Swiss-Nepal Technology Transfer Seminar in Zurich

The Nepali Scientific Association in Switzerland (NepSAS) and the Embassy of Nepal in Switzerland jointly organized the Swiss-Nepal Technology Transfer Seminar on April 8, 2017 in ETH Zurich, Switzerland. In the seminar, ongoing and potential projects of technology transfer between Switzerland and Nepal were presented and discussed. The seminar was conducted in three sessions, each chaired by Ranjan Mishra, Rakesh Chandra Prajapati and Saurav Subedi respectively. The attendees of the program included professors, scientists and students from Swiss universities, technology transfer enthusiasts from NGOs and dignitaries including ambassador of Nepal in Switzerland H.E. Dipak Dhital. Ambassador Dhital encouraged researchers to work in the priority areas defined by Nepal government, where technical transfer would be especially beneficial.

Alex Zahnd, who has developed improved smokeless fire stove that has found widespread use in Nepal, talked about his experience of working with communities in Humla and Jumla for over two decades. Zahnd stressed that his organizations RIDS-Nepal and RIDS-Switzerland focus on holistic development based on the needs and the participation of local communities.

Franz Gähwiler, the Helvetas Program Coordinator for Nepal reiterated the need to work with local communities in order to avoid “technological white-elephants” that are common when development agencies try technology-transfer into societies with different realities.Gähwiler described the success-story of suspension footbridges built by Helvetas in different parts of Nepal and how Nepali engineers are now transferring that technology to other countries, including Switzerland itself. During the seminar, a team of ETH Zurich students led by Moritz Mussgnug presented their Helvetas-supported project on development of a machine to improve the extraction of hard-shell walnut oil. The machine will reduce the time of oil extraction process by about 10 times and help people in Humla improve their livelihood by creating a value-chain for their product.

The experience of starting and running a technical school in Lamjung was also shared in the event by Markus Ruckstuhl and Dr. Sujan Malla, president and treasurer of Swiss Nepalese Society (SNS) receptively. The school, run by an all-Nepali staff with the help of SNS, plans to add a course-program for Agriculture in the coming years. According to Ruckstuhl, the school aims to enable locals to make a decent earning in their neighborhood and to help prevent the drain of local workers to dire working situations overseas.

The seminar is a follow-up of an workshop organized last January by NepSAS in Kathmandu, where group of Nepali students were paired with relevant mentors, most of them studying or working in Switzerland, and encouraged to propose ideas for technical collaboration. The teams were then judged for the viability of their ideas. The winning project from the workshop was presented during the event in Zurich by its mentor Rakesh Chandra Prajapati. Prajapati talked about plans to use CanSat and drone technology for collecting air-pollution data of Kathmandu valley.. Prajapati also listed some of the activities carried out in Nepal via his start-up company named ‘ORION Space’. Ranjan Mishra and Saurav Subedi shared the experience from the Kathmandu event with the attendees in Zurich. Nepali and Swiss researchers, including Prof. Christoph Hugi, Prof Bhupal Shrestha, Dr. Danda Paudel, Dr. Suyog Shrestha, Dr. Juna Shrestha and Bikalpa Bikash Neupane also shared their experiences of working with teams in Nepal. Besides, Bürgi Jutta from sister organization, Chilean Researchers in Switzerland shared her organizational and collaboration experiences.