Official visit to Switzerland – ETH, CERN

The President of Slovak republic Zuzana Čaputová went for a three-day official visit to Switzerland on May 19th,  2022. Our Director-General Mária Bieliková was invited to be part of the delegation that accompanied Mrs. President on her first state visit to Switzerland. 

The main topics were mutual economic cooperation in the field of innovation and green transition, energy crisis, the ongoing pandemic, as well as the current international situation in the context of the war in Ukraine.

The delegation included representatives from Slovak scientific and research institutions and business representatives from Slovak companies involved in innovation, development of green and low-emission technologies and renewable energy sources. The members of the delegation created a very relevant group of stakeholders who had lots of common interests and agenda. 

Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) was the first part of the programme. It started with a working breakfast with two professors from ETH Zurich: Juraj Hromkovic and Gustavo Alonso. The main topic of the discussion was how to achieve excellence in science and how to transform it into innovations. The international dimension and talent circulation were mentioned several times.

The visit to the ETH included a commemorative appreciation of Aurel Stodola. Stodala was an ETH professor for mechanical engineering from the north of Slovakia who made a significant contribution to the success of Swiss industrial companies by developing turbine construction at the end of the nineteenth century.

The delegation also visited the Student Project House, an ETH think tank. Young researchers presented various projects, most of which involved the participation of Slovak ETH students and contained ideas aimed at improving the global climate and environmental crisis.

Following the ETH visit, the Swiss and Slovak presidents launched a Slovak-Swiss business forum focused on innovation at the National Museum in Zurich. This was an opportunity to network and plant the seeds for future collaborations in the field of research, green transition, low-emission technologies, renewable sources or the circular economy.

The delegation also paid a visit to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, they toured the world’s largest particle accelerator in the CERN underground. 

Many of the essential technologies we use every day would not have been developed without public investment in basic research, for example at organizations such as CERN. In this regard, the president acknowledged that science and research in Slovakia need better funding

We could not agree more. Innovation and creativity are vital for a country’s development, therefore it is crucial to support research activities with adequate financing.

We truly appreciate Madam President for opening the doors and enabling all these new connections. We do believe that when the public sector, academia, and the commercial world join forces, Slovakia will become a country where innovations can thrive. 

Three days in Switzerland with the president brought a lot of inspiration on how to make Slovakia a great research and innovation space. I believe that openness and connecting people are values that matter. The Kempelen Institute of Intelligent Technologies creates such an environment. We still have a long way to go. Following and connecting with the best is challenging, but the only way.”