The difficulties generated by COVID-19 have blatantly revealed the interdependencies and vulnerabilities of our modes of operation. Therefore, the State Council, in partnership with the University of Geneva and the Open Geneva association, is launching a Crisis and Resilience Innovation Fund, which should enable the canton to adapt to present and future challenges in an innovative and collective manner. This new aid measure for the Geneva economy is also intended to support the actors of international Geneva and the population as a whole. "We are fortunate to have in Geneva a strong public service and a community of committed private actors capable of supporting innovative initiatives to emerge from the crisis. The solutions will come through mutual assistance and our collective intelligence. In other words, through our ability to be civic-minded. It is this concern for the community that we must now make viral", notes Pierre Maudet, State Councillor in charge of the Department of Economic Development (DDE).
The ability to face a crisis, to find effective responses and to augment resilience has become critical in a world punctuated by sudden changes, where digital interconnection is accelerating at the pace of the fragilities caused by climate change and overexploitation of the biosphere. The new fund must therefore mobilize and pool the financial resources, expertise and infrastructure present on the territory of Geneva to rapidly establish a dozen disruptive innovations designed to overcome the immediate consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its aim is also to prepare for the future by strengthening the resilience and sustainability of Geneva's economic fabric. "The University of Geneva is facing the health crisis and continues to carry out its missions, thanks to an unprecedented mobilization of its collective intelligence, states its rector, Yves Flückiger. With its experiences and transformations during this crisis, its versatile skills, its academic and inventive approaches, its capacities for collaborative and multidisciplinary research, analysis and reflection, and thanks to the mobilization of its rich local, national and international network, the University will contribute to the realization of the ambitions of the Crisis Innovation and Resilience Fund."
An approach based on solidarity
The objective of this specific Fund is thus not to replace the loss of turnover of Geneva SMEs caused by the coronavirus, but to generate opportunities for value creation and to validate new business models. To this end, a collaborative process of open innovation (hackathon, fast-prototyping, user engagement tests, etc.) will be deployed in June. The resulting projects can then be quickly adapted to the specific conditions of each company or organization.
A wide range of companies in the canton, players from the international Geneva community, the Geneva academic world and foundations have already confirmed their participation in the planned scheme. In its initial phase, the Department of Economic Development (DDE) is supporting the scheme with a contribution of 20,000 francs. In addition to this seed money, Open Geneva will contribute a further CHF 20,000. Contributions "in kind" and funding from the private sector as well as philanthropy will complete the effort. The Council of State, the University of Geneva and Open Geneva call on all stakeholders to join this joint initiative by contacting Open Geneva (firstname.lastname@example.org). And Thomas Maillart, the president of Open Geneva to conclude: "In this period of crisis, it is critical to coordinate collective efforts by aligning the financial resources needed to innovate in the most efficient way. This collective and frugal approach is fully in line with Open Geneva's mission to promote open innovation. Building communities of innovators to strengthen capability and capacity is critical to foster resilience."
The participating and contributing institutions are, for the time being, the following:
Akka Switzerland, BNP Paribas Switzerland, Citizen Cyber Lab (UNIGE - UNITAR - CERN), FIDES Foundation, Geneva Airport, Geneva Centre for Philanthropy (UNIGE), Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIG), Geneva School of Economics and Management (UNIGE), Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative (UNIGE), GVA2 , Graduate Institute, HES-SO Geneva, HUG - Centre de l'Innovation, Impact Hub Geneva, Innolifters, International Trade Centre (ITC), La Poste, Lift Conference, MCI Group, Observatoire des Valeurs de la Stratégie et du Management (OVSM - UNIGE), Palexpo SA, SAE Institute Geneva, SixSq, Wecan Group.