South Summit truly does not disappoint as a global innovation platform that connects top innovators from Southern Europe and Latin America to the world´s most powerful investors and corporates looking for the next big thing.

There were over 650 investors, 3’500 start-ups and an astonishing 1.4 bn raised by all the finalists. A few exciting start-ups that caught our attention were onTruck, a Madrid-based on-demand logistics platform that connects businesses to road freight carriers, Spotahome, a platform for mid- to long-term rentals of fully-furnished rooms, and the pitch winner, Amadix ColoFast, inventor of an innovative blood-based test for early colorectal cancer detection.

In addition to exploring the latest technologies, the connections made at such a leading conference offer great opportunities to nurture and grow relationships with key international players, start-ups, investors and corporates alike.

The secret sauce of European start-ups

With big players like the US and China, Europe sometimes gets forgotten. The heterogenous and comparatively small domestic markets of European countries make early growth more challenging. However, it is exactly this struggle that pushes European start-ups to think global early in their existence. This, with the cross-cultural understanding gathered through a shared European history enables entrepreneurial teams to be particularly successful in managing diverse teams, and growing in more complex market conditions.

Lukasz Gadowski, founder of Delivery Hero (€ 4.4bn IPO, Jun 2017) explained during a panel on “Building Companies of Scale from Europe” that not only is scalability of the business model the most important aspect for growth, but that it’s time to transform this weakness of fractured and small domestic markets, and start using it as an advantage. European start-ups are born to scale and go global early. If we embrace this, and become fast and effective at international scaling, we are optimistic that Europe will provide its fair share of future unicorns.

The Spanish Ecosystem – A bridge to Latin America

The Spanish ecosystem is a gateway to Latin America’s market of 626 million people (2018) with not only inspiringly energetic, positive and creative talent, but also great innovation, start-ups and investment opportunities.

In 2017 alone, investment in Spain’s Tech start-ups grew by 45%[1]. After London, Berlin and Paris, Barcelona is ranked 4thas Europe’s biggest start-up and innovation hub, ahead of Stockholm[2].

It is increasingly clear how maturing start-up ecosystems evolve into start-up and innovation hubs. Collaboration between start-ups, corporates, investors and academia is key to the further development, power and success of a hub. In Switzerland, we can, for example, see Kickstart Accelerator and digitalswitzerland pushing the boundaries of Start-up – Corporate collaboration, increasing the potential for innovation, accelerating POC-to-market, investment and venture scaling. It is clear why for many start-ups in Spain and other countries, Switzerland offers very attractive possibilities. The quality of Swiss products (and chocolate!), a highly skilled workforce, a reliable legal and political environment, growing VC/CVC money in the market and ever easier processes make it particularly attractive to establish an HQ or operations in Switzerland. Not to mention favorable corporate and individual taxation.

In addition, for Swiss start-ups, expanding abroad, and scaling globally from Europe is a key for growth and success. This creates very attractive possibilities for investors and corporates to partner with, and invest in acceleration and scale-up ventures. We expect to see many more in the future.

What are you waiting for? Let’s go global!

One of our main takeaways from South Summit was definitely Europe’s secret sauce. Our heterogenous and cross-cultural understanding, combined with the need to go international and scale globally early on, truly gives us a unique advantage. Instead of trying to become the next Silicon Valley, we should rather focus on how to turn this competitive advantage into growth and sustainable impact.

What are we waiting for? Let’s go global, together!

To learn more about the latest in strategic #innovation and #collaboration, #DeepTech, #Startup, #Corporate Acceleration and #Investments, follow our activities on @digitalswitzerland

Daniel Ginter, Senior Director Corporate Enablement @digitalswitzerland

Matthias Zwingli, Project Manager Startup Enablement @digitalswitzerland