Competition stimulates business – and the Greater Zurich Area is no different. However, ever more companies in the area are relying on innovation by way of cooperation. In this environment, an open ecosystem is emerging in which companies and institutes – big and small, domestic and foreign alike – are able to join forces. Markus Weber from the German IT consultancy firm auticon can only affirm this development. In 2018, he launched auticon Swiss in Zurich – the first company across the entire country to exclusively hire IT consultants who are on the autistic spectrum. “Swiss companies are innovative and open to new concepts”, Weber comments.
Large companies are on board
For auticon, the region is also exciting because of the numerous international headquarters: here, innovative pilot projects are launched in conjunction with partners and then rolled out across additional global locations. The open ecosystem also makes it easier for foreign firms to establish themselves in the Greater Zurich Area, according to Weber. With the support of the Greater Zurich Area Ltd. (GZA), among others, auticon's initial attempt to tap into the IT hotspot of Zurich has proven to be highly successful.
Auticon has found space at one of the centers of the new network economy: the Zurich Impact Hub. Since being established in 2011, the hub has offered co-working areas and a think-tank platform for a better future. Right from the start, Zurich Impact Hub cooperated with organizations including Swisscom, Credit Suisse and Migros. This was a successful concept that numerous networks based in Greater Zurich, such as F10 and Chainwork, sought to replicate.
In the meantime, auticon has moved into larger office spaces in Zurich. Weber is responsible for the expansion of the German start-up and coordinates activities in eight different countries. In Switzerland, Stephan Gutzwiller is in charge of the further development of the business. By the end of this year, he is planning to double the workforce to a total of 25 experts in addition to opening two new locations in Switzerland.
Financial industry as a driver of innovation
This success has been facilitated by strong partners, especially insurance firms, banks and other financial service providers, although auticon implements projects across a variety of industries. According to Gutzwiller, awareness of the issue of diversity is very high within the Swiss financial industry, while specialized applications with large data series are also becoming more frequent here. “This often involves repetitive, yet hugely complex tasks, which can only be manually sorted and processed in line with the current state of technology", he explains.
This phenomenon is all too familiar at Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest reinsurance group. In this regard, the company has become the first in Switzerland to appoint an auticon expert. And this has proven to be successful: with the commitment and capabilities of the new team member, huge progress has been made in a project focused on Artificial Intelligence.