Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade 2017: Rethinking business models

Having an international competitive advantage for the markets of the future means developing an innovative business model that extends beyond product and process innovation. But how can SMEs do that? This year's Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade will feature exciting speakers and CEOs of renowned SMEs with answers to that question.

Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade 2017: Rethinking business models
The 2017 Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade 2017 will be taking place on May 18th at Messe Zürich.

Digitalization, globalization, sustainability, urbanization, mobility, demographic change – global megatrends that influence our thought and actions today and will continue to do so in the future. First and foremost, however, they mean that SMEs have to rethink their business models – or totally revolutionize them. In the past, having an excellent technical solution or launching an extraordinary product was enough to achieve success, but the situation has changed. In most industries, product or process innovation no longer gets businesses where they want to go. Increasing competitive pressure, ongoing globalization, new competitors, new technologies and regulatory standards are changing the rules of the game and causing products and processes to quickly become outdated.

Focus on cross-sector networking

At the Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade (May 18, 2017, Messe Zürich), we will host a group of exciting speakers in order to analyze the influence of global megatrends on Swiss exporting. Our keynote speakers include:

  • Cristina Riesen, entrepreneur, start-up mentor, lecturer and among the top 30 digital trailblazers
  • Christoph Loos, CEO Hilti Corporation speaking on his business model "tools as a service"

In the afternoon breakout sessions, held in parallel to the talks, presenters will use practical examples to demonstrate the opportunities and challenges of new business models. Business leaders share their experiences about the dos and don'ts of:

  • Stadler Form AG: How can businesses adapt to new market conditions?
  • YukonDaylight AG: Customer management in the digital age
  • Impact Hub Zürich: Agility, innovation and business model adaption as a solution approach
  • Alpha Sprachwelt AG: Effective digitalization makes for winners – trends and perils of digitalization
  • Calida: New developments, opportunities and challenges of cross-border e-commerce
  • Microsoft Schweiz: Customers and markets are the main focus – period.

Participants will have sufficient opportunities to engage and network with other SMEs – both in their own sector and beyond. Because innovation doesn't usually happen within one's own company or sector; it happens in cooperations with partners whose expertise is in other areas. The four executive talks offer an opportunity to have a focused discussion on the business models of Swiss SME trailblazers and to interact with people in a wide variety of industries in order to get new inspiration. Talks to look forward to:

  • Francois Pugliese, CEO Elite SA, on mattresses leasing as an export hit
  • Eva Richterich, CEO, RicoLab, on why the Ricola Group has a new independent future laboratory
  • Marcel Pawlicek, CEO, Burckhardt Compression, on changes in contemporary business structures and how to enable organizations to meet customer needs
  • Vladimir Petković, trainer for the Swiss national soccer team on how he deals with changes and what factors are decisive for decision-making

In addition, the lunch at the beginning of the Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade, the networking breaks and the cocktail reception offer the opportunity to make new contacts and to have stimulating conversations about the world of exporting.

Export Award 2017 – who will go home with the trophy?

This year, the tenth Export Award will be given to a Swiss or Liechtensteiner company with a successful exporting project. More information is available at

Register now for the Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade 2017

Dossier: Rethinking business models

You can find some new things to talk about in our dossier and in our monthly newsletter (available in German, French and Italian).


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