In some of our blogposts, we will focus on interesting #longreads for our readers to dive into. We want to provide our readers with insights into articles and studies that we deem important regarding our strategic focus points and present to you different innovational hubs around the world.

For example, a few days ago Mobileye, an Israeli startup, was bought by Intel for 15.3 billion dollars. The largest ever takeover of an Israeli-based company. Not only that, but Intel is even moving its automotive unit to Israel. Ans this brought us to an interesting two part Forbes article about Israel and its flourishing innovation ecosystem.

Part 1 – Secrets To Israel’s Innovative Edge

Part 2 – What Makes Israel’s Innovation Ecosystem So Successful

Below, we will focus on the conditions relevant for Israel’s innovation hub and compare them to Swiss characteristics.

A global focus

Our companies never develop anything for the local market. Everything is for the global market. […] Europe is a large market, so startups there start by addressing local markets and only think about global expansion later.

Switzerland has the same population size as Israel. However, it has four different national languages that makes it hard to address a big enough local market. Additionally, to challenge a global market you need free flowing capital from investors to startups. So far, Switzerland is still struggling with attracting venture capital from within or from outside Switzerland. But the country is heading in the right direction. digitalswitzerland is focusing on speeding up this process.

Immigration is key

A third of the people in Israel were foreign-born, a comparable proportion with other innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley and New York. […] The inflow of new immigrants has often been a key engine of Israel’s economic vitality.

Immigration is the hot topic in Switzerland – as well as in many other countries. Currently, the Swiss parliament seems willing to tackle this issue at least for foreign startups. Check out this blog on two parliamentary motions about attracting foreign talents and startups.

Experimental mindset

There is not so much legacy here or a set way to do things, so we’re much more experimental. […] Many Israeli entrepreneurs explain that they are simply challenging preexisting assumptions and the status quo to make improvements. […] Failure is not a bad thing here, as long as you get back on your knees and learn from your mistakes. […] This is the essence of the Israeli innovator: finding a smarter solution by spending as little time and money as possible.

Switzerland is not known for its “try fast, fail fast” culture. We need to be way more supportive of failing – and hence of learning. As we all know, a change in culture takes time. But the younger generation is already thinking differently – as well as bigger.

Strong education – especially in STEM (MINT)

A strong education system provides a pipeline of skilled talents that supports Israel’s innovative sectors[…] According to OECD’s 2014 report, 46% of the country’s adults have completed tertiary education, with half of them majoring in STEM subjects.

digitalswitzerland recognized the need for action in digital education early on. In September last year, we launched the web platform The newly created non-commercial web platform provides a comprehensive, transparent overview of the educational offerings in the digital sector in Switzerland. digitalswitzerland is already pushing further initiatives on education. We will keep you posted.

Open innovation as a popular concept

Open innovation is a very popular concept now. Companies get exposure to different ideas, which may turn into new products and technologies for their customers[…] As the result, the cluster tends to have greater innovation, higher productivity, and quicker formation of new businesses[…] In Israel, the close proximity of innovative institutions create a certain buzz. People work alongside and together. Many constantly shuffle between academia, military, entrepreneurship, R&D, policymaking and venture capital, sometimes wearing several hats at once.

Switzerland already has several clusters (e.g. robotics, fintech, and cybersecurity). digitalswitzerland is not only helping to grow these, but also providing networks to connect different corporations and topics to create an open innovation culture and mindset.

Constructive exchange of ideas

He (Yossi Matias) returned to Google and started a side project called “Campus Tel Aviv”. What started as an open space for meetups quickly grew into a vibrant hub as people flooded in, to create events such as keynote talks and hackathons, building micro-communities in their areas of interest. “It’s the kind of stuff that’s not zero-sum. The more you have these constructive exchange of ideas between individuals and teams, the more good stuff can happen,” says Matias. In just four years, the space has hosted over 100,000 people and 1,500 events.

Soon, digitalswitzerland will have permanent access to EWZ Unterwerk Selnau, where we will provide open space for a wide range of initiatives such as Kickstart Accelerator, Challenge, and more to come.

Switzerland still has a long way to go. This will not be an overnight success but rather a marathon. We are convinced that, with the initiatives outlined above and many more, digitalswitzerland will play a crucial role in making Switzerland a digital innovation hub – worldwide.




Author Daniel Scherrer

Head of Communications & Public Affairs @digitalswitzerland

More posts by Daniel Scherrer