Financing Start-Ups Switzerland: Focus on Swiss Start-Ups

Editor: Theresa Knell

Under the patronage of the Federal Department of Economy, Education and Research (WBF), the economic and political spheres are launching the Swiss Entrepreneurs Foundation (SwissEF) to promote start-ups and innovative SME‘s.

The heads of the Swiss Entrepreneurs Foundation: Urs Berger, Peter Stähli, Johann Schneider-Ammann, Didier Denat and Lukas Gähwiler (from left to right).
The heads of the Swiss Entrepreneurs Foundation: Urs Berger, Peter Stähli, Johann Schneider-Ammann, Didier Denat and Lukas Gähwiler (from left to right).
(Source: Dominic Bruegger)

Switzerland is one of the world’s leading economies. With curiosity, openness and success, the country reacts positively to new economic and technological developments. The result is a flourishing SME environment, global corporations, first-class research facilities and a high standard of living. However, the innovation and start-up ecosystem, a major motor of industrial progress and of the creation of new jobs, is facing great challenges. For instance, following their foundation phase, Swiss technologies and young enterprises often migrate abroad. At the same time, the economy is facing huge changes, including as a result of the increasing digitization, which can only be mastered with good framework conditions.

Consolidating Switzerland as an industrial location, creating jobs

A series of well-known Swiss firms, entrepreneurs and politicians want to halt this trend. Under the patronage of former federal councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, in summer 2017 they launched an initiative to address these challenges. Consequently, the Swiss Entrepreneurs Foundation (SwissEF) was founded in December 2017. The founders include Mobiliar, UBS, Credit Suisse, the Gebert Rüf Foundation, Wenger & Vieli and the Zurich city councillor Ruedi Noser.

Since the start of 2019, the private, non-profit and independent foundation, based in Bern, has been under the patronage of federal councillor and WBF president Guy Parmelin. Johann N. Schneider-Ammann remains linked to the SwissEF as honorary president. The foundation is to promote Swiss start-ups and innovative SME’s during their growth phase. In this way, Switzerland should strengthen its leading position as a location of industry and innovation.

To achieve this aim, SwissEF is pursuing a dual policy unique for Switzerland. First, the foundation is realizing specific projects which are improving the framework conditions for enterprise and for innovative technologies. Second, together with UBS, Credit Suisse and Mobiliar, it is launching a fund with a target capital of 500 million francs. It is investing in Swiss start-ups and innovative SME’s which are in their growth phase and have already introduced products to the market and have a customer base. At the end of January the federal financial supervisory authority Finma granted the Swiss Entrepreneurs Fund its concession, so that the fund can now be set up during the next few months.

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