For Founder Havell Rodrigues, it is clear as to why Switzerland regularly places in the upper echelons of the rankings for innovative power. “When we were selected for the Kickstart program in Zurich in 2017, we had just one technology. We ended the program with product-market fit and two paying customers”, he explains.
His London start-up Adjoint was integrated within the Greater Zurich Area and was even able to close a financing round with Swiss investors. With its innovative treasury product, Adjoint is regarded as one of the most promising FinTechs in the world, operating out of offices in Boston, London, New York and Zurich.
Start-ups growing with customers
There are ever more success stories like this in the economic area of Zurich. Aside from exceptional start-up concepts, the basic components are mostly provided by domestic and foreign initiatives such as Kickstart and major enterprises that are open to innovative collaborations. “Start-ups require strong partners – as consultants, but also especially as customers with whom they can grow together”, comments Christoph Birkholz, the Co-Founder of Kickstart.
The Kickstart program has been supporting digital start-ups since 2016 – the fifth round was initiated at the beginning of May – and brings around 100 entrepreneurs to Switzerland each year. In total, more than 120 projects have already been launched in this way between start-ups and established organizations from various industries – including companies such as AXA, Coop, Migros, Mobiliar, Swisscom, LafargeHolcim, ETH Zurichand Credit Suisse. There are so many international companies headquartered in the economic area of Zurich, or who have established a presence in the area, that it has now become a sort of Mecca for innovation with the help of skillful bridge builders.
Innovations to fight the virus
Fast-growing start-ups still have until June 8 to submit their applications. The program is looking for innovative solutions in the areas of educational and occupational technology, FinTech and InsurTech, food technology, health technology and Smart Cities. In this context, Kickstart is promoting the issue of the circular economy across all sectors this year – with a focus on innovative business ideas that implement circular models and practices.
The coronavirus crisis is also responsible for another focal point in the current situation. Christoph Birkholz comments: “In our network, there is a great deal of interest in innovations connected to the current pandemic”. Christoph Birkholz helped to organize a coronavirus Hackathon at the start of April, the precise purpose of which was to develop smart, bold ideas to combat the virus.
A total of 5,000 participants from right around the world came together on this digital platform across a period of 48 hours. In addition to the coworking community Impact Hub Switzerland, corporate partners such as Swisscom were also involved in the event. There are so many international companies headquartered in the Greater Zurich Area, or who have established a presence in the area, that it has now become a sort of Mecca for innovation with the help of skillful bridge builders.
by Yvonne von Hunnius
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