Exploring the reasons behind prosocial behavior

by Elena Bizon, Junior Project Manager, swissnex in New York

On Wednesday July 12, HEC Lausanne and swissnex in New York organized a special panel bringing together two professors in behavioral economics and decision making, as well as a practitioner from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Adrian Bruhin, Professor of Economics at the HEC Lausanne – the Business Faculty of the University of Lausanne – first presented his research on “The Role of Social Interaction in Voluntary Blood Donations.” He raised questions, such as “is prosocial behavior contagious?” He demonstrated that motivation is indeed contagious for a social network, even more so when the members of the network have strong ties amongst themselves.

After his presentation, a panel discussion addressed the broader event topic of “How to Do Good: Insights from the Science of Prosocial Behavior & Practitioners.” Danielle Larrabee from the IFRC described some of the new trends in volunteering today. She mentioned that while in decades and centuries past, people helped because there were emergencies and crises, nowadays volunteers want more than just helping others for altruistic reasons; they look for experience and/or want to become part of a community. Along with Stephan Meier, Professor of Business at Columbia University, the panel of experts addressed questions on the role of peers in motivation and its amplification. They revealed that a strong social identification within a group positively influences others through a “motivation spillover effect.” Someone who strongly identifies himself or herself with a group – for example friends or political parties – is more likely to be engage in the same behavior.

“So, do good; prosocial behavior is contagious!” Professor Bruhin concluded.

Meet the Venture Leaders in Fintech!

The venture leaders jury has selected the first Fintech Team of the venture leaders history. The ten high potential Swiss startups will take part in the high-powered business and financing roadshow in New York this September. 

The 10 selected entrepreneurs reflect the acceleration of the Swiss fintech scene in the recent years and the impressive quality of its startups. They will join the intense journey taking place from September 10 – 16 in New York. The roadshow offers an accelerated learning curve and a solid network through exchanges with their peers in the team, as well as market exposure, feedback from investors and experts, and hands-on business development.

‘New York is undeniably one of the most economically powerful cities on the planet and definitely the reference in fintech today. It has been the fastest-growing startup technology ecosystem in the US in recent years, attracting more than $3 billion per year of investment today,’ explains Jordi Montserrat, Director of venturelab. ‘We already brought our technology team there for the past two years, and saw there was an amazing potential in taking a Swiss fintech team to this amazing setup to support their global expansion. This was a trigger for the new selection, supporting the path of Switzerland being amongst the leading nations in fintech for the upcoming decade’.


Meet the participants

Advanon, Phil Lojacono advanon.com
Advanon in its basic version is an online platform that allows SMEs to pre-finance their open invoices directly through financial investors. Thereby they don’t have to wait for the long payment terms anymore and investors on the other hand get access to a new type of asset class. In the long run, Advanon wants to make financing for SMEs redundant and fully automated.

AlgoTrader, Andy Flury algotrader.com
The startup provides an algorithmic trading software that allows automation of complex, quantitative trading strategies. AlgoTrader provides everything a typical hedge fund needs on a daily basis to run his operation. They help trading companies minimize manual labor and save costs. Their software AlgoTrader is the first and only algorithmic trading software to be available both on the cloud and on premise.

Carbon Delta, Oliver Marchand carbon-delta.com
Carbon Delta is a climate risk specialist that identifies and analyzes the climate change resilience of publicly traded companies. They assess a company’s Climate Value-at-Risk (VaR), thus how much its market value will possibly be affected by climate change, to help investors manage the climate risk within their portfolio. The startup uses big data analysis and their research can be used to calculate the Climate VaR for thousands of equities and corporate bonds. Three core risk scenarios are currently used for calculating a company's overall climate resilience: expected regulations, extreme weather events, and the Paris Agreement's 2°C target.

CreditGate24, Teddy Amberg creditgate24.com
CreditGate24 is an independent Swiss company and a fully automated platform for lenders and borrowers which offers efficient, transparent and scalable credit processing at high quality. The startup operates online without physical branches and high operating expenses to enhance returns for lenders and lower costs for borrowers. CreditGate24 stands for a stringent underwriting process, based on established credit assessment tools, big data and social media analyses as well as insurance against risk of death and risk pooling to reduce loss risks. CreditGate24 is supervised by the Financial Services Standards Association VQF, is a registered financial intermediary under the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Act and possesses a loan provision license (“Kreditvergabelizenz”).

Futurae Technologies, Samuel Berger futurae.com
Futurae empowers companies to deploy state-of-the-art IT security while improving the customer journey. Through user-friendly solutions, businesses can increase their customers’ satisfaction while gaining confidence in their ability to protect sensitive user data. Users choose weak passwords and reuse the same passwords for various applications. Futurae offers a complete strong Authentication Suite (2FA) for securing sensitive end-user data of every organization. Their product portfolio offers a high level of security while making 2FA more user-friendly and making the integration fast and cost-effective for companies. Futurae grew from within the research institutes of ETH and is now being led by top-of-class individuals with a vision.

KiWi (eBOP), Christian Sinobas kiwi-bop.com
KiWi transforms merchant’s phone into a smart point of sale. KiWi is the app small merchants use in emerging markets to accept card payments, finance their working capital, sell new services and better control their businesses. The company is live in Mexico with >2’000 paying merchants enrolled. The ambition is to quickly reach several hundreds of thousands micro-merchants in Mexico and to open five new markets by 2020.

Monito (Global Impact Finance), Francois Briod monito.com
Sending money abroad? Monito is the Booking.com for money transfers, helping migrants and expatriates find, review and compare money transfer services. They are on a mission to change the industry for the better and free the world of $28bn excessive transfer fees paid each year.

OneVisage, Christophe Remillet onevisage.com
OneVisage is a leading cyber-security company developing biometric solutions to help financial services eliminating identity theft and increasing user’s digital experience. They are first to offer 3D facial biometry on standard smartphones that delivers higher security than fingerprints at the price of password-based solutions.

Qumram, Patrick Barnert qumram.com
Qumram seamlessly records all digital interactions, across all channels (web, social media, mobile and instant messaging) capturing indisputable evidence to prove compliance, discover fraud, improve customer experience and open new digital channels to interact with Financial Service clients. Banks such as UBS, HSBC, Bankia, Russell Investments, and many more trust Qumram today.

SONECT, Sandipan Chakraborty sonect.io
SONECT enables every shop in the neighborhood to act as a virtual ATM. The APP is a location-aware, decentralized platform that brings together clients with stores. The gain is threefold: Shops attract more customers and therefore earn more money, without any costs. Everybody can withdraw cash at the click of a button wherever they are, for free, and banks reduce their ATM operations costs. SONECT recycles banknotes in circulation to reduce the cost of cash of banks and retailers while accelerating digital adoption of consumers.

About the venture leaders program

Created in 2001, venture leaders offers one-week roadshows in Boston (Life Science), Silicon Valley (Technology), New York (Fintech) and China (all domains). This includes presentations to local investors, partners and industry experts as well as business workshops and company visits. Further to getting a unique visibility in Switzerland and abroad, as well as building a strong network, the participants are part of a team of entrepreneurs sharing the same objectives and challenges. They are unique Ambassadors of the thriving Swiss startup scene and our country’s innovation power. So far, more than 300 startups participated in the program today. Some were acquired by Apple or Intel. In total, 42 venture leaders are listed in the actual TOP100 Swiss Startups ranking such as L.E.S.S., Bcomp, Knip, Flyability, Ava, Amal Therapeutics, Gamaya and Lunaphore.

This year the venture leaders Fintech program is supported by Canton of Vaud, digitalswitzerland, EPF Lausanne, ETH Zurich, IMMOMIG, PostFinance and Swiss Finance Startups.

Presenting Hors Pistes at Wanted Design

For the third year in a row, swissnex supported a presence from Switzerland at WantedDesign Brooklyn, one of the premier venues for NYC Design Week. After helping to showcase exhibits from EPFL+ECAL Lab (2015) and ECAL (2016), swissnex joined forces this year with the Consulate General of Switzerland and the Cultural services of the French Embassy to bring to Brooklyn a Swiss-French collaborative residency program, Hors Pistes.

Co-founded by designers Marie Douel and Amandine David in 2013, Hors Pistes initiates creative encounters, enabling young designers and artisans to discover foreign traditional techniques.

The exhibition showcased a selection of objects, images and publications issued from the two previous Hors Pistes workshops held in Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou and Banfora). It is a result of know-how exchanges between the artists of these locations and the Hors Pistes team.


Among the pieces displayed, visitors had the opportunity to admire “Toiture” (picture seen above) which is an assembly of sandal soles found among the waste heaps of Ouagadougou. The soles are cleaned and then cut in order to assemble them like tiles on a roof with no need for any additional materials. The roof can be used as a shelter from the rain or the blazing sun. If all of the flip-flop soles were reclaimed from waste heaps, a surface area of over 100,000 square meters could be covered every year. Altogether, the designers and artisans were able to create a cheap and simple product from recycled waste.

The Hors Pistes exhibition in NYC was organized with the support of the Cultural Affairs of the Embassy of France in New York via their Oui Design program, swissnex Boston & the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York.

View more pictures of the exhibition and the associated events on Flickr!