Kickstart 2018: Switzerland on its way to become an international hub for deep technologies

April 3 2018
Switzerland’s largest innovation acceleration program, Kickstart Accelerator, brings together startups with established companies, universities, cities and foundations in Zurich to promote deep tech innovation and its impact on the future of humanity.

Zurich, April 3, 2018 – Kickstart Accelerator opens the application phase for the third edition of its program. Switzerland’s largest innovation acceleration program focuses on deep technologies – science and engineering driven technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Blockchain and others – across different sectors, bringing together key actors in these fields. Promising later-stage startups will meet with partners such as Credit Suisse and Swisscom in the area of financial technology. Retailers Coop and Migros aim to work with startups in the area of food and retail; while universities such as ETH Zurich and University of Zurich will focus on education and learning technology. The City of Zurich and AXA Winterthur will seek out and support pilot projects and proof of concepts in the area of Smart Cities.

Collaboration between civil society, industry, government and science as key to innovation

Kickstart Accelerator aims to initiate successful partnerships and pilot projects between the participating startups and the partner companies and institutions. “The first two programs resulted in over 30 ambitious proof-of-concepts (PoCs) and collaborations,” says Kickstart Co-Lead Katka Letzing. “In our view, genuine and sustainable innovation is only possible through cooperation across sector and company boundaries. That’s why we are focusing even more on these partnerships this year”.

Later-stage startups preparing to accelerate their technologies, business models and market access with the help of such collaborations can now apply for the program. The application period will close on 27th May. 30 startups and intrapreneur teams (innovation teams from companies, cities and universities) will have the opportunity to take their products or technologies in the areas of EdTech & LearningFinTech & CryptoFood & Retail Tech as well as Smart Cities & Infrastructure to the next level in Zurich this fall.

Internationally connected and widely supported

Kickstart Accelerator is run by Impact Hub Zürich, which is part of a wide international network of entrepreneurship and innovation centers. The program was initiated by the cross-sector association digitalswitzerland in 2015 and counts on key partners such as CoopCredit SuisseMigros and Swisscom as well as AXA WinterthurCity of ZurichETH ZürichEYGebert-Rüf StiftungMercator Foundation SwitzerlandStäubliSwisslinx and University of Zurich. The commitment of and value for these partners has increased since Kickstart’s launch: “Looking back at the success of the past two years of Kickstart Accelerator, Credit Suisse has benefited tremendously from the ideas and technologies generated through this program”, says Thomas Saler, Digital Solutions – Head of Fintech Partnerships at Credit Suisse (Switzerland) Ltd. “This year, we are excited to commit again to continue our support to the innovation ecosystem.”

Coop, one of Switzerland’s leading retailers, will again be a partner in the Food vertical: “Being a Global Partner for three consecutive years, we have come to appreciate the work with the startup teams”, says Benedikt Pachlatko, Project Manager Kickstart Accelerator at Coop. “We look forward to gathering new ideas for innovative projects and to collaborating on concrete Proof-of-Concepts with some of the startups.”

New program structure with focus on Proof-of-Concepts and collaborative projects

The kickoff for the four-month program will be a two-day Selection Bootcamp on 9th and 10th of July 2018: The 60 most promising startups out of the applicant pool are invited to pitch in front of a jury of experts. 30 of them will make it into the program, which consists of a one-week Planning Sprint in September and an intense six-week Collaboration Sprint from October 1st to November 9th in the innovation and collaboration space Kraftwerk located in the centre of Zurich.