Nov 26, 2015


Spread over a full week of events, Lift India, an initiative in collaboration with swissnex India, brought together more than 400 people from the main cities of India, Asia and Europe.

The festivities started on Tuesday, October 27, with the opening of the Data Canvas: Sense Your City exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore (NGMA). The next day, 7 of the best Swiss startups of 2015 joined the Lift team for a crash-course on business in India and a visit of a few hand-picked innovation hubs of Bangalore. This discovery tour culminated with the Swiss Innovation Night on Friday 30, a fast-paced pitching session in front of representatives from corporations and governments, investors and fellow innovators, held at the Mövenpick hotel.

On Saturday 31, all gathered back at the NGMA for the one-day, invitation-only Lift India conference, featuring our renowned combination of inspirational talks, workshops, masterclasses and interactive exhibition. Finally, the discovery tour headed to Mumbai for a soft landing into the innovation ecosystem at Zone Startups and a few meetings with key industry leaders.

One-day conference in Bangalore, Oct. 31

After an introduction by Abir Oreibi, President of Lift, and the Consul General of Switzerland and CEO of swissnex India Balz Strasser, the conference started off with a keynote session on the Naked Truth About Data, featuring talks from two industry specialists: Sarita Digumarti, co-founder of Jigsaw Academy, shared the need for human beings to interpret data while Anand S, Chief Data Scientist at Gramener, showed us how to gather the stories behind the numbers to extract actionable meaning.

To give practical examples of the use of data, two Swiss entrepreneurs shared their stories and concluded this first session: Raphaël Gindrat, founder of Bestmile, whose fleet-management system is based on gathering, sorting and analysing continuous data coming from the driverless cars to optimize traffic; and Soraia Binzagr, creator of émoi, a project in which she uses a gustatory language expressed through shapes, taste and textures of chocolate to share human emotions.

After a networking lunch during which participants got to meet more informally, the conference resumed with the early afternoon session, featuring four activities in parallel: on the main stage, Ajay Ramasubramaniam, founder of zonestartups in Mumbai, Balz Strasser, CEO of swissnex India and Prateek Khare, Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at swissnex India, led a panel discussion and pitch session with the Swiss startups having made the trip to India for our discovery tour, discussing cross-border innovation.

In the garden of NGMA, amidst the trees and plants, Seema Anand and Prashant Dhawan, founders of Biomimicry India, showed the audience with practical games how to get inspiration from nature to solve some of our toughest challenges.

Kavitha Iyer, Director and COO at Theramyt Novobiologics, held a masterclass in collaboration with CCAMP on the state of Life Science innovation in India, putting in the spotlight 4 startups from this field: String Bio, Indio Labs, Shilps Sciences and Coeo Labs. Finally, Johann Recordon from Lift presented the story behind the project Data Canvas: Sense Your City and gave a visit of the exhibition. Raphaël Munoz, designer of featured project CityCells, took the audience at the intersection of design, code and art.

In the late afternoon, a second panel was held on the main stage, putting Indian innovation at the forefront with a focus on the use of data. Guhesh Ramanathan, CEO and co-founder of, led the discussion with Nishil Koshy, founder of Kfx, and Ritvvij Parrik, founder of Pykih.

Adam Varkalis from Fotokite took people on an aerial tour of the conference, using his flying camera on a leash to film what was happening from above. Meanwhile, Soraia Binzagr, creator of émoi, discussed food as a medium of communication and created with the audience a gustatory language, before tasting some delicious Swiss chocolate of her creation. Finally, Greg Bernarda, co-author of Value Proposition Design, held a crash-course on how to create a product that people really want to buy, based on a scenario extracted from the project Data Canvas: Sense Your City (read more about this last session at the end of this article).

To conclude the day, Abir Oreibi shared some insights about the future of Lift while Anandi Iyer recapped the day through her personal experience of the various workshops and sessions.

Data Canvas: Sense Your City exhibition, Oct. 27 to Nov. 8

To continue the discussion around open data, data literacy and citizen sensing, an exhibition showing 13 of the best pieces from the online data visualization challenge Data Canvas was presented during Lift India in partnership with the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). CityCells, the augmented reality iPad app developed by the three Swiss designers Baptiste Milési, Cassandre Poirier-Simon and Raphaël Munoz, along with the Grand Prize winner project Sonic Particles 2.0 by Kasper Fangel Skov from Copenhagen, were the center pieces of the exhibition, attracting the curiosity of all with their mesmerizing soundscapes and intricate visuals. Eleven other pieces in interactive, video and printed format were shown, allowing visitors various ways to engage with the exhibition.

Two guest designers were featured in the exhibition to show other approaches to data and their interpretations. Soraia Binzagr, Swiss designer and coder who was also part of the Discovery Tour, presented her project émoi that translates emotions into chocolate, communicating through shapes, textures and tastes. Rasagy Sharma, an Indian designer, showcased his project developped at the Information Design Lab at IDC, IIT Bombay, visualizing trains in India.

Finally, eight projects created through the summer workshop Adventures in Data Visualization 2015 at SUPSI were also available to the audience, such as Dropper, an interactive visualization that explores the relation between the rain and the levels of the lakes in three Swiss cities, created by Claudia Ciarpella and Amedeo Spagnolo.

The exhibition received great attention from Indian media, such as the Times of India who featured an article on its second page, the Deccan Herald or the Economic Times of India who used the data available on the project's plateform to inform citizens about the current state of pollution in Bangalore.

Session in the spotlight: Value Proposition Crash-course

Animated by Greg Bernada, Co-author of Value Proposition Design, this workshop immersed participants in an intense, hands-on introduction to the concepts and tools of the international bestsellers Business Model Generation and its recently released sequel Value Proposition Design.

The workshop led participants through the ideation and design of a business that tackles air pollution in Bangalore. Participants took up the challenge to collaboratively build a value proposition, business model and a test plan in 90 minutes or less.

The tools at the heart of the books assist in easily and visually mapping how to create value for customers (through the Value Proposition Canvas) and value for one’s business or project (through the Business Model Canvas). Moreover, the method is the same imparted with startups or large multinationals from around the world and can be summarized with the following outcomes:

  • A relentless focus on prototyping and testing early
  • Embarking on a journey of iterations until it is clear that an idea has traction with those it is supposed to serve or delight
  • Ultimately, it is about understanding that today’s innovation goes far beyond just products or technology

  Read about the details of the Swiss Innovation Night and the Discovery Tour in the second part of this recap article!