In our complex, hyper-connected, technology-driven world, we need to work together across industries and sectors like never before. Ecosystem Innovation describes the process of new solutions and technologies emerging from collaboration and partnerships within a system of many organizations and individuals. This book is a collaborative effort of 31 co-authors from multiple organizations. It is the follow-up of Volume 1 “Kickstarting Collaboration” published in 2018.
Ecosystem innovation requires a certain mindset and humility, skills and capabilities, and experiences for corporates, startups, SMEs, municipalities, universities, philanthropic organisations and politicians to work together. Ecosystem innovation is not yet a clearly defined term and you will read multiple definitions and uses of the concept in this book. Yet, what all articles have in common, is at the core of the metaphor “ecosystem”: one species (or organization) can only thrive, if other species (or organizations) thrive as well.
Ecosystem Innovation – How to create successful partnerships between high-growth startups and established organizations. Vol II.
Published in November 2019 by Kickstart.
In partnership with Engagement Migros, digitalswitzerland and Impact Hub Zürich.
and much more …
Umberto Annino, SATW; Prof. Dr. Andrea Back, University of St.Gallen; Babar Baig, WriteReader; Dr. Angela Beckenbauer, ZHAW School of Management and Law; Dr. Christoph Birkholz, Kickstart & Impact Hub Zürich; Nicolas Bürer, digitalswitzerland; Manuela Disch, Swisscom; Dr. Matthias Filser, ZHAW School of Management and Law; Guillaume Gabus, digitalswitzerland; Ingeborg Gasser-Kriss, 21st century innovation agent; Prof. Oliver Gassmann, University of St.Gallen; Dr. Ben Graziano, ZHAW School of Management and Law; Dr. Holger Greif, PwC Switzerland; Prof. Gudela Grote, ETH Zürich; Till Haug, Veezoo; Kathrin Hoesli, Swisscom; Philip van Hövell, PwC Switzerland; Nora Varesco Kager, ETH Zürich; Peter Kasahara, PwC Switzerland; Dr. Tim Lehmann, Kickstart; Katka Letzing, Kickstart; Prof. Adrian W. Müller, ZHAW School of Management and Law; Raimund Neubauer, Kickstart; Dr. Lukas Peter, Swisscom; Kathrin Puhan-Henz, you advance GmbH; Josephine Ritzel, Kickstart; Christina Senn-Jakobsen, Kickstart; Dr. Jennifer Sparr, ETH Zürich; Thomas Vellacott, WWF Switzerland; Tina Werro, Swisscom; Dr. Christian Westermann, PwC Switzerland.
Design by Grafik2.
40 innovations in FinTech, EdTech, HealthTech, Food & Retail Tech, Smart City and Cybersecurity are gaining strong momentum from cooperation with leading corporations and organizations.
After four months of intense preparations and collaboration, Kickstart has the great honour to announce the innovation partnerships closed between the participating startups and intrapreneurship teams and Kickstart’s partner corporations and organizations.
Photos by Thomas Lüthi, Ringier.
Every year, Kickstart works together with a wide network of top-class advisors and experts, who support our startups and scale-ups with their broad specialist knowledge in deep tech, innovation and entrepreneurship. One of them is Oliver Durrer, Managing Director of our program partner SwissLEAP, who supports both the Intrapreneurship and the EdTech & Learning Vertical. In this interview, he shares how Lean Startup methods can be used to enhance both customer-centric learning as well as organizational learning.
I do indeed have a morning ritual that I try to cultivate and follow:
First, right after waking up, I go for a 15 minutes sitting meditation session. I use Emily Fletcher’s method of the “3 Ms”: Mindfulness (all about being fully present in the moment with all your senses), Meditation (giving your body deep rest and sort of purging the stress of the past) and Manifestation (practising gratitude and vividly envisioning the future, combining it with actual emotions as if you have already experienced it).
Second, I do a breathing exercise inspired by Wim “the Iceman” Hof. It’s a form of abdominal and chest mouth-breathing hyperventilation combined with holding your breath for as long as you can after completely exhaling. This makes me feel alert but calm and focused at the same time.
Third, a short morning workout routine of 20-30 minutes and I am ready to win the day.
First, I like to ask them about the company’s purpose (the why) and learn whether the teams are clear and aligned on the deeper motivation and its roots. This is crucial for the company’s vision and values as well as a key driver of individual intrinsic motivation to help them get through the tough times to realize their company’s mission. To structure the startup team’s challenges, I like to use a simple but powerful curated framework we have dubbed the SwissLEAP Diamond – a combination of 2 Golden Triangles:
In combination with this framework, we use powerful problem-solving techniques and methods for accelerated customer-centric learning and de-risking, such as Lean Innovation. As my friend Brant Cooper, co-author of The Lean Entrepreneur, taught me, the base are the 3 Es: Empathy, Experiments and Evidence:
An example of such an experiment is the one Dropbox used: Before even writing a single line of code for their product, they used a video to illustrate the problem and their solution and asked people to sign up if they were interested in such a cloud-storage product. If memory serves they received something like 70’000 sign-ups in very little time. The Dropbox team generated Evidence from this Experiment that there was a need for this kind of solution.
This accelerated customer-centric learning is extremely valuable for startups – also in a corporate startup context for intrapreneurs. For sustainable success with lean startup and lean innovation practices, the culture and context of a larger organization most often need to holistically evolve, though. The core common denominators are learning and collaboration, whether we are in a pure startup setting or in a corporate context. It is like Yin&Yang: both startups and established enterprises can and should learn from each other, a blend of their respective best practices is the likely combination for success. Here, adopting a learning mindset and practices, in combination with the adequate structure, systems, strategies and culture is crucial – also when it comes to corporate-startup collaborations.
Lean Startup emphasizes learning as much and as fast as possible with as little resources as possible to avoid or reduce “waste”. The build-measure-learn and innovation accounting approaches beautifully combine creativity with a scientific structured approach for effectiveness and efficiency in problem-solving and designing products and services.
Personally, I like to use Lean Startup methods to drive customer-centric learning as well as to enhance stakeholder-centric organizational learning. I even use it as a personal development tool by applying experimentation and learning loops to my own life – for example to my morning routine ;-).
About the author:
A certified lean innovation coach, Oliver’s 15+ years track-record of catalysing a culture of organizational learning, intrapreneurship and innovation, as intrapreneur and entrepreneur, spans across large enterprises, SMB and tech startups in Europe, Asia and the US, over a broad range of functions and fields. He started, scaled and integrated an EdTech startup and created an InnoLab for Migros Club School, Switzerland’s biggest further-education institution. Oliver founded SwissLEAP to empower purpose-driven pioneers to increase impact by evolving corporate culture with lean innovation, intrapreneurship and organizational learning to create shared value.
In summer 2018, the Danish startup WriteReader joined Kickstart as one of the selected EdTech companies. WriteReader’s learning solution supports children in reading and writing by making kids authors of their own digital books. One year later, WriteReader has established three successful partnerships in Switzerland with the education ministry, a premier football club, and a software education company. Here is Babar Baig, CEO and Co-Founder of WriteReader, sharing his Kickstart story:
This article can be found in our book “Ecosystem Innovation”. Free download here.
Having been part of several startup accelerator programs previously, we at WriteReader weren’t sure if joining another program would be the right priority for us. We already had a globally working proof-of-concept. Yet, we were convinced by the fact that the Kickstart program is truly partnership-based – the partners, comprising universities, foundations, corporations and other leading Swiss institutions, had a big say when it came to the selection of startups for the program. As a startup, it is a dream scenario to come to a place where several potential partners are present and have already shown interest in your company.
365 days, 3 Partnerships closed across three sectors
It’s been a year since we joined Kickstart. Today, we have three running partnerships in Switzerland. We kept our pipeline broad, yet initially focused on getting a pilot running to validate our learning solution in the Swiss school system.
During the Kickstart program, we were able to launch a pilot project with Swiss primary schools, greatly supported by two leading Swiss foundations, Mercator Foundation Switzerland and Jacobs Foundation, as well as Dybuster, a Swiss EdTech Company. As a foreign company, for WriteReader it would have been impossible to bring such diverse local partners together.
Our initial pilot partner, Dybuster was key to understanding the school landscape in Switzerland. Eventually, WriteReader became a good fit to expand Dybuster’s product portfolio from helping children with dyslexia to general and creative literacy support for children. We are very happy to see that Swiss schools are now able to use our German version “Schreiblabor”.
Through the “Kickstart Partner Safari” which was part of the Kickstart selection process, we met with the Canton of Zurich, that showed interest in exploring how our learning tool built for children would be applicable for basic competency education for adults. Through multiple interactions, we succeeded in agreeing on a 3-year digital flagship agreement for the Government’s e-Lounge, a new basic competency initiative “Lernstuben”.
Our Kickstart advisor, a seasoned Swiss entrepreneur, was a crucial part as well. He introduced WriteReader to the Swiss football club Young Boys Bern. We saw an opportunity emerging to enable sports clubs to use WriteReader as a “Fan Engagement” solution. Today, WriteReader is thrilled to see Young Boys fans create and share their own digital fan books while learning to read and write at the same time!
Keep your focus throughout the program. We had a razor-sharp focus ion the initial pilot. We realized that the basis of potential future partnerships would be dependent on a successful pilot with Swiss schools. Even though we had plenty of proof before, the pilot played out to be an important local signal of the quality of our solution. Time is limited and there is so much to do. So prioritization is key.
Don’t expect things will happen in a few months (it might happen and that would be great) but keep in mind that it’s the long-term commitment of your time that eventually pays off. I have come back to Switzerland 4-6 times after the program and steadily followed up with the contacts initiated through the program. We had a broad pipeline and received several refusals, but the key was to keep pushing gently and to leverage the great network provided by the Kickstart program over time.
About the author:
Babar has over 10 years of experience in operational and strategic marketing. He has previously worked with Danish telecom, TDC and The Society of Danish Engineers. In 2012, Babar co-founded WriteReader enabling children to learn through creation. WriteReader is a scientifically based learning platform that accelerates children’s learning through their own interests.
Only a few years ago, there wasn’t much of a FoodTech and AgriTech ecosystem to be found in Switzerland. This is changing now – and at an impressive pace, as this article by Ingeborg Gasser-Kriss and Christina Senn-Jakobsen shows.
This article can be found in our book “Ecosystem Innovation”. Free download here.
Until recently, efforts to create a thriving startup culture and a supporting network were focused on HealthTech, FinTech and EdTech, as well as foundational DeepTech like Blockchain, Sensors, Robotics and AI. On the one hand, this seems natural: Switzerland is known as a world leader in banking, pharma, science and engineering – but despite its well-deserved reputation for cheese and chocolate, it does not rank quite as high on the list of culinary innovation nations as, for example, France, Spain or Belgium. So it may not be surprising that France, with its proud culinary tradition, already had a flourishing Food Vertical in Station F in Paris; and that Israel, with its startup nation spirit and dependence on agriculture, had a thriving FoodTech hub in The Kitchen; while Switzerland seemed to focus elsewhere.
On the other hand, when we investigate the success factors required for a country to be an innovation leader in FoodTech, we find that Switzerland ticks all the boxes except one:
Few will argue with Switzerland’s high scores on success factors 1-4. When it comes to factor 5, food entrepreneurialism may not be the first thing to meet the eye of the observer, but a quick look back in time reveals an impressive history of Swiss food system founders. Gottlieb Duttweiler, Ueli Prager, Theodor Tobler, Else Züblin-Spiller, as well as immigrants like Henri Nestlé, Philippe Suchard and Julius Maggi – and many more – were driven by the desire to solve a problem of society, which would benefit everyone – including themselves. New, better food and new business models emerged and had a lasting impact.
Success factor 6 – also known as “the fire in the belly” – has often been quoted as the critical lacking ingredient in the Swiss innovation ecosystem. But more recently, especially when it comes to Food and AgriTech, the place of that fire has been filled by an even greater urgency: the global crisis of human health and the health of our planet.
Food and Agriculture Innovation will play an immense role in averting both crises.
In the biggest-ever food production analysis, led by Oxford University researcher Joseph Poore, published 2018, Poore states that: “…diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification [and] eutrophication [of the oceans], land use, and water use [….]. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car. Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems.” Needless to state that the single biggest and fastest impact to be made on human health is also through food.
“Diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth”Joseph Poore
When it comes to food and agriculture, then, the “innovate or die” paradigm loses its twinkle in the eye.
In the face of such a challenge, it is uplifting to see a FoodTech ecosystem in Switzerland emerge at an impressive pace. The Founder Institute has set up a Chapter in Zurich focused on Food, and seen passionate people joining the program to unleash their ideas and set up a business. Entrepreneurs share insights in meet-ups organized by FoodHack and Crowdfoods. ETH Zürich, EPFL and HSG have entrepreneurship on the curriculum and run multiple Food startup programs such as ‘HSG FoodTech Lab’. Industry partners such as Coop, Migros, Givaudan, Ricolab, Nestlé, Bühler, Barry Callebaut – and even some non-Swiss global players like Coca-Cola and Mondelez – engage in the Swiss ecosystem through partnerships with Kickstart Innovation in Zurich and/or MassChallenge in Lausanne. The governments are creating manifestos to support this growth and slowly, (but steadily and increasingly), investors, family offices and foundations are opening up the doors to their board rooms …
In typical tried and tested Swiss fashion, many of these initiatives are growing from the ground up, driven by a single company, university, VC fund or canton, rather than being cascaded from the top down.
If the many actors and shapers in Swiss FoodTech and AgriTech now were to build a stronger collaborative network, connecting the dots between their activities and feeding into one another, the effect could quickly multiply and grow into a buzzing, vibrant ecosystem. Already we see collaborative partnerships emerge like the Future Food initiative forged by Bühler, Nestlé and Givaudan with ETH and EPFL.
The Future of Food is now – and it’s time to put Switzerland firmly on the map of Food Innovation Nations!
About the authors:
Ingeborg Gasser-Kriss is an innovation professional with a background of 26 years in corporate marketing and innovation. She is active in board roles, as an advisor to startups in the Kickstart and Founder Institute programs, and as an external advisor to big and small companies who aim to adopt 21st century innovation models. In her previous role as VP Global Innovation at Mondelez
International, she designed the incubation and venturing unit SnackFutures. She is a member of the Board of Directors at SV Group, owner and founder of Agent21 GmbH, and a keynote speaker on the Future of Food.
Christina Senn-Jakobsen is a Food Innovation Passionista aiming to be a part of making the world a better place. With a core focus on Food Science & Technology, Christina is heading up the Food & Retail Vertical at Kickstart. Further, Christina is a Co-Director at the Zurich chapter of the Founder Institute, supporting early-stage Food and AgriTech startups to get off to a great start.
Christina holds a Master degree in Food Science and Technology from University of Copenhagen and a Master in European Food Studies from Wageningen University.
Three Kickstart participants; three scenarios. Altoo, YUKKA Lab and AAAccell have two things in common: all three were selected to participate in the Kickstart Accelerator program, which connects its participants with leading organizations and all three have embarked on collaborative projects.
German company YUKKA Lab and Switzerland-based Altoo, together with Swisscom, explore the opportunities of Open Banking for the Swiss financial sector, as well as the integration of YUKKA Lab´s News & Trend service into the Altoo platform. YUKKA Lab is also collaborating with University of Zurich spinoff and Kickstart 2017 alumni AAAccell, to create a joint sentiment-quant engine.
We asked Oliver Berchtold, CPO at YUKKA Lab, Maximilian Adelmann, Senior Quant Engineer at AAAccell, and Martin Stadler, CEO at Altoo AG, how these collaborations started, what makes the Kickstart program so special and what advice they have for startups and scaleups concerning the initiation of cooperation.
Martin: We met with the participants and their different backgrounds and exciting business ideas as part of the Kickstart Accelerator Program. This get together provided the inspiration thinking about teaming up.
Oliver: Kickstart Accelerator did connect us! We met Martin from Altoo there, and we both knew right away that we could integrate our Sentiment Indicators into their Portfolio view, as well as offer our News Lab to their UHNWI clients, as an expert research tool with state-of-the-art analytics and high-quality news.
Whereas, we met Sandro and Max from AAAccell through a client who thought it would make sense to combine the two applications in POC.
Maximilian: Yes, it was at the site of one of AAAccell’s clients. Andreas and Oliver were presenting YUKKA Labs sentiment engine there.
Oliver: We continued the discussion directly after the meeting and elaborated the benefits of a potential collaboration, since the two services just blended so well together. As a next step, we tested our data to see if it would enhance their results. Sandro and Maximilian were so happy with the result that we decided to cooperate and, on the spot, drafted the fair terms of our partnership. We put those terms into a formal contract, signed it, and immediately started the development of our combined product offering.
Maximilian: I was impressed by the power of their approach and how well they could visualize the strength of their product. Right away, I saw the vast potential that YUKKA Lab’s sentiments could have to improve our quant engine. Fortunately, Andreas and Oliver’s view of our product was similar, so we started talking about collaborating on the first day that we met.
Oliver: It just makes sense to combine AAAccell’s price-based portfolio optimization with our sentiment indicators. Moreover, there is no one on the market with a similar offering yet. Also, the skill sets of the two companies complement each other well.
In general, it is exciting to work with other startups, because they are agile and can make decisions very quickly. It’s great to launch projects that show fast results and then enhance products based on new affiliations.
Maximilian: YUKKA Lab was aiming to enrich their sentiment signals with quantitative models, while we at AAAccell considered adding sentiment to our quant engine. So, instead of going through the time and resource-consuming process to build up knowledge in a new field, it felt like a natural decision to profit from the strong expertise of a collaborative partner.
The fact that both YUKKA Lab and AAAccell are startups in a similar phase made the collaboration easier. The whole process moved very fast, and both sides are working in the same spirit. YUKKA Lab’s excellent product was the primary reason for us to collaborate, but the good fit on the personal level with Andreas and Oliver was also essential to us.
In our case, Kickstart didn’t have a direct role in the collaboration, also because we participated in different years. However, Kickstart Accelerator Company label is definitely a factor that enriches trust in the collaborator.
Oliver: I totally agree. I think both components are equally important. Obviously, the idea and products need to match and combined, create an additional value that none of the companies could individually deliver. That is the charm of cooperation: To offer something new and innovative to the market that meets the customers’ needs. However, of course, the personal fit is key to such collaboration. Trust is the foundation cooperation is built on. If there is no personal fit, it is unlikely that a collaboration lifts off.
Martin: Our mission at Altoo is to provide simplicity for complex wealth, enabling our clients to get simple insights, to better understand and control what’s going on with their total wealth, and to know where to set their focus. This perfectly matches the YUKKA’s technological capabilities to create more transparency in the flood of investment news and find the most important information for our clients’ investments. As Oliver said, ideas and products need to match.
And of course, the support at Kickstart was great. The mentors were all very experienced, which created the perfect environment to enable collaborations with incumbents and other Kickstart participants.
Maximilian: Currently, we work with YUKKA Lab on building a sentiment-quant engine with very high potential. This engine is supposed to turn into a product that both companies can offer to their clients.
Oliver: It will allow our customers to benefit from improved performance and risk management through a unique combination of quant models and sentiment.
Martin: As part of the Proof of Concept with YUKKA Lab, we are not only exploring the technical feasibility, but also testing the client response for such a news feature. This will define how our cooperation is set in the future, focusing on creating added-values for our clients.
Martin: Living co-creatorship and fostering innovation is a key pillar of Altoo’s corporate strategy. Living it in the daily business with other companies showcases to our clients how agile we are at approaching different aspects of wealth management in new ways.
Oliver: Combined with the additional value for the customer, it brings more marketing and sales power through joining forces and uniting each other’s talents.
Maximilian: Uniting each other’s talents is an important factor. We instantly get strong expertise and data in a field that has high value to us. Even with investing a lot of money into building a sentiment engine, it would have taken us months or even years to get sentiment of comparable quality. Collaborating with YUKKA Lab gives us the possibility to roll out a product in a short period and gain a first mover advantage.
Oliver: It all starts with having a good idea for a combined product vision, that meets a specific client need. Then, you need to strip it down and see if you can feasibly integrate each other’s offering. The hardest part is to find a fair business model that satisfies both parties.
Maximilian: I advise having a good network, knowledge of the relevant markets, and always an open mind for opportunities. I would base my decision to collaborate on several factors: the product of the potential partner, the organization, accomplishments, clients, and lastly, the personal fit between the collaborators.
Martin: In general, to be efficient, collaboration needs to be a natural fit; one that is worthwhile to invest time in. Nonetheless, thinking out of the box has helped us to create either more/new ideas or to redefine the focus of our company’ roadmap.
Oliver Berchtold is CPO, CBD and Co-Founder of YUKKA Lab AG , Berlin and Zurich-based FinTech for AI-derived insights for the financial industry. YUKKA Lab, a 2018 Kickstart company, works with Altoo exploring the opportunities of “Open Banking” with Swisscom for the Swiss financial sector, as well as on the integration of YUKKA Lab´s services into the Altoo platform.
Maximilian Adelmann is Senior Quant Engineer at AAAccell, a spinoff startup of the University of Zurich, that develops innovative AI / ML solutions for the financial service industry and a Kickstart 2017 alumni. Together with YUKKA Lab, they are working on a sentiment-quant engine to optimally combine YUKKA Lab’s sentiment with state-of-the-art quant models.
Martin Stadler is CEO of Altoo AG, a company that provides simplicity for complex wealth, enabling their clients to interact intuitively with their total wealth in a totally new way. Altoo, a 2018 Kickstart company, elaborates with YUKKA Lab on how to integrate the YUKKA News & Trend Lab into the Altoo platform.
The deep technology age requires much more collaboration between unlikely allies. Yet, collaboration is hard. The book “Kickstarting Collaboration” is building on research from ETH Zurich and University of St. Gallen, case studies from Kickstart Accelerator, as well as many more experiences from digitalswitzerland, University of Zurich, corporates and startups to provide hands-on recommendations for partnering between deep tech startups and large organizations.
Kickstarting Collaboration – How to create successful partnerships between high-growth startups and established organizations
Published in November 2018 by Kickstart Accelerator and digitalswitzerland
Dr. Christoph Birkholz, Kickstart Accelerator & Impact Hub Zürich; Nicolas Bürer, digitalswitzerland; Daniel Ginter, digitalswitzerland; Prof. Dr. Gudela Grote, ETH Zurich; Katka Letzing, Kickstart Accelerator; Dr. Maria Olivares, University of Zurich; Lukas Peter, Swisscom & University of t. Gallen; Dr. Jennifer Sparr, ETH Zurich; Katrin Winiarski, University of Zurich; Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler, Swisscom.
Design by Grafik2.
The Kickstart Accelerator 2018 startups are selected! 30 promising tech companies from 12 countries will come to Zurich this fall to work together with Swiss corporations, universities, cities and foundations in order to drive deep technologies. Next to them, also 5 intrapreneur teams will participate in this year’s program – more than ever before.
Kickstart Accelerator has chosen 30 technology startups for its 2018 program. The companies will come to Zurich for seven weeks this autumn, where they will meet with Swiss corporations, cities, universities and foundations aiming at initiating successful innovation partnerships and joint pilot projects. No other program in Switzerland is bringing together as many established organizations with technology startups as Kickstart Accelerator.
The following startups participate in Kickstart Accelerator 2018:
CodeAll (Poland) is a coding-platform that addresses people that want to get the first steps in programming in general and master the basics of programming and algorithmic, connecting software with sensory hardware in a similar way to Lego Robots.
Differ (Norway) brings your classes, study groups and professional networks closer together, so you can learn more, teach better and get things done with a little more fun – based on AI.
Gnowbe (Singapore) is a mobile micro-learning platform that enables enterprises to onboard and train employees more efficiently and effectively with over 60 clients in 17 countries.
Labster (Denmark) has developed revolutionary life-sciences (VR+ Desktop) simulations, customizing learning programs with the world’s leading universities and licensing globally, potential applications as well in leadership training.
Potential.ly (UK) is a skills-driven continuous-professional-development platform with smart career readiness features.
Sharing Academy (Spain) is a peer-to-peer tutoring marketplace that allows students to offer and to find peer tutoring classes from any course within his degree and university.
TEACHY (Switzerland) helps apprentices & pupils to increase their grades at school significantly by providing a completely new kind of personal or online 1-1 tutoring.
WriteReader (Denmark) is a global literacy platform that enables children (3-10 years) to become creators and authors by using 21st-century skills.
Altoo (Switzerland) empowers wealthy individuals and their families to consolidate and interact with their total wealth in a simple and intuitive way, including crypto.
Asteria (Sweden) automates cash flow forecasting and give feedback to understand clients’ business cash flow and help make more data driven business decisions.
Fintechdb (Norway) is a service that helps FinTech buyers to understand the FinTech market, so that they can make the right choices when it comes to finding partners, analyzing competition and trends, or just getting a broad overview.
Gauss Algorithmic (Czech Republic) combines internal and external data to understand the motivation behind users purchasing financial products like loans and using advanced analytics methods like machine learning to find new “similar” customer.
Reportix (Germany) helps businesses to bring real contracts into Blockchain technology – legally sound, for humans, machine processable.
ResonanceX Ltd. (UK) is a digital platform enabling the end-to-end automation of the price discovery, issuance and administration of Structured Products.
Trakti (UK) is the first contract negotiation and management platform enabling the possibility to run deals/contracts negotiations using different protocols and interaction models on a self service base and automate the obligation management of the contract via smart contract and blockchain.
vlot (Switzerland) is a B2B2C platform opening up an agile and integrated world of risk analysis, coverage and life planning.
YUKKA Lab AG (Germany) is a technology leader in the field of Augmented Language Intelligence and context-based text analysis for the financial industry.
Alver Golden Chlorella (Switzerland) aims to improve consumers’ health as well as our environment by offering foods that are healthy, tasty and sustainable containing plant protein and the micro-algae Golden Chiarella®.
Besso (Germany) is an unconventional socially-minded brand, created by a barista to give to tea the attention it deserves.
Mondays (Switzerland) is a monthly subscription service delivering 100% plastic free period products to your door.
LuckaBox (Switzerland) is a cloud-based platform for on-demand deliveries and warehousing to provide retailers with what their customers increasingly demand: on-demand deliveries.
microPow (Switzerland) is an all-natural delivery system for aromas and flavors which drastically improves the storability and enhances the release of contained aroma and flavor compounds.
Yarok Microbio (Israel) provides a new fast testing technology for the food industry. Detect & count bacteria (E.coli, Listeria, Salmonella, etc.) in 45 minutes instead of days.
AVUXI (UK) is working on the conversion of geo big data for indexing the popularity of every place on earth.
Block Dox (UK) is working on occupancy and indoor environmental tracking sensors and data analytics.
Fleco Power AG (Switzerland) is a technology platform for decentralized energy systems consisting of control system and IoT-based hardware.
Hivemind (Switzerland) is an IoT platform including a collection of web services to connect, manage, and maintain IoT devices.
Kido Dynamics (Switzerland) is a data analytics platform with reconstruction and forecast techniques for smart cities focussing on mobility patterns.
Pedius (Italy) has developed a text-to-speech/ speech-to-text solution for deaf and hard of hearing people using voice recognition and speech synthesis.
The Energy Audit (Italy) is an AI-based energy management software with real-time data acquisition and predictive models for energy consumption.
In autumn, the selected startups will come to the innovative premises of Kraftwerk located in the centre of Zurich, where they will work on accelerating their projects in close exchange with Coop, Credit Suisse, Migros, Swisscom, Department of Education of the Canton of Zurich, ETH Zurich, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, City of St. Gallen, City of Zurich, Mercator Foundation Switzerland, Mondelēz International, Swiss Federal Office for Energy SFOE, University of Zurich, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences and many more partners of Kickstart Accelerator.
Next to the 30 startups, also 5 intrapreneur teams will participate in the program – more than ever before. Intrapreneurs are “entrepreneurs within a company”; although being integrated in a corporation, they act as autonomous teams on innovative projects – very similar to a startup. Credit Suisse, Migros and Swisscom are bringing intrapreneur teams into the program:
Credit Suisse: Open banking project to enable efficient and secure payment processing for e- and m-commerce.
Menu Casa (Migros): Home delivery service of healthy, varied and delicious food for people in the prime of life who are not able or willing to cook for themselves.
OLIQ (Migros): Innovative and liquid supplements combining vitamins, minerals and natural plant extracts, e.g. for strengthening the immune system or boosting the energy level.
Migros Klubschule: Online coaching platform for personal and professional development with more than 7`000 teachers and experts of Migros Klubschule.
Robo VC (Swisscom): Software as a Service based on Artificial Intelligence to support investors in the venture capital industry in planning and making their investments.
Kickstart Accelerator is operated by Impact Hub Zurich, which is the largest local community within the global Impact Hub network worldwide. The program, which was launched 2015 by digitalswitzerland, takes place from July to October, including a one-week Planning Sprint in September and a six-weeks Collaboration Sprint from October 1st to November 9th, during which the international teams will be on site in Zurich.
Photos by Anja Wurm, Ringier.
As one of the 30 selected startups for Kickstart Accelerator, you will get the chance to enter into innovative collaborations with leading Swiss corporates, cities, universities and foundations. We will support you every step of the way to make this happen! Your benefits include:
Access to senior executives: Kickstart gives participants the opportunity to connect with its partners‘ senior executives. More than 30 CEOs, decision-makers, movers and shakers of Swiss corporations and institutions have confirmed their participation to one of Kickstart’s main events. Find out more about our C-level engagement here.
Quarter of a million in partnership budget: Participants get the chance to access funding for successfully initiated collaborative projects with Kickstart partners.
Bringing together founders and C-level executives.
Collaboration training and facilitation: Kickstart is actively fostering collaborative projects between the startups and the accelerator’s partners.
Program stipends: Kickstart participants can expect a program stipend of up to CHF 10’000 per startup.
Your Personal Mentor and access to Experts: Entrepreneurial mentors are at the center of Kickstart Accelerator. We think of mentoring as building a relationship with someone who accompanies and inspires you along your journey and helps you to navigate within the Swiss market. In addition to mentoring, startups have access to a wide network of experts in varied industries, for 1:1 sessions.
Focused access to investors: Kickstart facilitates connections with national and international investors.
Free office space and infrastructure: Kickstart provides office space and infrastructure to all participants at an extraordinary innovation and collaboration space: Kraftwerk. The rebuilt, former electronic transformer station lies within a few minutes from Zurich’s main railway station. Kraftwerk offers various event-, workshop- and meeting rooms; as well as a large special event space and a lively café, spread over 1200 m2.
Collaboration and Innovation Space Kraftwerk.
Networking and Community events: Weekly networking events at Kraftwerk and external locations allow participating startups to fully emerge themselves into the Swiss innovation ecosystem. Community building events throughout the program aim at establishing strong bonds between the vertical cohorts in order to enable peer-support across the program.
Media exposure: Startups get the chance to be covered in various local and national media outlets, newsletters and on social media.
Startup and Innovation Ecosystem: Overall, participating startups can benefit from a fast-track access to Swiss startup and innovation ecosystems.
And the best part: Kickstart Accelerator takes zero equity and charges zero fees.
Have a look at these great examples of successful collaborations that were initiated within the last two years: Next to 30 PoCs and partnerships that resulted out of last year’s program, a couple of weeks ago we were able to announce another PoC between the AI-startup DCBrain and our partner Swisscom. Additionally, the insurance company AXA and Veezoo, an alumni startup from our very first program in 2016, announced that they have deepened their relationship and established a successful partnership. We are looking forward to making these kind of stories possible again this year – together with amazing partners such as Coop, Credit Suisse, Migros, Swisscom, Department of Education of the Canton of Zurich, the cities of St. Gallen and Zurich, ETH Zürich, Gebert-Rüf-Stiftung, Mercator Foundation Switzerland, Swiss Federal Office for Energy, University of Zurich, AXA, EY, Stäubli, Swisslinx, PwC Switzerland, Helbling and more.
If you are a startup or scaleup with a promising technology, product or business idea in the fields of EdTech & Learning, FinTech & Crypto, Food & Retail Tech or Smart Cities & Infrastructure, then apply until June 10th and become a #kickstarters18.
In case you have any questions, feel free to contact our Vertical Leads: Katka Letzing for FinTech & Crypto, Tim Lehmann for EdTech & Learning, Christina Senn-Jakobsen for Food & Retail Tech and Ruth Armalé for Smart Cities. We are looking forward to working with you!
After a successful initial year in Lausanne, Kickstart’s EdTech & Learning Vertical comes to Zurich with a three year vision to help build a world-class education, technology and innovation eco-system in Switzerland. Up to 10 later-stage EdTech startups will accelerate their deep tech innovations with our Kickstart partners: corporates, universities, foundations, and public institutions. Our EdTech & Learning Lead Tim Lehmann shares his personal view of launching the EdTech Vertical in Zurich.
I’m about to cycle Zurich’s Stauffacherbrücke. It’s an early fresh morning. Spring has melted away the layers of ice of a crystal clear Sihl river. My new office at the innovation and collaboration space, Kraftwerk, appears right next to her. Like every morning at the crossing, while waiting on my bike, after just having passed a big stack of Zurich’s Google offices (Google’s 2nd largest after the US), I spot the construction site of Zurich’s former main stock exchange building. The scaffolding in front of the impressive portal-like entrance hides behind a head-high temporary structure. Painted in blue and white letters it reads, “Education First — The World Leaders in International Education”. By the end of 2018, one of the world’s largest education companies will have taken over the famous landmark building, completely restructuring its inner core. One of Switzerland’s biggest newspapers, Tagesanzeiger, with its publisher’s view right across the Sihl, titled the ‘take over’, “Zurich’s stock exchange becomes a school”.
From computerised finance to education
The finance world’s early computerisation in the 1990s is literally arriving in the education and learning sector. The first wave of digital transformation of finance ended not only in its collapse in 2008, but an ever more aggressive und unequal flow of capital into all parts of industries and our lives. The digitisation of the education and learning landscape could mark a turning point for the new technologies to do better for thinking the relation between technological innovation and political, economic and social inventiveness.
Accelerating partnerships between startups and established players
In our team at Impact Hub Zürich‘s Kickstart Accelerator, we work on both – the tech in finance and education right across the street from the ‘Neue Börse’ at Kraftwerk Innovation Space. Just recently, we launched into our third program year with a variety of partners, ready to pose their challenges to scout national and international startups that would help them tackle these challenges. In 2018, we opt into such new fields that we care about, like the technologies of education and learning — and keep what we like and has been proven key industries (what we call ‘verticals’) for the Swiss innovation space: finance, smart cities and food tech. We shift towards even more piloting between startups and established companies and institutions, such as multinationals, SMEs, foundations, cities, universities, schools, and federal and local governments. This requires Kickstart’s focus to change from startups to scale-ups — more mature startups that are capable of partnering with the established players.
Governing a technological and market society
Kickstart’s EdTech focus, in addition to the Impact Hub Zurich’s collaboration and local eco-system approach, merges the tech and impact focus. (Impact Hub Zurich is a Google for Entrepreneurs partner and member of 100 globally connected and locally embedded Impact Hubs around the world). Our EdTech impact focus signals Government Councillor Dr. Silvia Steiner’s patronage of the EdTech Vertical launch in Zurich in 2018. If we consider impact and scale in the education industries serious, it requires close partnering with the government. Yet, similar to what happens at Zurich’s Europaallee, a central area owned by the government’s train service provider SBB — large tech companies, like Google, overtaking government ground — there will be new players venturing and pushing the boundaries of a resilient, often times stiff education sector. With Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telco corporation, and Google as EdTech partners, we help to facilitate a thin line between the state and the market.
The cross-sector association digitalswitzerland raised initial industry momentum for EdTech in Switzerland with the Kickstart Accelerator EdTech Vertical in Lausanne in 2017 and its education and talent initiative. We are now expecting Swiss firms to see education and learning not only as a politically poisoned, low-revenue business, but EdTech as a field of innovation for new technologies, new markets and society at large. I personally look forward to having Education First setting up its 1000 employees in 2018 right in front of our office space. I hope that EF will be opening up its ‘portal’ and not be as much of a black box like the emerging tech and information industry has become. Akin to the Spotify and iTunes models in an analogy to the music industry, the education sector rightly fears a Napster moment. Yet, industry players will need to be prepared for carefully riding the long rising tide of the education and learning sector, especially in a social democratic Europe.
Contexts of learning as a social and technological practice
Impact driven tech in education and learning means better and simpler tech. Kickstart’s integration of science and engineering driven technologies (Deep Tech Nation Switzerland) is an important step we do into this direction in 2018. Yet, simpler tech does not mean less techie, but more driven by the contextual complexity and human-centred processes of learning as a social practice (and technological, think of your old school’s blackboard). Constructivist learning sciences experts like Dr. Dominik Petko, Vice president of the University of Teacher Education Schwyz, speak of Zones of Proximal Development (ZPD). In today’s light of digitising and technologically equipping the learner’s pathway, the ZPD theory considers an individual learner’s limits within these developments. Dr. Petko’s publicly funded work as an academic, like Learningview.org — an AI optimised learning schedule that identifies a student’s overload within flexible learning environments — could inspire (more) solid pedagogic concepts for EdTech business models in what industry experts sometimes describe as frustrating product driven business landscape.
Building science and engineering momentum in EdTech
In this vein, we will build on EPFL ‘s experience in EdTech, particularly its 2017 launched EdTech Collider, as well as our new partners ETH Zürich and the University of Zürich. (EPFL and ETH are the two Swiss universities funded by the Swiss federal government — both focus on science and technology driven basic research and education; ETH is among the world’s top 3 ranked publicly funded universities). If we look at the leading EdTech innovation clusters around the world in China, Scandinavia, the UK and the US, Switzerland needs to use today’s momentum in order to make its mark in what Switzerland should be strong in as a knowledge and technology-based society. Mercator Foundation Switzerland’s three-year support of the EdTech vertical acknowledges our vision to help build momentum for an EdTech cluster in Switzerland. More momentum will join if the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research and the Federal Council will approve the EdTech proposal of its National Research Program on digital transformation.
Momentum for ‘transition skills’
What [as entrepreneurs] do we take from this momentum on a personal level? At Impact Hub Zürich, our education spin-off STRIDE Unschool for Entrepreneurial Leadership constantly challenges our learning approach as a leading startup eco-system provider. In the global Impact Hub Network, we boldly say, “The world is changing, and we are on the transition team”. Yet, what kind of competences are required in this transition team? And, are we, even as entrepreneurial explorers of our contexts, not also damned to reflexively learn from our hacking and breaking of things?
Many of us were rebels at school. I personally was one ‘without a cause’— breaking things not for the better. I respect the skills of our community of founders and starters. However, I truly believe that it’s not (only) through the startup experience that we capture all aspects of life(-long learning). A proactive approach for founders to take learning serious — and to combine it with startup success — could be to become educators and instructors ourselves. There is an armada of young people and talents (backed by a political agenda in Switzerland) waiting to learn from the startups’ way of hustling ourselves into a structurally different future.
A version of this piece originally appeared on the Impact Hub Zürich website on 09. April 2018, https://zurich.impacthub.ch/rebels-in-the-classroom-transforming-education-with-edtech/
DCbrain, Teilnehmer des letztjährigen Kickstart Accelerators, möchte in einer Zusammenarbeit mit Swisscom aufzeigen, wie künstliche Intelligenz die Energieeffizienz in Rechenzentren optimieren kann.
DCbrain, ein europäischer Anbieter von AI-gestützter Software zur Netzoptimierung, hat sich zur Durchführung einer dreimonatigen Machbarkeitsstudie (Proof of Concept) mit dem Schweizer Telekommunikationsunternehmen Swisscom zusammengetan. In dieser Machbarkeitsstudie will DCbrain demonstrieren, wie dessen revolutionäre Technologie Energieeffizienz mit betrieblicher Optimierung kombiniert, ohne dass dies den Investitionsaufwand in komplexen Netzwerken wie Rechenzentren erhöht. Dank der Partnerschaft mit DCbrain kann sich Swisscom besonders intensiv mit dem Thema maschinelles Lernen auseinandersetzen. Das Projekt war während des Kickstart Accelerators im Herbst 2017 zustande gekommen und läuft seit Ende Februar.
Swisscom macht mit bei der AI-Revolution
Bigna Salzmann, Senior Corporate Responsibility Managerin bei Swisscom sagt: „Der Kickstart Accelerator ermöglicht es uns, Startups und ihre Technologien im Bereich Smart City kennenzulernen. Wir freuen uns über die Zusammenarbeit mit DCbrain, um die Energieeffizienz in unseren Rechenzentren zu erhöhen und damit einen Beitrag zu unserer Corporate Responsibility Strategie zu leisten.“
Die Partnerschaft mit DCbrain unterstreicht das Engagement von Swisscom für die Energiewende dank der Verwendung neuer Technologien. Neue Technologien wie die von DCbrain ermöglichen es dem Telekommunikationsanbieter, den Energieverbrauch eines Rechenzentrums besser nachzuvollziehen, insbesondere was die Kühlgeräte betrifft. Mit der Software von DCbrain können die Ingenieure von Swisscom den Energieverbrauch besser überwachen, während datengesteuerte Entscheidungen dafür sorgen, dass die Sicherheitsmargen gleich bleiben.
“Zu sehen, wie sich die Partnerschaft zwischen unserem Partner Swisscom und DCBrain entwickelt, ist motivierend“, sagt Ruth Armalé, Smart Cities Verantwortliche beim letztjährigen Kickstart Accelerator. “Die Anwendung neuer Technologien wie die der Künstlichen Intelligenz im Bereich Energieeffizienz hat in meinen Augen grosses Potenzial.”
DCbrain bietet eine AI-basierte Software zur Optimierung und Modellierung verschiedener Arten komplexer Netzwerke (Strom, Kühlung, Wärme, Öl) an. Das Unternehmen analysiert Strömungsdaten (Flow Propagation) und hilft dadurch Managern, ihr Netzwerk besser zu verstehen und schneller bessere Entscheidungen zu treffen. Insgesamt steigert die Lösung von DCbrain die betriebliche Effizienz. Sie wird inzwischen von Branchengrössen wie Total, Engie oder ID Logistics eingesetzt.
DCbrain hat gerade eine Finanzierungsrunde über 1,5 Millionen Euro abgeschlossen, um in der Schweiz, Deutschland und den Benelux-Staaten zu expandieren und seine Technologieführerschaft in Frankreich weiter auszubauen.
Swisscom ist der führende Telekommunikationsanbieter der Schweiz und gehört auch im Bereich IT zu den führenden Unternehmen. Der Hauptsitz befindet sich in Ittigen nahe der Hauptstadt Bern. Swisscom orientiert sich kompromisslos an den Kundenbedürfnissen, setzt auf Service und Qualität und investiert massiv in die Netze der Zukunft.
Das Swisscom Netz wird zu 100 % aus einheimischer erneuerbarer Energie betrieben. Ihre Telefonzentralen kühlt Swisscom mit Frischluft statt Klimaanlagen. Swisscom verpflichtet ihre Lieferanten überdies zur Einhaltung sozialer Standards.
Über Kickstart Accelerator:
Der Kickstart Accelerator bringt Startups, Grossunternehmen, Städte, Stiftungen und Universitäten zusammen, um gemeinsam technologische Innovationen voranzutreiben. Neue, wissenschaftsbasierte Technologien haben das Potenzial, einige der grössten Herausforderungen unserer Zeit zu lösen. Sie setzen voraus, dass einflussreiche, etablierte Unternehmen und innovative Jungunternehmen mit mutigen Ideen zusammenarbeiten. Der Kickstart Accelerator bringt jedes Jahr bis zu 100 solcher Jungunternehmer und -unternehmerinnen mit führenden Akteuren für Proof-of-Concepts (PoCs), Pilotprojekte und andere Innovationspartnerschaften in der Schweiz zusammen. Das Programm bietet den teilnehmenden Startups Zugang zu den Führungskräften und Entscheidungsträgern der Partner-Organisationen. Es werden weder Gebühren noch eine Eigenkapital-Beteiligung der Startups verlangt.
Der Kickstart Accelerator ist eine Initiative des Impact Hubs Zürich und wurde 2015 von digitalswitzerland ins Leben gerufen. In Zusammenarbeit mit etablierten Partner-Organisationen wie Coop, Credit Suisse, Migros und Swisscom sowie AXA Winterthur, Bildungsdirektion des Kanton Zürich, ETH Zürich, EY, Gebert-Rüf-Stiftung, Stadt Zürich, Stäubli, Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, Swisslinx und Universität Zürich, fördert das Programm 2018 Startups in den vier Bereichen EdTech & Learning, FinTech & Crypto, Food & Retail Tech sowie Smart Cities & Infrastructure.
DCbrain, Kickstart Accelerator 2017 alumni, has partnered with Swisscom to demonstrate how Artificial Intelligence can be used to optimize energy efficiency in Data Centers.
DCbrain, a European AI-powered grid optimisation software provider, has partnered with the Swiss main telecommunication firm Swisscom for a three months Proof of Concept (PoC). The PoC will help DCbrain to demonstrate how its disruptive technology can combine energy efficiency with operational enhancement without increasing capital expenditure in complex networks such as data centres. The partnership will also allow Swisscom to engage intensively with the topic of machine learning on a real-life basis. The project was initiated at Kickstart Accelerator in fall 2017 and is running since late February.
Swisscom engaging in the AI revolution
Bigna Salzmann, Senior Corporate Responsibility Manager at Swisscom: “Kickstart Accelerator allows us to get to know startups and their technologies in the domain of smart city. We are looking forward to cooperate with DCbrain to improve the energy efficiency in our data centers and contribute to our strategy in corporate responsibility.“
With this partnership Swisscom shows its commitment towards energy transition using new technologies. New technologies such as the one offered by DCbrain will enable the telecommunication provider to have a better understanding of its main data centre’s energy consumption, especially with cooling units. DCbrain’s software will enable Swisscom’s engineers to better monitor energy consumption while maintaining the same safety margins thanks to data-driven decisions.
“It is very encouraging to see this partnership between our corporate partner Swisscom and DCbrain emerging”, says Ruth Armalé, Kickstart Smart Cities Vertical Lead 2017. “I am convinced that applying Deep Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence in the field of energy efficiency has breakthrough potential”.
DCbrain, a Microsfot AI factory incubated startup, offers an AI-based software dedicated to various types of complex networks (electricity, cooling, heat, oil) optimisation and modelisation. Our technology digitizes our clients’ networks and enables network managers to visualize in real-time their grid performance, simulate what-if scenarios to refine maintenance plans and to optimize the overall network’s performance as a result of Machine Learning and Graph-based algorithms.
DCbrain turn data into flow propagation and this way helps grid managers to better understand their network and take better decisions faster. Overall, DCbrain’s solution enhances operational efficiency. Our solution is now used by industry leaders such as Total, Engie or ID logistics.
DCbrain has just completed a €1.5 milion funding round in order to expand internationally in Switzerland, Germany and Benelux and to reaffirm its technological leadership in France.
Swisscom is Switzerland’s leading telecom provider and one of its foremost IT companies, headquartered in Ittigen, close to the capital city, Bern. Swisscom brooks no compromise when it comes to serving customer needs; it focuses on service and quality and invests massively in the networks of the future.
The Swisscom network is fully powered by renewable domestic energy. We cool our data centres with fresh air rather than air conditioning. We require our suppliers to meet social standards.
About Kickstart Accelerator:
Kickstart Accelerator bridges the gap between startups, corporates, cities, foundations and universities to accelerate deep tech innovation. Science and engineering driven technologies have the potential to transform humanity’s biggest challenges into solvable problems. They require unprecedented collaboration between powerful established organizations and audacious entrepreneurs. Each year, Kickstart brings around 100 such entrepreneurs to Switzerland to collaborate with key players for proof-of-concepts, pilot projects and other innovation partnerships.
Kickstart Accelerator is an initiative of Impact Impact Hub Zürich and was launched 2015 by digitalswitzerland. In 2018, Kickstart runs four verticals (EdTech & Learning, FinTech & Crypto, Food & Retail Tech and Smart Cities & Infrastructure) together with established partner organizations across industries and the private and public domain: Coop, Credit Suisse, Migros and Swisscom as well as AXA Winterthur, City of Zurich, Department of Education of the Canton of Zurich, ETH Zürich, EY, Gebert-Rüf-Stiftung, Mercator Foundation Switzerland, Stäubli, Swisslinx and University of Zurich.