Switzerland builds bridges between innovation and impact


Dubai: Yesterday, Swiss experts together with UAE partners, hosted an insightful event on the innovation and impact of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in healthcare at the Swiss Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The Embassy of Switzerland in the UAE has been active in the topic of digitalization and health for over a year. The event was a great opportunity to learn about applied tools in digitalization and health and for an expert discussion, focused on building bridges between innovation and impact.

Switzerland takes a leading role in medical technology, with Geneva, Basel and Zug considered hubs of innovation in digital health. Generally known as trusted and world-leading AI-hub, Switzerland also drives digital transformation as a means to equitable access to quality health for all. In fact, new technology, better access to information, and public-private collaboration strengthen Switzerland’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The aim is overcoming the barriers to digitalisation like regulation, digital competence and access. Local strategies and existing digital expertise of partner countries like the UAE serve as an entry point for knowledge sharing and mutual learning. In that context, the Embassy of Switzerland to the UAE and Bahrain, together with Novartis, Roche and Unilab, have previously established a platform for a dialogue in the field of digital health, which will continue its activities much beyond the EXPO.

H.E. Massimo Baggi, Ambassador of Switzerland to the UAE and Bahrain, said in his opening remarks: “Switzerland supports a global digital health governance system that can better manage risks and seize opportunities offered by digitization and AI in health. We aim to promote systemic approaches to digital health and AI and to lay emphasis on the fact that technologies are not isolated tools but part of concerted efforts and comprehensive packages to strengthen health systems and the health of the population.”

Digitalization plays an important role in public health. To support the response to COVID-19 worldwide, digital technologies have been of great benefit.

Antoine Geissbühler, Professor of Medicine, Vice-rector of the University of Geneva, said: “Digital health and artificial intelligence hold the potential to augment the capacity of humans to take better decisions for quality healthcare and improved well-being. This applies not only to healthcare and public health professionals, but also to patients, citizens, and policy makers. Governance, coordination and careful evaluation must ensure and demonstrate that AI-based tools actually foster equitable access to health and healthcare, while taking into account diversity, safety, privacy protection, and data sovereignty issues, amongst others.”

The event is part of a broader engagement by the Embassy of Switzerland on digitalisation and health, and is in line with Switzerland’s commitment to innovation, health and sustainable development.

Embassy of Switzerland in the UAE:

Switzerland and the UAE have enjoyed good relations since 1971. The Embassy of Switzerland in Abu Dhabi was first opened as a trade office in 1976 and then converted into an official diplomatic representation in 1982. A Consulate (today Consulate General) in Dubai followed 5 years later and a Swiss Business Hub in Dubai was added in 2005.

The UAE are Switzerland’s most important trading partner in the region and economic cooperation has been at the heart of the bilateral relations for a long time. More than 200 Swiss companies have chosen the country as a hub for their Middle Eastern and Asia business activities and a diaspora of 3’000 Swiss nationals lives here.

Today, this relationship has diversified to include education, research, innovation, financial affairs, energy cooperation, sustainable development and cultural diplomacy as well. Switzerland was the first country to confirm its participation in Expo 2020 Dubai. It sees this event as a unique opportunity to present all facets of this expanded focus and to explore new partnerships.

The Swiss Pavilion offers a unique encounter with Switzerland. It showcases Switzerland as a country of scenic beauty and a leading hub of technology and innovation by presenting the excellence of Swiss universities, start-ups and companies as well as creating joint events with local partners.