SWISS START-UP REVOLUTIONIZES THE PRODUCTION OF PROTECTIVE MASKS AND OFFERS A CERTIFIED AND SMART SYSTEM SOLUTION
25. Mai 2020
St. Gallen, May 25, 2020 - According to the World Health Organization (WHO), European
countries must already prepare for a second deadly wave of coronavirus infections. But hardly
anything in Europe is going as badly in the corona crisis as the procurement of protective
masks. A Swiss team together with international partners from Research & Development and
MBL Maschinenbau Leipzig is creating the urgently needed innovation.
Swiss virologists call for masks to be made compulsory in public transport. Star economist Ernst Fehr
wants them at rush hour. Jürg Schlup, Switzerland's chief physician and FMH president, says:
«Protective material must be increasingly produced in Switzerland and Europe again.» In many
countries there is a general obligation to wear masks in local traffic and in supermarkets after the first
loosening, but there is still not even enough certified mouth and nose protection for the healthcare
system. The shortage unsettles doctors and nurses, but also the population. «These desperate
procurement attempts show the dependence of Europe. Everyone is trying to find suppliers for
products that actually cost a few centimes on an empty world market,» says Marie-Claire Graf. «Fake
certificates, lack of transparency and usurious prices are symptoms of a sick system. Especially in
times of digitalization and the opportunities offered by the Sharing Economy in particular, this kind of
thing must not happen,» adds Oliver Fiechter.
Innovation in intergenerative exchange
Marie-Claire Graf (23) is a sustainability expert and the voice of youth at various high-level
international events, such as the United Nations (UN) World Climate Conference, UNESCO's
Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education and the World Summit on Sustainable Technology
and Innovation. Oliver Fiechter (48) is a book author and serial entrepreneur specializing in digital and
collaborative business models. With his Team Fiechter AG, he operates a platform where particularly
talented representatives of the next generation meet the knowledge, experience and network of
contemporary companies. In an intergenerational exchange, groundbreaking business models are
hatched and products brought to market maturity.
Within just a few weeks, Graf and Fiechter, together with international partners from research &
development and mechanical engineering, have now developed a system solution consisting of all the
necessary components required for the local production of high-quality, certified FFP2 type protective
masks and mouth-noses. «We offer a smart and entrepreneurial system solution consisting of, among
other things, machine, raw material, certification and recycling», says Fiechter. Instead of wallowing
through the jungle of offers and fake certificates as has been the case since the beginning of the
Covid 19 pandemic, private companies and public institutions can now purchase their own protective
mask production from a single source in the form of a complete overall package.
Democratisation of protective mask production
The basic idea of the two founders exists since the 18th century. It is based on the idea of the Scot
James Watt. The inventor had to advertise his steam engine to people who until then only knew
horses and were accordingly sceptical. To convince them, he let them have his innovation free of
charge in return for a user fee. This gave rise to the marketing model known today as «Performance
Contracting». This became popular through the American copier manufacturer Xerox. For the first
time, Xerox customers no longer had to purchase the device itself, but instead received an all-round
carefree package for a small amount per copy.
Graf and Fiechter also offer their system solution without having to invest corresponding capital. Their
customers only pay the unit price per mask produced. The machine «Made in Germany», which
meets the highest manufacturing and quality standards, is available free of charge. The two founders'
aim is to ensure that everyone can afford a machine. In addition, the two are planning to set up a
solidarity fund to enable economically weaker countries and regions to set up their own production
infrastructure. The fund is to be funded by the start-up itself, its customers and donors.
Sharing economy, blockchain and QR codes
The distribution strategy provides for a peer-to-peer approach: Consumers or traders are empowered
to produce locally and, in the form of decentralised production hubs, to ensure security of supply in
their geographical area. «These hubs can either be operated by ourselves or outsourced to us.
Doctors' and pharmacists' associations, hospitals, companies, etc. produce the protective masks in
their own small infrastructures either themselves or in cooperation with other organisations in the
ecosystem. The resulting added value thus remains in the respective region. The concept is thus
sustainable and 100 percent «Made in Europe»,» says Graf.
The fully automatic mask production machine, which produces more than one million masks per
month, was designed in Germany and is manufactured by the automation specialist MBL in Leipzig.
MBL has already received more than 100 inquiries from all over the world for the solution. The first
preliminary contracts for 20 machines will be signed in the next few days.
Marie-Claire Graf: Marie-Claire Graf is President of the Swiss Association of Student Organizations for Sustainability, which
promotes students and sustainability at Swiss universities. She is the initiator of Sustainability Weeks Switzerland, as well as its
international counterpart, one of the largest international student sustainability movements. It also represents the voice of youth
at numerous high-level international events relating to the climate crisis, such as the World Health Assembly of the WHO, the
UNESCO Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education, the UNFCCC World Climate Summit and the World Summit on
Sustainable Technology and Innovation. Marie-Claire Graf, mandated by the Federal Council, was Switzerland's youngest
delegate and negotiator at the 25th World Climate Conference and was invited by the United Nations as Swiss Youth Climate
Champion to the Climate Summit in New York. She is the global focal point for the UNFCCC. She is also a Climate Reality
Leader, trained by Al Gore and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative University. She is co-founder of a crowdsourcing
platform called C'Square, which was awarded by ETH Zurich and MIT Boston. She initiated and leads several associations in
the fields of climate protection, sustainable development, youth and women's empowerment and education.
Oliver Fiechter: Oliver Fiechter is a serial entrepreneur, author of several non-fiction books and founder of Team Fiechter AG.
Team Fiechter AG brings together creative minds and experts from different sectors and generations with the aim of developing
sustainable business models. In his books, Fiechter argues that capitalism as an economic and social model is no longer
appropriate. He sketches a vision for a new digital order of collaboration instead of competition, which he calls «Economy 3.0«.
Based on the Economy 3.0 theory, Fiechter regularly designs business models that are characterized by decentralization and
digitization. This has made him a pioneer in various segments of the financial, service and creative industries. He is also an
expert in value research and generational equity. On behalf of the Austrian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Fiechter's Economy
3.0 approach evaluates the Austrian export industry for the «Hidden Champions 3.0« award named after him. Fiechter is also
an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was founded in 2005 by President Bill
Clinton and brings together scientists, pioneers and leaders around the globe to develop solutions to the world's most pressing
For further information, please contact:
Mrs Marie-Claire Graf
Mobile: +41 79 218 63 00