SIRA Data Science Event

September 9th, 2020 - 10:45 to 16:00 - Zurich

Aim and Scope

The commoditization of machine learning methods associated with easier access to large data sets has expanded the application of data science techniques beyond the AI academic frontiers.

In this edition, SIRA Event is dedicated to data science, presenting the area from a multidisciplinary perspective. In addition to discussing topics frequently associated with data science, such as data mining and natural language processing, the event widens the debate with speakers from both industry and academia that presents their applications and research in finance, software engineering and law.

The event is free of charge to SIRA members (Swiss CS/IS professors), MERs in CS/IS, and postdocs in research groups of SIRA members.


  • Philippe Cudré-Mauroux (University of Fribourg)

    Philippe Cudré-Mauroux is a Full Professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, where he leads the eXascale Infolab. Before coming back to Switzerland, Philippe spent a few exciting years working with the Database Systems lab (Sam Madden & Mike Stonbraker) at MIT. He got his B.Sc. from EPFL, and two M.Sc., one from Eurecom and one from INRIA SOP/U. of Sofia-Antipolis. At the end of his studies, he spent six months at IBM T.J. Watson Research, working on media delivery architectures. Philippe got his Ph.D. from EPFL, working in Karl Aberer's lab. His dissertation on Emergent Semantics won the EPFL Doctorate Award and the EPFL Press Mention in 2007. During his Ph.D., he also spent some time at U.C. Berkeley working on sensor data and at Microsoft Research Asia working on novel information-sharing systems.

  • Achim Kohli (legal-i, Bern)

    Co-founder Achim Kohli is a trained lawyer and worked for three years in a law firm. During this time he was disturbed by the time-consuming study of documents. And the fact that archived knowledge cannot be specifically reused. Achim then quit his job and built a first venture together with ETH / EPFL (in the domain of legal research and machine learning / data science). After not succeeding in this field Achim broaden his scope again, analysed the market and discussed the problem of time-consuming document study with many people from the insurance and legal industries. He then discovered that document study in medical insurance law was incredible high. After this discovery everything went fast: Achim found a first pilot customer, teamed up with CTO Markus and AI specialist Prof. Erik Graf, built a first prototype, which met with enthusiastic reactions in the industry. Today, legal-i is in productive use by the biggest Swiss law firm in insurance law. In fall 2020 first PoCs with insurances will follow.

  • Kevin Smith (Contovista, Zürich)

    Kevin's passion is modelling and understanding data using state of the art AI models and following the topic’s latest research. Together with his ability to bridge the gap between technology and business he regularly translates new scientific advances in AI into real-world business value for our clients. In his free time Kevin enjoys doing sports and working on his personal AI projects such as facial recognition or language modelling. Kevin holds a M.Sc. in Quantitative Finance from ETH Zurich.

  • John Dennis (MyPulses, Epalinges)

    John Dennis founded My-Vitality Sàrl ( in 2015 and is currently the CEO. John has been involved in early stage companies for the past 15- years and was earlier a part-time start-up coach for the Swiss Government Innovation Fund. John has worked for several large companies including JP Morgan Bank in New York and Oslo as well as Total in Geneva. He has a master’s degree from Georgetown University Foreign Service School and bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary. John is devoting 100% of his time to My-Vitality. He lives in Founex and is married with two sons.

  • Christine Legner (University of Lausanne)

    Christine Legner is a professor of information systems at the Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC), University of Lausanne. She is the academic director of the Competence Center Corporate Data Quality (CC CDQ), an expert community and research consortium that aims at democratizing data & analytics in enterprises and building the foundations for data-driven transformation. She is also the co-director of the executive education program "Data Science & Management", offered by HEC Lausanne and the Swiss Data Science Center at EPFL. She received her post-doctoral qualification and her PhD from University of St. Gallen and has been visiting research at INSEAD, Stanford University and University of Montreal.


10:30 Registration, Welcome coffee

10:45 Opening: Siegfried Handschuh, Juliano Sales and Martin Glinz

10:50-11:50 Exascale Information Management and Big Data:
Philippe Cudré-Mauroux (University of Fribourg)

11:50-12:35 Machine Learning in the Legal Domain:
Achim Kohli (legal-i, Bern)

12:35-13:45 Lunch

13:45-14:00 Industry-Research Collaboration for Data-Driven Innovation:
Christine Legner (University of Lausanne)

14:00-14:45 AI in Finance:
Kevin Smith (Contovista, Zürich)

14:45-15:10 Break

15:10-15:55 Machine Learning in Health:
John Dennis (MyPulses, Epalinges)

15:55 Closing

16:00 End of event


Please register here for the SIRA Data Science Event. The event is free, but we need to gauge the number of people present for our logistics.



Covid-19 Safety

The event will be held physically at UZH’s department of Informatics. In the seminar room, a distance of 1.5 m will be kept between participants. Face masks must be worn in all UZH buildings, except when seated in the seminar room and when eating/drinking in the breaks.


Department of Informatics

Binzmühlestrasse 14, 8050 Zürich

BIN Building - Room 2.A.01


By train: Take a train to Zurich Oerlikon. Walk 6 minutes to Binzmühlestrasse 14.

By car: Parking Eisfeld, Thurgauerstrasse 54 or Zurich Messe, Andreasstrasse 65.

Check here a map and walking directions


Martin Glinz, UZH

Siegfried Handschuh, UNISG

Juliano Efson Sales, UNISG

Erik Graf, BFH