NepSAS successfully organized “Swiss-Nepal Technology Transfer Workshop” 2019, 3rd Ed.

Posted 6 months ago by Sandeep Bhattarai

Nepalese Scientific Association in Switzerland

The Nepalese Scientific Association in Switzerland (NepSAS) is a voluntary organization founded by young Nepali graduates and professionals studying and working in Switzerland.

The Association actively promotes science and technology-based startups amongst young people. NepSAS aims to channel the current trend of brain drain into sustainable and prosperous brain gain. To achieve this, the Association offers various mentoring platforms to connect young people with experts who are willing to serve as mentors. One such platform is the Swiss-Nepal Technology Transfer Workshop.

Since 2017, NepSAS has been conducting the annual workshop in Kathmandu to help transform scientific ideas addressing local challenges and opportunities into viable start-ups. The recent workshop which was organized in GATE College, Kathmandu was the third edition. After a nation-wide open call for applications for over a month, 325+ ideas (500+ individuals) were submitted. All participants were provided scholarships to attend the workshop. Besides, travel grants including food and accommodation was provided to support participants residing outside Kathmandu Valley. During the selection, gender balance and participation of underrepresented communities was considered to bring pleural perspectives to address local challenges and opportunities.

The 4-day workshop commenced with orientation and speed dating among 80 participants selected from among 500+ on 29 December 2018. These participants formed 27 teams after speed-dating. These teams were further selected based on what value each individual brings to the team, and finally 17 teams (54 participants) were invited to take part in the ideation workshop on January 2 and 3. During the ideation workshop, our 35+ technical and business mentors conducted brainstorming sessions with all teams enabling the teams to improve their ideas and prototypes and shape their business plan. Besides mentoring, our participants also received keynote lectures from internationally acclaimed entrepreneur coaches. On the first day of ideation, Mr. Ankit Agrawal from HelpUsGreen spoke to our participants and shared his story of how he is preserving River Ganges by pioneering flower recycling technology and encouraged participants to convert our problems into business opportunities. Next day, Prof. Rupesh Krishna Shrestha, co-founder of Idea Studio helped talked about how to convert ideas into sustainable business and make business models.

On the final day of the event, selected 10 teams pitched their ideas in front of a jury, comprising of experts from both academia, industry and development agency. The jury decided on the winning team based on the impact of their ideas, the originality of innovation and entrepreneurial skills. Two top teams pertaining to developing zero energy cold-storage and kit for checking milk adulterants bagged 1,000 Swiss Francs cash prize (>1 lakhs) each. Our chief guest Her Excellency Elisabeth von Capeller, Ambassador of Switzerland to Nepal and keynote speaker from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Prof. Dr. Matthias Peter awarded the cash prizes and certificates to our winners. They also shared the Swiss experience of promoting innovation and what Nepal can learn from it and how Switzerland and Nepal can cooperate to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

Starting this year, NepSAS is aiming to provide year-long mentoring, co-working space and seed investment to the top workshop ideas from this workshop. When necessary, the top ideas will also get access to innovation centers at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Like last year, the winning idea will represent Nepal in World Innovations Forum. In fact, the winner of the 2018 workshop, for instance, represented Nepal at the World Innovation Forum and won the competition. They also received more than 10,000 Swiss Francs funding from the Embassy of Switzerland in Nepal.

The event concluded with the Swiss apéro, which was also joined by Honorable Mr. Giriraj Mani Pokharel, Minister for Education, Science and. Technology. He presented token of appreciation to our valued mentors and local partners without whom the event would not have been possible. He also appreciated the efforts of NepSAS in converting brain drain into brain grain and promised continued support in our endeavors.

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