Special Sprice Diary – geschrieben von Joanne und Noel

When we heard our names called out during the prize ceremony at the National Finals of Swiss Youth in Science, we tried not to fall over as we walked to the other side of the stage. Not only had our work been recognized, but we had also been bestowed the honor of winning a special prize, an opportunity to attend the Swiss Innovation Forum. There, we would have the chance to network and present our projects once again. Feeling a mix of surprise, honor, and excitement, we embarked on this adventure with a sense of gratitude. Winning this prize was not just an acknowledgment of the hard work we invested in our projects, but also the start of an incredible learning experience.

Preparing for the forum

In preparation for the event, we both revisited our papers and presentations. The focus was not only on refining our individual projects but also on exploring new ways to present our ideas. Creating business cards, redesigning posters and presentations, and adapting CAD models to create a 3D model to exhibit helped us prepare for a new stage and audience.

The forum took place in Basel on the 30th of November. One of us (Joanne) actually lives in Basel, so getting there was rather quick. However, Noel had to take the 6AM train to arrive in Basel on time.

Once we were both there, there was a hub of excitement. The atmosphere was alive with new ideas and innovation, and the lively discussions buzzed across the large hall. Walking through the stands was like walking into new, different ways of thinking or approaching a problem.

Our mission was not only to learn as much as possible, share our ideas with a broader audience and grow our network, but also to let ourselves be inspired by the industry leaders and creative-thinkers all around us. The fact that these busy professionals were truly interested in learning more about our projects was an honor for us both!

Presenting our work

The people we met there were the highlight of our experience. There were so many interesting individuals there, all with different backgrounds and much more experience. Yet they all shared the same thing – being passionate for something and striving for innovation. The interactions were diverse; some attendees were curious about technical aspects, others about business models, and some aimed to challenge our understanding. Each conversation was a learning opportunity and a chance to refine our communication skills. It was exciting to talk with the experienced and well-known experts in the field about our projects and exchange views on current global problems. For example, one of us had an hour-long conversation with the sister of one of the guest speakers about their project on AI in the education system. She was a teacher with decades of experience in various education settings, and she provided valuable insights into how the project could make a real-world impact.

Insightful Speakers

In between these discussions, there were also a wide variety of speakers giving a talk during the event. These speakers ranged from industry leaders such as the CEO of Microsoft Switzerland to unconventional thinkers such as Teemu Arina, who discussed the concept of biohacking. These discussions provided a rich tapestry of ideas and perspectives. Every single time, we left with a new idea or perspective about technology and the future of innovation.

Catrin Hinkel, the CEO of Microsoft Switzerland

Jennifer Harris Trosper, Project Manager Mars 2020, NASA

Challenges and Growth

It was special to be invited to such a forum with successful and renowned individuals. Yet, overcoming imposter syndrome and a slight fear of public speaking were significant hurdles. But once we started talking with people, we both felt right at home. In fact, our most important takeaway from SIF was the realization of the power of stepping out of our comfort zones. Engaging with people from different backgrounds, discussing with startups interested in our work, and receiving encouragement from experienced professionals were all part of this enriching journey. Each conversation added a layer to our understanding and confidence. Sometimes, you just have to start talking openly with the people and you get to know so many different exciting stories!

We are immensely grateful for the opportunity provided by SJF and IGE and for the platform to share our ideas. Each interaction, challenge, and lesson learned has been a stepping stone in our journey as young innovators.