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The Scale-up Playbook


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On August 25th 2021 almost two hundred members of the Swiss startup ecosystem gathered on a boat to sail the waters of Lake Zurich and talk about the future of innovative Swiss companies. Among them were five special players: Samuel Mueller, Scandit CEO; Gina Domanig, managing partner at Emerald Technology Ventures; Alain Chuard, Wildfire founder and Swisspreneur chairman; Dominique Mégret, head of Swisscom Ventures; and Lea von Bidder, AVA CEO. These five special guests had a thing or two to say about scaling up in Switzerland. Here’s a summary of their incredible input:

For starters:



Digital storytelling of key learnings

Graphic created by Nina Holenstein
Graphic created by Nina Holenstein

The Swiss Scale-up Cruise was an event co-hosted by Swisspreneur and digitalswitzerland with the help of partners MLL Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Froriep, UBS and Swisscom.

Ever wondered how the Swiss Tech Startup Ecosystem looks like? SICTIC and digitalswitzerland made it happen and brought it all together – for now on paper. We are happy to be part of such a thriving and growing ecosystem and we want to thank you for your energy and passion you put into it each and every day. Together we can truly bring Switzerland and its startups to the forefront of technology. Worldwide.

The Swiss Tech Startup Ecosystem Infografic provides you with everything you need. From Co-Working spaces and Accelerators to make your business fly, Science Teachings, Trainings and Coaches to support you with the crucial knowledge and advice, Investors, Awards and Supporters to secure your funding, to Events, Information Platforms and Associations to link you to the right people at the right time.

In case your initiative is missing in the picture, we are sincerely sorry. Please contact SICTIC directly for that. Furthermore, you will find the newest version of our clickable infografic here.

As cross-cultural and international as we Swiss are, I do catch myself sometimes competing with a world of 8 million people. However, from time to time, I have to remind myself that the world does not end on the other side of the Rhine, there are another 7’640 million people we share this planet with.

When it comes to startups, scaling and going international in terms of customers and investors can be crucial. Especially big investment rounds can be hard to raise solely in Switzerland – for now.

This is why digitalswitzerland partnered up with Venturelab and the ETH Zurich to bring international venture capitalists and investors to Switzerland to connect them with the Swiss startup ecosystem and its educational hubs, investor-network and of course its exceptional startups. In two days they experienced it all.

Deep Tech Investor Dinner @ the ETH Zurich

For the Deep Tech Investor Dinner we invited 75 international and Swiss investors to the ETH. Together we enjoyed an insightful tour through the Arch_Tech_Lab where innovation in architecture, material engineering and construction melt together and create the future of how we shape and build our living spaces. The following rotating dinner then amplified the connections between the international and Swiss investors. After every course, the seat change brought five fresh faces to the table. Furthermore, Detlef Günther explained the leading educational hubs who not just shape a unique force of talent but generate a lot of startups. In 2017 alone there were 25 spin-offs coming from the ETH.

Investor Summit

Before the actual dinner, we connected the investors with each other to foster future dealflows and to create a seamless process to raise capital. Now it was time to connect the investors with the Swiss startups. During the pitches and one-on-one sessions investors got in touch with the startups. And for those who that was not enough, during the TOP 100 Startup Award, it was another chance to get to know the best startups in the country.

TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award

From drones that find your “Einfränkler” on multiple footballfields to revulotianary medtech startups, Switzerlands thriving innovation scene has a lot to offer. Over 700 guests followed the event, which was organized by Venturelab with our support as one of the main partners. It was a great opportunity to get in touch with the inspiring entrepreneurs. Such as ava, who showed us how important it is to go global early on and never forget our humble Swiss roots and bexio who proved the case that a clear focus on the Swiss market can lead to a successful exit.


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Whatever way you choose, the Startup DAYs are right around the corner. So for whoever did not sign up yet, better hurry! Tickets are available here.

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The 21st century and new technological possibilities has opened up a variety of ways to work. Suddenly, we are not bound to our desktop computer or office desk any more. All we need is a laptop, a good wifi connection and fancy cappuccinos. From where and when we work becomes a secondary question. More importantly: The work needs to be done, whether from Zurich, Lausanne or in our case, Lisbon. We wanted to find out if life as a digital nomad is really that simple. That’s why a part of our team decided to test this flexible way of co-working and co-living at Outsite in Lisbon.

Let me share some insights and learnings with you:

1. Planning is key

Since working remotely means that you won’t be available in person, you first have to inform your business partners or customers and second, to block the week somehow. In addition, there is the time zone factor to take into account. Between Switzerland and Lisbon there is only a one-hour difference, so this was manageable. However, this topic becomes more difficult if you have to adapt to the local work culture. We experienced this for instance our first Monday morning on site: A group of Swiss and German people gathered before a closed Co-working space. Starting your work day at 10am might be normal for Lisboetas, but not for Swiss people! Luckily, right next door to our co-working space was a great café, where we enjoyed incredible cappuccinos and the wifi network.

2. A quiet space and fast wifi connection is crucial

What you need to keep in mind is that setting up at a new location always involves certain productivity challenges and extra time before you are fully functional. With Outsite we were super lucky that we had an accommodation and environment that really helped us to become productive quickly. The co-working space was quiet, the wifi fast, there were separate rooms to make phone calls from, and even though the temperature rose to 43 degrees outside, inside it was cold enough to concentrate and work (I bet that our office in Switzerland was less comfortable to work from during the heatwave). Furthermore, the co-living rooms were well furnished and quiet. We had our private room and shared the common space and kitchen with digital nomads from all over the world, who were all in Lisbon for one thing – to work (and a bit surf and food besides). The accommodation as well as the people you share it with are crucial to create a productive working environment: you all have to be on the same page and share the goal of working together.

3. Work is work with a little twist

One can say that distance brings us closer. Our whole team is used to working in different locations in Switzerland and from that perspective being together in one location helped us to create ease of daily exchanges, natural bonding and ultimately a higher trust. The week was really productive and thanks to the co-working space we could focus on our tasks. The real difference was made the moment you stepped outside. It is was only there, I realized where I was: in beautiful Lisbon. The perks of working remotely were for example to eat some pastel de belem, to try out the cable cars or to go for a swim in the ocean after work. Some great change to Züri Gschnätzlets, the Ticinese grotto or the Lake of Geneva. This helps you to get your mind off work and keeps your motivation high, even though you are working much more than back home.

What did we learn and what’s next?  

Our Lisbon remote work and co-living week was a great experience. I would definitely do it again, even though I felt as if I could use some holidays afterwards and it was rather costly due to the fact that we all paid personally for everything. However, it is a great way to work in our digital world and deepen the bonds and exchange in a team. The new location is inspiring and during the shared dinners and breakfasts a lot of bonding moments are created and new inspiring ideas arise. It is definitely crucial to choose the right space and set up. In addition, I would definitely plan a longer stay for the next location. One week is almost too little, especially when you don’t strictly plan your working days. You tend to work too long and miss out on exploring the new location.

We only worked for one week in Lisbon, however companies like buffer prove that a fully distributed team with nomadic team members is possible (see link). Therefore, we just scratched the surface of what is possible and how the future of work in the digital age could look like. Fact is that our digital technologies provide us with the tools that make flexible working all over the world possible.

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Getting in touch with the right person at the right time is sometimes rather difficult. Especially, when you are an international startup trying to connect with the right person within a Swiss corporate. Or when you have an international startup that wants to gain foothold within Switzerland. The same goes vice versa.

That is the reason why digitalswitzerland launched the Market Entry Bootcamp. We see us as an enabler who can make this first connection as easy as possible – by bringing the corporate innovation managers and the startup co-founders together in one room (or in this case – one Kraftwerk). The vision was to create a lean and effective way to evaluate the potential of future collaboration. Therefore, together with Impact Hub Zurich, we  invited 52 international startups, over 20 corporates and 7 of the leading Swiss accelerator programmes to the Kraftwerk Zürich. In just two very short and intensive days, the startups got a deep dive of what the Swiss startup ecosystem has to offer.


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A Deep Dive into the Swiss Startup Ecosystem

Day one was all about the Swiss ecosystem: Startups had the chance to get deeper insights of what the kind of accelerator programs we have in Switzerland and get to know them personally.

Building bridges

The focus on day two was all about enabling the first face to face between the corporations and the startups. After a short pitch, the bootcamp continued with a speed-dating like matchmaking. In just a couple hours we arranged around 200 One-on-One meetings.

As an enabler we set up the first contact and collaboration push, from there on the corporates and startups assess by themself if there is a potential match or not. The playground of how they want to continue this collaboration in the future is wide open and ranges all the way  from market insights to future Proof of Concepts. However, it is crucial to understand the bootcamps for what they are – a lean and efficient matchmaking. The success of future collaborations lies in the hands of the corporates and startups. Digitalswitzerland made the first contact  possible and built the bridge, how the story will continue is up to the participants.

As our Managing Director Nicolas Bürer stated in a conversation with Startup-Ticker on the experience from a startup-perspective: “The format of the Market Entry Bootcamps is unique in Switzerland. In short but intensive two days, Swiss companies and accelerators are able to establish contacts with international and innovative start-ups, create new collaborations and thus create added value for the Swiss innovation ecosystem.”

The Bootcamp Format – A Success Story?

4 bootcamps in total, 4 different locations, over 400 rich One-on-One meetings and lots of positive feedback from both sides. The first iteration of our Market entry and Scale up Bootcamp series was a great success. Furthermore, we received great insights from startups and corporates and key take-aways on what to improve in the future.

Digitalswitzerland is looking forward to bringing to life again a unique series of Bootcamps next year. And we will continue fostering the Swiss startup ecosystem and pursue the goal of establishing it as one of the top five worldwide.

Stay up to date on the latest developments within  digitalswitzerland and follow us on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook or by signing up to our newsletter.

On May 4th and 18th, our digitalswitzerland Startup Bootcamps took off! With an inspiring and insightful first first bootcamp around the topics ‘Big Data Analytics: from AI to SaaS’ and ‘Robotics & Connected Machines’ in Lausanne and a second with a focus on ‘Fintech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies’ as well as ‘Mobility & Smart City’ in Zurich, this was only the beginning of a new success story in bringing forward the Swiss startup ecosystem.

My name is Matthias Zwingli and I am taking over the project pillar ‘Startup Enablement’ as the new Project Manager.
From now on I will be in charge to bring ahead the Swiss startup ecosystem and I am eager to get to know our members and stakeholders  in the startup field. Here a short summary of our latest bootcamps editions, kindly provided by Startupticker.

The scale-up bootcamps from digitalswitzerland are a success. They show the progress that the Swiss ecosystem has made over recent years in building up collaboration between start-ups and large companies.

The scale-up boot camps were carried out this year for the first time by Venture Kick on behalf of digitalswitzerland. Fast-growing young companies meet representatives of corporates at three events in Lausanne, Zurich and Bern. The process of the meetings is always the same: first, a presentation by the large companies, followed by the start-ups; then there is the opportunity to exchange information in 15-minute one-to-one meetings with finally networking and conversations at the start-up booths. In addition to the Scale up Bootcamps for Swiss start-ups a Market Entry camp for start-ups from abroad will be held in the first week of June.


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The success is remarkable: 80 one-to-one meetings took place at the Bootcamp in Schlieren last week, for example. Each of the participating 20 scale-up companies was able to arrange between four and seven follow-on meetings throughout the day. The satisfaction of the young entrepreneurs was accordingly high:

“The benefits are huge. Although there are numerous good programmes for start-ups, Switzerland still lacks constructive programmes to support the growth of scale-ups. I’ve enjoyed every second of this bootcamp! Bravo to the team for the perfect organisation and the follow-up driven concept,” said Evelina Georgieva, co-founder and CEO at Pryv.

The entrepreneur addressed an important factor in the success of the bootcamps. The focus is on scale-ups that have successfully completed the first steps and in some cases achieved notable sales. In addition, many of them already have experience of working with large companies. All these factors make the scale-ups attractive partners for collaboration projects.