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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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
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!
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.
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
Over 30 Proof of Concepts (PoCs) and partnerships have been secured at Kickstart Accelerator, one of Europe’s largest no equity, multi-corporate accelerator programmes that culminates today – most of them with leading corporations. Coop, Credit Suisse, Empa, EY, Helsana, Migros, PwC Switzerland, Raiffeisen, Swisscom as well as UBS have entered into partnerships with the entrepreneurs participating in this year’s acceleration programme. At tonight’s grand Closing Ceremony the established PoCs and other partnerships will be announced in addition to the winners in each vertical, who will receive a 25`000 CHF grant. The accelerator – an initiative of digitalswitzerland and operated by Impact Hub Zurich – saw 29 startups as well as an intrapreneur team from AXA Winterthur and Swisscom working in collaboration for 11 weeks in the specially designed co-working space Kraftwerk. Their goal was to develop, scale and promote their business in the Swiss innovation ecosystem with the guide of industry experts and unparalleled access to internationally recognized corporations. The programme also supported by C4DR and evitive, focused on the fields of FinTech, Food, Smart Cities as well as Robotics & Intelligent Systems, which is reflective of Switzerland’s heritage innovation sub sectors.
– PwC Switzerland has signed a Letter of Intent with Zurich-based Apiax to intensify the discussion about joining forces to work on digitising compliance processes in the financial industry.
– UBS and CityFALCON have worked closely together to explore different opportunities on how to leverage a potential partnership. Nothing has been agreed yet, however, it can be confirmed, that UBS sees value in exploring CityFALCON`s offering in a potential PoC.
– Raiffeisen Bank has acquired a Living Farming tree by the Italian Food startup Hexagro Urban Farming as the first step of a PoC and will validate a potential use in Raiffeisen offices.
– Coop and Migros have both agreed on individual PoCs with FlavorWiki. Their technology allows food producers, retailers and others to collect detailed data about consumer taste preferences. Coop and Migros will both test this technology internally.
– Swisscom and Hawa Dawa have signed a PoC to develop a real-time data model of air quality in Zurich. The German startup is leveraging open data from the city of Zurich and is using big data analytics and machine learning algorithms to model the air quality in the whole city.
– The cities of Zurich, Bern and St. Gallen, are discussing further collaboration and sharing of knowledge with different startups, e.g. with BikeLook from Dublin.
In addition to the cooperation between the startups and corporate partners, some of the startups have also started to cooperate with each other. For example, the intrapreneur team Rent’n’Share has partnered with the UK/Switzerland based startup Spark Horizon to offer a sustainable mobility solution. The FinTech startups AAAccell, Blocko and Coincube confirmed partnerships to work on two individual blockchain pilots. Zurich-based Apiax is going to work with South African startup Libryo in the field of legal and insurance solutions. Meanwhile, CoinCube and CityFALCON will be working together on AI/blockchain solutions and London-based startup Nivaura, that took part in the 2016 programme, is starting a joint project with Adjoint from this year’s batch focusing on blockchain solutions.
Several of the participating startups have already or are planning to bring units of their businesses to Switzerland. For example, the Ghana-based food tech startup Farmerline is planning to base their third office in Zurich and US-startup RADiCAL is opening the first office outside New York in Zurich to attract talent in the areas of AI and autonomous systems, with the Zurich office expected to serve as the company’s research and development lab. In addition, US-startup COINCUBE is incorporating in Switzerland to implement projects in the digital asset space. More incorporations are being planned.
Furthermore, since the start of the programme in July this year, the Kickstart Accelerator startups all together have raised more than 8 million CHF funding from international and Swiss investors.
Kickstart Accelerator 2017 ends tonight with the official Closing Ceremony. It will be live streamed on Kickstart Accelerator’s Facebook page today from 4:15 PM to 7:15 PM CET.
Read the official press release for more information about the PoCs and partnerships in detail.
Selecting 30 startups from over a 1500 of applications is something we take really seriously and we knew that seeing startups in person and giving them a chance to present their ideas could help us to make better decisions. No one can argue that seeing the passionate pitch helps you to understand the idea much better than a multi-page application. That’s why last week we invited 60 startups from all over the world to join us in the 2-day Bootcamp in Zurich. (more…)
It’s hard not to notice the fast pace of innovation that is all around us. It touches all aspects of our everyday lives – from the way we commute or communicate to the way we pay for things and produce goods. Education is not an exception. Being one of the key drivers of innovation and progress, the education industry is poised to undergo drastic technological evolution in the coming years.
And as usual, it comes down to startups, that are willing to pursue the disruptive ideas with minimal resources, to drive this evolution. But the question is – where shall they go? We, at Kickstart Accelerator, say – come to Switzerland! With its combined leadership in education and innovation, Switzerland offers a unique environment to accelerate the next generation of EdTech startups that will bring global impact. According to QS World Universities Ranking, four of Swiss universities are in the World’s Top100. Moreover, based on THE World University Rankings, ETH is #1 in Computer Science and EPFL is proudly in #1 place in the ‘Young University Rankings’ (Universities that are less than 50 years old). And the list could go on and on. Undoubtedly, it makes this alpine gem one of the best places to start in or bring an EdTech business to. And that’s exactly what we encourage all startups that work on Education Technology do.
At Kickstart Accelerator, we are super excited to see how this ecosystem will be further enriched by our newly launched EdTech Vertical, in partnership with EPFL and operated by venturelab. The ten most promising international and Swiss EdTech startups will be invited to Lausanne from September to November 2017. They will profit from benefits such as stipends of CHF 10`000, coworking-space at the EdTech Collider as well as access to a broad network of investors, experts, mentors and business partners. They will also have a chance to win cash prizes at the end of the program. Located at the heart of the thriving startup community on the EPFL campus, they will be hosted at the EdTech Collider – Switzerland’s first collaborative space dedicated to ambitious entrepreneurs transforming education and learning through technology.
It is big news for Switzerland. As Nicolas Bürer, Managing Director of digitalswitzerland (initiator of Kickstart Accelerator), says: “The launch of the EdTech vertical in Western Switzerland confirms the commitment and capacity of the region to develop groundbreaking technologies that change people’s lives. The ecosystem here is stimulating and innovative while providing a stable infrastructure and access to finance and expertise.” In the last years, EPFL has taken leadership in the European MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) landscape. “With this, Lausanne has become an important hub for education of the future, offering the perfect environment and opportunities to significantly expand educational technologies”, says Pierre Dillenbourg, Professor at EPFL.
For Kickstart Accelerator, the new EdTech Vertical means tapping into another exciting field of innovation. “The digital technologies will disrupt the traditional way of learning and will bring major changes to classrooms. Thanks to this sixth vertical in Lausanne, Kickstart Accelerator will be part of that development”, shares Patricia Schlenter, Program Manager at Kickstart Accelerator. Venturelab’s Director Jordi Montserrat is convinced that this trend will be growing further: “This development is fueled by multiple educational projects, cutting-edge research projects on learning technologies and promising digital education startups emerging in Switzerland and Europe. Bringing these actors together and helping them thrive by offering a collaborative space and building a strong support ecosystem, can significantly contribute to the development of the Swiss education and learning technology sector”.
If you are working on an education technology startup – it’s your time to shine. Apply for the EdTech vertical by July 10th, 2017 right here: www.kickstart-accelerator.com/edtech
We look forward to receiving your application!
Since May 1st 2017, it is legal to sell and eat insects in Switzerland. It’s time to prepare ourselves to find mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers sold in supermarkets and restaurants (and maybe try some – for those who dare!). For two billion people, mostly living in Africa, Asia and South America, insects are already part of their daily diet. And since 2015 it is possible to eat edible insects in a few European countries, including Belgium. Will it become a new food trend in Switzerland? We have asked some experts about how the food landscape could change. Keep reading to find out some interesting insights!
The Food and Agricuture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has carried out several studies since 2003 about edible insects as a food solution. According to their study “Regulating the use of insects as food and feed”, edible insects contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for humans. Insects have a high food conversion rate: for instance, crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein. Furthermore, they emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than conventional livestock. Insects can be grown on organic waste. Therefore, insects are a potential source for conventional production (mini-livestock) of protein, either for direct human consumption, or indirectly in recomposed foods (with extracted protein from insects); and as a protein source into feedstock mixtures.
We have interviewed David Emmerth, Food Vertical Lead at Kickstart Accelerator, and Perttu, CEO and Co-Founder of EntoCube, and asked them about what this new legislation brings to Switzerland. David highlights the pioneering role Switzerland is taking in the FoodTech industry by allowing the sale of insects for daily consumption. “This makes Switzerland an ideal location for startups in the insect area to test their products. In addition, alternative protein sources are among the leading innovation drivers in the food industry – and insects play a central role”.
Entocube, one of the Kickstart Accelerator 2016 participants, pointed out the huge market potential insects have. With an estimated 360M food market and a 20 billion protein market available, companies in Switzerland are starting to consider this alternative. Perttu Karjalainen, CEO and Co-Founder of EntoCube, has shared with us how their insect farming technologies can increase the production efficiency and output. According to Perttu, “This is a very important step for Europe and the western world. It’s fantastic that Switzerland is leading the change towards insect-based foods and has built a sound legislation to support this change. It is already a food trend, and it will keep growing“.
We spoke with the two largest retailers in Switzerland, Coop and Migros, Global Partners of our Food Vertical at Kickstart Accelerator, and asked them about what the legalization of the selling and consumption of edible insects means for them, and if they are planning to launch any new products soon.
Coop has shared with us that they are soon planning to launch products made from insects:
“Spotting and implementing prospective trends is part of our culture. As there is an increasing number of people with passion for innovative and exotic food, we plan to introduce insect products like burgers or meatballs in our supermarkets as soon as possible”. – Silvio Baselgia, Head of department for fresh products at Coop
Migros looks forward to the developments in this field: “Migros is very interested in new food concepts and is actively pursuing interesting projects connected to long-term nutrition changes. We will certainly follow the updates about how insects are used for human consumption”. – Migros
The startup Notakey tackled the issue of electronic identification (eID) at last year’s Kickstart Accelerator and secured proof of concept with Credit Suisse, Swisscom and UBS. This issue is currently of interest to many companies, as it can be used in a number of applications to add considerable value for clients.
The benefits of digital identity can be illustrated by one simple example. Nowadays, every company identifies its clients independently, forcing the client to memorize a vast array of different user names and passwords and provide the same information – address, age, date of birth, etc. – over and over again. This requires significant time and effort from all parties, taking up valuable time for the user and resulting in inefficient processes, higher costs and sometimes lower conversion rates for companies. With a system based on a common platform, online businesses and administrative processes can be designed and developed much more efficiently to bring important benefits to both companies and, most importantly, clients. Customers will eventually be able to register at online shops and public offices with their bank login details or take out a mobile phone contract or insurance policy online.
Notakey has developed a mobile software application offering authentication that is both extremely secure and user-friendly, and gathered its first experiences from the issue of digital identity in Latvia – a combination that attracted the attention of renowned companies Credit Suisse, Swisscom and UBS. After initial discussions at the Kickstart Accelerator, it quickly became clear that the parties wished to create a joint proof of concept. They ultimately opted for a four-month PoC with the aim of proving functionality to show that it is possible to operate a cross-sector system with several different parties, while at the same time demonstrating a high degree of user-friendliness.
This evidence was obtained during the PoC. Under laboratory conditions, it was demonstrated that a registered bank customer could take out a mobile phone contract with their existing client data without needing to provide additional identification.
For a startup, however, securing proof of concept is about much more than obtaining technical evidence, as Notakey’s Co-Founder Janis Graubins explains: “This process has brought us closer to the companies, enabling us to build a network of contacts with their internal specialists and learn much more about the needs of their clients.” Acquiring this kind of important knowledge is vital in allowing startups to target their products appropriately, expand their portfolio and enhance their credibility in the market. “We had great experiences at the Kickstart Accelerator and during the PoC that will certainly help to drive us forward. Last but not least, our trip to Switzerland enabled us to attract the attention of investors.”
The PoC was also invaluable for the three companies involved, who not only improved their understanding of the technical aspects involved but also enjoyed a positive experience with a young, dedicated team who understood how to advance projects in an agile way. It was also useful to have an ‘independent’ company within their own organization to offer new ideas and challenge existing processes and procedures. The companies report that the collaboration was extremely constructive, with only the startup phase – in which several parties were required to choose an efficient path for cooperation – proving to be a challenge. In particular, collaborating across borders required a high degree of flexibility.
Looking to the future
All of the project’s participants agree that companies like Credit Suisse, Swisscom and UBS can contribute a considerable amount of expertise to a national eID system in the areas of security and data protection. They are also highly likely to participate in such a system. They already manage large amounts of client data in digital form, are trusted by clients, process secure transactions (payments) every day and use advanced means of identification. They also comply with strict requirements regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, money laundering and other due diligence obligations.
The project participants believe that a common, open eID system tied to the companies’ existing infrastructure should be established in Switzerland. The same platform would therefore include several different identity providers. Interoperability between providers would be guaranteed and the end consumer could choose their preferred provider. While partners are now being sought to participate in the next stages of this project to establish a common national eID, the Kickstart Accelerator and the contribution of Notakey mean significant progress has already been made.
Das Startup Notakey hat sich mit dem Thema der digitalen Identität (eID) beim letztjährigen Kickstart Accelerator einen Proof of Concept (PoC) mit den Unternehmen Credit Suisse, Swisscom und UBS gesichert. Das Thema ist derzeit für viele Unternehmen aktuell, weil damit Anwendungen möglich sind, die Kunden einen grossen Mehrwert bringen.
Die Vorteile der digitalen Identität lassen sich an einem einfachen Beispiel erklären. Heute findet die Identifizierung eines Kunden bei jedem Unternehmen autonom statt. Er muss sich eine Vielzahl von Benutzernamen und Passwörter merken und immer wieder dieselben Daten wie Adresse, Alter, Geburtsdatum, etc. erfassen. Dies verursacht grosse Aufwände: Für den Nutzer bedeutet es einen nervenden Zeitaufwand, für Unternehmen ineffiziente Prozesse, höhere Kosten und mitunter auch eine tiefere Conversion. Mit einem System, das auf einer gemeinsamen Plattform fusst, könnten Geschäfts- und Verwaltungsprozesse im Internet sehr viel effizienter gestaltet und abgewickelt werden, was sowohl den Unternehmen, aber insbesondere auch den Kunden grosse Vorteile bringen würde. So könnten sie sich dereinst mit dem Banken-Login etwa bei Online-Shops und Ämtern anmelden oder einen Handy- oder Versicherungsvertrag online abschliessen.
Notakey hat eine mobile Software-Anwendung entwickelt, die Authentifizierung mit sehr hohem Sicherheitsniveau bei hoher Nutzerfreundlichkeit bietet. Zudem hat das Startup erste Erfahrungen mit dem Thema der digitalen Identität in Lettland gesammelt. Eine Kombination, die das Interesse der drei renommierten Unternehmen Credit Suisse, Swisscom und UBS auf sich gezogen hat. Nach ersten Gesprächen am Kickstart Accelerator war schnell klar, dass man einen gemeinsamen PoC machen möchte. Man entschied sich für einen 4-monatigen Proof of Concept. Darin sollte der Funktionsnachweis erbracht werden, dass es möglich ist, ein branchenübergreifendes, föderalistisches System mit mehreren Parteien zu betreiben, das gleichzeitig eine hohe Nutzerfreundlichkeit aufweist.
Während des PoCs wurde tatsächlich der Beweis erbracht. Unter Laborbedingungen konnte gezeigt werden, dass ein registrierter Bankkunde mit seinen bestehenden Kundendaten und ohne zusätzliche Identifikation einen Mobiltelefonvertrag abschliessen kann.
Für ein Startup geht es in einem PoC aber nicht nur einfach um einen technischen Nachweis, sondern um viel mehr, weiss Janis Graubins von Notakey: “Wir sind sehr nahe an die Firmen herangekommen, konnten ein Beziehungsnetzwerk zu deren internen Spezialisten aufbauen und viel über die Bedürfnisse der Kunden erfahren.” Startups erhalten so wichtiges Wissen, um ihre Produkte zielgruppengerecht anzubieten, ihr Portfolio auszuweiten und ihre Glaubwürdigkeit im Markt zu erhöhen. “Wir haben am Kickstart Accelerator und während dem PoC tolle Erfahrungen gemacht, die uns auf jeden Fall weiterbringen. Nicht zuletzt haben wir dank der Reise in die Schweiz Aufmerksamkeit von Investoren erlangt.”
Auch für die drei beteiligten Unternehmen war der PoC wertvoll. Sie haben nicht nur die technischen Aspekte besser verstehen gelernt, sondern auch eine positive Erfahrung mit einem jungen und engagierten Team gemacht, das es versteht, Projekte auf eine agile Art und Weise voranzutreiben. Es war zudem hilfreich, ein “unabhängiges” Unternehmen innerhalb der eigenen Organisation zu haben. Das bringt neue Ideen und ermöglicht ein Hinterfragen bereits bestehender Prozesse oder Abläufe. Von den Unternehmen hört man, dass die Zusammenarbeit sehr konstruktiv gewesen sei. Nur die Anfangsphase sei eine Herausforderung gewesen, da ein effizienter Weg der Kooperation mit mehreren Parteien gefunden werden musste. Insbesondere die Zusammenarbeit über die Landesgrenzen hinweg habe ein grosses Mass an Flexibilität erfordert.
Die Projektbeteiligten sind sich einig: Unternehmen wie die Credit Suisse, Swisscom und UBS können in Bezug auf Sicherheit und Datenschutz sehr viel Know-How in ein nationales eID-System einbringen. Zudem sind sie prädestiniert, um an einem solchen System mitzuwirken. Sie verwalten bereits sehr viele Kundendaten digital, geniessen das Vertrauen der Kunden, wickeln tagtäglich sichere Transaktionen (Zahlungen) ab und haben fortschrittliche Identifikationsmittel. Zudem erfüllen sie strenge Auflagen bezgl. Know Your Client-Prozessen (KYC), Geldwäscherei und weiteren Sorgfaltspflichten.
In der Schweiz soll nach Sicht der Involvierten ein gemeinsames, offenes eID-System aufgebaut werden, an das Unternehmen ihre vorhandene Infrastruktur anbinden können. So würde es verschiedene Identitätsanbieter auf einer gemeinsamen Plattform geben. Die Interoperabilität zwischen den Anbietern wäre gewährleistet und der Endkonsument könnte sich für seinen favorisierten Anbieter entscheiden. Es werden nun Partner gesucht, die sich am weiterführenden Projekt beteiligen möchten, um eine gemeinsame nationale eID aufzubauen. Durch den Kickstart Accelerator und die Mithilfe von Notakey ist man auf jeden Fall schon mal ein gutes Stück weitergekommen.
The world is seeing unprecedented growth and demographic shifts. Innovative solutions are changing urban environments and the way we live. By 2050 it is expected that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities and for the first time in human history, there will be more elderly people than young children. Therefore, building sustainable cities and managing urban resources effectively is becoming a very important task in the 21st century.
The use of digital technologies like the Internet of Things represents a huge opportunity to overcome such urban challenges. A Smart City is an urban area that has become more efficient, more environmentally friendly, more sustainable and more socially inclusive through leveraging such technologies. Smart Cities are more attractive cities – they are built around users and designed to optimize resources: They use information and technology to monitor and collect relevant data about streets, buildings, water, traffic, energy usage, transportation or the air. By making better decisions and developing or adding city services based on this data cities become a healthier place to live, visit and do business in.
In Switzerland, we can find some initiatives that promote smart cities, such as the recent premier edition of the Make Zurich hackathon or the SmartSuisse conference. This year, Kickstart Accelerator has a new vertical on Smart Cities to accelerate high impact, entrepreneurial solutions in the following 9 Focus Areas: Building, Citizen Engagement, Education, Energy, Healthy Living, Mobility, Operations & Infrastructure, Tourism and Urban Planning.
The focus areas outlined above all play a key role to develop the cities of the future. If you have a great idea and would like to bring your startup to the next level, take a look at the Kickstart Accelerator program, one of Europe’s largest zero equity, multi-corporate accelerators. Apply before April 30th and find more details at https://kickstart-accelerator.com/
Andreas Kubli (AK): We realized very early on that fintech startups can help us accelerate digital transformation at the bank, and in the meantime collaborations have become a tradition for us. We don’t have to do everything that we offer our customers ourselves. If a startup has a great solution, particularly in an area that is not part of our core competencies, we are happy to discuss a potential collaboration.
Veronica Lange (VL): Owing to their organizational structure, startups are often a lot more agile than a major corporate group, such as UBS. This enables them to significantly reduce the time-to-market for new innovations. They also often have specific technical know-how, which can be applied to very good effect in the financial sector.
VL: Collaborations offer a typical win-win situation. Startups benefit from an established platform with a large customer base and the security of a trustworthy major bank. We also bring a great deal of expertise to the table: banking experience, sound advice, extensive professional knowledge, personal contact, long-standing relationships and excellent financial products.
AK: In addition, we have gained a lot of experience in collaborating with startups over the past few years. That is very important, because when a startup collaborates with a corporate group there is always the danger that it will be “crushed” by the complex structures and processes. However, we have found very good ways of preventing that from happening and have launched successful collaborations—for instance with bexio, DSwiss and SumUp.
VL: Access to capital is certainly also a decisive factor for startups. We can help startups, such as the participants in Kickstart Accelerator, with their pitch for capital to investors.
AK: Kickstart Accelerator is one-of-a-kind globally, and one of the largest multi-corporate startup support programs in Europe. It is unique because it is supported by more than 15 major corporate partners, which all pull together to promote the Swiss innovation ecosystem. From last year’s program, we were able to make a proof-of-concept with both Notakey and Zoa, which we are currently still working on.
VL: Arguments in favor of Switzerland are its expertise as a financial center and a strong educational system combined with excellent technical universities, gifted talents, a very high level of education and a large number of potential investors in the country. Global investors also rate Switzerland highly. Many of them traveled to Zurich in January to attend the Investor Summit, where they met with Swiss startups.
AK: I haven’t come across the aforementioned collaborative aspect as much in other markets. Switzerland, however, is ideal for collaboration because of its manageable size.
AK: With Eric van der Kleij, we were able to bring on board a recognized expert to help develop an accelerator program. I was really impressed by how we were able to set up one of the largest European programs in such a short time. The interaction between a wide range of partners with a common goal created a unique dynamic.
VL: I was impressed by the quality of the applicants from all over the world. I also sensed a great interest and a huge commitment internally on the part of the employees to support the accelerator program and the startups.
AK: Last year’s program exceeded expectations in terms of scope, attracting attention and project studies. I hope that even more startups will sign up this year and that we will see even more PoCs. We also want to keep spreading Switzerland’s good reputation around the world. In a best-case scenario, we may convince foreign startups to come to Switzerland. I wouldn’t like to specify any particular areas, but if a startup demonstrates a collaborative spirit, I look forward to the exchange.
VL: I can go along with that. A project study in the areas of distributed ledger, smart contracts or wealthtech would be great. But I am also very open to other topics, and I would really like to wait and see what new ideas startups from all around the world approach us with.
Andreas Kubli (AK): Uns wurde sehr früh bewusst, dass uns Fintech-Startups helfen können, den digitalen Wandel in der Bank zu beschleunigen und inzwischen haben Kooperationen für uns Tradition. Wir müssen nicht alles, was wir unseren Kunden anbieten, selber machen. Wenn ein Startup eine tolle Lösung hat, insbesondere in einem Bereich, welcher nicht zu unseren Kernkompetenzen gehört, sprechen wir gerne über eine mögliche Kooperation.
Veronica Lange (VL): Startups sind durch ihre Organisationsstrukturen häufig sehr viel agiler als ein grosser Konzern wie UBS. Dadurch können sie die Time-to-Market für neue Innovationen extrem reduzieren. Zudem haben sie oft spezifisches, technisches Know-how, welches für die Anwendung im Finanzsektor sehr interessant ist.
VL: Kooperationen bieten eine typische Win-Win-Situation. Startups profitieren von einer etablierten Plattform mit einem grossen Kundenstamm und der Sicherheit einer vertrauenswürdigen Grossbank. Ausserdem bringen wir sehr viel Know-How mit: Bankerfahrung, kompetente Beratung, umfangreiches Fachwissen, persönlicher Kontakt, langjährige Beziehungen und exzellente Finanzprodukte.
AK: Zudem haben wir in den letzten Jahren viel Erfahrung in der Zusammenarbeit mit Startups gesammelt. Das ist sehr wichtig, denn wenn ein Startup mit einem Konzern zusammenarbeitet, besteht immer die Gefahr, dass es von den komplexen Strukturen und Prozessen “erdrückt” wird. Wir haben aber sehr gute Wege gefunden, damit das nicht passiert und so erfolgreiche Kooperationen, beispielsweise mit bexio, DSwiss oder SumUp lanciert.
VL: Entscheidend für Startups ist sicherlich auch der Zugang zu Kapital. Hier können wir Start-ups, beispielsweise den Teilnehmern des Kickstart Accelerator, beim “Pitch” für Kapital bei Investoren unterstützen.
AK: Der Kickstart Accelerator ist einmalig auf der Welt und eines der grössten firmenübergreifenden Startup-Förderprogramme Europas. Einmalig ist er deshalb, weil er von über 15 Grossunternehmen getragen wird und die Partner alle an einem Strick ziehen, um das Schweizer Innovations-Ökosystem zu fördern. Wir konnten aus dem letztjährigen Programm heraus sowohl mit Notakey als auch mit Zoa je einen Proof-of-Concept machen, an denen wir zurzeit noch arbeiten.
VL: Für die Schweiz spricht die hohe Kompetenz als Finanzplatz sowie ein starkes Bildungssystem, gepaart mit hervorragenden technischen Hochschulen, begabte Talente, ein sehr hohes Bildungsniveau und sehr viele potenzielle Investoren im Land. Auch globale Investoren schätzen die Schweiz. Viele von ihnen reisten im Januar an den Investor Summit nach Zürich, wo sie mit Schweizer Startups in Kontakt kamen.
AK: Das bereits angesprochene kooperative Element kenne ich von anderen Märkten weniger. Die Schweiz ist aufgrund der überschaubaren Grösse prädestiniert dafür.
AK: Mit Eric van der Kleij konnten wir einen ausgewiesenen Experten für den Aufbau eines Accelerator-Programms gewinnen. Die Art und Weise, wie es gelungen ist, in kürzester Zeit eines der grössten europäischen Programme zu etablieren, hat mir sehr imponiert. Das Zusammenwirken von verschiedensten Partnern mit einem gemeinsamen Ziel hat eine einzigartige Dynamik hervorgerufen.
VL: Ich war beeindruckt von der Qualität der Bewerber aus aller Welt. Zudem spürte ich intern ein grosses Interesse und riesiges Engagement der Mitarbeitenden den Accelerator und die Startups zu unterstützen.
AK: Das letztjährige Programm hat in Sachen Reichweite, Aufmerksamkeit und Projektstudien die Erwartungen übertroffen. Ich hoffe, dass sich dieses Jahr noch mehr Startups anmelden und wir noch mehr PoCs sehen werden. Ausserdem wollen wir den guten Ruf der Schweiz noch weiter in die Welt hinaustragen. Im besten Fall können wir ausländische Startups überzeugen, in der Schweiz ansässig zu werden. Auf bestimmte Bereiche möchte ich mich nicht festlegen, aber wenn ein Startup einen kollaborativen Spirit verfolgt, freue ich mich auf den Austausch.
VL: Dem kann ich mich anschliessen. Toll wäre eine Projektstudie in den Bereichen Distributed Ledger, Smart Contracts oder WealthTech. Aber ich bin auch sehr offen für andere Themen und lasse mich noch sehr gerne überraschen, mit welchen neuen Ideen Startups aus aller Welt zu uns kommen.