We’re delighted to announce the collaborations between the #kickstarters18 startups and established organizations. More than 35 PoCs and partnership projects have resulted from the program.

Kickstart, a program of Impact Hub Zurich, launched in 2015 by digitalswitzerland, bridges the gap between later-stage startups, corporations, cities, universities, and institutions to accelerate deep tech innovations with positive impact. For the third edition, 30 Swiss and international tech startups had moved into the collaboration space Kraftwerk in Zurich, where they met with leading corporations and organizations aiming at launching joint projects. More than 70 such partnership projects have emerged from the programme since its inception. 

Here is the overview of the 2018 pilot projects and partnerships:  

(Details in the Media Release)               

The EdTech & Learning Vertical saw 10 collaborations:

 

 

In the Fintech & Crypto Vertical, 10 collaborations with Kickstart partners were agreed on:

 

 

The Food & Retail Tech Vertical saw 9 collaborative projects resulting from the programme:

 

 

The Smart Cities & Infrastructure Vertical Vertical resulted in 6 cooperations:

 

 

“It is exciting to see such a great number of collaborations between the startups and the partners that are growing the Kickstart Community,” said Kickstart Co-Lead, Katka Letzing. “This shows that Kickstart has the potential to truly connect technology startups from all over the world with the Swiss innovation ecosystem.”

Next to the cooperation between the startups and the large partners, some of the startups have also initiated partnerships with each other: For example, Sharing Academy (Spain) and TEACHY (CH) agreed on a PoC to combine their forces of business and software development with the purpose of improving education in Switzerland. In the FinTech Vertical, ResonanceX and Altoo AG  are teaming up for a joint exploration in providing next-generation post-trade information for structured product investments to wealthy individuals. Kickstart alumni PriceHubble and Altoo explore possibilities on real estate valuation based on machine learning for comprehensive digital wealth management. And YUKKA Lab AG has entered into a partnership with the Kickstart alumni AAAccell.

In addition, Mondays has partnered with Diversify to offer corporates and startups the opportunity to tangibly deliver on their top level diversity goals, by providing women’s essential products in the workplace. In the meantime, Kickstart supported the startup AVUXI from UK in closing a partnership deal with 3 Swiss online travel companies, including Nezasa and Bedfinder. Swiss startup vlot. got support to work on closing two partnership deals in the field of InsurTech.

Furthermore, during the few weeks of  Kickstart 2018, the startups have raised 6.5 million CHF funding from international and Swiss investors.

 

New Cybersecurity Vertical in 2019 in cooperation with SATW

In the coming year, Kickstart aims at tapping into new technology areas: Together with the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences SATW, the program will launch a Cybersecurity Vertical in order to foster innovation in the fields of IT-, information- and data security. Additionally, Kickstart is in advanced conversations for a vertical on health technologies in Zurich.

The program has already agreed on several partnerships for the 2019 edition: Coop, Swisscom, Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, Axpo, Stäubli, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, CSEM,  and others have been confirmed as partners for next year’s program.

 

Fotos by Anja Wurm, Ringier

Kickstart Accelerator connects international startups with corporates, cities and universities to accelerate collaborations for deep technologies. However, we are not the only ones. Several such programs exist claiming to offer a platform for innovation partnerships. So, as an aspirational founder, how to make your choice about which program actually brings your company forward vs. which program offers just a bit of “startup circus” for corporate managers? Here’s a hint: Check how serious the corporates’ CEOs are taking their role in the accelerator. Do they even care?

Kickstart Accelerator offers exceptional access to the main decision-makers of our corporate, city and university partners. With our C-Level Engagement Strategy, we ensure that the CEOs and executives of our partner organisations are personally participating in Kickstart Accelerator in order to meet the startup founders and initiate joint proof-of-concept projects and other deep tech innovation partnerships.

The CEO- and Founder-Dinner / Foto: Philippe Rossier

Hence, for the 2018 batch, we are proud to announce that the CEOs and Country Heads of AXA, Credit Suisse, Swisscom, Migros, Stäubli, ewz, Ringier, IBM, UBS, Swiss Post, Raiffeisen, Generali, SBB, valora, and 15 more corporates have already confirmed their participation in the program – along with the presidents of our university partners as well as political leaders of Switzerland.

Switzerland provides an outstanding ecosystem for startups – especially, for those that aim to collaborate with corporates, cities and universities. And Kickstart is the accelerator to facilitate innovation partnerships between later-stage startups developing deep technologies and established players considering startup founders as serious business partners.

For the entrepreneurs, we pay your stipends, you keep all your equity, we connect you with top VCs and we help you leverage Switzerland’s exceptional business ecosystem for deep tech innovations.

Sounds like a plan? – Apply now.

 

by Christoph Birkholz

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”.

Zurich’s former main stock exchange building.

 

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.

 

Kickstart’s Kanban practice ‘Launch 2018’.

 

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.

 

Kickstart’s Co-Lead Katka Letzing organizing the Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange week for international Machine Learning / AI startups.

 

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.”

Das Team von DCBrain

 

Über DCbrain

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.

 

Über Swisscom:

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”.

DC Brain Team

 

About DCbrain

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.

 

About Swisscom:

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.

Good things take time. The joint project between Veezoo and AXA wasn’t all plain sailing. Shortly before the finish it even threatened to fail. Thanks to a lot of patience, excellent collaboration and tenacity, AXA and Veezoo managed to establish a successful partnership.

As Switzerland’s biggest insurance company, AXA works with complex systems and large volumes of data. Extracting and preparing useful information from this huge amount of data can be time consuming and requires professional handling. This is where the technology from Veezoo brings a clear value add.

Understanding data with Veezoo

The insurance company and the ETH spin-off met for the first time at Kickstart Accelerator in fall of 2016, where AXA appeared as a partner and Veezoo as one of the first startups in the program. It quickly became clear that the startup’s software was of interest to AXA. Because, with Veezoo’s smart, dialog-based data analysis software, data and information can clearly and easily be made accessible and useful – and this has considerable potential in many areas for AXA.

With Veezoo’s help, concrete questions can be answered easily and in a way that can be understood by anyone. Questions are asked to Veezoo just like in Google and Siri; here, however, based on company data: “How many new customers aged over 30 have we gained in Zurich in the past 3 months?” The question is answered in seconds with a clear, interactive graphic. Answers can also be further explored, either by clicking on individual elements of the visualization or simply by asking a follow-up question, such as: “How many of them came from our online channel?”

 

Euphoric test phase

Thanks to AXA’s open innovation approach, a potential collaboration and a use case could be prepared very quickly and presented to the decision-making committee. The Customer & Distribution Board wasn’t fully convinced with the original use case. „In a subsequent attempt, we focused more closely on problems of the daily business“, says Marcos Monteiro, Co-Founder of Veezoo. „In the end, it was the focus on the benefit AXA had thanks to Veezoo’s technology, that resulted in the final approval of the pilot.“

In phase one, constructive and close collaboration was essential. After just a few weeks, a running version of Veezoo could be tested. „Selected users in the AXA sales department tested the software for its functionality and to uncover possible deviations in the data reproduction“, says Svea Meier, Open Innovation Developer at AXA. „Initially, some answers from Veezoo differed from the results computed using internal business logics. However, following investigation by both parties, the systems quickly produced fully identical numbers.“ As a result of the test phase, the evaluation showed that the test persons were very satisfied with the support of Veezoo. They were particularly enthusiastic about the extremely simple way answers and information could be obtained from the large AXA data volume. None of them wanted to go back to their daily work without Veezoo.

The final hurdle

Shortly before the end, the Customer & Distribution Board further challenged the AXA/Veezoo team, insisting on full compliance with the process before permanent implementation of the software.

AXA and Veezoo worked hand in hand on that. After clearing the remaining open topics, the business case was presented also to the Executive Board. Further requests were submitted. A few days later, everything was implemented and resulted in the final approval.

For Kickstart Accelerator Co-Lead Katka Letzing, this is a good example of how Kickstart Accelerator can help closing the gap between startups and corporations: „It`s great to see how this pilot project between Veezoo and our partner AXA turned into a longer term partnership. I believe that this kind of collaborations contribute to the Swiss innovation ecosystem in a significant way.“

by Svea Meier, AXA and Till Haug, Veezoo