Swiss Accelerators have joined forces for more international impact


Accelerators which provide start-ups with focused support and bring them together with established businesses, play an important role in the start-up ecosystem. There are about a dozen in Switzerland and to strengthen the network and increase its impact, the Swiss Accelerator Network was launched more than a year ago. So far, the news is positive.


The Swiss start-up scene is characterised by bottom-up initiatives – this guarantees proximity to the requirements of start-ups and other stakeholders, such as corporates or cantons, but can also lead to confusion and missed opportunities externally. However, there is a proven way of avoiding this: “Experiences from other countries and studies show that a higher local and international  connectedness in an ecosystem improves its effectiveness and maturity,” explains Matthias Zwingli, responsible for Startup Enablement at digitalswitzerland. That’s why digitalswitzerland has initiated the Swiss Accelerator Network and is also responsible for its coordination. Currently 11 programmes are part of the Swiss Accelerator Network: BaseLaunch, Boldbrain, Climate-KIC, DayOne, F10, Fusion, Innopeaks, Kickstart, MassChallenge Switzerland, Swiss Edtech Collider and Swiss Startup Factory. “According to our standard, the network brings all organisations together that have a cross-functional character and a track record,'' says Zwingli. The coalition is thus also open to other providers and a formal admission procedure is not required. The network functions very practically, an umbrella organisation was deliberately avoided in order to keep it lean and efficient. The primary focus lies on the exchange of best practices. Many accelerator programmes have embarked on the traditional approach - “3 month on site for all start-ups”. On the basis of their experience the programs developed quite a bit, furthermore, discussions are now underway on how the programmes can be better adapted to local conditions and the needs of start-ups. Topics include, for example, the duration or the start-up attendance on site. Further topics include quality assurance of mentors and start-ups as well as the integration of intrapreneur teams. The second focus is on joint appearances. The first public appearance took place during digitalswitzerland’s Market Entry Boot Camp, which brought 42 start-ups from all over the world for three days to Switzerland. During this event, the accelerator presented themselves in a separate area and then conducted a joint panel discussion during the Startup Days, followed by a visit to their local hubs Zurich and Basel. And one year after the launch, the outlook is positive. “The exchange has brought a lot,” says Zwingli. The accelerators are sharing experiences and are working together on specific initiatives. But Zwingli  still sees potential for networking within Switzerland: “Only together we can make Switzerland known as a leading start-up hub.” Picture: Accelerator Network panel discussion at Startup DAYs 2019 (Startup INVEST)