Kickstart FAQs

Q: Does Kickstart invest in startups?

At the moment there are no investment activities on our behalf, however Kickstart organizes curtain events including the annual Investor Summit that aims to bring participating startups together with investors.

Q: How was the program affected by COVID-19? What does 2022 look like?

The Kickstart program has continued to go from strength to strength, reaching a milestone of 200+ PoCs and commercial projects secured since 2016. The format of the program is different to the previous editions, with focus on digital performance. This has proved to work well and will be adopted for the long-term strategy. We are currently operating on a hybrid model, with main events in-person and online engagement for other activities.

Q: Why would Switzerland be an attractive location for international startups?

Switzerland is one of the countries with the best environment for entrepreneurial activities. The number of companies being founded in Switzerland has been growing for several years. The stable economic framework and market, the strong education sector, the world-class infrastructure and the high quality of life are just some of the positive aspects that make Switzerland attractive for startups.


Furthermore, Switzerland is one of the most important financial centers worldwide and many leading international corporations as well as leading technical universities such as ETH Zurich are based in Switzerland.


We have seen a growing appetite within the corporate sector to collaborate with startups, already surmounting to +200 fruitful collaborations.

Q: Is Kickstart a non-profit organization (NPO)?

No, Kickstart Innovation AG is a for-profit company.

Q: Why is Kickstart focusing on later-stage startups? What does “later stage” mean in this context?

Later-stage refers to mature startups, or so-called “scale-ups” that already have a technology and potential product in the market. They already have secured external funding and are operating with a team of several team members.


Later-stage ventures have more maturity in working with established players such as corporations, foundations, cities and universities, which are the main partners of Kickstart. We see more eye-level collaboration happening between scale-ups and established companies and we thus increase the likelihood of successful collaborations such as PoCs, pilot projects or commercial partnerships.

Q: What role does diversity play when it comes to selecting the startups?

Diversity plays an important role in many ways when it comes to the selection of our startups. We encourage judges to take into account a variety of factors when it comes to selecting the startups, providing fair and equal opportunity and ensuring minority groups are represented.

Q: What are the requirements for startups to apply for Kickstart?

Applications are welcome from later-stage startups based anywhere in the world or within Switzerland, fulfilling further requirements:

  • A product or technology is available (preferably with patent)

  • Previous investment has been secured

  • The venture is ready for collaboration with Kickstart partners

  • At least one of the founders or senior executives to be present during key events (Final Selection, Planning Sprint, CEOs & Founders Dinner, Opening and Closing Ceremony, key partnership negotiations)

  • A promising product or technology in one of the following sectors:

  • New Work & Learning

  • Finance & Insurance

  • Food & Retail

  • Smart Cities

  • Health & Wellbeing

Q: Why should I apply as a later stage startup?

Founders receive direct access to top executives and decision-makers of leading Swiss corporations, organizations, foundations and cities and the chance to initiate Proof of Concept trials and other innovation partnerships in order to scale their business in an unprecedented way.


The program provides not only support by high-quality advisors and experts from the Swiss innovation ecosystem, but also trainings and workshops in innovation and collaboration skills as well as access to a dedicated fund to foster partnership projects.


Throughout the program, the founders receive free coworking-space in the innovation space Kraftwerk in the heart of Zurich. Kickstart covers up to CHF 10,000 of business development expenses during the program. Additionally, once a partnership is established, there is a fund secured for this purpose.

The program charges no equity and no fees.

Q: How do you measure the success of Kickstart?

First and foremost, we measure success by the number, quality and impact of partnerships between the startups and the partner corporations & organizations e.g. in terms of proofs of concepts (PoC) and other collaborations.


Most of the startups from the earlier cohorts have built up or enhanced relationships in Switzerland. So far, at least 30% of our international alumni startups have offices or staff in Switzerland. Additionally, since the beginning in 2016, the participating startups have collectively raised over $2billion of investments.

Q: What is the goal of Kickstart?

To convene deep tech high-growth ventures together with multiple organisations such as companies, universities, foundations and cities to foster the Swiss ecosystem innovation and sustainable development.

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