The Global Innovation Index ranks the innovation performance of 128 countries and economies around the world, based on 82 indicators. Switzerland is the most innovative country in the world – for several years in a row now.
So one would think that Switzerland then is the startup hub par example! Well, one is for sure – innovation alone is not enough, but that’s why there are programs like the Kickstart Accelerator.
Switzerland and its innovators
Let’s begin from the start. Back then when Switzerland, a small, poor country full of mountains, lacking raw materials, had no choice but to be innovative, continually. When innovation was a must to develop alternative sources of income, such as agriculture, tourism and the service sector. When Switzerland freshly established as a liberal, federal state would attract political and other refugees who then helped make Switzerland famous for its watches, the financial center, highly ranked school system and the universities of today.
That’s when Switzerland became the innovation-driven country. So Switzerland’s high ranked positions today rely on the heritage of well-educated people and the legacy of the strong and significant business, banking and research sectors – not to be forgotten, also on the openness towards foreign business partners, investors, workers and entrepreneurs.
Nothing major has changed about these facts. Switzerland is still this innovation-driven country, even has been the most innovative country for the last six years. But if Switzerland is to maintain its top position internationally, it must ensure that the necessary conditions for innovation remain in place.
Only now, in the time of digitalisation, Switzerland and particular Zurich realizes the lagging when it comes to boosting young and new innovators too, especially compared to other European cities. Clearly a tremendous opportunity here.
Where in Switzerland the majority of all innovations come from the established institutions it’s the startups and young entrepreneurs driving innovation in other countries mostly because of political and economic difficulties. In the Bloomberg interview Marc Walder, CEO Ringier and initiator and chairman of the board of DigitalZurich2025 rightly said that Switzerland did not have any major crisis. Therefore there had not been any particular need for supporting startups until now nor an important aspect of inviting local organizations to invest in new ideas.
So let’s quickly change this. There is enough resources in this country and a lot of capable supporters when it comes to innovation, thus a real stable soil for young innovators, right?
Right, but to becoming the most preferred place to start a venture today requests more than that. For example business-friendly regulations, a reasonable system of taxation, as well as free access to foreign markets and their innovators.
So far, Switzerland attracted international talent mostly at the top-ranked Swiss universities. And when talented students graduate, they are either recruited by large corporates or leave the country again. Switzerland loses out on what is a key factor for Silicon Valley’s success story. Some same scenario with local talents.
Programs like the Kickstart Accelerator help to build these strongly needed bridges to the international entrepreneurship scene and also bring local organizations close to new, different innovations.
“The Kickstart Accelerator program allows EY to identify innovation from startups at an early stage. This way, we can add to it through the expertise of our EY experts and mentors,” says Marcel Stalder, CEO of EY Switzerland. “The unique approach of the Kickstart Accelerator, where even competing companies join forces, will allow for bigger innovation to come through. Advisory companies such as EY act as a platform, a facilitator, that helps connect the dots between the new solutions and the needs of the corporate partners. This increases the overall innovation power of the Swiss economy,” elaborates Stalder.
So Switzerland is the startup hub par example? Well, we’re definitely getting there!