is not true: As a governmental organization, Swissnex San Francisco is on the swiss territory as well as embassies are). So, what is Swissnex? What do they do? And is it relevant to be so far away from Switzerland?
The mission of the organization is: “[…] to connect Switzerland and San Francisco in education, research, innovation and the arts.” (https://www.swissnexsanfrancisco.org/). Swissnex can be defined as a network that has for goal to create a connection between Switzerland and the Silicon Valley. This is why the office is here, in San Francisco. But the organization is active all around the world. The first Swissnex office opened in Boston in 2000. The objective was to be closer to innovations in Harvard university and MIT. Nowadays, you can also find Swissnex offices in India, in Brazil and in China.
To sum up, Swissnex is a network that helps startups, artists and companies to connect with local people. The organization provides events, such as: workshops, conferences and exhibitions. Companies can also rent a space to work with all the necessary tools.
At this point, the exact mission of Swissnex does not seems to be really clear but, at the same time, it is pretty easy to understand the importance of having this kind of connection all around the world. The main difficulty is to calculate the real benefits created by the network. How can we measure the efficiency of the organization? By counting the numbers of companies helped? Or the number of startups and artists that have succeed? But what is the part of Swissnex in the success? How can we financially measure a network and say if it is relevant or not to have it? No indicator can precisely calculate this efficiency.
However, as we discover it with our International Innovation Management class, in term of networking, it still seems important to have a local contact. Cultures are so different from a country to another and even more from a continent to another. Swissnex provides a connection that even internet will never be able to replace.