«Many said I was mad»


Peter Lüthi, Biovision

Throughout my life, I have always had people who encouraged me,” says Roland von Ballmoos. For example, he learned an incredible amount from his mother. “She was the brains in the family and did the accounts for the family business”. In contrast, his father was a visionary. “From him I have my passion, the spirit of adventure and my love of fast cars,” he says with a smile.

His parents produced films for the offset printing industry. Their company had an excellent reputation that extended as far as Germany where customers placed a high value on quality and a guaranteed quick service for the production of glossy brochures and books. As a student, Roland drove his father’s car over the border taking the litho-films to the printers. The next morning, he would turn up on time for his first lecture in the ETH Lecture Hall.

In 1969, whilst still a teenager, he left his grammar school in Baden and spent a year in the United States where attended a High School in Cleveland and enjoyed the more accessible teaching. In 1981, he completed his doctorate in chemistry at ETH, after which the young catalyst specialist was welcomed into the research team of the US giant Mobil Oil at Princeton (New Jersey). Roland von Ballmoos worked hard, was reliable and tenacious; he rose quickly through the ranks, He later joined the Engelhard Corp (now BASF) as a member of its management team.

In 1993, Roland’s partner fell seriously ill and she died two years later. Her death shocked him to the core and he decided to change his way of life completely. He moved back to Switzerland. At the start of the new Millennium he found his true calling as the joint founder of EMP Consulting AG and became its Chairman. Working with SMEs, he developed visions, implementation strategies, business plans and helped companies achieve them. He also ventured into projects that would previously have been considered unachievable. “Many said I was mad,” he says with a grin. However, he was successful.

Biovision has a grand vision and is implementing it

For example, he and his team worked with the company Lantal Textiles AG to develop cushioned seats for large aircraft. They contained no foam but worked using air. The key feature was a small air pump and the associated software. Passengers could change the hardness of their seat and even turn on a massage mode. Anyone who has travelled in Business Class with SWISS, Lufthansa, Etihad, Air Canada and many others will be familiar with these seats.

Even Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the pioneering solar aviators use one of these air cushions in their “Solar Impulse”. His unshakeable resolve to realise what seems impossible is something that links Ballmoos with the Biovision founder Hans Rudolf Herren. Roland has decided to remember Biovision in his will and has left it a legacy. “You have a grand vision and you are implementing it,” he says. “We humans have destroyed too much of our planet”. He regards the work of Biovision as a convincing way to change that. “Help for self-help is an approach that in an adapted form can be applied anywhere in the world and so I am pleased to help Biovision grow,” he says.


With vision we can achieve great things

Romy Erb Knobel and Robert Knobel have travelled widely. Both love sport and can often be found touring in different countries – walking, cycling or skiing.