Local and global connectedness is one of the success factors of a startup ecosystem. This is especially evident looking at a mature ecosystem like the Silicon Valley, which boasts a high level of interconnectivity on a local and global scale (Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2019, Startup Genome). The better connected and transparent the local ecosystem, through the support of investors, experts and founders-helping-founders, the more agile and mature it becomes. Naturally, global connectedness is crucial to scale solutions on an international level and stay at the forefront. These are the two main challenges the Swiss ecosystem needs to tackle: unite and grow its local connectedness and its global presence. Most of the leading ecosystems arise around big cities like San Francisco, Beijing and London. Most of them have a bigger population than Switzerland. We should not compete as individual cities like Lausanne, Basel and Zurich. We should compete as one nation! Already a well-established brand for quality, chocolate, and beautiful landscapes but not yet for its fast-evolving Swiss-made DeepTech startups. This is something that needs to change, and we need to change it together – as Switzerland.

How to brand a nation?

Israel is a great example of what is possible when a country succeeds to connect locally. With a similar population size as Switzerland, it has managed to brand itself as a startup nation and combine its hubs of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Beer-Sheva under one flag. Israel started this process over 30 years ago and has a 15-year head start on Switzerland. It is interesting to see how most people know and promote the story of the startup nation and its main success stories like Mobileye, Soda Stream, and Netafim. And it encompasses even technical B2B startups that are also rightfully promoted as success stories. In Switzerland, we are not there yet. According to a recent study, the best-known Swiss startups are FarmyAmorana and Doppelleu (Startup Studie 2019, Rod). Unicorns and workhorses like GetyourguideMindmazeAvaloq and Sensirion are hardly known. For the world to hear about amazing deep tech startups still to come, we need to expand the narrative beyond chocolate and mountains!

Connecting Swiss-wide – The Swiss Accelerator Network

Part of digitalswitzerland’s role is as a national platform for the Swiss startup ecosystem. We help connect the various hubs within Switzerland and strengthen the connections both within and outside the country.

For example, almost three years ago, digitalswitzerland initiated Kickstart Accelerator – at a time when there were hardly any accelerator programmes. Fortunately, this has changed over the last years. Kickstart Accelerator now operates independently and digitalswitzerland founded the Swiss Accelerator Network last year. The goal is to bring together the best accelerator programmes in Switzerland. Today, over 11 accelerators work together, exchange knowledge and strengthen connections between the different hubs. In May, we jointly held the Swiss accelerator stand at the Startup Days event and also welcomed 41 scale-ups to the Market Entry Bootcamp.

What is yet to come

The Swiss Accelerator Network is an excellent illustration of how we can work together on a national level and showcases the role digitalswitzerland plays in the Swiss startup ecosystem. We strengthen and expand ties in the Swiss ecosystem and foster its maturity. There is still a long way to go, and on this path, we must begin to speak more and more as one nation.