The blog

The Global Statement is a blog that identifies, analyses and reports on global trends in higher education, research and innovation. It is based on the expertise of the Swiss network of scientific counselors and swissnex, located in 19 countries all over the world.

The topic of 2015 is Big Data, a timely and complex issue bearing both challenges and promises. We are indeed facing a data deluge and struggling to extract meaning from them: by using mobile apps, interacting on social media, searching on the internet or by using electronic payment systems, every citizen leaves millions of e-traces everyday, that cumulate with those collected by the networked sensors.

Once analysed, these data become highly valuable, as they provide a large amount of information about their users, their localization, habits and preferences. The creation of these data and their analysis is what is called “Big Data”, which is usually identified by the 4 Vs:

  1. Volume: datasets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze.
  2. Variety: data collected come from a high number of various types of sources and are under different forms, ranging from videos to tweets, measures, etc.
  3. Velocity: data are real-time produced.
  4. Veracity: uncertainties about the quality and accuracy of data.

Big Data are the result of an increasingly intrusive world but have a huge potential for generating value. Analysing data brings better understanding and potentially more accurate decisions and predictions. This is why they raise a high interest from researchers, business leaders and policy makers.

The major challenges are:

  1. Technical: quality of data, storage, softwares and computers
  2. Analytical: need of new methodologies and algorithms, as well as trained people
  3. Political: what are the framework conditions to ensure privacy, protection, openness, innovation, etc?
  4. Strategic: what to do with data and how can they be useful?

In this blog, we will address some of these issues from a research, innovation or policy perspective, trying to identify the most significant trends and challenges in the countries where our network is located.

The Network

ERI Net is Switzerland’s network of science and technology counsellors. Swiss scientific advisers abroad are either employees of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) or career diplomats from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). The Confederation sent its first science attaché to Washington D.C. in 1958. Switzerland now has a network of 27 scientific advisers (2013) working in 19 different countries (see map).

The main activities of the entire network include the following:

  • monitoring and anticipating developments in science policy in the host region and reporting on such developments in Switzerland
  • establishing and maintaining contacts with representatives of the administration, universities, research institutes, and the private sector in the host country
  • organising events and multidisciplinary activities in the fields of education, research, technology and culture in order to increase the level of awareness of Switzerland as a science location (using project funding from the SERI)
  • stimulating and supporting cooperation projects in the area of university or industry research and development with a special focus on the transfer of technology and the mobility of the researchers.

More info about ERI Net


swissnex is a network with nodes in the world’s most innovative hubs, where the future is being shaped. Together with science and technology counsellors based in Swiss embassies around the world swissnex takes an active role in strengthening Switzerland’s leadership as a world-class location for science, education, and innovation.

swissnexes’ core value lies in their ability to:

  • Connect scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and thought leaders with inspiring peers and new ideas on either side of the globe
  • Facilitate academic programs, global innovation strategies, and knowledge exchange
  • Create and present transdisciplinary projects in imaginative ways
  • Support internationalization efforts of Swiss academic institutions and companies, with a special focus on R&D based start-ups
  • Inform on developments in science, technology, education and innovation policies

swissnex is an initiative of the Swiss Government. Each swissnex promotes public-private ventures. Partners, donors and sponsors provide vital financial support.

More info about swissnex

map E


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