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Kickstart Program Launches 9th Iteration to Drive Collaborative Solutions and Investments

Press Release

  • Over 40 renowned companies and organizations are creating future solutions with local and international startups for Switzerland and beyond

  • The application phase for startups begins today, with reach in over 60 countries

  • Opportunities for deals have a focus on supporting corporates, public institutions, and startups

Zurich, 17th April 2024 - Kickstart Innovation, one of Europe's leading open innovation platforms, launches its ninth program today. Every year, Kickstart has attracted some of the world’s best startups providing solutions to the biggest challenges for society. This is accomplished in partnership with major industry players, including AXA, Coop, Swisscom, La Mobilière, PostFinance, Sanitas, The City of Zurich, Canton de Vaud, and MSD. This year this list also includes IKEA Switzerland and Romande Energie. Kickstart has supported over 450 startups and facilitated over 310 deals (see our Collaboration map) in the form of pilots and commercial projects. Alumni come from over 80 countries, have raised more than CHF 2.5 billion in investments so far, and include Planted, KernTec, Neustark, AAAcell, and others. “Start-ups increasingly need support in order to grow successfully”, explains Katka Letzing, Co-Founder and CEO of Kickstart Innovation. “Rising interest rates, increasing regulatory requirements, and the shortage of skilled labor are challenges that need to be overcome. Partnerships and target-oriented expert opinions on strategy and further development can be helpful and create new business opportunities. We also help organizations in the public and private sectors not to work in silos and make innovation that matters.”

The goal of Kickstart’s program is to facilitate deals in the form of pilots or commercial collaborations between later-stage startups and established institutions who are looking to scale their products and services, find fresh revenue streams and invest in forward-looking models and practices. The program has taken place annually since 2016, with digitalization and sustainability becoming strong drivers of innovation across industries. "Startups offer a wide spectrum of solutions for companies that are looking for new technologies and other innovative solutions for their further development. At the same time, these partnerships promote the growth of startups through access to experts and investment opportunities. This results in the integration of advanced technologies, innovation, and development of sustainability potential for all companies," explains Katka Letzing.

The search for the solutions of tomorrow takes place in six verticals: Health & Wellbeing, Finance & Insurance, Food & Retail, New Work & Learning, Smart Cities and Intrapreneurship. Each vertical has a core focus on specific innovation trends and needs of each Kickstart partner.

Next to building partnerships, Kickstart also provides access to a diversified investor network for startups and alumni raising financing rounds. Partners with corporate venture arms are actively involved, including Swisscom Ventures, AXA Strategic Venturing, and others. “We were able to connect with great startups in the past years and gain collaborations as well as investments including companies like Labster and PriceHubble. I am looking forward to more such collaborations this year” said Alexander Schlaepfer, Partner, Swisscom Ventures.

Further information and a guide on how to apply can be found here.

For more information, please contact:

About Kickstart

Kickstart is one of Europe's largest zero equity, open innovation platforms. Our mission is to build innovation ecosystems with purpose by fast-forwarding innovation. We bring together public and private organizations, startups, investors, and experts with the shared ambition to deliver next-generation products and services and have a meaningful impact at scale. Each year, Kickstart engages 100 entrepreneurs to collaborate with key players for proofs of concept, pilot and commercial projects, and other innovation partnerships. Additionally, through the intrapreneurship program, Kickstart helps established organizations promote and accelerate internal innovation.


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