Arnold Witzig, together with his partner Sima Sharifi, is the founder of the Arctic Inspiration Prize and the S. and A. Inspiration Foundation. For several years, they studied and supported projects in the fields of education and gender equality in the developing world. In 2011 they decided to focus the work of the foundation in Canada, their homeland of choice.
Born in 1949 in Switzerland, Witzig was raised in modest circumstances on a small family farm. He graduated as an architect and gradually realized he could implement a more effective planning and implementation process for architectural projects. He understood that economic, environmental, architectural, technical and social needs had to be integrated in order to succeed, especially for complex industrial projects. After becoming the head of a small architectural firm at 31, Witzig started to carry out his vision to create a unique and comprehensive service by bringing together all the necessary specialists from different areas of expertise into a new business unit that focused on the print and media industry. Over a period of 18 years, the company that emerged, the IE Engineering Group, implemented the same business strategy in the plastics, food, life science and later high-tech industries. From its base in Zurich, IE grew rapidly and expanded to Munich, Geneva, Leipzig and later Frankfurt.
As Arnold Witzig approached 50, IE had become the market leader and was full of young talent. With his business goals achieved, it was time for a change. In 1998 he handed over the IE Group to its team members, representing three different language and cultural regions. Today every employee is an owner, no one person has majority control, and the same business model has been successfully maintained. In 1999, he said goodbye to his two grown up children, family, friends and his life as entrepreneur in Europe and flew to Vancouver, not knowing that it would soon become his new home. The same year, Arnold met his dream partner, friend, lover and wife Sima, who originally came from Iran.
Since moving to Canada, Arnold has explored the world intensively, on land while climbing and traveling, in the air, flying aerobatics and gliding and in the water, scuba-diving. He is the second Canadian and only Swiss who has completed the Explorers Grand Slam, which includes climbing each of the highest summits of the seven continents, incl. Everest and skiing to the South Pole and to the North Pole. He explored the Arctic regions in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia and continues exploring to learn more about the challenges and the opportunities of the Arctic and its peoples.