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Switzerland showcasing their digital strengths at GITEX Global 2022

The world’s largest tech showcase, GITEX Global, took place again from 10 to 14 October. This year, the world’s largest tech fair attracted over 4,500 companies and 100,000 attendees, ranging from visitors and entrepreneurs to scientists, state officials and more. A Swiss delegation of 20 C-level executives participated at GITEX Global to represent the innovative capacity and technological expertise of our country as well as to strengthen international bonds.

The Swiss Delegation of 20 C-level executives to GITEX Global in Dubai was warmly welcomed by Stefan Metzger, Managing Director digitalswitzerland and Andreas Kaelin, Senior Advisor digitalswitzerland. Together they laid out the economic relationships between Switzerland and the Arabian Gulf, which is the 10th largest Swiss export market. As IMD highlighted in the recently published World Digital Competitiveness Index, the UAE continues to knock on the door of the top 10 most digitally competitive nations, excelling at their regulatory and technological frameworks, which both rank 3rd in the 2022 report. The country therefore offers a great opportunity for Switzerland to learn from and improve our technology ranking.

Frank Eggmann, Consul General of Switzerland in Dubai, welcomed the delegation by highlighting how GITEX can catapult Swiss ventures looking to scale up their customer base, develop corporate partnerships, and win investment. GITEX Global is the world’s largest tech show in its biggest year ever, attracting over 4,500 companies and 100,000 participants from across the globe.

Safia Agueni, Chapter Founder of Women in Tech Switzerland, introduced a cohort of senior tech executives from multinational companies representing a range of industries, highlighting the importance of diversity in technology leadership and digital transformation projects. The local chapter of Women in Tech UAE joined the Swisstech SWISS Pavilion and toured the broad range of Swiss spin-off projects, startups, and scaleups.

The Swisstech SWISS Pavilion at GITEX Global 2022 was opened by Massimo Baggi, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Groundbreaking applications in the fields of Metaverse, AI, Web 3.0, Blockchain, 6G, Cloud Computing, FinTech and Big Data are the focus of the action.

Stefan Metzger, Managing Director digitalswitzerland: “GITEX is an excellent opportunity for Swiss companies and especially for startups in the deep tech sector to generate attention, tap into new markets and establish contacts with potential investors. In this way, we support the main goal of the Swisstech initiative: to position Switzerland as an outstanding innovation and technology center and an attractive location for investors and foreign companies.”

Massimo Baggi opens the Swisstech SWISS Pavilion

eGovernment and digital health in the Gulf

One spacious hall in GITEX is a showcase of the latest tech being developed and deployed by national and regional governments. Many of these are based on the fundament of an electronic identity card (eID), where governments have put significant resources into streamlining the process of obtaining an eID and building eGovernment services that enable residents to quickly complete administrative processes online.

Ali Juma AlAjme, Director of Digital Health at the Ministry of Health and Prevention, presented some of the advancements in Electronic Health Records, including giving patients the right to share their health data, creating a unified protocol for digital health companies to use, unified supply chain interfaces, and introducing new guidance for telemedicine later this year. All of this with the aim of enabling faster and more interoperable innovation in digital health that will benefit the patient journey.

Ali Juma AlAjme with digitalswitzerland’s delegation

Innovation across Dubai and the UAE

To complement the extensive spectrum of tech on show at GITEX Global, the Swiss delegation also visited two key sites that demonstrate Dubai’s forward-looking approach to innovation and sustainability.

The Dubai International Finance Center (DIFC) is a free zone, home to an independent regulator, judicial system based on the English common law framework, and benefiting from the high labour mobility into the region. DIFC houses an Innovation Hub, where Ralf Glabischnig, Founder of Crypto Oasis, explained the bridge between Switzerland’s Crypto Valley and the Crypto Oasis of over 1,450 organisations making up the fast-growing blockchain ecosystem in the UAE. The Crypto Oasis 2022 report summarises the governments, investors, corporates and startups that operate in the DIFC, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), and others.

digitalswitzerland’s delegation in DIFC

Swiss clean tech company Hitachi Zosen Inova is working in an international consortium including Dubal Holding, ITOCHU Corporation, BESIX Group and Tech Group. Under the leadership of Roni Araiji, Managing Director Middle East, they are building the world’s largest energy-from-waste facility, capable of treating 1,825,000 tons of municipal solid waste per year – an impressive 45% of Dubai’s current waste. The 200 MW of electricity generated will be fed into the local grid as baseload energy, in line with Dubai’s Integrated Energy Strategy 2030.

Swisstech @ GITEX Global 2022 hosted the following scaleups, startups, and research institutions:

Please find our archive of press releases.

If you represent a magazine, newspaper or another kind of media entity, or have other media related inquiries, please get in touch.

Email our Director of Communications Eliane Panek: eliane@digitalswitzerland.com

2022

October

04.10.2022 – Study on digitalisation in Switzerland: Great willingness – little movement. Read the press release in German, French and Italian.

03.10.2022 – Swiss Digital Days 2022 are coming to Eastern Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Read the press release in German.

September

28.09.2022 – IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking: Switzerland once again among the top 5 worldwide. Read the press release in German and French.

27.09.2022 – Swiss Digital Days 2022 are coming to Ticino. Read the press release in Italian.

20.09.2022 – Digital sustainability and secure browsing: Swiss Digital Days are coming to the Romandie. Read the press release in French.

13.09.2022 – Augmented reality glasses and e-scooters: Swiss Digital Days are coming to Zurich. Read the press release in German.

06.09.2022 – Digital topics for young and old: there’s something for everyone at Swiss Digital Days in Northwestern Switzerland. Read the press release in German.

05.09.2022 – Switzerland’s largest NFT project unveiled at the start of Swiss Digital Days 2022. Read the press release in German, French and Italian.

August

30.08.2022- 4. Digital Gipfel Schweiz: International business leaders, academics and digital thought leaders meet to exchange views on the digital future. Read the press release in German and French.

29.08.2022 – Startup battle, hackathon and big bubbles: Swiss Digital Days are coming to Bern. Read the press release in German.

July

21.07.2022 – From A as in Aarau to Z as in Zurich: Swiss Digital Days 2022 are going on a Switzerland-wide tour. Read the press release in German, French and Italian.

June

28.06.2022 – No improvement in cybersecurity among SMEs despite digitalisation boost from Corona crisis. Read the press release in German, French and Italian.

March

18.03.2022 – An important step towards increasing Switzerland’s cyber resilience: statement on Amendment of the Ordinance on Telecommunications Services (OTS) to protect telecommunications infrastructures and services. Read the press release in German and French.

January

26.01.2022 – Statement on the amendment of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration. Read the press release in German and French.

18.01.2022 – The Swiss Digital Initiative presents the world’s first label for digital responsibility. Read the press release in English, German, French and Italian.

2021

December

23.12.2021 – Stefan Metzger appointed new Managing Director of digitalswitzerland. Read the press release in German, English, Italian and French.

November

18.11.2021 – Home office is establishing itself as a place of work for SMEs. Read the press release in German, French and Italian.

11.11.2021 – Digital Economy Award: Recognition for digital excellence. The digital pioneers of the year have been selected. Read the Press Release in German and French.

7.11.2021 – Programming with purpose: #herHACK Switzerland’s largest female hackathon sets an example for gender diversity. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

3.11.2021 – The Swiss Digital Initiative unveils the Digital Trust Label Seal. The Press Release is available in English.

October 2021

28.10.2021 – Digital Day 2021: 12 hours of livestream and over 150 events, online and across Switzerland. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

14.10.2021 – A Swiss Pavilion at GITEX Technology Week, one of the largest technology fairs in the Middle East. The Press Release is available in German and French.

13.10.2021 – The E-ID is inevitable – let’s move forward. The Press Release is available in German and French. Read the statement in German.

7.10.2021 – Wake-up call from pandemic: The Swiss want to improve digital skills. Press Release is available in German, French and Italian. Data is available in German.

September 2021

30.09.2021 – Finalists of the Digital Economy Award: Fintech industry booming, healthcare more digital as never before. The Press Release is available in German and French.

29.09.2021 – Kick Off for Digital Day 2021 – 6 weeks of inspiration start now! Press Release available in German, French and Italian.

15.09.2021 – Unacceptable solution for the Labour Law – flexible working for the ICT sector continues to be out of reach. digitalswitzerland calls for key points to be added to the insufficient proposal. The Press Release is available in German and French.

7.07.2021 – Possible approach for the creation of a trustworthy Distributed Ledger Technology ecosystem in Switzerland. The Press Release is available in German, French and English.

August 2021

31.08.2021 – Swiss Digital Day 2021: Digital skills for a digital future. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

24.08.2021 – 3rd Digital Gipfel Switzerland: International digital experts and
Swiss business representatives exchange ideas on digitalisation. The Press Release is available in German and French.

18.08.2021 – Security above speed: Yes to the e-voting proposal with a sense of moderation. The Press Release is available in German and French.

July 2021

13.07.2021 – Swiss Digital Day 2021: This is how the population is shaping Switzerland’s digital future. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

June 2021

24.06.2021 – Untapped potential for skilled workers among older employees. The Press Release is available in German and French. Survey available in German.

17.06.2021 – Digital Economy Award: Honouring Switzerland’s digital
Switzerland’s top digital achievements takes place. The Press Release is available in German and French.

2.06.2021 – digitalswitzerland confirms new president. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

May 2021

27.05.2021 – digitalswitzerland confirms new president. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

11.05.2021 – Switzerland-wide initiative strengthens digital skills of
employees. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

6.05.2021 – SDI Report: Labels and Certifications for the Digital World – Mapping the International Landscape. The Press Release is available in German, French & English.

April 2021

21.04.2021 – Switzerland provides new impulses for innovation: Privacy Icons wins award for the most impressive digitalisation project. The Press Release is available in German and French.

16.04.2021 – Sascha Zahnd becomes new president of digitalswitzerland. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

12.04.2021 – Cutting-edge Swiss technologies showcased at the digital HANNOVER MESSE 2021. The Press Release is available in German and French.

March 2021

7.03.2021 – The e-ID law is rejected. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

February 2021

17.02.2021 – Digital Economy Award enters 3rd round: Nomination phase started. The Press Release is available in German, French and Italian.

January 2021

14.01.2021 – The E-ID law stands for a modern Switzerland. The Press Release is available in German.

Missed any of our past newsletters? Don’t worry, we’ve gathered them into one easy place for you to enjoy catching up on. All that’s left to do is make a coffee and explore our round-up of projects, activities and the latest news and thinking on all things digital!

Subscribe here.

2022

September

8.9.2022 – We are attempting to break a world record and we need your help 🤩

1.9.2022 – Swiss Digital Days kick off on the Bundesplatz in Bern💥

August

25.8.2022 – Who can we trust?💭

18.8.2022 – You’re invited to Swiss Digital Days! 🚀✨

11.08.2022 – Digitalisation doesn’t take a summer break ☀️

July

28.7.2022 – 👩🏻‍⚕️ Are you taking care of your health?

14.7.2022 – How can we combat the skills shortage?

June

30.6.2022 – We made it on national TV 📺

16.6.2022 – A summer of opportunities

2.6.2022 – Is Switzerland future ready? 🔮

Mai

19.5.2022 – Don’t hide from Cybersecurity…

5.5.2022 – Digitalisation is a journey. Will you join us?

April

21.4.2022 – What’s in these buzz words? 👀

7.4.2022 – The best time to learn is now

March

24.3.2022 – On security in the digital space

10.3.2022 Digital transformation is yours to lead

February

24.2.2022 Meeting AI with critical curiosity

10.2.2022 Shape the digital space you inhabit

January

27.1.2022 Are you future-workforce ready? 🎓💻 

6.1.2022 – New Year, New Managing Director: Welcome Stefan Metzger! 💥

2021

December

16.12.2021 Celebrating all that was, is and will be ✨

November

18.11.201 We’re hiring! Change the trajectory of the digital future

October

21.10.2021 Digital utopia or dystopia? The choice is yours

September

23.9.202165% of children today will work in jobs that don’t exist today! 😳

August

19.8.2021 The internet doesn’t ‘work’ unless you do 😳

July

28.7.2021 – A new digital profession + ways to shape your career 🤓

8.7.2021 – Is endless growth a myth? 🧐

June

17.6.2021 – Growth opportunities: Awards, careers & financial support

May

31.5.2021 – This is one worth clicking: Annual report, free tickets & startup days

6.5.2021 – 10 trending startups, shape a new profession & events for you

April

16.4.2021 – A new President for digitalswitzerland, Leap Demo Day & more!

March

25.3.2021 – Coding Camps for kids & awards for educators

2.3.2021 – We’re hiring and discover our new look and feel

February

6.2.2021 – Young talents, promising startups and much, much more

January

29.1.2021 – Let’s make Switzerland a leading digital innovation hub!

7.1.2021 – New Year, same mission

GITEX Technology Week, the Arab Emirates’ most important trade fair in the electronics sector, will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 17 to 21 October.

Among the 4,500 exhibitors and over 750 startups, the SWISS Pavilion, organised by digitalswitzerland, Swisstech and T-LINK, will be showcasing over 12 companies.

We position Switzerland as a leader in digital technology and as an attractive place to do business. Part of our mission is to showcase the best Swiss-made innovation on the global stage. We are proud to send more than 10 promising Swiss organisations to this year’s Hannover Messe from 12 to 16 April.

Everything at a glance with the exhibitor flyer.

Live Streaming Swiss Innovation:

The future of manufacturing

Interview with Martin Hirzel, Swissmem President:

13 April 11:30 – 11:55

Livestream link

AI / Machine Learning

Interview with Timothy O’Hear, Co-Founder impactIA:

13 April 15:00 -15:25

Livestream link

Robotics

Interview with Prof. Dr. Siegwart, Founding Co-Director Wyss Zurich:

13 April: 16:00-16:25

Livestream link

Swiss innovation and research

Interview with Beatrice Scarioni, Vice-Presidency for EPFL Innovation Park:

14 April 11:30-11:55

Livestream link

The future of manufacturing:

Interview with Martin Hirzel, Swissmem President:

14 April 15:00-15:25

Livestream link

AI / Machine Learning

Interview with Timothy O’Hear, Co-Founder impactIA

15 April 11:30-11:55

Livestream link

Swiss innovation and research

Interview with Beatrice Scarioni, Vice-Presidency for EPFL Innovation Park:

15 April 15:00-15:25  

Livestream link

How Swiss organisations foster global innovation

The area of manufacturing is undergoing massive changes led by Swiss organisations, innovations and thinkers. What is the future of manufacturing? Leading Swiss organisations provide answers to questions around the following topics:

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Watch more videos of the series in our Hannover Messe Playlist.

The Swiss Digital Initiative (SDI) is in the process of creating the Digital Trust Label (DTL), a label that denotes the trustworthiness of a digital service in clear visual plain non-technical language. It represents a mark of confidence that a service provider takes its promise of meeting consumer expectations seriously.

The DTL is based on a controllable and auditable list of guarantees which a service will provide. The SDI is now conducting an open public consultation on the latest version of the label and welcomes all constructive feedback, inputs and comments until 9 April 2021.

Please find more information on how to be a contributor to the DTL.

digitalswitzerland’s aim is strengthen Switzerland’s position as a leading innovation hub. This includes supporting a world-class start-up ecosystem that creates an environment where entrepreneurs grow and scale. In second part of this blog series, Jan Friedli, Project Manager at digitalswitzerland dives deeper into the trend of Superclusters.

Sharpening our understanding

In the first blog post, we discussed the growing trend towards hyper concentration of innovation activity, which has fuelled the rise of so-called ‘Superclusters’.

Analysing emerging research into STATION F in France, this helped to understand what exactly brought 1,000 startups into one building in less than two years. The economic impact that followed has been unprecedented, and has gained worldwide praise. Many governments are now looking to replicate this success, but they share a difficulty.

The term ‘Supercluster’ remains a very abstract concept. The question is how can we conceptualise a Supercluster? And, what exactly makes them so effective compared to traditional ecosystems?

How can we conceptualise a Supercluster?

The term itself may suggest that Superclusters are a radically new and unlike anything we have previously encountered. According to research, that is not quite accurate. 

Superclusters are not new but rather an extreme form of regional clusters, which have been around for quite some time. Recall the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in London, ‘Silicon Valley’ in San Francisco, or ‘Silicon Wadi’ in Tel Aviv.

At its core, these regional clusters have two things in common: (1) they operate in the same general area of geographical proximity and (2) they have an established social network across firms.

Superclusters, in contrast, take a leap forward on these two dimensions. They bet on (1) an extreme concentration of innovation in a single location and on (2) a closely-knit community of entrepreneurs, investors, and corporates. If STATION F is any indication, the bet is paying off.

Despite the successes, we have yet to conceptualise Superclusters in any meaningful way. Such a conceptualisation of Superclusters is essential if we hope to build them elsewhere. I argue that Superclusters need to be understood as a system of several interconnected parts that they provide to their startups, which are called ‘Capitals’.

As depicted in the below framework, I propose an analytical distinction between six different types of Capitals including human, financial, political, built, cultural and social capital – all of which are desirable for startups to have.

In summary, Superclusters are an extreme form of regional clusters, focusing on an extreme concentration of innovation in a single location and a closely-knit community of entrepreneurs, investors, and corporates. They are best understood as a system of six interconnected ‘Capitals’, each distinctly valuable to startups.

What exactly makes Superclusters so effective?

All other things assumed equal – a startup becomes more successful when it accumulates Capitals. For example, if a startup gains credibility through the Supercluster, it accumulates Political Capital. Similarly, if a startup learns from co-located peers, it accumulates Human Capital. 

The idea that accumulating Capitals is beneficial is hardly groundbreaking. However, what is astonishing is the way in which the Capitals are absorbed by startups. 

The empirical evidence suggests that when certain Capitals are gained, it increases the likelihood that others will also follow. For example, once a startup has Social Capital, it can more easily access Financial Capital, which makes it easier to access Human Capital, and so forth. Consequently, startups undergo a process of ‘success building on success’ – a virtuous cycle that accelerates growth.

To illustrate such a virtuous cycle, consider the following experience from the Co-Founder of a Mobility Startup:

Critics may contend that it is quite possible to attain these Capitals outside of Superclusters, and thereby trigger a process of ‘success building on success’. They are correct. This happens all the time in traditional innovation ecosystems that we have all become accustomed to.

But virtuous cycles are all about intensity – and that is the ace that Superclusters have up their sleeve.

Recall that Superclusters bet on an extreme concentration of innovation in a single location and on a closely-knit community of entrepreneurs, investors, and corporates. This makes Capitals both highly-centralized and highly-accessible.

This high-level of integration across Capitals is their defining characteristic.

Because of this integration, the virtuous cycles that startups experience are much more intense in Superclusters than anywhere else. In other words: startups grow much faster because they can accumulate more Capitals in a shorter time. 

In summary, Superclusters are tremendously effective because they offer the prospect of intense virtuous cycles that cannot be rivalled by an innovation ecosystem.

Implications for Switzerland – Are Swiss Superclusters on the Horizon?

As emphasised, the emergence of Superclusters indicate a new trend towards hyper-concentration of innovation activity. Given their continued success, governments are beginning to respond.

How can Switzerland take action?

For the deeptech nation of Switzerland, this has two practical implications.

First, we must strengthen our existing sector-specific clusters. We are privileged to have a range of vibrant tech hotspots from MedTech in Neuchâtel to BioTech in Basel to FinTech in Zug. The research indicates that social capital plays the most important role in starting or accelerating virtuous growth cycles for startups. In the short-term, our limited resources are best invested in the social infrastructure of the respective clusters to create more connections between regional entrepreneurs, experts and venture capitalists.

Second, we must start building our own version of a Supercluster. Even in the digital age, the physical location continues to matter a great deal. The fact that 1,000 startups have moved to a single building in Paris in less than two years shows us this beyond any doubt. If we want to attract the next 1,000 of the most promising entrepreneurs, we must give them a reason to come.

To accomplish this, we must first learn how other Superclusters got started, namely by talking to lots of startups about their needs and defining clearly what the new community stands for. But far more importantly, we need to shed our Swiss mentality of modesty, and instead gather our courage to think big. 

Of course, there are promising projects underway. For instance, the Switzerland Innovation Parks (including the EPFL Innovation Park or Biopôle) or the Impact Hub’s new Hub in Zurich (planned for 2024). These are all pioneering efforts in their own regard. With such projects, we are undoubtedly moving in the right direction – but can we afford to be bolder and faster? After all, the shift from Ecosystems to Supercluster is an imperative for the digital age, and it’s happening right now. As the most innovative country in the world, we have the ideal conditions to build Superclusters – so long as we find our courage.

Where do we go from here?

The aim of these two blogs is to highlight this new trend and start a conversation. Because it concerns many stakeholders, different perspectives are needed to paint the whole picture. 

We want to provide you with the opportunity to share your thoughts. So the third blog of this series belongs to you. It will crowd-source perspectives on this topic and serve as an open forum to showcase yours. 

Navigate here to take this chance to shape the conversation around Superclusters!

Missed part one – read more here and stay tuned for part three!

In the meantime, please feel free reach out to our Collaborative Innovation team who are busy working to empower organisations to create impactful ecosystems for innovation or find out more about our work in Startup Ecosystem.

The mission of digitalswitzerland is to strengthen Switzerland’s position as a leading innovation hub. This includes fostering a world-class start-up ecosystem that helps our entrepreneurs grow and scale. In this three-part blog series, Jan Friedli, Project Manager at digitalswitzerland takes a closer look at the contemporary phenomenon of Superclusters.

The digital future is built regionally

The trend of spatial concentration of economic activity, which characterised the industrial era, is continuing well into the digital age. This is particularly astonishing for digital startups, who deliver value digitally and whose teams can work from anywhere. 

Intuitively, one would expect that the new online tools – to distribute digital innovations and to facilitate communications – would end the spatial concentration we’ve seen during the industrial era. All digital startups from Switzerland to Singapore should be able to compete seamlessly in a single global marketplace.

Paradoxically, reality contradicts this expectation. The digital future is being built regionally. Digital startups, in their thousands, are flocking to clusters. They go to places like the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in London, ‘Silicon Valley’ in San Francisco, or ‘Silicon Wadi’ in Tel Aviv – all of which have been expanding rapidly since the turn of the millennium.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Simply congregating in broader regional ecosystems is not enough anymore. Startups are increasingly looking to come together under the very same roof.

Superclusters are born

This desire for hyper concentration of innovation activity has fuelled the rise of so-called ‘Superclusters’. While their designs vary widely, most Superclusters allow entrepreneurs to work in co-working spaces and provide an abundance of in-house resources and funding opportunities – often in the same building. Consequently, they are commonly referred to as ‘schools’ or ‘factories’ for startups.

To illustrate, let’s take a look at STATION F – arguably the most important Supercluster in Europe. When in 2016, an abandoned train depot in East Paris was remodelled, the world’s largest startup facility was born, stretching 51,000m2 across a ‘share’, ‘create’ and ‘chill’ zone.

Source: STATION F

Under one roof, the self-proclaimed ‘startup campus’ hosts over 3,000 desk spaces, 100 venture capital funds alongside 30 industry-specific accelerators from large corporates including Facebook, Microsoft, L’Oréal, and adidas. The campus admits startups into a fixed-term programme, which features mentorship and educational components, with a single goal: produce world-class startups. STATION F officially opened its doors in June of 2017, after being unveiled by French President Emmanuel Macron.

In less than two years, over 1,000 startups have joined from all over the world.

Source: STATION F

Seen as a symbol of Europe’s tech renaissance, the unparalleled growth of STATION F has earned it global praise. It has established itself as the heart of the French tech-innovation scene – all with an impressive economic impact: French startups raised $4.8bn in VC funding in 2019, up nearly threefold since 2015.

As this example shows, the innovation capabilities of Superclusters and the investment appetite from VCs are too astonishing to ignore. Policy makers, academia and practitioners have started to pay attention.

Research into Superclusters is emerging

There is no doubt that something extraordinary happens in Superclusters, yet what exactly goes on has long remained mysterious.

In 2020, I committed myself to shed light on this contemporary phenomenon. Via the London School of Economics (LSE), I conducted a comprehensive study about the world’s biggest startup campus – France’s STATION F. 

Over multiple months, I gathered empirical data by interviewing numerous startup founders – in industries ranging from Agriculture to Advertising to Aerospace – with the aim of understanding these ‘Superclusters’ from the ground up. 

In light of the practical relevance, the research was chosen as the Best Dissertation of my graduating class at LSE, and is currently under consideration for publishing.

While the Full Study is academic in nature, it provides an initial answer to some of the most pressing questions on Superclusters, such as: Why are startups so eager to join? How can we conceptualise a Supercluster? And, what exactly makes them so effective?

The first question will be discussed in the first blog post, while the latter two questions will be picked up in the second post, where I will also conclude with practical implications for Switzerland.

Why are startups so eager to join Superclusters?

Let’s first understand the appeal of Superclusters. When over 1,000 startups come together under one roof in less than two years, we can be sure something astonishing is happening. But, what exactly drove all these startups to undertake the considerable effort to relocate to Superclusters?

Source: STATION F

Primarily, startups join Superclusters to amplify their growth. According to the study, 91% of entrepreneurs value the centralised nature of Superclusters, which allows for an equally concentrated selection of resources and co-located stakeholders (e.g. VCs). Startups thus have better access to funding, talent, and resources that they would elsewhere.

Additionally, startups benefit from peer-to-peer assistance for tackling ‘common challenges’ (e.g. setting up a legal entity, tracking customers). At STATION F, 83% of entrepreneurs contend that mature startups are willing, and even feel obliged, to help less experienced startups with such problems. Being in the same building – and within walking distance from other entrepreneurs – enables this knowledge exchange to flourish.

«The idea of STATION F is to have everything in one place. Everything that a startup needs. […] Your lawyer, your VC, your mentor – everybody’s here!» – Aerospace Startup

«It goes back to the principle of, you know, 90% of your problems have been solved by other entrepreneurs.» – Smart City Startup

«We thrive because we help one another and because we are one desk away. […] When my CTO has questions, he walks over to the other CTOs.» – Talent & Recruiting Startup

Secondly, startups join Superclusters to attain corporate legitimacy. According to the research, 75% of entrepreneurs feel that the association alone validates and legitimises their companies, which opens doors to potential customers and venture funding. In fact, 41% of entrepreneurs claim that clients and investors actively seek them out precisely because they are part of a Supercluster.

«For your investors, you need to be able to grow quickly. And for customers, you need to appear as a credible partner. And being here is important for both because you appear serious.» – Agriculture Startup

«In the past, we spent our days in the tube to go meet clients in their offices. Here at STATION F, we managed to have a lot of them coming to us. […] The clients were not so interested in us, but they came because of STATION F.» – Talent & Recruiting Startup

«When you’re here, you have the STATION F label and it simply opens doors. […] It’s easier to get in touch with VCs. It’s a quality label.» – Mobility Startup

Thirdly, startups join Superclusters to tap into the collective momentum. 66% of entrepreneurs believe that the working atmosphere has an energising effect. Specifically, the success of other entrepreneurs (e.g. completing a funding round) helps entrepreneurs envision their own success and creates an implicit expectation that they are eager to fulfil. It’s widely held that this ‘momentum’ can only be experienced in Superclusters where startups work side-by-side. Additionally, 42% of entrepreneurs value the emotional support from the community because building a startup is a lonesome journey full of uncertainty and stress.

«I felt that energy in the room just by virtue of being physically next to these startups. […] This feeling of innovation and of hustling.» – Supply Chain Startup

«One startup – just right across me – raised some six million euros. Just right next to me! […] I think that really helps because you can foresee yourself. Like, in one or two years, I might be like that.» – Travel Startup

«Startups are lonely. And when you’re in communities, you remove this element of it. You feel like you are part of one big team, even though you’re a group of many small teams.» – Smart City Startup

In summary, startups join Superclusters to amplify their growth, to attain corporate legitimacy, and to tap into the collective momentum. For these reasons, 1,000 startups have come together under one roof in less than two years. This, alongside the economic impact that followed, is unprecedented.

Why is this important?

It would be wrong to assume that Superclusters – such as STATION F – are isolated exceptions. On the contrary, they indicate a new trend towards hyper-concentration of innovation activity. A new imperative for the digital age. Their continued success simply underscores this fact. Places everywhere – from Helsinki to Lisbon to Hamburg – have recognised this new imperative and have begun building their Superclusters.

Before discussing the ramification for Switzerland, we need to first sharpen our understanding by asking ourselves: How can we conceptualise a Supercluster? And, what exactly makes them so effective?

In the second part of this three-part series, I will outline my perspective on these two questions, and conclude with practical implications for Switzerland.