Text: Benoît Dubuis
Photo: DR

Harnessing group intelligence to tap into our region’s potential

People have an amazing capacity to use their imaginations and come up with new ideas. But how many become actual solutions that help make our day-to-day lives easier? Very few! You can change this by contributing to initiatives that rely on group intelligence. Group intelligence has become quite a buzz word nowadays, but how many people really use it?


This approach could be used to breathe new life into all the founding principles of our society, from democracy and cognition to social interaction. The first step in that direction, which involves each and every one of you, is the power of social networks, which are literally revolutionising the ties between people.

The connections between individuals create a network that determines a society’s responsiveness to an event. When new types of information and opinion leaders communicate in a more targeted and accelerated manner, a collective sense of empathy starts to emerge. This interconnectedness could be represented as a web made up of completely artificial bonds of trust, in which the slightest vibration can ripple to every corner. The easy availability of tools run by group intelligence, such as Wikipedia, makes it possible to externalise memory, relieve intelligence from the burden of having to remember, and offer it the possibility to transform itself, as Michel Serres has posited. Group intelligence is more than just a new way to access information. It also challenges the way important information is selected, since the will of the majority is the primary criteria.

However, group intelligence is still passive as it doesn’t extend beyond a simple reaction. This stage, which could be characterised as emotional, must slowly give way to an active, rational process based on distributed cognition. Such an approach is at the heart of a concrete regional initiative aimed at improving health-care: the Debiopharm-Inartis Challenge.

This programme represents a way to uncover new solutions and unlock the creative potential of civil society by giving new meaning to each person’s ideas. The goal is to support group intelligence. In a world where an interdisciplinary approach has become both a reality and a necessity, intellectual cooperation between people in an extraordinary technical environment offers a way to uncover disruptive and truly revolutionary ideas. This is a key part of working together to build our future.

It is with this mindset and the desire to offer practical assistance to hospitalised people that the Debiopharm-Inartis Challenge was launched in February for the third year in a row. Participants will compete for a prize worth 80,000 Swiss francs (50,000 of which is offered in cash) based on the theme of “Patients’ quality of life during treatment”. Once again, the goal this year will be to find the very best ideas and support them until a prototype can be created. Entrepreneurs are shaping our future using the strengths we have today. This skill and energy belong to you and your network. We will need these invaluable resources to perform well and turn this initiative into a springboard for innovative projects. Step away from the sidelines and become an active participant in this movement. Submit your ideas and come away with concrete projects.



Benoît Dubuis is President of Inartis Foundation.