Programme 2015

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ETH Week 2015: The Story of Food. Illustration: Patric Sandri.  
ETH Week 2015: The Story of Food. Illustration: Patric Sandri.
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SUNDAY – Get to know each other

We began on Sunday afternoon and set the tone for the rest of the week. Participants met their group tutors and got to know each other through creative group activities. It was the time to get comfortable and settle into the new environment.

Sarah Springman and Julia Wysling

Sarah Springman, Rector of ETH Zurich, and Julia Wysling, Student at ETH Zurich and Former President of VSETH, welcomed the students to ETH Week.


The rest of the afternoon was planned for the students to settle into their groups. They were asked to build a common ground and define their own roles. What is their food story and what do they expect from the week?

Alexis Wiasmitinow, Thomas Lehmann, Lukas Bühler
Elizabeth Bernold, Erich Fässler, Joao Almeida

Alexis Wiasmitinow with his robot Everycook was one of the six entrepreneurs that was present during the start-up market place where students had the chance to meet people who know how to bring ideas to market and learn from their experience. More entrepreneurs were Thomas Lehmann who represented the food start up Zum guten Heinrich, Lukas Bühler with his Carbonqueen barbecue, Elizabeth Bernold representing FehrAdvice & Partners AG, Erich Fässler from Worm Up and João Almeida, the founder of Refiller.


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MONDAY – Introducing the food system

Participants learned about the global food system and how it relates to the Swiss and local food systems in Zurich. This information was communicated through lectures in the morning. In the afternoon, however, they got to experience some of these ideas first-hand through excursions to various food-related sites and ventures. We wanted them to bring back their impressions, the lessons learned, and the stories behind the facts.

Nina Buchmann and Michelle Grant

Nina Buchmann, Professor at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Head of the World Food System Center at ETH Zurich and Michelle Grant, Executive Director of the World Food System Center gave an introduction to the global framework.


Achim Walter, Wolfgang Langhans, Claudio Beretta and Antoine Champetier de Ribes

Achim Walter, Professor at the Institute of Agricultural Science; Wolfgang Langhans, Professor at the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health together with Mayte Morillas Arcos of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health; Claudio Beretta, Doctorate Student at the Institute for Environmental Engineering; and Antoine Champetier de Ribes, Post-doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences, were highlighting four thematic focus points: sustainable production, food waste & losses, sustainable diets and feed & food imports.


In the afternoon all students spread out on 11 different field trips to get to know the local context: Basimilch Coperative, DSM Nutritional Products Ltd., Eaternity & Compass Group, ETH Research Station for Plant Sciences together with Strickhof and Agridea, Evolva, fenaco Genossenschaft, frigemo, Max Havelaar, St. Jakob Beck & Ässbar, Tischlein deck dich and Urban Farmers.


Patrick Zbinden

Patrick Zbinden, is a food journalist and sensory expert. For us, he hosted a seminar of sensory assessment with the title 'Alles eine Frage des Geschmacks?'. Besides questions about the sensory quality of food, Zbinden also covered questions about who decides on the quality of food and about the definition of "good taste".


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TUESDAY – Pinpointing your problem statement

Students started their day reflecting on what fascinated them the most about Monday's field trips and shared their thoughts with their team mates.  

Bernhard Wehrli

Berhard Wehli, Professor at the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics moderated a panel of experts who shared stories from their careers. They discussed how they found problems worth solving and how they managed to implement solutions.

Adrian Aebi, Patrick Camele, Urs Niggli and Kathrin Fenner

Adrian Aebi, Vice Director of the Federal Office for Agriculture, has expertise in policy making, Patrick Camele, CEO of SV-Group represented the private sector, Urs Niggli, Director of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and Kathrin Fenner, Research Assistant Professor at D-USYS and Researcher at Eawag represented the research domain.


Marc Chesney

Marc Chesney, Professor at University of Zurich, brought in an economic angle, notably on food speculations.


The rest of the day was team work. To get the students in the habit of presenting often and working quickly, they had to share the knowledge aquired with another group at the end of the day. Experts were available to give feedback.

Guido Albrecht

Guido Albrecht, sommelier of the Bierakademie St. Gallen was the special guest for the networking evening. He guided students, invited professors and ETH staff through different flavors of Swiss beers.

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WEDNESDAY – Getting it right

Students had the whole day to deepen their knowledge. They did so by collecting information through scientific literature, researching stories from the real world and integrating the information received during the previous days. The goal was to define and validate their problem statement.

Eliana Zamprogna

Eliana Zamprogna, head of research and development at Bühler, shared some of the knowledge of a global technology company in the middle of the value chain.

At the end of the day, each team was ready to present their final problem statement. They used this problem to develop a solution and prototype on Thursday. The presentation on stage was also a good training for the final presentations taking place on Friday.  

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THURSDAY – Iterative problem solving

This was the day that was used to develop solutions. Students used the problem statement they had identified with their group as the basis for discussion. Brainstorming, creative design, and categorizing dominated the day’s activities. After choosing their favorite idea, each group had the chance to develop a rapid prototype.

Stefano Brusoni, Anna Déreky, Florian Rittiner, Alan Cabello

Stefano Brusoni, Professor of Technology and Innovation Management, together with his team of design thinking experts Anna Déreky, Florian Rittiner and Alan Cabello Llamas structured the day and provided the students with brainstorming and prototyping methods that were used to develop solutions approaches to the problem statements.

Rupa Mukerji

Rupa Mukerji, board member of Helvetas, complemented the first two views and shared her insights on the North-South justice in the Food System.

Lino Guzzella

Lino Guzzella, President of ETH Zurich, joined the ETH Week Sports Night for a soccer match. Moreover, there was a volleyball match and fun sports in the circus manege instructed by professional trainers of ASVZ.

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FRIDAY – Communicating the results

On Friday, students had the morning to give the final polish to their project and work out the right format of their presentation in the afternoon. They also had a chance to dry-run. Finally, they got ready to step into the spotlight, and share with a jury and their friends the work they've put into the week.

Kathrin Fenner, Achim Walter

Kathrin Fenner, Research Assistant Professor at D-USYS and Researcher at Eawag and Achim Walter, Professor at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences, were jury members and evaluated from their perspective as senior researchers.

Silke Meyns, Reto Frei

Silke Meyns, of the technology transfer office of ETH Zurich ETH Transfer, and Reto Frei, the Co-Founder of the Tibits Restaurants, represented the business perspective of the jury.

Chantal Weibel, Thomas Gumbsch

Chantal Weibel, VSETH and Thomas Gumbsch, President of VSETH, judged the final presentations from the students’ perspective.

Lino Guzzella

Lino Guzzella, President of ETH Zurich, closed the official part of ETH week with the award ceremony. Yes, there were prizes for the most convincing teams! Three awards went to the teams that convinced the jury from the research, business and students’ perspectives and one peer-to-peer award, for which each participant casted his or her vote.




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