Dear IBN Switzerland Members,
As 2013 comes to a close we can again look back with pride on our achievements – four great events – two in Basel and one each in Zurich and St Gallen. We kicked off the year with a joint IBN and BIC (Basel Irish Club) St Patrick’s Day celebration. Over 250 people attended – members of both organizations and their families and as special guests our ambassador Martin Bourke and his wife Mary. It rated as the largest Irish celebration in Switzerland and one of the largest in Europe! This was followed by a smaller event in Zurich sponsored by RM IT Professional Resources AG where about 30 members enjoyed presentations from Alan Kerins foundation to help children in Africa, Peter Whealy from Intuition and of course Manus Rooney, Enterprise Ireland.
Despite adverse weather conditions in the Highlands and with the first spat of snow for this winter, we had a nice turnout at the first ever meeting of the Irish Business Network in St. Gallen in November that was sponsored by Patrick Ramseyer owner of www.theram.ch and committee member. The meeting featured a welcome and updates from the IBN, EI and the embassy, followed by interesting and inspiring presentations from Cyrille Marty from Commedia -Magica on ‘The Arts and Business’ and Nora O Sullivan who started the now successful Golf 4 fun ex Pat golfer group in Switzerland. To end up the year we had another successful event in Basel with updates from EI, IBN, the embassy and presentations from Gemma Robinson CEO of Acorn Regulatory; Louella Morton GM of qstream.com and Bronagh Cushnahan of Biokinetic. As is now a tradition, either the Ambassador Martin Burke or his deputy Justin Dolan attended and shared news – they are always welcome!
In March, we met with the IDA in Dublin, Connect Ireland and attended a committee meeting of SIBA, and are exploring possible collaborations – more to follow!
On the business side, the news is good. In 2012 Switzerland was Ireland’s fifth largest merchandise trading partner and our sixth largest services trading partner with a total bilateral trade (merchandise and services) worth €11.6 billion. Growth in trade on the year before was 38%, the fastest growth rate for Irish trade globally. Figures for 2013, once available, are expected to show some downward movement on Irish pharmaceutical exports, as a result of falling prices, as various blockbuster drugs come off patent. In 2012, Merchandise trade was valued at €6.03bn, with exports worth €5.07bn and imports worth €0.96bn. Services trade (in 2011) was rated at €5.6bn with exports worth €3.7bn. Tourist numbers from Switzerland have also increased. Tourism Ireland expects that 70,000 visitors from Switzerland will have travelled to Ireland in 2013, up from an annual average of 50-60,000.
Therefore, we as Irish professionals living in Switzerland and members of the Irish Business Network Switzerland can continue to provide assistance to Irish companies that are looking at the Swiss market at this crucial time. Throughout 2013, the network has facilitated many introductions to key decision makers here in Switzerland, which has become a key market for so many Irish companies, amounting to tens of millions of euros in exports from Ireland this year. This is making a vital contribution to the nation’s recovery.
Ultimately, though, this network is about the members – over the last 12 months, the Network has continued to grow and has now reached over 360 members. We look forward to welcoming new members so pass on the website www.irishbusinessnetwork.ch or our LinkedIn Group. On the LinkedIn group over 50% of our members are mid to senior level managers, with 34% of the group coming from the Zurich area. The most predominant business area is IT followed by Pharmaceuticals and Finance – so a good mix.
Looking forward to 2014 – we plan a series of interesting events at each chapter – so let us know which topics are of interest to you. These themed events give you the opportunity to meet likeminded professionals based in Switzerland, hear from interesting speakers and build your own professional network
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Irish Business Network Switzerland, to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas. I would also like to thank you for your support for the Network in 2013 and we look forward to your ongoing support in 2014
And to close out a short videoclip that says so much See Below – Irish innovation is global
President of the Swiss Irish Business Network