Kickstart is a yearly run open innovation program in Switzerland.
Each year, we connect late stage ventures from all over the world with Swiss corporations and institutions (our partners).
Our partners are looking for deep tech ventures in the areas of: Cybersecurity, EdTech & Learning, Food & Retail Tech, FinTech & Digital Assets, HealthTech and Smart City & Technology.
The program is fully funded by our partners, we do not take equity or any fees.
The program features a period in September/October, where ventures meet our partners on-site in Switzerland to work on their partnerships – no worries, we know you’re busy scaling your venture and we make this as efficient as possible, no need to spend all of the time in Switzerland.
Our main KPI is the number of successful partnerships we realise during the program – we care about your success.
By partnerships, we talk about pre-proof-of-concept, proof-of-concept, pilot or commercial projects. So you’ll really get your hands dirty with our partners and work towards long lasting relationships.
What Kickstart is not
Kickstart is not an accelerator or incubator.
We do not focus on early stage startups (eg. mvp or prototype phase) but on more mature “scaleups” ready to collaborate with big corporations (eg. existing product, experience working with B2B customers).
What’s in for you
High potential for partnerships as our paying partners are actively looking for solutions – your chance to set foot in Switzerland.
Access to a host of senior executives and decision makers.
And finally it’s actually fun as well.
Besides great opportunities with our partners, our program features as well:
Separate partnership budget – partners already have set aside a budget to work on initial pilot projects or proof-of-concepts with you, making sure the projects are funded.
Financial support – finalists will receive a stipend of up to CHF 10’000 for business development expenses (eg. travel and accommodation) – you don’t have to send in each receipt, the money gets straight to your bank account.
Personal advisor – an advisor supports you while visiting Switzerland with access to her/his network and shares market knowledge.
Access to experts – you might want to engage with our experts on 1:1 basis to tackle questions in specific areas (eg. market entry, legal and ip, branding and communications).
Connection to investors – while not a focus, Kickstart has access to a broad network of investors, VC funds and family offices, your chance to connect for the next round.
Free office space and infrastructure – work at our beautiful locations while visiting Switzerland.
Networking and community events – immerse into the Swiss innovation ecosystem with networking and community building events throughout the program and create strong bonds with fellow ventures.
Media exposure – be covered in various local and national media outlets, newsletters and on social media.
The program is split into several phases:
Jan – Mar: Onboarding of our partners
Defining collaboration opportunities with our partners on which they would like to work with ventures (no involvement on your side).
April 15 – May 31: Applications open for ventures
Time requirement for you: 30 minutes max.
May 17 – July 9: Startup selection
All applications are reviewed and selected by our partners, to make sure, we will have just the ventures which our partners are interested in – saving you time as well.
The purpose is to identify the ventures which qualify for the final selection (see below).
No involvement on your side.
July 8 & July 9: Final selection (on-site in Zurich)
If selected by our partners, you will join a group of around 100 ventures to visit the partners in Switzerland for the final pitch and selection event – the first time you meet the partners in person.
We’d love to meet the founders at this occasion.
Sep 2 – Sep 6: Planning sprint (on-site in Zurich)
If selected, you (or your colleague, eg. business developer) will meet the partners to define goals for the coming weeks – this can be commercial partnerships, proof-of-concepts or pilot projects.
The week will be accompanied by several events, including the CEO & Founders Dinner where you get to meet 40+ CEOs in an informal setting – the founders’ attendance is required here.
You/your colleague will not be fully booked during this week, so meeting other corporations or working on your own projects is possible.
Sep 7 – Nov 8: Preparation and collaboration sprint
Based on the outcome of your discussions with our partners, you will be working towards the set goals (eg. proof-of-concept).
You’re not required to be full time in Switzerland so you might want to head back to your office and work remote. There will be some check-in meetings and other events where your presence is required, though. No need to worry, we know you are busy and will make it work so you can cover your other business priorities as well.
You will receive a stipend of CHF 10’000 to cover your travel expenses.
Nov 8: Closing Ceremony
Official end of this years’ program – time to get together and celebrate our results, the founders attendance is required here.
AXA, Coop, Migros and Swisscom as well as Credit Suisse, City of Zurich, ETH Zürich, Gebert-Rüf-Stiftung, Mercator Foundation Switzerland, Stäubli, Swisslinx, University of Zurich, and more:
Are you a good match?
If you are active in one or more of the following areas, I would be happy to receiving your application:
If you think you fit for several of our themes, eg. cybersecurity and smart cities, feel free to sign up multiple times.
We require a video with the founders – we just want to get to know the faces behind the names and the company, feel free to hand in an existing video, eg. interview or presentation on stage, alternatively, just use your mobile phone.