“We want to inspire young people to get involved in start-ups”

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 Markus Püschel, Head of the Department of Computer Science at ETH Zurich. (Phot

Markus Püschel, Head of the Department of Computer Science at ETH Zurich. (Photograph: ETH Zurich / Giulia Marthaler)

Last Friday at ETH Zurich an event was held to coincide with the World Web Forum digital conference. The event hosted well-known speakers such as John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple and Pepsi. This free forum for students, trainees, and young professionals was organised by the Department of Computer Science. Department Head Markus Püschel explains its purpose.

ETH News: Why did the Department of Computer Science hold this World Web Forum Next Generation event?
Markus Püschel: With this event, organised together with the canton, eZürich, and the ETH Entrepreneur Club, we wanted to make it possible for attendees to hear prominent speakers and leaders from the digital arena. The active participation of four Swiss start-ups and an interested young audience also provided a fascinating opportunity to share knowledge and expertise. The idea to put on this event came as a result of our involvement in eZürich - a platform for people who want to promote Zurich as a centre for the ICT industry.

What opportunities did this event provide?
The event provided useful stimuli and motivation, bringing like-minded individuals together, and inspiring young people to get involved in innovation and entrepreneurship. The participants also learned about the differences between how start-ups and failures are treated in Englishand German-speaking countries. Failures are quite normal where start-ups are concerned, and these help young entrepreneurs to do things better next time.

How is ETH Zurich doing when it comes to start-up funding?
ETH Zurich is very active and working on many fronts. For example, there is the Venture start-up competition, the ETH Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (ieLab), ETH Transfer - the technology transfer office at ETH Zurich, and the ETH Entrepreneur Club.

Is there still a need for improvement in some areas?
Two factors are essential for start-up culture to achieve its full potential in the Swiss economy. The first is a greater acceptance of failure. The other factor relates to the field of computer science, which forms the basis of many successful start-ups. In order to increase graduates’ overall level of skills, we have to start earlier. It is important that Lehrplan 21, the initiative to make computer science a core subject in schools, is implemented quickly and successfully.

The World Web Forum

The World Web Forum took place last Thursday at Komplex 457 in Zurich Altstetten. The internationally renowned digital conference is a paid event and is directed at high-level industry representatives.

The free World Web Forum Next Generation at ETH Zurich took place on Friday. It is a satellite event aimed at 18-to-28-year-olds who want to learn more about the latest internet-related developments, trends and business models.