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Taking startups to the next level with Kickstart Innovation


●    Application period for startups is April 15 to May 17, 2021

●    Commercial collaborations with established organizations help to accelerate startup growth

Zurich, 16 April 2021 – Kickstart Innovation, one of Europe’s leading, zero-equity, open innovation platforms based in Zurich, is currently launching its sixth program, and welcoming applications from businesses across the world. The application period is from April 15 to May 17.

National and international scaleups are invited to apply now and work together with Kickstart and leading companies to benefit from direct access into lines of business, knowledge and network. Through this ecosystem Kickstart connects scaleups, companies, cities, foundations and universities, supporting commercial partnerships between them and accelerating deep tech innovation.

Since Kickstart’s launch in 2015, a total of over 170 deals in the form of Proof of Concepts and commercial partnerships have been successfully initiated between startups and leading institutions in Switzerland, and more than 200 scaleups across 5 industry sectors have engaged from more than 40 countries. In addition, startups and scaleups have raised over CHF 850 million.

The partners are looking for tech scaleups in the areas of: EdTech & New Work, HealthTech, FinTech & InsurTech, Food & Retail Tech, Smart City & Technology, as well as Circular Economy.

Last year, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, Kickstart participants managed to establish over 50 commercial collaborations. Accelerating digitalization became a greater priority for organizations than ever before, and with a strong focus on digitally enabled goals such as scaled remote work capabilities, safeguarding data, automation in supply chains and remote health solutions.

“Although we were not able to meet live, we completed a very successful program with a record number of commercial collaborations between companies and scaleups,” explains Co-Founder and CEO Katka Letzing. “We have attracted a record number of global partners for 2021 who are engaged across all industry areas.”

Benefit from strategic advice by industry experts and investors

Kickstart invites scaleups from across the globe to Switzerland to gain world-class access to the Swiss business ecosystem as well as direct distribution possibilities within lines of business at Kickstart’s leading institutional partners. The focus is not on startups in early stages, but more mature ones that are already positioned to collaborate with large companies (e.g. existing product, experience in working with B2B customers).

The bulk of the programme takes place between September and November, and promotes technological innovation and collaborating on specific opportunities. The scaleups receive three months of support from industry access to a vast network of advisors and experts who have successfully founded, scaled and often sold a company themselves.

During the program, each Kickstart scaleup also gets matched with an advisor who consults with them regularly and shares access to their network and market knowledge. Kickstart also offers free office space to scaleups at Kraftwerk, one of the largest innovation spaces in Zurich housed in an old power plant and other Impact Hub locations.

Applicants will have the opportunity to forge partnerships with  renowned Swiss partners such as PostFinance, AXA, Coop, Migros, Swisscom, die Mobiliar, Sanitas, The City of Zurich, Credit Suisse and other organizations.

A remarkable example was Kickstart alumni, OneDoc, which launched a collaboration with Medbase (part of the Migros group) during the program, and has now enabled more than 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccination appointments on their online platform.

“Swisscom Ventures invested in a STEM startup – Labster in 2018. The scaleup has raised over CHF 60 million by now. It’s just one of the many alumni stories from Kickstart that show the possibility of scale, growth and success.” explains Swisscom’s Chief Digital Officer, Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler. The company is revolutionizing science education by preparing students for real lab work via simulations. The benefit, in addition to a reduction in costs, is that techniques are learned faster, and the process of learning is more engaging and fun.

Next to building partnerships, Kickstart also provides access to a diversified investor network for scaleups and alumni raising financing rounds. Partners with corporate venture arms are actively involved, including Swisscom Ventures, AXA Venture Partners, and others.

More info and the application link.

About Kickstart

Kickstart is one of Europe’s largest zero equity, multi-corporate ecosystem innovation platforms that runs a scale-up program for high-growth startups with the goal to accelerate deep tech innovation in Switzerland. Science and engineering-driven technologies have the potential to solve humanity’s biggest challenges. They require unprecedented collaboration between established organizations and the most audacious entrepreneurs out there. Kickstart is committed to build bridges and bring various organizations such as startups, scaleups, corporates, cities, foundations and universities together. Each year, Kickstart brings up to 100 entrepreneurs to Switzerland to collaborate with key players for proofs of concept, pilot projects and other innovation partnerships. Additionally, through the intrapreneurship program Kickstart helps established organisations accelerate internal innovation.

Kickstart is a spin-off of Impact Hub Zurich and was launched in 2015 by digitalswitzerland. In 2021, Kickstart runs five verticals: EdTech & New Work, FinTech & InsurTech, Food & Retail Tech, HealthTech, Smart City & Technology; an Intrapreneurship program and the Circular Economy Initiative together with partner organizations across industries: AXA, Coop, Migros, Swisscom, die Mobiliar, PostFinance, ETH Zürich, City of Zurich, Amt für Wirtschaft und Arbeit, MAVA Foundation, Credit Suisse, CSEM, Diabetes Center Berne,  Empa NEST, Sanitas, University Hospital Zurich, Axpo, Panter, SATW, Impact Hub Switzerland, Canton de Vaud, Santenext, Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE, Swiss Healthcare Startups, Growpal, Switzerland Global Enterprise, Ringier, Wenger & Vieli AG, Google for Startups, Nespresso, Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd., South Pole, evitive, WECOCO, Magnolia, Day8, HealthTech Cluster Switzerland, Pepicon and more.

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