President Ignazio Cassis' trip today – on the occasion of the first-ever 'Innovation Day' – spotlighted regional networking and transnational cooperation among centres of innovation as the key to sustainably creating innovative ecosystems fit for tomorrow's world. He was accompanied by a high-ranking delegation including Carmen Walker Späh, a member of Zurich's cantonal council and the head of its economic affairs department, and Christian Vitta, a member of Ticino's cantonal council and the head of its finance and economy department. Michael Hengartner, the chairman of ETH Zurich's board, Joël Mesot, ETH Zurich's president, as well as Monica Duca Widmer, the president of the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), were also part of the delegation.
Cassis set out from Zurich, Switzerland's leading centre of higher education and largest business hub. Together with Späh, he visited the Innovation Park in Dübendorf, touring the drone facility and meeting with local start-ups. The next stop was the Tecnopolo Ticino technology park in Manno, near Lugano. Here, Cassis and Vitta highlighted the innovative prowess and academic excellence of Ticino, and its unifying role as part of the Greater Zurich Area.
Ignazio Cassis' trip ended in Milan, Lombardy, one of Switzerland's most important neighbouring regions and a major economic engine for Italy and Europe. Here, President Cassis was received for the inauguration of the House of Switzerland. The evening at the House also included a panel discussion on the future of innovation, attended by various business leaders, politicians, and members of the scientific community, including the Swiss visionary Bertrand Piccard. The panel was co-organised with Milano Innovation District (MIND), Lombardy's new innovation on the premises that previously hosted Expo 2015.
The House of Switzerland, organised by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with its partners Switzerland Global Enterprise, Switzerland Tourism and Pro Helvetia, is a pop-up networking and communication platform promoting Switzerland's visibility in Italy from 26 April to 12 June. Located right next to the lively Brera district, the House surprises visitors with fresh perspectives focusing mainly on innovation. This makes it a place to deepen and develop the dialogue on joint prospects and new avenues for cooperation with Italy, an important neighbour and partner.
Right on time for Milan Design Week in June, everything in the House of Switzerland will be devoted to Switzerland's world-famous design landscape. This landscape's diversity will be showcased in the House in collaboration with various Swiss universities, institutions and selected Swiss brands, as well as with up-and-coming Swiss design studios presented by Pro Helvetia.
Bilateral meetings with Italian ministers Di Maio and Colao
On the occasion of the inauguration of the House of Switzerland in Milan, Ignazio Cassis met with Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio for bilateral talks that focused on global affairs, in particular the war in Ukraine. Cassis evoked Switzerland's help in dealing with the crisis, including humanitarian aid, the hosting of refugees, and the sanctions against Russia and Belarus. He also highlighted the common values uniting Switzerland and the European Union, underscoring Switzerland's commitment to stability, security and prosperity in Europe. In these talks with Di Maio, Cassis also reiterated Switzerland's interest in pursuing the bilateral approach with the EU in order to continue fostering good and orderly relations beneficial to both sides. In this context, he explained the key points of the negotiating package proposed by the Federal Council.
President Cassis discussed with innovation minister Vittorio Colao the two countries' strategies for digital transformation and the implications for global governance. They talked about strengthening the UN and the Geneva office in this area, as well as the importance of science diplomacy and the role of the foundation GESDA (Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator).
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