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P. 1
Pascal Marmier, 
Director, Consul
, swissnex Boston, Consulate of Switzerland 07-29-09 Interview

Pascal Marmier, 
Director, Consul
, swissnex Boston, Consulate of Switzerland 07-29-09 Interview

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Pascal Marmier, 
Director, Consul
, swissnex Boston, Consulate of Switzerland, shares an in depth interview of his insights, passions, and discoveries incubating locally based and globally connected knowledge networks to drive innovation in industry, culture, government, and education.
Pascal Marmier, 
Director, Consul
, swissnex Boston, Consulate of Switzerland, shares an in depth interview of his insights, passions, and discoveries incubating locally based and globally connected knowledge networks to drive innovation in industry, culture, government, and education.

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Published by: Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) on Dec 20, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/18/2010

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Copyright 2009 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open)
1Interview and transcription July 29, 2009
Pascal Marmier, Director, Consul , swissnex Boston, Consulate of SwitzerlandINTRODUCTION
My name is Pascal Marmier, and I’m here at the Swiss Consul and Director of theswissnex Boston. Swissnex Boston is the science and technology Consulate for theBoston area, a very unique initiative. As I said, swissnex Boston is really a veryinnovative organization even though we have existed here for ten years I think we arestill a “work in progress”. If you want, what we do is two things: one thing is definitelytrying to bring a new light and position Switzerland as a key player in a kind of fastmoving global and dynamic economy here, not only in the U.S., but in different placesaround the world. So, we are really trying to find new ways to come up with imaginativeideas, imaginative people, people who can bring Switzerland and all it’s history here intoa different light than what has been known to a certain extent up to now. So, this is thefirst part. The second part is engaging in collaboration; collaboration is really at the corefor what we do. We try to find new ways to basically bring together people that areworking in what I would define as kind of science and technology circles and this isreally understood in a very broad term. Science, of course, includes the humanities, andtechnology also includes places like design and parts of others. Our role, as we say it, andour general motto is called “connecting the dots” which is basically finding people thatdon’t necessarily know each other, don’t necessarily work together, don’t necessarilyhave any affinities to work together and then to a certain extent by our suite of programs,the events, the collaborative tools, the video conferencing that we have here, some socialmedia tools and others, making sure that they have a chance to work together in acollaboration factor, that they can maybe be part of a consortia, or open projects thatalready exist, or more likely, that they can define new rules, new areas of approachingideas and things that they can sustain themselves. Very quickly, swissnex Boston washere with the first similar Consulate, a similar organization, with this mission and sincethen our colleagues in San Francisco have built up a wonderful organization there as wellon the West Coast and then from the west coast Asia has been the next round with now aswissnex outpost, a “no ledge” outpost as we call them in Singapore, another one inShanghai, and another in Bangalore. So, just by having the location, you alreadyunderstand what we are looking at is already been a very active, and a very present, and physical presence in a way in our location work, it’s very important to be present in what
 
 
Copyright 2009 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open)
2are key, I would say, in key general economies and hot spots of innovation and ideasaround the world.[00:03:01] So, really, one of the main drivers at the beginning of the swissnex story wasthe idea of Brainpower. Switzerland, to a certain extent, started to see a loss of Brainpower, we called it the “brain drain” at the time and one of the problems we hadwas that we were spending a lot of time educating people. We have probably one of the best public education systems from kindergarten all the way to PhD studies and beyondwhich means that when people were coming to outside places, Boston being, of course,one of the highest density of brains everywhere and attracted them so when Swiss peopleor ‘Swiss drain’ and not necessarily Swiss by nationality, but were Swiss in the sense thatthey were educated in the Swiss education. When they were staying here, it was a certainloss for the country, so there was a certain alarm being raised at the time, and this was before 2000, about basically the risk that we were loosing a few people a year. One of themain reasons was there was no network around these people, there were no connectionsto them, there were no relationships, there was no mechanism to even track them. So oneof the original ideas of the founder, Xavier Comtesse, who was then in Washington, DC.Washington, D.C. being much more a place for policy making than project, than applied project, was that he wanted to create, and he worked together with our Swiss StateSecretariat for Education and Research (SER) and Swiss bank was basically at the core of the ideas; they worked together in collaborative ways, which was interesting in itself,they worked together and tried to focus on how can we create basically a place whereyoung talent and interesting people that are representing the future of the Brainpower,how could they come together, get to know about what they do, connect or re-connect toSwitzerland and at the same time also create a peer-to-peer network where they wouldtheir share stories, their soul, the future of their career, and for their government, and basically putting together a strategy of connecting a little bit with these people. So, this isone of the main drivers to make the story short: we’ve moved a little bit from talkingabout brain drain to more brain circulation because what has happened in the meantime isSwitzerland has positioned itself really well in this kind of, I would say, talent search, andwe have kind of reversed the trends to a certain extent and also have a lot of people either go back home or go there directly, so you see a lot more of exchanges going on. This isthe whole Brainpower organization. The other one, and this comes also a little bit to theidea of talking about networks is that, as competition continues to heat up inside scienceand technology, you want to be in the networks where things are happening fast, youwant to be close to the decision makers, you want to be well known by the people thatmake all kinds of decisions from, who are they going to be working with, whichcompanies are of interest to them, or even which people do they want to hire, or in theinnovation process who they want to follow, and again this is not something you can dofrom the side of the field if you want to you really need to be there and you need to bewith these people on a day-to-day basis, hence basically the advantage of the locationhere right in the middle of the Cambridge area where we could have the daily interactionsthat provide a lot of the opportunities for the people who in the end would benefit fromwhat we do which are the Universities, the organizations supporting Science, the businesses that will hire technology, and all the people who are incubating innovativeideas. One of the other drivers I would say is the competition for scarcer and scarcer 
 
 
Copyright 2009 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open)
3resources in a knowledge economy and this is our way of basically trying to adapt to thischanging world.
A. CATEGORYWhat are you passionate about now?
[00:07:01] I think what I’m really passionate about and something that goes way back isreally two things: one, is I am continuously learning. I don’t know if you describe it as pure curiosity, or it is more finding new interesting things to challenge, I don’t know if Iqualifies as some sort of attention deficit, but there is definitely a part of me that isalways very interested in learning more and to a certain extent, in kind of confronting, or at least challenging some parts that I still don’t know about. I like to have new areas of interest be open, so that’s why I think part of the story of this organization fits well withwhat I do which I am passionate about. The other part I’m really passionate about is thecontact to people. I think one of the best parts of the job, and I hope also for theorganization for what we do, is definitely understanding people, listening to what they do,to a certain extent anticipating what they are interested in as well, and then kind of  providing some support, so I’ve been very interested in making this kind of connectionand building up a network both on a personal basis and on an organizational basis.
What would you like people to know, think, feel and do?
[00: 08:19] So, I think if you take the two sides which is a little bit the idea of exploringnew ground and of connecting people, it fits basically very well with what we do here,which is basically promoting science and technology by connecting people. I think what’s happening, is we’re entering an age where knowledge is key and networks arevery important, and by knowledge I don’t necessarily mean only the kind of knowledgeyou can derive from all kinds of textbooks and others but also the knowledge aboutothers and everything that can be to a certain extent transcribed also into interest, values,culture, and some others. We are entering a phase I think where this is becoming veryimportant for all kinds of work. At the same time, I think the notion of network is alsokey to what we do because we want to try to understand how from all different scientificfields we can make sure the people get to know each other, find their ideas, find newways to basically work together and then the networks are just our kind of daily activitiesif you want.
What do you see for the future?
[00:09:31] If you would like to look at what the future, I think with the increasing amountof data for everybody, it’s just mind blowing to see what you can find through Facebook,Linked In, and some other kinds of recent social networks, I thinks it’s we’re going tocontinue to find more output for deeper conversations. I think what has now sometimes been labeled or described as casual networking to a certain extent, you’re still relying onchance and others, I think you can look at this in the future in a much more strategic wayand to a certain extent find ways and find original ways to search and develop, and

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