What a great year! 

When I look back at 2022, I see a very successful year for SEC that I would not have expected at the start (for a detailed review of our year, click here). It marked the much-needed turnaround for our organization. After many years of declining membership numbers, thanks to our new strategy and team, we were able to gain more than 50% new members in 2022, reinstate our reputation and credibility and stabilize our operations.

Also, our team together with our board created many, hopefully value-adding new products & services and events in 2022 – from an improved CEE-Day and business lunches to 9 CEE Swiss Impulse Sessions, to a golf tournament to more effective communications channels (our new newsletter “SEC Monthly”, more active website & LinkedIn) and more.

We are proud that we were able to help and consult close to 100 companies and people in 2022, mostly for free and to create new partnerships with many organizations in Switzerland and CEE. Out of many, I wanted to highlight the partnerships with S-GEKMU SwissSwissmem, the CEE embassies in Switzerland as well as the 12 Swiss Chambers of Commerce in CEE.

Utimately, we do what we do with the ambition to further grow into a truly impactful organization which is worthy of the tremendous potential of the relationship of Switzerland’s with the 17 CEE countries.

I am grateful for the trust that our board, our members and our partners have put in our team and myself during this turnaround phase. My deep felt thanks go out to our old and new members, which are absolutely crucial for our being, our SEC-board and of course my brilliant, small team with Irena Belcheva and Patrik György (ongoing) and Paulina Patruschewa, who finished her internship earlier this year.

I wish everyone a very happy holiday season and a great start to 2023. I look forward to seeing you soon again and to continue to grow SEC and our community with all of you!

Many thanks again for your support!

All the best

Oliver Bertschinger
President and Managing Director SEC

Oliver Bertschinger

New Strategy & Products & Services  

The turn-around of 2022 was based on a new strategy that was developed in 2021. Our new main and simple focus at SEC is to a) improve the relationships between Switzerland and the 17 CEE countries and b) to make our members, partners and clients more successful.  

To be able to do this, we absolutely need(ed) to grow our organization. This in terms of memberships, partnerships and share of voice. We are very happy that we were able to make important steps forward, including 50% + memberships, new and/or improved partnerships and better communications activities with more reach (e.g. 250% mor LinkedIn followers, new newsletter, improved homepage).  

To create more value for our members and partners, we needed to create new services and upgrade old ones. As examples: We continued our CEE Swiss Impulse Sessions, created a golf tournament, and improved our CEE-Day and business lunches.  

New Partnerships  

2022 was also a year when we launched many new partnerships and deepened existing ones. These partnerships are key to us, as our strategy is to further grow a powerful group of influential and engaged personalities, companies and institutions which profit from each other. We are very grateful for these:  

  • Strategic partnership with S-GE across the year 
  • Close collaborations with the 12 Swiss Chambers of Commerce in CEE, e.g. regarding the CEE Swiss Impulse Sessions 
  • Event partnerships with e.g., HKSÖL and Swissmem for our spring and fall business events and KMU Swiss for our golf tournament. 
  • Partners for our CEE Swiss Impulse sessions: ETH, the systemic change foundation, EDA, Von Tobel, Switzerland Innovation and more  
  • Public partnership which includes SECO and EDA, the 17 CEE embassies (of which 9 ambassadors currently even are “SEC Patron Members”), the Swiss embassies in CEE and more. These also include more and more many foreign institutions such as Trade Promotion Organizations, Chambers of Commerce, CEE governments and more. 
  • Event sponsors included SERV, Serbia Prime Site One, Swissmem, OBT/TPA  
  • And many more, which we can’t mention all!  

SEC Events in 2022 

Top-Speakers Lounge “Nearshoring” – 30.11.2022 

The Top-Speakers Lounge in collaboration with Handelskammer Schweiz-Österreich-Liechtenstein, was a resounding success. It covered the important topic of “Nearshoring” and what its opportunities and challenges in the CEE region for Swiss and Austrian businesses are. 

A special thanks to our insightful speakers: Stefan Brupbacher; Stefan Barny; Tobias Gerfin; Thomas Haneder; Peter Fischer 

Follow-Up with key-insights and pictures on our Website 


SEC Ambassador Apéro – 29.11.2022 

We were honored to have welcomed an elite group of partners to jointly discuss what we can do better in #2023 to grow the relationships between Switzerland and the 17 CEE countries. 

Representing 12 countries, we had 9 Ambassadors joining the discussions, 3 deputies, 3 top economic representatives from SECO and EDA as well various representatives from SEC. Oliver Bertschinger presented the progress SEC made in the successful turn-around year of 2022. Based on the many concrete projects that were discussed at the Restaurant Röschtigrabe, we are confident to continue this path to grow into an impactful organization which is worthy of the huge potential between Switzerland and the CEE countries. 

Read our recap on LinkedIn. 


The 2nd Polish Economic & Technology Forum – 03-04.10. 2022 

The 2nd Polish Economic & Technology Forum was held in Bern, Switzerland, gathering a wide spectrum of representatives of business, science, and technology as well as institutional stakeholders from Poland and Switzerland. The two-day event was full of inspiring panel discussions and networking opportunities. Key topics discussed during the Forum included: the strengthening of investment and export ties between both countries, with particular focus on cooperation on the local level, new technologies, research, and development. 

SEC president Oliver Bertschinger was invited to host the first panel discussion about “Chances and challenges for the future global socio-economic order”. 

Read our recap on Linkedin. 


SEC Golf Tournament– 22.09.2022 

A friendly Chamber of Commerce Switzerland Central Europe (SEC) golf trophy (Golf Ambassador) organized in cooperation with KMU SWISS in GC Heidental. 

It was our first edition with a bit over 20 players that we will repeat and grow further! It is great fun to meet our partners and friends once a year in – an almost – purely social context! Apart from the fun, we still met many new faces, chatted about what we do, promoted CEE products and discussed cooperation in the Region. Thanks to Armin Baumann, MD of KMU Swiss and President Stefano Schlatter for their collaboration, and great work! 

Pictures on LinkedIn. 


SEC Know-How-Circle – 15.09.2022 

SEC Know-How Circles are member-only events, on different topic such as HR, legal/compliance and export/logistics. The topic of this workshop was: “New Swiss non-financial reporting obligations and due diligence and transparency obligations in the areas of conflict minerals and child labour”. 

Our speaker Marquard Christen from the law firm CMS von Erlach Partners Ltd. presented and discussed the counter-proposal of the Swiss legislator and the adoption of the “new due diligence requirements” in the areas of child labour and minerals and metals from conflict areas (“conflict minerals”). The staff of the legal departments of our members benefited from the explanation of the current and relevant topic with the practical examples or recommendations for action. An friendly aperitif rounded off the event. 



CEE Day 2022 – 01.09.2022 

Our most important and biggest event of the year CEE-Day 2022 took place with great success! We are happy to share the successes of the SEC with you. We were very happy with the large attendance, friendly networking and insightful speeches about “The New Normal”  

We would also like to express our special thanks to our speakers: Dr. Daniel Kalt, CIO; Roman Obrist, Head of Economic Policy, Zurich Chamber of Commerce​; Jan Schoch, CEO and Founder of Jangroup AG; Thomas Först, Chief Export Promotion and Global Network Officer, Switzerland Global Enterprise; Carsten Böhler, Head of Acquisition and Infrastructure Projects, SERV; Edin Dacic, CEO, Daccomet AG; Julia Lipovecz, Director, Swisscham Ungarn; Andreas Köhler, Partner and Co-Head of CEE Commercial Practice, CMS. 

Follow-Up and pictures on our Website. 


SEC Business Luncheon – 21.06.2022 

The first SEC Business Luncheon with Martin Hirzel, President of Swissmem, was held at the beautiful Zunfthaus zur Schmiden in the old city of Zurich. The inspiring group of participants and guests from business and diplomacy learned about the importance of the CEE countries for the Swiss Mr. Hirzel also outlined various opportunities for the Swiss MEM industry in CEE such as green economy, infrastructure, nearshoring, need for a broader supply chain and more, as well as challenges: Ukraine, brain drain, lack of production capacity, varying economic developments and political systems.  

Follow-Up and pictures on our Website. 


The 23rd General Assembly of the SEC – 30.05.2022 

On 30 May, our 23rd SEC General Meeting took place at ZKB Hard in Zurich. After 2 covid-related years, we were finally able to meet physically again. There were also two exciting keynotes at the event. Christoph Schenk, the CIO of the ZKB, and Dr. Axel Paeger, founder, and CEO of the Ameos Group. The general meeting ended with a cozy and delicious lunch. 

Follow-Up and pictures on our Website. 



Impulse Sessions 

The «CEE-Swiss Impulse Sessions» is a monthly series of short webinars on exciting, current and relevant topics concerning Switzerland and Central Eastern Europe (CEE). It is delivered by outstanding speakers from many different backgrounds. The webinar series aims at inspiring, informing and connecting a diverse audience across industries and functions and thus advancing the manifold relationships between Switzerland and all CEE countries. Initiated in 2021 by the Chamber of Commerce Switzerland Central Europe (SEC) in Zurich, this is a joint
project of all chambers of commerce in the CEE region and SEC. 

Thank you to all our insightful speakers throughout the year! 

Watch recorded Impulse Sessions on our Youtube. 


CEE-Swiss Impulse Session: Autonomous Mobile Robots Moving Into Our Daily Lives – 8.11.2022 

Our speaker: Roland Siegwart, a world-renowned expert in robotics and professor for autonomous mobile robots at ETH Zurich, Director of the Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL) in Switzerland, Director of the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich, founding co-director of the Wyss Zurich Translational Center and member of the board of directors of multiple high-tech companies. 


CEE-Swiss Impulse Session: Changing Us and the Future! – 4.10.2022 

Our speaker: Rudolf “Rudi” Hilti a non-traditional entrepreneur and visionary who considers himself a global citizen and a responsible optimist. He is the Founder of “The System Change Foundation”, which together with the ”World Systemic Forum” and “THE HUS.institute” forms a platform to explore the transformation of the traditional world into an ecologically and economically sustainable future. Furthermore, Rudi is the Founder of RHEINEST and THE COMBINATOR, a family office and integral investment group for sustainable investments to scale systemic change. 

CEE-Swiss Impulse Session: Switzerland’s contribution to the cohesion in Europe – 13.09.2022 

Our speakers: Debora Kern, Head of the EU Member States Division at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). She has been working for 16 years at SDC in Switzerland and in Swiss representations around the world. She holds a master’s degree in social anthropology from Zürich University and an MAS from ETHZ in development studies.  

Thomas Knecht, Deputy Head of the “Swiss Contribution to EU Member States / Cohesion” Division at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). He has previously worked for 26 years in various positions in the cooperation and development department at SECO. He holds a master’s degree in environmental studies from Yale university and a diploma in geography from Zurich university. 

CEE-Swiss Impulse Session: How to be the most innovative country in the world? – 28.06.2022 

Our speaker: Raymond Cron, CEO of Switzerland Innovation since 2015. Additionally, Raymond Cron holds a Master of science in civil engineering of ETH Zurich and did his post-graduate studies in economics and management at the BWI Center for Industrial Management of ETH Zurich. 

CEE-Swiss Impulse Session: To e or not to e? – 16.05.2022 

Our speaker: Linnar Viik: information technology scientist, Co-Founder of e-Governance Academy and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of EIT Digital. Linnar Viik has made a significant contribution to Estonia’s success in the field of digitalization and will tell us how Estonia became the most digitally advanced society and what we can all learn from it. 

CEE-Swiss Impulse Session: War in Europe – 18.03.2022 

Our speakers: Dr. Daniel Woker, expert on strategic affairs, Former Swiss Ambassador to Kuwait, Singapore and Australia and Co-founder and President of “Share-an-Ambassador (SAA) / Geopolitical coaching”. 

Philippe Welti, expert on geopolitical and strategic affairs, Former Ambassador of Switzerland to Iran and to India and Co-Founder of “Share-an-Ambassador (SAA) / Geopolitical coaching”” 

CEE-Swiss Impulse Session: Economic Outlook for CEE 2022 – 15.02.2022 

Our speaker: Dr. Sven Schubert, a Senior Investment Strategist in the Multi-Asset Investment department of Vontobel. He joined Vontobel Asset Management in July 2011 as Currency Specialist and Economist for Emerging Markets. Prior to joining Vontobel, he worked for over 6 years at Credit Suisse Private Banking, among others as Emerging Markets and FX Strategist. 


CEE-Swiss Impulse Session: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Energy Supply 

Our speaker: Christian Schaffner, Executive Director of the Energy Science Center (ESC) of ETH Zürich. He holds an M.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD. In Electric Power Systems from ETH. Before his current role, he worked with the Swiss Federal Office of Energy.