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: EdTech & Learning, Food & Retail Tech, FinTech & Digital Assets, HealthTech and Smart City & Technology, and cross vertical through the Circular Economy Initiative.
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 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 but on more mature “scaleups” ready to collaborate with big corporations (eg. existing product, experience working with B2B customers).
Kickstart is basically your business developer, we know what our partners need and we connect them with you as we are convinced you are the right match.
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 for business development support. (eg. travel and accommodation).
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 on which they would like to work with startups (no involvement on your side).
April 15 – June 8: Applications open for startups
Time requirement for you: 30 minutes max.
June 9 – July 7: Startup selection
All applications are reviewed and selected by our partners, experts and the Kickstart team.
The purpose is to identify the startups which qualify for the final selection (see below).
No involvement on your side.
July 6 – 8: Final selection (online, required)
If selected by our partners, you will join a group of around 100 startups 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.
Aug 31 – Sept 4: Planning sprint
If selected, you (or your colleagues, eg. business developers) 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 Dinner where you get to meet 40+ CEOs in an informal setting – the founders’ attendance is required here.
You/your colleagues will not be fully booked during this week, so meeting other corporations or working on your own projects is possible.
Sep 5 – Sep 27: Preparation (remote)
Based on the outcome of your discussions with our partners, you will prepare for the collaboration sprint.
No presence on-site needed.
Sep 28 – Nov 6: Collaboration sprint (on-site in Zurich)
Back in Zurich, you (or your team, depending on what was agreed to achieve) will work with your partner(s) towards your set goals.
You won’t be busy with meetings or working on the program all of the time. Feel free, to work on your business or head back to your office if the partnership is well covered. Though, we will have regular check-in meetings and other events where your presence is required.
Nov 5: 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, Mövenpick, and more:
Good to go? Two tips for the application:
If you think you fit for several of our themes, eg. food and retail, and smart cities, feel free to sign up multiple times.
Don’t overdo the video – we just want to get to know the faces behind the names and the company, just use your mobile phone.