International Swiss Talent Forum

For young people between 18- 23 years – Participation on invitation only!

Find novel and thought-provoking ideas around “building a resilient society”. It’s a chance for you to contribute to shaping the future of your generation. Develop new ideas with your group of international participants in our for you free event. Be part of the next International Swiss Talent Forum in February 2023 and join five exciting days with students from all over the world.

Five exciting days in a lavish camp – it’s your turn to find globally relevant solutions.

“The ISTF experience has been nothing short of amazing. The programme has well achieved a fine balance between the provision of information and the opportunity for creativity. It has been an intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling experience.”

Cassandra, Singapore

International Swiss Talent Forum 2023
Circular Economy


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One: This is the number of planet Earth humanity has at its disposal for meeting the needs of the present. Would all humans live according to the standards of Switzerland, we would need more than three planets Earth: This is, in essence the issue of the finite resources and was already identified by the so-called Club of Rome.

Although progress has been made in the last decades, the necessity for a paradigm shift from a linear economy to a circular economy is becoming the cornerstone of the next industrial revolution to stop the loss of the planet’s biocapacity and climate change. We need to find new ways of defining growth and success. We have the chance of learning from nature where the everlasting cycles and rhythm of growth and recovery are proven principles, finetuned over billions of years.

At the International Swiss Talent Forum 2023, we want to look at the concept of the Circular Economy through the lenses of various challenges to try and develop approaches to tackle the issue of a non-sustainable linear economy.

Interested to learn more about the eligibility criteria and the registration for the event? Then check out the Flyer:

Topic Leader 2023

Prof. Dr. Claudia R. Binder
Prof. Dr. Claudia R. BinderTopic Leader

Claudia R. Binder, a Swiss, Canadian and Colombian citizen, was born in Montreal and spent most of her childhood in Switzerland and Colombia. She studied at ETH Zurich from 1985 to 1996, earning a degree in biochemistry and then a PhD in environmental sciences. After conducting her post-doctoral research at the University of Maryland in the US from 1996 to 1998, she returned to Switzerland and took a position as a senior research scientist at ETH Zurich, studying the interaction between human and environmental systems at the Institute for Natural and Social Science Interface.

She joined EPFL in March 2016 and set up the Laboratory for Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems (HERUS) at ENAC. Her research involves analyzing, modelling and assessing the transition of urban systems towards sustainability. She looks in particular at how we can better understand the dynamics of urban metabolism, what characterizes a sustainable city, and what drives and hinders transformation processes. She does so by combining knowledge from social, natural and data science. Her research focuses on food, energy, and sustainable living and transport in urban systems.

In Switzerland, Binder was appointed to the Research Council, Programs Division of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in 2016 and serves on the Steering Committee of the SNSF’s National Research Program 71, “Managing Energy Consumption” and the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER). Since 2020, Binder is the Dean of the ENAC School at EPFL. She is also the president of the ENAC School Council.

Ankita Singhvi
Ankita Singhvi

Ankita Singhvi studies circular economy for cities and is currently a PhD candidate at EPFL.

Ankita received her BSc degree in Architecture from the Technical University Delft in 2017. Her interest in climate adaptation led her to pursue a MSc in Industrial Ecology from Leiden University and TU Delft. She graduated in 2020 with honours, with a thesis on resilience in grey and nature-based infrastructure for coastal protection.

During her studies, Ankita interned at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at Circle Economy. After graduation, she worked at LDE Centre for Sustainability, bridging science with practise. She coordinated the Circular Industries Hub, where she supported companies in their transition towards the principles of a circular economy.
Ankita continues her work within the context of circular resource use at HERUS, EPFL. Her research focuses on the role of circular economy in urban and territorial transitions towards sustainability.

Dr. Aristide Athanassiadis
Dr. Aristide Athanassiadis

Aristide is a senior researcher at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (HERUS) and the non-profit organisation Metabolism of Cities.
From 2018 to 2020 he was Chair of Circular Economy and Urban Metabolism at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. During the last years, he has collaborated and worked with/for several universities, research centres, environmental administrations, NGOs, youth organisations and consultancy firms on a great variety of projects trying to reduce the environmental footprint of territories.
Finally, Aristide is the co-founder of Metabolism of Cities, a global network of people working together on systemically reducing net environmental impacts of cities and territories in a socially just manner and context-specific way.

Challengers 2023

Challenge 1

Intellectual Property Rights
to promote Circular Economy

Dr. Christian Moser
Patent Expert at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property

Christian Moser is a patent expert in life sciences and working at the IPI since 2014. Besides his activity as professional patent researcher and examiner, he is involved in IPI’s efforts to promote IP awareness at universities and in the private industry.

Christian Moser is a trained veterinarian with a PhD in molecular virology. After his education at the University of Bern and a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania, he worked from 2001 to 2013 in the Swiss vaccine industry in various scientific and management roles.


The transition from the current take-make-dispose economy model towards a more sustainable circular economy (CE) is both an environmental necessity and an economic opportunity. Intellectual property is a proven policy tool to incentive innovation and support diffusion. Is there a way to accelerate the transition to CE on a global level, using the patent system? 

Challenge 2

Moving beyond single-use packaging
in the worldwide shipping business

Mégane Schafhirt
ZipBack Co-founder

Mégane Schafhirt is one of the co-founders of ZipBack, a reusable and circular packaging solution that aims to tackle single-use plastic and cardboard in the e-commerce and clothing industry. Very concerned about the global environmental issues, she is passionate about sustainable innovations and turning ideas into concrete projects and actions.

After graduating from the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in 2020, she started a Master’s degree at the HEG-FR in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. It is in Fribourg that she meets her future Zipback colleagues and friends. While developing their startup and studying, she also worked part-time as a project manager in a larger company. In September 2022, she graduated and ZipBack was nominated as one of the three finalists of the Swiss StartCup Challenge organized by B Corporation and Nespresso.


Single-use packaging, which is still very common in the e-commerce industry, is a real environmental disaster. However, recycled and reusable packaging solutions are emerging to put an end to this waste. The objective of this challenge will be to improve and extend to other markets the existing ZipBack solution. The challenge will focus on process circularity and reducing the impact of packaging in the online shipping industry. 

Challenge 3

Make the refurbishment schemes
in the appliance sector a reality

Rainer Maisch
Partner bei Helbling Technik AG

Rainer leads the Business Unit at Helbling developing beverage systems and tools. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the development of appliances such as home appliances, beverage systems and power tools. He is used to work in and perform projects for renowned international companies.

Rainer has since years incorporated ecological aspects in the development of appliances. Aspects that were implemented in a variety of projects during the last 10 years to improve design for sustainability are the use of recycled material, energy consumption (standby) and high expected life. He has valuable contacts in the manufacturing industry and succesfully finds partners to implement more sustainable processes that previously were thought to be “impossible”. For example, the use of waste from electronic equipment to build new coffee machines.

Rainer has studied economics at the University of Zurich. He has worked and lived in 8 different countries and has served 2 years for a humanitarian organization.

Dr. Jonathan Demierre
Head of Development - Sustainability Engineering at Helbling Technik AG

Jonathan leads the Sustainability Engineering Team at Helbling. He has a broad experience in sustainability and ecodesign in various sectors such as consumer goods, food and beverage, electronics, energy, and international cooperation. His team supports clients - ranging from startups to multinationals - in ecodesign, sustainability assessment, LCA, and circular solutions. Prior to joining Helbling, Jonathan worked at the Sustainable Engineering Lab of Columbia University where he led research on expanding access to affordable and clean energy and sustainable development in developing economies. He participated as well to drafting the G20 Energy Access Action Plan. At the beginning of his career, he gained experience in the fields of heat pumps, cogeneration, and turbomachines as technical project manager and research engineer. Jonathan holds a PhD in Energy Systems and an MSc in Mechanical Engineering from EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) and an MSc in Aerospace Engineering from SUPAERO (National Higher French Institute of Aeronautics and Space).


Worldwide a huge number of appliances are disposed every year generating enormous quantity of wastes containing valuable materials that cannot be fully recycled. To improve the “circularity” of the sector, appliances could be reused multiple times by different users. In this challenge, you will have the responsibility to elaborate a refurbishment scheme for an internet sales company to enable the reuse of appliances without degrading the convenience and the quality. 

Challenge 4

Closing the loop: What drives companies
to do (more) for a circular economy?

Prof. Dr. Martin Wörter
Head of the Innovation Division at ETH Zurich, KOF Swiss Economic Institute

Martin Wörter is head of the Innovation Division at ETH Zurich, KOF Swiss Economic Institute and adjunct professor at the Department of Management, Technology and Economics at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on the field of innovation economics including topics related to environmental innovations, digitalization of the economy, and knowledge and technology transfer. Before coming to ETH Zurich, he worked at WIK (Scientific Institute for Communication Services) in Germany, at the Academy of Sciences in Vienna and at the University of Innsbruck. As part of his PhD he also conducted research at SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research) in Brighton (England) and at the University of Marburg (Germany).


The transition to a circular economy is a major challenge for companies. Some companies succeed in the transformation process better than others. This raises the question of what we can learn from the pioneers and what prevents other companies from making their products and services more circular, or how policy makers can support the transition process. This challenge will address these and related questions. 

Challenge 5

End of Life Solutions for the Shoe Industry:
How can resources be recovered and the
logistical framework for circularity be designed?

Frédéric Barthassat
Business Development Manager at Flawa Consumer GmbH

Frederic Barthassat studied International Relations, Political Science and Geography at the University of Zurich, the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. He started his career in the finance sector working for a leading global provider of financial information and as a Political Analyst for a Swiss bank. Of Swiss and South Korean origin, he left the finance world to deepen his knowledge about the history, politics, and culture of the Korean peninsula through postgraduate studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Korean Studies, he received a Language Fellowship from the Korea Foundation that allowed him to further develop his Korean skills at Sogang University in Seoul. He lived in South Korea for five years, working as a language teacher and in different Sales and Operation positions for German and South Korean Companies. After returning to Switzerland and before joining Flawa Consumer GmbH, he acted as an International Sales, Project, and Data Manager for a leading Swiss comfort shoe brand with manufacturing operations in South Korea.

Eva Bergmann
Chief Commercial Officer at Flawa Consumer GmbH

Eva Bergmann leads Sales and Marketing at FLAWA Consumer GmbH. She is an expert in Business Development and Corporate Strategy.

Eva Bergmann is an Economist (University of Heidelberg) by training and did an MBA at University of St. Gallen. After her career start in the automotive industry, she built a med-tech start-up operating in NAM, EMEA and Asia. Before joining the general management team of FLAWA Consumer GmbH, she was responsible for Business Development at Mammut Sports Group AG, heading cross-divisional business projects on a global level.

Lukas Eisenring
R&D project manager

Lukas Eisenring is a Physicist (ETH Zurich) by education and holds an MAS degree in Management and Economics from ETH Zurich. After a career start as a business analyst in the financial industry he returned to his roots and worked first as a test engineer and later innovation manager for a global med-tech company. He joined Flawa Consumer GmbH as an R&D project manager because of his strong belief that the economy of the future is circular and that we do not have to sacrifice performance to improve the carbon footprint of a product. In his current project he deals with biobased and biodegradable foams for the sports industry.


How can a medium sized company producing shoe components act and incentivize suppliers, clients, and other stakeholders to follow circular economy principles? This challenge invites participants to think through several aspects linked to the footwear sector and come up with business strategies that create more incentives for circularity in the industry while assuring the economic success for their company. 


Christina Stent Wendler
Head Coach | Organisational Developer
Daniel Böniger-Derron
Coach | Seasoned leader
Suzie Fuchs
Coach | Supervisor
Dominik Hanisch
Coach | Innovation Expert
Tara Welschinger
Coach | Entwicklungsberaterin mit Schwerpunkt Cultural Change Management
Florian Wieser
Coach | Possibilist

International Swiss Talent Forum 2023

International Swiss Talent Forum 2022

Project Leader

Julián Cancino
Project Leader ISTF

Our partners

Main partners

Scientific partners

Innovation process

Creative and innovative thinking is key to tackling the main topic at this event! Supported by experienced moderators, innovation-coaches and media professionals, participants follow a structured, yet open process based on the principle of co-creation.