The 20-year anniversary of the Swiss edition of the business award coincided with EY’s 100 year anniversary here, lending additional sparkle to the gala evening. The attendance of Federal Councilor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, a successful entrepreneur himself, was a very special honor for both the award and the competition entrants: “Digitization presents great opportunities for Switzerland. We want to remain champions of innovation, which is why we need courageous and successful entrepreneurs. Prizes like the Entrepreneur of the Year award promote an appreciation for entrepreneurship and embolden people. I would like to congratulate all the award winners and thank the organizers and sponsors for their 20-year commitment."
The four winners of the award are: Dr. Jurgi Camblong, Sophia Genetics SA, Thomas Hanan, Webrepublic AG; Paul J. Wyser, Wyon AG (founded 1999); and Max Renggli, Renggli AG (founded 1923). Hansjörg Wyss, entrepreneur, patron and philanthropist, was honored with the “Master Entrepreneur” award.
In the “Emerging Entrepreneur” category, the jury bestowed the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 award on molecular biologist Dr. Jurgi Camblong (picture above). He and his company Sophia Genetics SA are becoming the most important player in the field of DNA sequencing. His AI technology for clinical genome research is already being used in 330 clinics throughout the world for rapid and inexpensive fully automated analyses, identifying characteristic mutations for genetic diseases and speeding up diagnostics. Sophia Genetics is being hailed as the next billion dollar start-up from Switzerland. Camblong also sits on the Swiss government’s digital transformation advisory board. The jury said: “Jurgi Camblong brings both scientific excellence and commercial expertise. This combination promises a great future for Sophia Genetics and a huge step forward in the successful treatment of genetic diseases.”
Thomas Hanan, founder, co-owner and Managing Director of Zürcher Webrepublic AG, received the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 award in the “Services/Trade” category. Hanan, a qualified marketing specialist, was an early believer in the potential of scientifically based digital marketing and in 2009, after spells at Yahoo and Google, focused his entrepreneurial endeavors in this area. Today, he is the number-one choice in this field and in the space of just a few years he has turned his company into the largest owner-managed agency for intelligent digital marketing. The jury said: “Thomas Hanan has impressed as an entrepreneur with a sense of what is essential in the digital world. His understanding of social responsibility as an employer is exemplary. The total package is absolutely superb and, for us, worthy of an award.”
Hansjörg Wyss is Master Entrepreneur
The Master Entrepreneur Award is an opportunity for the jury to honor outstanding personalities for their life’s work. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the competition in Switzerland, it has made use of this opportunity and presented the award to Hansjörg Wyss, the former co-owner, president and longstanding CEO of medical device manufacturer Synthes. Wyss’ entrepreneurial flair is widely known. He started out with a sales firm and a handful of employees, eventually turning it into company with 12,000 staff and an annual turnover of USD 4 billion, which he sold to the Johnson & Johnson group. Even more significant over the long term, however, is Wyss’ role as a patron and philanthropist. He supports countless initiatives and projects in the fields of the environment, education, culture, health and policy, both personally and through his foundation. He has signed the Giving Pledge, so that at least half of his assets go to charitable purposes. The jury said: “In Hansjörg Wyss, we are honouring a true ‘son of Berne,’ who has confronted life in all its facets, got involved throughout his life and is a long way off from withdrawing into retirement. We are acknowledging work that will endure over several lifetimes, and we are honoring a personality who says of himself that success is mainly a matter of luck.”
Marcel Stalder, CEO of EY in Switzerland, was delighted for the winners: “For me, the commitment of the participating entrepreneurs is a demonstration of what makes Switzerland a strong location for innovation, even in times of digital disruption: first-class expertise and a great deal of passion. The Entrepreneur Of The Year award stands for exactly these virtues and is our commitment to Swiss enterprise.”
The Entrepreneur Of The Year award is the largest and most prestigious business award in the world. The competition is held with the same criteria worldwide. It is staged at 150 EY locations. Several thousand entrepreneurs and companies compete each year for the coveted title. It is the only competition of its kind. In early summer of the following year, an independent jury selects the World Entrepreneur Of The Year from among the national winners. In 2017, Willi Miesch, last year’s award winner in the category “Industry/High-Tech/Life Sciences,” represented entrepreneurship in Switzerland.