The first semester 2017 is already behind us. It is time to make a retrospective and give some details about our roadmap until the end of the year. The first six months have been intensive as for any young startup growing. We can be very satisfied about our accomplishments. Yet, we still have a long way to go in making Switzerland a leading digital innovation hub – Worldwide.

Members

21 new members have joined digitalswitzerland since the beginning of this year. Bringing our members up to 77. New members are from many different industries increasing our diversity and cross-industry mission. Admeira, Amag, BMW, BNP Paribas, Bühler, Cembra, Cognizant, CSS, EWZ, Canton de Genève, Kanton Graubünden, Helvetia, Infosys, Losinger Marazzi, Metallzug, MoneyCab, Philip Morris International, Ruag, SwissRe and Vaudoise. We would like to thank each and everyone for their appreciated commitment. At the same time we thank our founding members and 2016 members for their continued involvement! Let’s work together and fulfill our mission supported by our key initiatives!

Focus initiatives

At the beginning of this year we have defined our five key pillars to fit our projects:
  • Political Framework
    Helping shape the political conditions of the country to enable a very strong digital innovation ecosystem
    . The framework needs to adapt and focus on investment in education, taxes for startups and investors, more capital for startups and scale-ups, infrastructure, cybersecurity and many more issues.
  • Talent & Education
    Supporting the digital education of young people and promoting the concept of life-long learning. In other words, it is never too early or too late to learn about technology, digital innovation, computer science, coding, etc.
  • Startup Enablement
    Supporting the startup ecosystem to enable growth and become a solid and worldwide well-known innovation ecosystem
    .
  • Thought Leadership
    Define and install new modern digital elements through collaborative approach between corporates, academics, SMEs, startups and experts.
  • Public communication
    Digitization is a fact. Sensitizing to the digital technologies and highlighting the chances for our economy and society.

Governance

Our Steering Committee grew with more strong personalities during the first half-year of 2017. We are very happy to welcome Calvin Grieder (Bühler), Michael Hengartner (University of Zurich and Swiss Universities), Urs Honegger (PWC), Pierre Maudet (Canton de Genève) and Joos Sutter (Coop).

Regional inclusion

One of our main efforts of the first part of 2017 was to include all regions of Switzerland as much as possible with new members and activities. We are very pleased with some new regions reached via membership or activities: St. Gallen, Graubünden, Luzern, Zug, Lausanne, Geneva, Basel and Bern.

Team & Operations

As of End of June our team grew to 8 people within the association digitalswitzerland. As for any startup, work load grows quicker than processes, organization and documentation, but we were still able to define structure and key processes. Within our team we cover project management, relations, business development, communication and operations. Also without the external help of our members we would not be able to grow as quickly as we do, Ernst&Young, Swisscom, Ringier, Google, Wenger&Vieli, Swiss Life, Mobiliar are dedicating some time of their employees (typically 20-60% FTE) on specific tasks (business development, communication, accounting, education, legal, strategy, project management, etc.).

Budget allocation

We spend about 55% in executing projects, about 10% in communication and operation and 35% in our team ramp-up. We focus on maintaining a high level of project investment while building a strong team leading these projects.

Core projects update

Along our key pillars we were able to start or continue many projects during the first half-year. We enable, develop and execute innovation projects on our own and with our partners. Impact comes from execution, thus we focus a lot on implementing and making things happen! I would like to pick four projects to go into some more detail:
  • Investor Summit
    In January 2017, the 2nd Investor Summit took place in Zurich with 16 selected Swiss startups and more than 200 investors
    . Among investors were Angels, Family Offices, Corporate Ventures and VCs. Only half of them were from Switzerland. Also many CEOs from Swiss-based corporates were present and could get to know some startups or led discussions with investors about trends and technology. All in all the event was a success whereas we still have room for improvement. We are in the middle of orchestrating the Investor Summit 2018.
  • Challenge
    Beginning of the year 2017 we started this very ambitious project called digitalswitzerland | challenge with the ambition to develop projects within key topics and install these projects in the following monthsExperts from corporates, academics, SMEs and startups were attending many different roundtables and were responsible for defining these so-called betsTopics are within Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Digital Education, Mobility, Smart City, Fintech, Legal, Digital Real Estate, eDemocracy, eHealth and Artificial IntelligenceIt’s not about “making business” or selling new products, but about solving problems, developing standards, best-practice or very modern cases to show our execution power when collaborating. At the beginning of April 2017 we launched the bets with a big bang.
  • Kickstart Accelerator 2017
    Not only digitalswitzerland grew fast, but also the Kickstart Accelerator, which is now host of 6 verticals. Next to the four verticals in Zurich Fintech, Food, Smart Cities and Robotics and Intelligent Systems, there is a healthcare-specific vertical in Basel in collaboration with BaseLaunch and an EdTech vertical in Lausanne in collaboration with EPFL. We received more than 1500 application for just the four verticals in Zurich. Just a few days ago the 30 most promising startups have been chosen for Kickstart Accelerator 2017.
  • nextgeneration
    With this project we would like to allow young people between 5-19 years of age to attend a summer one-week camp to learn more about technology, coding, computer science and computational thinking. We are conducting this project with our three partners Codillion, Mint&Pepper and Ginger all over Switzerland. So far we are very happy with more than 200 kids and teenagers attending these courses, learning more about these topics and becoming digital talents in the future.

Overview of partner projects

Besides our core projects we are also supporting many important existing projects within the Swiss ecosystem for digital innovation: Venture Leaders, Digital Summit for KMU, Fusion LifeTech Accelerator, Start Summit, ESA Business Incubation Centre, SICTIC or the online Botscamp to name but a few. All of them fulfilling one of our five key pillars and our mission.

Summary and next steps

The first semester 2017 has been very fast-moving. We were able to grow and build up our activity portfolio. During the second half of 2017 it is all about executing our roadmap, which is going to be very intensive and rich in projects and events. We still have a huge amount of work ahead, in 2017 and beyond. In the next blog post at the end of the summer holidays, we will have the pleasure to present an outlook on the second half of 2017. Let’s rock!

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Author Nicolas Bürer

Managing Director @digitalswitzerland

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