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27 July 2022
UWC explores future collaborations with Swiss delegation
Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Professor Vivienne Lawack, hosted a high-level Swiss delegation this month to explore further collaboration between the university and Switzerland.
Guy Parmelin and Professor Vivienne Lawack

The 60-member Swiss delegation included representatives from the business sector, academics from several Swiss universities, diplomats and government officials. The delegation was led by Guy Parmelin, a member of the Federal Council of Switzerland and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER).

The campus visit aimed to strengthen the more than decade-long collaboration between the Swiss Embassy and UWC, which includes partnerships with Hydrogen South Africa (HySA), the Departments of Dentistry, Physics, Astrophysics and Biotechnology, and entrepreneurship support projects.

Prof Lawack said: “During their visit, the delegates encouraged current and future collaborations and showed a particular interest in entrepreneurship incubation and innovation and UWC’s programme in trade and international investment law.

“The guests were also impressed by the on-campus tour, which included a visit to the HySA Centre where exhibitions featuring innovative renewable energy projects were displayed.”

The delegation later visited the Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics (IMBM), where Dr Anita Burger explained how the biobank functions as a secure storage facility and archive of organic samples collected for research, and Prof Alan Christoffels’ research lab at the South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI), which focuses on infectious diseases and building computational tools for analysing high-throughput genomics data.
The delegation taking in UWC's history

During their final stop, a visit to Dr Nikita Bernier at the Nuclear Physics Department, Ms Véronique Haller, the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in Pretoria, highlighted that a UWC delegation had visited CERN in Switzerland in 2017.

“This was followed by a cohort of UWC students who went on to receive the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists Scholarship (ESKAS) to pursue their research in Switzerland,” said Ms Haller. 

Noting the visit's significance, Umesh Bawa, UWC’s Director of International Relations, said: “It is a great opportunity for UWC to deepen our scholarly engagements with the Swiss government and its higher education sector. The cutting-edge research that UWC produces in the Natural Sciences, Health Sciences and Law, among others, contributes to the joint Swiss-SA initiatives and aligns beautifully with UWC’s mission of knowledge production in service of humanity.”
The full Swiss and UWC delegation pose in front of the just-renamed Jakes Gerwel Hall
For more images of the Swiss Delegation's visit to UWC (all by Ruvan Boshoff/UWC Media), see the Gallery below: