Telecom World 2009: a promising prospect for ICT companies in Western Switzerland

For Didier Mesnier, manager of Alp ICT Cluster, “the whole idea was to seize the opportunity of this important international event to promote and highlight the know-how of regional actors.” The start-ups were selected from a number of applicants, with a particular emphasis on their potential global development and the proximity of their area of expertise to the Green City theme. Those selected represented areas of expertise as diverse as home automation (also known as “domotics”), TV surveillance and green technology.

Telecom World 2009 gave them an opportunity to be part of the big boys’ league, and also to introduce their products to the public –perhaps for the first time. In so doing, the various start-ups were able to test visitors’ immediate reactions to their solutions. Besides Telecom’s own guests, companies were also able to present their ideas to the occasional visitor. While some went in pursuit of partners to help them penetrate the market, others sought direct contacts with international clients.

Several platforms were offered to companies to highlight their assets. On the Lake Geneva stand, 15 companies had their own exhibition space. Conferences were given in the “Forum”, a part of the stand where Alp ICT’s academic and company partners took it in turns to give a 30-minute talk on their innovations. The stand also sported a huge “lounge” space on the first floor, which was ideal for arranging meetings with other exhibitors, speakers and visitors.

The key event in Alp ICT’s presence at Telecom was Thomas Hinderling’s talk on “Innovation: the driving force behind technological development”, where the then manager of the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) in Neuchâtel presented his “Solar Islands” concept. This idea involves huge sea platforms that can generate the same amount of electricity as a small nuclear power plant. Seven start-ups – one per canton – then presented their own innovative projects. About 300 people attended the event, which turned out to be a huge success and sparked off interesting contacts between its participants.A successful meeting

For most of the companies, a shared stand at Telecom was the best option financially. A number of participants mentioned that exhibiting together not only favoured exchanges between firms but also made it far more lively than many other stands. Many participants welcomed the competitive spirit, solidarity and collateral benefits brought about by their proximity. Unsurprisingly, most of the start-ups present at the meeting were more than delighted with the positive outcome of the event.

SoSoftware, for example – which was presenting a solution to lower mobile telephone roaming costs – succeeded in cutting deals with large international groups. NetGuardians, which works on data security, talked with decision makers it would not have been able to meet otherwise. SensorScope, a company that specialises in environmental monitoring, said that it had reached its twin goals of presenting its own state-of the-art solutions and being able to assess competitors’ offers. Above all, it welcomed the opportunity to promote and develop its business network. The participating companies were unanimous in acknowledging ALP ICT’s communication activities. Apart from preparing them for the event, the cluster published 55 articles on its blog, 150 messages via Facebook and Twitter, 200 photos on Flickr and 7 video interviews on YouTube. It notched up 450 visits on the blog and 120 followers on Twitter and Facebook – which all contributed to create a lively “buzz”.

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