eA 9th Edition

NeXus 3 – 9th Edition Recap

exploreASEAN Recap Video

Get a glimpse of the 9th edition of exploreASEAN’s journey as we deep dive into the topic “Beyond Growth: Embracing Digitalization and Robotics in Circular Economy”. This year we worked with numerous partners in Switzerland as well as Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore to uncover how companies use emerging technologies such as AI to champion the principles of circularity. Dive into our video and seize the opportunity to lead next year’s edition as a Project or Communications Manager. Applications are open now until the 14th of May!

eA 9th Edition

NeXus 2

Infographic exploreASEAN 2024

Would you like to find out more about the 9th edition of exploreASEAN? Then take a look at our infographic. Exciting facts and figures await you about our project, our delegation, the seminar in Switzerland and our flagship event, the seminar abroad. 

eA 9th Edition

Seminar in Switzerland – Recap Day 5

PR & Communications Blogpost #5

On the final day of our Seminar in Switzerland, we kicked off the morning with the Company Walk and Career Fair, providing an invaluable opportunity for companies to showcase themselves and engage with potential future employees – the student delegations themselves. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Landi Schweiz AG, DT Swiss, Accenture, UBS, Hoffmann Partner, KPMG, and offer a special acknowledgment to Next Career Services for their invaluable support and seamless organization of this enriching event.

In the afternoon, the delegation gathered for our World Coffee Talk, a collaborative session to reflect on the week’s experiences. We utilized a fun twist by incorporating M&M candies, with each color representing different aspects of the seminar – from keynote speeches to workshops. Participants engaged in group discussions, sharing insights and reflections prompted by the candies they selected. This interactive approach fostered meaningful dialogue and deepened our understanding of the seminar’s impact on our personal and academic growth.

Following this, we were privileged to have Mr. Hellmer Rahms from Google deliver an insightful keynote address, marking the commencement of the Creativity Challenge. This challenge tasked delegations from different ISPs with crafting a compelling narrative using recycled materials such as cartons and leftover cloth, showcasing their learnings from the Seminar in Switzerland.

Before the formal conclusion of the Seminar in Switzerland, former delegation members were invited to share their insights and answer questions regarding the upcoming Seminar Abroad, providing invaluable guidance and inspiration to current participants.

The day culminated in an Apero organized by all ISPs, serving as a fitting conclusion to our time together as we shared our excitement one last time before bidding farewell and returning home.

eA 9th Edition

Seminar in Switzerland – Recap Day 4

Delegation Blogpost – Seminar Recap #4

Circular Economy: From the UN SDGs to Donut Economy

Dr. Pavlina Pavlova lectured on Circular Economy as a pathway to reach climate goals. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of objectives aimed at promoting global prosperity, protecting the planet, and ensuring peace. The integration of circular economy principles into the implementation of the SDGs is considered crucial to achieving sustainable development.

Learnings and Key Takeaways

The circular economy aims to reduce waste and pollution, promote resource efficiency, and regenerate nature. Donut Economics poses the question of how to achieve a minimum level of prosperity for all without exceeding the maximum allowable environmental impact. These concepts emphasize the need for a holistic and integrative approach to ecological, social, and economic challenges for a sustainable future. It is emphasized that the circular economy aims not only to recycle waste, but also to keep products and materials in high-value loops. This holistic approach includes reducing waste and inefficiency, promoting resource efficiency, and creating new business models based on circular principles. By implementing circular economy concepts, companies can tap into new markets, enhance their competitiveness, and make a positive contribution to the environment. The circular economy is highlighted as the key to creating a sustainable,
climate-resilient future reconciling ecological, social, and economic goals.

Links to our Seminar Abroad

In summary, we have learned that the circular economy aims to minimize waste and pollution while promoting resource efficiency and nature regeneration. This underscores the need to transition from linear consumption patterns to more sustainable practices that reduce environmental impact. During group work, we analyzed the product lifecycle of everyday items. We considered which stage of the product lifecycle consumes the most resources and where we can strive for improvements in favor of the circular economy.

All these themes are reflected in our upcoming trip to Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore. Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore are all rapidly developing economies with growing industries. Companies in these countries may seek ways to integrate circular economy principles into their operations to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste, and increase sustainability.

As stated in this article, you can browse your selection of available deals on smartphones and top brands and explore the cell phone service plans that best suit your needs.


In conclusion, looking at the discussion around the circular economy shows us that moving towards such an economy can really help solve environmental problems and support sustainable growth. By looking at what’s happening in Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand, we can see examples of how using circular economy ideas can change the way businesses operate, moving from simply using things up to renewing and reusing resources. These examples help us understand how these ideas can be used everywhere to make better use of resources and create less waste. So, moving towards a circular economy is an important step
in ensuring that our economic activities do not harm the environment, and working towards a future where we can all thrive without harming our planet.

Authors: Daksahaini Chellapah & Linda Tran

Sustainability at SIEMENS

Mario Fürst, who has worked at Siemens for more than 12 years, gave us an insight into Siemens in terms of sustainability. We were introduced to various projects where Siemens was or is a technical supplier. The projects include Stoelze Glas Group, which has reduced CO2 and energy consumption in glass production and Hugo Beck Machine Building, which focuses on sustainable packaging. Ms. Sireena gave us a demonstration of the SiGREEN program as well. SiGREEN is a web app program in which the dynamic carbon footprint can be recorded for the entire supply chain of a product (Dynamic Product Carbon Footprint PCF). Target groups include the automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries.

Key takeaways and learnings

Sustainability has many different facets and can play out in different ways. Sustainability can for example be improved together with digitalization.

A further topic was digital twins. A digital twin is used to simulate and determine the best possible variant. For an example, thanks to digital twins, bionic arm prostheses can be developed in which the user can safely hold a cup. This would be a difficult task for a traditional prosthesis. Another example is “Siemens City Graph”, which is a digital twin of a Smart City. Real-time data is analyzed and a recommendation for action can be generated.

Siemens has set up the DEGREE framework to ensure sustainability at various levels. Each letter stands for an area.

Decarbonization – Pursuing the 1.5°C global warming target.

Ethics – To live a culture of trust, careful handling of data and respect for ethical standards.

Governance – For effective and responsible business conduct using state-of-the-art systems.

Resource efficiency & circularity – To achieve dematerialization and a circular economy.

Equity – To promote a sense of belonging, diversity, inclusion and community development.

Employability – Supporting employees to develop in a constantly changing environment.

Links to our topics

Siemens has several projects that relate to our topics. The benefits of digitalization can be demonstrated by the Stoelze Glass Group. The company manufactures packaging glass, which for example is used in the pharmaceutical and perfumery industries. They pursue the overall goal of improving efficiency and reducing costs. Process and energy optimization can be achieved with an energy management system from Siemens. Data points, especially in the energy-intensive areas, are collected, stored and evaluated. Successes have already been achieved at the main site in Austria, where monitoring has made it possible to reduce water consumption and energy requirements. The software can also measure compressed air consumption and detect leaks at an early stage.


It will be interesting to see how the companies in the visiting destinations approach sustainability and how they implement it. A hint that we received from Mr. Fürst is that if you are open to other cultures, you may be able to better understand why something is done the way it is.

Authors: Anna Jörgensen & Lorenza Bacher

eA 9th Edition

Seminar in Switzerland – Recap Day 3

Delegation Blogpost – Seminar Recap #3

Championing Digitalisation and Robotics at Competec Logistik AG

On our third ExploreASEAN seminar day, we visited Competec Logistik AG in Willisau and were given a tour of their state-of-the-art logistics centre. This gave us the opportunity to see one aspect of our overarching project theme, digitalisation, in practice. Competec Logistik AG handles all logistics tasks for the subsidiaries of the Competec Group, including Roland Brack’s well-known company BRACK.CH. The company has a special value proposition: order today and receive your products tomorrow. In order to be able to fulfil this value proposition, the company relies on a sophisticated and technology-supported logistics process, which you can impressively see and experience on site.


The first stop on our tour was the goods receiving area, where goods are received from external transport companies, entered into the system and then stored in the warehouse, from where the current stock of each product can be accessed online. Our second stop was the fully automated high-bay warehouse, where robots automatically store products in a low-oxygen environment and retrieve them from the appropriate shelf locations when orders are received. The low-oxygen environment is used to prevent fires.
Our third stop was the Autostore warehouse concept. A warehouse concept that consists of over 290 robots that drive like small cars on a grid system, storing and retrieving products and managing the stacking system of containers. Products that are ordered most frequently are stored at the top of these stacking systems, while products that are ordered less frequently are stored at the bottom. What is particularly exciting about this is that a robot can move to a loading station on its own when its battery is empty, the other robots take over in the event of a failure, and human interaction is only required in the event of a technical failure. The rack storage areas and systems are connected by several hundred metres of conveyors to the outgoing goods area, where all the products in an order are assembled and prepared for dispatch.


The dialogue revealed that one of the biggest challenges is that Competec Logistik AG supplies both private households (B2C) and companies (B2B) and therefore has to meet a variety of requirements and different sizes and quantities of goods.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Competec Logistik AG for the valuable insight. It was very impressive to see the use of robotics and the impact of digitalisation on logistics. We were able to ask many questions, receive valuable answers and gain new knowledge

Author: Urs Wermuth

Exploring Sustainable Energy Solutions in Switzerland with CKW

Nestled in the heart of Switzerland, CKW (Centralschweizerische Kraftwerke) stands tall as one of the country’s leading energy companies. With a strategic focus on the central region. CKW’s headquarters in Emmen (LU) serves as a hub for innovation and excellence in the energy sector. Supplying electricity to approximately 200,000 consumers, CKW’s commitment to sustainability and efficiency is evident in its diverse range of energy solutions.

Key Takeaways and Learnings

During our visit to CKW, we gained valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities surrounding sustainable energy generation in Switzerland. The presentation provided a comprehensive overview of the complexities involved in transitioning towards renewable energy sources while ensuring reliability and affordability for consumers. We looked at the issues and problems of today’s wasteful society and asked ourselves the question: What would happen in the event of an energy blackout in Switzerland?

From navigating regulatory frameworks to investing in cutting-edge technologies, CKW showcased their dedication to leading the charge towards a greener future. One of the key highlights of our visit was CKW’s expertise in sustainable energy generation such as solar energy, wind power and hydropower. CKW is actively involved in the expansion of renewable energy generation. It was remarkably interesting to learn how difficult and time-consuming it is to realize new projects in Switzerland, often due to high regulatory barriers. CKW’s commitment to renewable energy is evident in its innovative approach to harnessing the power of the sun and wind. Through the deployment of solar panels and the planning of wind farms, they are actively contributing to reducing carbon emissions and promoting energy independence. This aligns seamlessly with the circularity theme of our seminar.

CKW also showed us an example of energy generation from renewable energy. We were given a guided tour of the hydroelectric power plant in Emmen, where we learned how it works and why it is sustainable.

We had the opportunity to measure and compare our personal energy consumption. This was very eye-opening and showed us where energy is being wasted in our everyday lives and how we can optimize our energy consumption. We also looked at how sustainably other countries produce energy: It was shocking to see the polluting ways in which many countries are still producing electricity. This showed us the small role of Switzerland’s efforts in the global context.


In conclusion, our visit to CKW was both enlightening and inspiring. It reinforced our belief in the transformative power of sustainable energy and highlighted the importance of collaboration in addressing the challenges of climate change. Together, we can work towards building a more sustainable future for generations to come. However, we still have a long way to go.

Authors: Nick Binggeli & Alain Schweizer

eA 9th Edition

Seminar in Switzerland – Recap Day 2

Delegation Blogpost – Seminar Recap #2

Our second day of the Seminar in Switzerland was filled with many thrilling guest speakers that brought their industry experience and offered their expertise in the topics of Circularity, Digitalization and Robotics. We also learned more about Singapore and surprised our student delegation with a cooking competition at the end of the day.

Big thanks to our delegation for their active participation during the seminar as well as while writing these blogpost. We are thrilled to present these student contributions in the following paragraphs and without further ado – Ready? Steady Pom Pipi!

Sustainability in Corporate Banking – A Workshop with UBS

The past week we had the privilege of welcoming Remo Häcki and Imola Kurel as guest speakers in our seminar in Switzerland. With their expertise in managing client portfolios and offering customized
solutions and advice on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)
issues, they brought invaluable insights to our discussion.

Our Tasks and Learnings

All students were organized into groups based on their prior work
experience, embarking on a thought-provoking exercise. We had to select a former or current employer to examine through the lens of two critical questions:

1)  How can a company approach sustainability to stay
competitive in the future?

2)  What role do banks play when supporting companies in
making its business practices more sustainable?

The day before the actual get-together, we had to assess where the
chosen company currently stands in terms of sustainability. Based on the first impression questions were prepared for an interactive Q&A session. The Q&A session was intended to give the students a deeper understanding on their chosen topic. Remo Häcki came without Power-Point-Slides, he picked a flipchart and collected our questions. We appreciated the fact that his inputs and insights were at the interests of the students and not his company UBS. Through the following exercise, the students developed strategies to enhance sustainability, sharing their innovative ideas with the class. A key challenge identified by Remo Häcki was the difficulty in achieving transparency regarding CO2 emissions, which are often only estimable.


Remo Häcki emphasized the importance of understanding a business’s
unique challenges before advising on leveraging sustainability for
competitive advantage. He encouraged thinking outside the box and
highlighted how fostering exchanges between companies can significantly improve overall sustainability.

This hands-on experience with real-life scenarios gave us an invaluable
insight into the complexity of sustainability and provided us with the
necessary sensitivity to make future decisions to tackle these

Authors: Caroline Stocker & Cedric Hänggi

Insights Singapore: A Hotpot of Cultures

Genevieve Schärer-Lim gave us a fascinating insight into the diversity and dynamism of Singapore. With a rich cultural heritage and a thriving economy, Singapore has much to offer and remains a key destination for global business interests and cultural exchange.

The Facets of Singapura

The presentation highlighted many fascinating facts about Singapore. The English name “Singapore” derives from the native Malay word Singapura, which was in turn derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘lion city’, simha means ‘lion’ and pura means ‘city’ or ‘fortress’, reflecting the country’s history and geography. Interestingly, many aspects of Singapore are named after Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who played a pivotal role in the country’s development. He transformed Singapore from a small, resource-poor island into a thriving global financial hub, marked by its robust economy, advanced infrastructure, and high living standards.

A fascinating feature that Singapore shares with Switzerland is its multilingualism. Sharing both four official languages, Singaporeans speak English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, reflecting the diversity of cultures and traditions in the country.

The presentation also highlighted Singapore’s world-leading standards in areas such as quality of life, research and innovation, and urban management efficiency. Despite its conservative social structure, Singapore offers opportunities for women in top management and emphasises work-life balance.

An interesting cultural nuance highlighted during the presentation was the Peranakan culture, which is a blend of Malay and Chinese influences. The recommendation to try the local cuisine opened the door to a rich culinary heritage that reflects the diversity of Singapore’s ethnic groups.

Strict adherence to rules and regulations is another hallmark of Singapore, contributing to its high level of safety and efficiency. From a ban on chewing gum to strict rules on cleanliness and hygiene on public transport, discipline is an integral part of the Singaporean lifestyle.

During the presentation, we also learned some local terms and expressions that gave us an insight into Singapore’s unique culture. These included words like “shiok” for delicious food and “pokai” for financial hardship. We were also amused to learn expressions such as “ketok”, which means paying too much for something, and “digging gold”, a term for picking one’s nose. These expressions, which come from the local creole language Singlish, not only offer a glimpse into Singaporean humour, but also serve as cultural touchstones that enhance our appreciation of the local lifestyle.


Overall, Genevieve Schärer-Lim’s presentation was a captivating exploration through the diversity and richness of Singapore. Her insights and information not only provided us with better understanding of this fascinating country, but also skillfully linked it to the broader objectives of the ExploreASEAN delegation. As our journey is inspired by the shift from linear to circular, emphasizing the critical role of innovation in shaping a net positive future.

Authors: Vanessa Vecchio & Filippo Fusco

The Capabilities of Artificial Intelligence

In the roam of the exploreASEAN preparation seminar held in Olten throughout the past week, the delegated students and the Project Team members, as well as their academic supervisor Dr Teresa L. Freiburghaus, were introduced to the topic of Artificial Intelligence by Ms Maja Spahic, lecturer at the FHNW. One of the main goals that this presentation had to meet was to efficiently provide the students with some key insights about artificial intelligence, that should be very useful for their seminar abroad in Asia in March.

Key Learnings and Takeaways

During her 2-hour speech, Ms Maja Spahic took the students through an exciting journey about artificial intelligence, revealing some key points that almost no one would have expected. As an example, it was unveiled that the first idea of a modern computer was built and used back in 1830, a year that appeared as extremely far back in time, when it is known that artificial intelligence (AI) and technology mainly developed over the last 30 to 40 years. What was also to be learned from this presentation were some facts about the development and the spreading of AI in anyone’s daily routine, should it be through machines providing support to simply complex tasks, for example in healthcare or logistics, something that was also a subject during the visits of companies that took place on the previous day.

Relevance towards our Topics

In fact, the content of this speech was directly linked with the themes of this year’s exploreASEAN seminar, whose focus is placed on “Beyond growth : Embracing Digitalization and Robotics in a Circular Economy”. Indeed, it can even be placed as a core topic in this global theme, as AI are among the most accurate concrete representations of digitalization and obviously of robotics in our contemporary world. As the position of robotics and digitalization generally is accurately central in the current Asia’s economies, having a focus on AI during the preparatory seminar was truly needed and especially relevant. Furthermore, when focusing on the circularity of the economy, AI may from time to time be questioned from an environmental perspective, regarding the electronic waste that it may generate. This represents a subject that could be explored deeply during the seminar abroad in Asia.


Overall, discussing about AI brought lots of relevant knowledge to the delegates, the Project Team and their supervisor, and provided them all with key insights, facts and information that they will need to understand the vision, mission and strategies set by the different companies that they will be visiting in Asia next month. It was once again proven during this speech how crucial AI has become in the modern current economic world, winning a relevance that does not seem to be fading away in the upcoming decades, but rather continually growing.

Author: Thibaut Fritz

A Culinary Excursion: The Vietnamese Cuisine Competition

On Thursday afternoon, the entire delegation was very excited about the Vietnamese cooking experience. Not only were we looking forward to getting to know Vietnamese cuisine, but we were also highly motivated to compete against each other in a team competition. Three criteria were evaluated: the number of summer rolls, the taste, and the appearance/decoration. The competitive pressure was high, each team wanted to win the challenge. And of course, we had a lot of fun!

The Importance of Food in Vietnamese Culture

Food plays a central role in the daily lives of the Vietnamese people. Locals rarely eat at home, they rather prefer to enjoy their meals in the community at street food places, where multiple dishes are served simultaneously and shared with family and friends. Street food not only offers delicious, varied dishes but is also financially affordable for the locals. Vietnamese food culture is characterised by fresh ingredients, complex flavors and balanced textures. Dishes consist mainly of fresh, local ingredients such as herbs, vegetables, seafood and meat. In addition, foods typically combine elements of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy flavors.

Vietnamese cuisine is well known for its time-intensive preparation. This is mainly because the recipes require a lot of fresh ingredients, which need to be peeled and chopped before they can be processed.

The Challenge

Before the challenge began and we had to prepare our meals in just 60 minutes, the students from Vietnam, currently studying abroad for a semester at FHNW in Switzerland, showed us step by step how to make the dishes. Firstly, they explained us how to prepare Nôm (north Vietnamese). This is a delicious sweet-sour salad made from shredded kohlrabi and carrots. The dressing consists of simple ingredients such as lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a lot of sugar. For the great taste, the salad is flavored with Asian herbs such as coriander and Thai basil. Peanuts as a topping complete the dish. Secondly, they showed us how to make traditional Vietnamese summer rolls. They cut a carrot and a cucumber into small juliennes. The fish, meat and tofu are also prepared. To make the summer rolls, you have to take a piece of rice paper and wet it with cold water. Then lettuce, chopped vegetables, cooked rice noodles, fresh herbs and either fish, meat or tofu need to be added. The stuffed rice paper can now be rolled up. Done! the summer rolls can now be perfectly enjoyed with either fish or soy sauce. Some garlic and chilli may be added to the sauce.

Before we began working, we prepared all the ingredients. In order to complete the menu, including decoration, within 60 minutes, it required the full participation of every team member. While some individuals were busy grating and cutting the vegetables, others began rolling the ingredients, while another group started with the sauce. It was almost like being in a factory. We made a conscious effort to utilize each person’s strengths to the fullest extent possible. During the decoration process, everyone contributed their ideas, each offering fantastic suggestions on how to enhance and beautify the menu even further.

Authors: Nina Weber & Alessandra Maute

eA 9th Edition

Seminar in Switzerland – Recap Day 1

Delegation Blogpost – Seminar Recap #1

On February 12th, 2024, our Seminar in Switzerland commenced—a much-anticipated week brimming with captivating guest speakers, enlightening workshops, and insightful business visits. Empowering our student delegation, we entrusted them with the task of reflecting on this enriching experience by inviting them to share their perspectives on select program highlights.

With great joy, we are thrilled to present the blog posts crafted by our esteemed student delegation.

Unlocking Insights into Vietnam: Bridging Tradition and Growth

Thanks to Ms. Le Thu Thuy, we received a lot of interesting insights of Vietnam’s unique culture and business landscape. Vietnam, with its rich cultural heritage offers a captivating blend of tradition and modernity. From the bustling street markets which awaken at 5.30am, to its vibrant business landscape, the country presents a dynamic tapestry of resilience, culinary delights, and economic opportunities.

Key Takeaways and Learnings

Cultural Aspects: Vietnam’s biggest cities are the northern capital Hanoi, and the southern city Ho Chi Minh, which was renamed from “Saigon” to the former president’s name in 1976. The Lotus flower, Vietnam’s national symbol, embodies the nation’s resilience and ability to overcome challenges. This spirit is reflected in everyday life and business efforts, highlighting the importance of persistency and adaptability. A fun fact is, that when meeting Vietnamese, they might directly ask for one’s age and marital status, which indicates their open-mindedness.

Economic Landscape: Vietnam’s economy is characterized by its strong manufacturing sector, fueled by domestic demand and diverse export markets, for example of cashew nuts and coffee. Furthermore, strategic investments in infrastructure and free trade agreements contribute to the country’s growth and attractiveness to foreign investors.

Culinary Diversity: Vietnamese cuisine offers a delightful fusion of flavors and textures, reflecting the country’s cultural diversity and creativity. Vietnam’s dynamic evolution is reflected from its traditional meals like Banh Mi to beverages that connect to business like Cà Phê Trung, a coffee with egg which is often consumed during business meetings.

Links to Robotics, Digitalization, and Circular Economy

Vietnam’s growing manufacturing sector offers opportunities for the integration of robotics and automation technologies to enhance productivity and efficiency. Simultaneously, the widespread adoption of digital technologies across various industries, ranging from e-commerce to fintech, is revolutionizing Vietnam’s economic landscape. This digital transformation not only promotes innovation but also fuels economic development and fosters enhanced connectivity within the nation. While Vietnam recognizes the importance of sustainability by signing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the country is still in the beginning of working towards sustainability, which stems from its continuously growing economy.


Vietnam’s journey of tradition and growth is marked by resilience, innovation, and cultural richness. From the symbolic significance of the Lotus flower to the vibrant business landscape and culinary diversity, the country offers a compelling narrative of opportunity and exploration. As Vietnam embraces digitalization, sustainability, and regional cooperation, the potential for growth and collaboration is vast. Vietnam’s combination of tradition and progress sets the stage for ongoing success and prosperity globally.

Authors: Janine Gilgen, Luca Meier

The Land of Smiles: Insights into Thailand

The Monday afternoon began with an exciting immersion into Thailand. Thailand is also known as the “land of smiles” and the friendly atmosphere was perfectly embodied by our guest speaker, Dr. Fah Yantarasri, who brought some of Thailand’s vibrant, welcoming spirit into our classroom. She is the President of the Thai Students Association in Switzerland and with her diverse experiences of growing up in Thailand and living in the United States, Japan and Switzerland, she was the perfect guest speaker to bring Thailand closer to us.

Key Learnings

We began our exploration by immersing ourselves in the diverse tapestry of Thai culture. One of the outstanding features we discovered was the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Thai people. Tolerance is deeply ingrained in their society and their friendly demeanour is evident in their ever-present smiles. We also observed the importance of hierarchy in Thai society, where respect is highly valued, and conflicts are often approached with diplomacy rather than confrontation. Constructive criticism is handled delicately, with an emphasis on maintaining positivity and harmony in interactions. Overall, our encounter with Thai culture left us with a deep appreciation for its inclusive and uplifting spirit. It was further mentioned that the relationship between the Thai people and their king, currently King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is deeply rooted in respect and reverence. The monarchy holds a special place in Thai society, with the king traditionally seen as a unifying figure and symbol of national identity. Throughout history, Thai monarchs have been highly revered, and their words and actions carry considerable weight in shaping the country’s cultural and political landscape. Tourists visiting Thailand should always show respect for the King and observe local customs and protocols when discussing or interacting with the monarchy.

After learning about the culture we got some information about the relationship between Thailand and Switzerland. Thailand and Switzerland enjoy a strong relationship characterised by trade, cultural exchange and diplomatic cooperation. Switzerland is also a popular destination for Thai students and tourists. Overall, the relationship is characterised by mutual respect and cooperation in various fields.

Link to the Economy

We also took a short dive into Thailand’s economy which is a dynamic mix of manufacturing, tourism and agriculture. With its strategic location in Southeast Asia, Thailand plays a major player in global trade, exporting electronics, automobiles and agricultural products. The tourism sector, with its stunning beaches and cultural attractions, is a major contributor to the country’s GDP and provides employment for millions of Thais. The economy of Thailand has been steadily growing and reached a GDP of 505.09 billion USD in 2021, making it the second largest economy in the ASEAN region.


In conclusion, guided by Dr. Fah Yantarasri’s insightful reflections, our immersion in Thailand’s vibrant culture and dynamic economy left us with a deep appreciation for its warmth, tradition, and global relevance. It also sparked a great deal of excitement to explore this country even more when we are traveling there.

Authors: Natalie Rytz & Milena Zemp

eA 9th Edition

Beyond Growth: Embracing Digitalization and Robotics in Circular Economy 

Based on last year’s topics of ‘Automation’ and ‘Renewable Energy’ and how businesses in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam tackle their sustainability issues through these technologies, our 9th edition of exploreASEAN will take things a step further to uncover how new possibilities – enabled by emerging technologies, such as the popularity gaining Artificial Intelligence (AI) – can help businesses champion circular economy principles in Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

Beyond Growth: Embracing Digitalization and Robotics in Circular Economy 

ASEANs Framework for Circular Economy 

The ASEAN Economic Community recognizes the inefficiencies of the current linear economic model, characterized by the “take, make, dispose” approach, leading to a resource shortage and environmental challenges. This approach threatens ASEAN’s economic resilience through resource depletion, unsustainable raw material consumption patterns, value chain inefficiencies, and climate change. To address these challenges, ASEAN adopted the Framework for Circular Economy in late 2021. This framework prioritizes creating an economy that is restorative, regenerative, and efficient in using materials and energy to retain their value. While existing Circular Economy initiatives in ASEAN have largely focused on environmental aspects, the framework outlines a long-term vision to build on existing strengths. The three strategic goals defined are “Resilient Economy”, “Resource Efficiency”, and “Sustainable Growth”. Key strategic priorities include “Standard Harmonization and Mutual Recognition”, “Trade Openness and Trade Facilitation”, “Innovation, Digitalization, and Emerging Technologies”, “Sustainable Finance and Innovative Investments”, and “Efficient Use of Energy and Other Resources”. 

Innovation Opportunities of Digitalization and AI in ASEAN 

Over the past two years, AI technologies like ChatGPT have become commonplace. For businesses, adopting advanced technologies such as AI and robotics is crucial for enhancing productivity, streamlining processes, and improving efficiency. According to TECHWIRE ASIA, businesses often face challenges in fully utilizing data. Recent technological progress has given rise to smart factories where real-time data analysis and predictive analytics empower manufacturers to make data-driven decisions. This enables them to identify bottlenecks, optimize supply chains, reduce human errors, increase labor productivity by up to 30%, and improve forecast accuracy by up to 85%, as reported by McKinsey. Digitalization and robotics initiatives further address sustainability concerns by promoting green manufacturing processes, including energy-efficient methods, eco-friendly materials, and carbon footprint reduction through the breakdown of both external and internal process silos. 

Why Businesses Move to the ASEAN Region 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation in the ASEAN region, prompting member states to enhance knowledge sharing and invest in digital initiatives. They established an ASEAN digital community across the three pillars of sustainability: People, Planet, and Profit. This transformation has made the ASEAN region highly attractive for businesses and investments. The IMF forecasts that by 2027, ASEAN’s economy will be the world’s fourth-largest, with the region’s digital economy projected to exceed a value of $1 trillion by 2030. In 2022, the region witnessed the creation of 25 new unicorns (companies valued at over $1 billion). 

Recent developments in ASEAN countries can be exemplified by their increasing significance in semiconductor production and various investments in this area. In this regard, a noteworthy event was the recent visit of U.S. President Joe Biden to Vietnam on September 10th. This visit resulted in the introduction of semiconductor workforce development initiatives, supported by an initial seed funding of $2 million from the U.S. government, along with significant investment deals in the billions to boost investments in Vietnam. Another key player in the world of semiconductors is Singapore, renowned for its production of specialty chips. This niche industry will continue to grow in importance, particularly due to advancements in 5G, the automotive sector, and the Internet of Things. In fact, the city’s semiconductor output currently constitutes 11% of the entire global market, as reported by EDB Singapore. Notably, numerous countries, including the United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU), are offering billions in chip subventions. Recently, the U.S. company GlobalFoundries announced a $4 billion expansion of its existing microchip plant in Singapore. This underscores the growing importance of the semiconductor industry in the ASEAN region and its contribution to global technological advancements. 

In both our Seminar in Switzerland and our On-Site Seminar in Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore, we will delve into how companies integrate these digital transformation initiatives along their value chain to champion circular economy practices. To stay updated with our latest information, visit our website

With its multifaceted appeal and investments in green innovation, ASEAN has emerged as one of the most attractive regions for businesses expanding abroad. Would you like to be part of our journey? Apply to join our Delegation today! For more information, visit our Social Media Channels: LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

This International Student Project would not be possible without the generous support of our Partners and Sponsors. If you wish to become a Partner access benefits such as access to an exceptional talent pool of our student delegates, don’t hesitate to contact us here!

Your 2023/24 exploreASEAN Team


From the Public Service Sector to diplomacy – an Interview with the new Ambassador for Viet Nam to Switzerland, H.E. Mr Phung The Long

“If you visit Viet Nam, you will see a lot of renewable energy plants in the centre of Viet Nam, with solar and wind farms. It develops quickly, and we are ready to share our experience with the Swiss partners.” – H.E.Mr. Phung The Long

We had the honour to interview the Ambassador for Viet Nam to Switzerland, His Excellency (H.E.) Mr Phung The Long, regarding his journey of becoming the Ambassador and questions about this year’s exploreASEAN theme. The interview took place during our one-week Seminar in Switzerland. The seminar was attended by the exploreASEAN delegation soon travelling to Viet Nam, Malaysia and Singapore but also other students, who took the seminar as an elective course. The primary purpose of the seminar was to provide an understanding of the different cultures, getting to know companies relating to our 2023 theme (Renewable Energy and Automation) and networking with fellow students and potential employers.

The journey of becoming the Ambassador of Viet Nam to Switzerland

Before ever being appointed as an Ambassador 15 years ago, H.E.Mr. Phung The Long had been working in the public service sector for 20 years. His first position as an ambassador was that for the State of Qatar from 2008-2011. Between that role and his current role as the Ambassador of Viet Nam to Switzerland since 2022, H.E.Mr. Phung The Long was employed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the Director General and Vice-Chairman of the National Boundary Committee. Furthermore, he served as Consul General of Viet Nam in Perth, Australia.

From the inspiring conversation with the ambassador, here two inputs on Switzerland – Viet Nam relations we would like to share with our readers:

What potential do you see regarding renewable energy and automation to enhance the relationship between Viet Nam and Switzerland?

“First, I would like to talk about our development philosophy. Our development philosophy is putting the interest of people and the planet on top. We have a big development and aspiration. We have aimed to become a modern and industrialised country by 2020 and a high-income developed country by 2045. At the same time, we are timely carrying out the economic transition to a green, circular, low-carbon emission economy to achieve a net zero carbon emission by 2050 (…). We focus on financing services, high technology, automation, machine manufacturing, engineering and renewable energy (…). We also want to learn from Switzerland’s experience in research and education, especially in vocational training.”

Do you think Switzerland could take inspiration from Viet Nam regarding renewable energy to implement its sustainability strategy and vice versa?

 “I think the two countries could share experiences and learn from each other. I would like to talk about Viet Nam’s renewable energy strategy. We have a huge potential to develop renewable energy. Switzerland has the technology, and we would like Switzerland to share its experience with us to develop a green economy. I think Switzerland can learn from the experience on the Vietnamese side. If you visit Viet Nam, you will see a lot of renewable energy plants in the centre of Viet Nam, with solar and wind farms. It develops quickly, and we are ready to share our experience with the Swiss partners.”

Our explore ASEAN Seminar in Switzerland was a big success, and we thank every party involved. We hope to have sparked your curiosity about this seminar – and our project. We happily invite you to follow our social media channels,LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. Do not miss out on any upcoming posts – and keep following us during our on-site seminar in Viet Nam, Malaysia and Singapore!

Your exploreASEAN communications team 22/23


The importance of automation in ASEAN countries

Automation is seen in various forms. It starts with simple things such as a washing machine, and goes up to robotics. In the eight’ edition of exploreASEAN, our theme is renewable energy and automation in ASEAN countries. Especially in post-pandemic times, businesses in ASEAN are struggling to recover. Is automation the solution to a rapid recovery?

The importance of automation in ASEAN countries

Today, when hearing automation, we automatically think of robots, but what does automation really mean? The word automation comes from the Greek word “automatos”. It states that something does a task without human influence, which could involve machines and computers. As a result, automation replaces many tasks which need human force. However, this does not indicate that job positions are decreasing. Automation helps to eliminate more dangerous and repetitive tasks and creates new flexible positions for people to extend their knowledge. exploreASEAN aims to showcase these automation developments in ASEAN countries to interested parties. If you are in the last year of your studies and want to explore this year’s theme with us, remember to apply for the delegation on our website!

ASEAN countries struggle to recover from the pandemic, especially warehouse operators, since they are facing labour shortages, inventory accuracy and visibility issues, according to TECHWIRE ASIA. Automation could be the solution for a rapid recovery. With these advancements, businesses can automate many tasks and employees can reorganise themselves within the company to other valuable positions. Businesses in ASEAN countries have acknowledged this and are working on the challenge to innovate and implement automated technologies. Of the ten ASEAN countries, Singapore has the best foundation for future innovations in automation. Furthermore, Malaysia is increasing their 2023 budget for connectivity and cybersecurity. By expanding 5G coverage, the country expects an improvement in automation since, on the one hand, the transmission of data would gain a new speed and, on the other hand, ensure lower latency.

The ASEAN market has proliferated since 2000, and the adoption of automation has advanced due to the pandemic. Companies are now moving from robotic process automation to intelligent process automation, which involves artificial intelligence, computer vision, cognitive automation and much more. For example, warehouse workers prefer using automated technologies, such as autonomous mobile robots. These robots can handle many tasks without getting tired. Therefore, warehouse operators are investing in autonomous mobile robots. Furthermore, Swiss and European logistic companies operating in Southeast Asia can improve their customer journey with intelligent process automation by eliminating the risk of low stock through effective supply chain management, using AI for delivery and optimising transportation routes for faster delivery and reducing operating costs. According to TECHWIRE ASIA, there is an expected growth of 92% in Asia-Pacific for their use in the next five years. The advancement in automation brings excellent benefits such as visibility, real-time data for workers, data-driven performance management and fewer business environment errors.

Automation is the solution to keep up with customers’ expectations and provide employee satisfaction. Now more than before, it is vital for companies in ASEAN countries to make daring moves and be open to innovate, develop and implement automation. In our On-Site seminar, we want to visit companies developing and implementing automation into their business and acknowledge their growth in this field.

Are you interested in more information on exploreASEAN? Then follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn and support our project!