Kickstart Accelerator is one of the Europe’s largest multi-corporate, zero equity accelerators with the goal of placing the Swiss innovation ecosystem on the global map of entrepreneurship. For 11 weeks it brings 30 of the most promising international startups and intrapreneurial teams to Zurich, where they are provided with coworking space, direct access to over 15 leading corporate partners, top-level mentors and experts and a chance to win prize money. In its first edition in 2016, 6 proof-of-concepts were successfully initiated, over 4 million CHF raised by the participating startups and +120 publications covered the program, including Financial Times, Bloomberg and Forbes.
Kickstart Accelerator is an initiative by digitalswitzerland, a cross-industry association, which aims at making Switzerland a leading digital innovation hub in Europe. The program is operated by Impact Hub Zürich, which is part of the largest network of entrepreneurship and innovation centers across the globe.
Mentors are at the heart of Kickstart Accelerator. We think of mentoring as building a relationship with someone who accompanies and inspires you along your journey. Being entrepreneurs themselves and having a proven track record of building their own company, they are familiar with the challenges startups are facing. The mentor’s role is to have open ears for startup, leverage their networks and share relevant learnings from their own experience. To ensure full commitment, mentors are financially compensated for their work and we do hope that long-lasting relationships will be established between startups and mentors.
In addition to their mentor, startups have access to a wide network of industry experts for bookable 1:1 sessions on relevant topics: Fundraising, Product Development, Admin, Marketing & Sales, Business Development and many more.
Global partners offer a chance to do a Proof of Concept (PoC) with the startups in the program. That is, together with the mentors and Corporate Partners representatives, you can evaluate if and what kind of pilot activity has the most potential for working together with the corporates. PoCs may already start during the 11-week program or they are planned for after the program.
In addition to our mentors and experts Kickstart works with leading executives in the field of our verticals. These top executives made up of business leaders and researchers are working with vertical cohorts and startups.
The 11 weeks acceleration program will prepare you for the final demo day where you’ll have the opportunity to present your business to a wide audience of investors, executives and other key players of the Swiss startup ecosystem.
Key Dates & Events
Feb 1 // Applications open
Apr 30 //Applications close / Deadline
Jun 22 – 23 // Bootcamp
Jun 30 // Startups selected
Sep 4 // Accelerator Program Kick-off
Sep 6 // Partner Fair & Presentations
Sep 7 // Opening ceremony
Sep 27 // CEO & Founders dinner
Nov 17 // Final Demo Day
5 Verticals on 2 Campuses
In 2017 Kickstart Accelerator will focus on innovation areas that Switzerland has a competitive advantage in. We are looking for startups that are working on future and emerging technologies in and around the areas of FinTech, Food, Robotics & Intelligent Systems, Smart Cities and Healthcare. All verticals will be running at the same time from the beginning of September until the middle of November 2017 in two campuses – Zurich and Basel. Healthcare vertical startups will be working in Basel campus leveraging great infrastructure offered by our partners. Startups from other verticals will be working under one roof in Zurich enabling them to benefit from interdisciplinary exchanges going beyond their vertical.
Requirements & Application Process
Applications are welcome from startups based anywhere in the world or within Switzerland, provided they meet these requirements:
- Aspiration to become a leader in your sector/industry
- Minimum viable product or working prototype
- Strong core team
- International mindset
- Desire to scale and learn
- Have not previously won our sister initiative Venture Kick or are currently in this program
As well as a promising business idea in one of the following sectors:
- Robotics & Intelligent Systems
- Smart Cities
With Zurich as a global financial center, Switzerland is well positioned to play an important role within the worldwide FinTech ecosystem. The Kickstart Accelerator will focus specifically on applications of distributed ledger & smart contracts technology, innovations in everyday banking & wealth management, innovations in digital identity, privacy & security and insurtech.APPLY HERE
Kickstart Accelerator is looking for disruptive business models in the food tech space. With Switzerland being the domicile of some of the world’s leading food companies we are interested in radical food innovation in markets with a high growth potential. Kickstart is inviting startups from the whole range of the food tech space to apply: CPG, Food production & processing, services, supply chain innovation, food waste, sustainability or SaaS to mention a few.APPLY HERE
The Smart Cities vertical focuses on building smarter, safer and more resilient cities by improving civil services and infrastructure in cities. Switzerland’s cities rank highly for their standards of living, Kickstart Accelerator’s aim is to stimulate innovation to help cities sustain the quality of life of their citizens by providing a platform where start-ups transition new ideas into viable growing businesses that deliver high-impact solutions for progressive city needs.
We are looking for innovative companies with know-how and ideas for future solutions in areas such as: mobility, healthy living, building, energy, etc. and that contribute to the attractiveness of the city, make it more environmental friendly, lead to efficiency increases or higher social inclusiveness.APPLY HERE
Are you working on a game-changing venture in the field of machine learning? Does your drone startup need validation and feedback, both on a technical as well as on the business level? Get access to research labs in robotics and machine learning at Switzerland’s top-notch universities and meet industry leading corporations with crucial R&D activities in and around Zurich.
From big data to robotics, from artificial intelligence to machine learning – we are looking for disruptive technologies and applications solving environmental challenges as well as improving the way machines and humans interact with each other.APPLY HERE
In order to tap into unexplored innovation potential, Kickstart Accelerator has entered into a partnership with BaseLaunch (initiated and operated by BaselArea.swiss) to offer a healthcare-specific vertical. BaseLaunch strives to create the next generation of ground-breaking healthcare companies in the life sciences hotspot Basel.APPLY HERE
Participating teams need to be willing to send at least one founder to Switzerland to participate during the whole time of the program. The selection of participating startups will be based on three main criteria:
Team: Business & technological knowledge, diverse & innovative and with strong entrepreneurial mindset.
Traction: Minimum viable product or working prototype with first test users. Having revenue is an advantage.
Potential: Promising and innovative ideas with potential to disrupt industries and sectors.
The selection funnel consists of two stages:
Screening of all applications incl. online Q&A and selection for bootcamp participation
Bootcamp in Switzerland and selection for Kickstart Accelerator 2017 participation
We our partners
Outreach supported by
If you represent a magazine, newspaper or another kind of media entity, and you want to contact us or if you have any other media related inquiries, please get in touch:
Press Coverage & Releases
- I would also like to say a big THANK YOU to the amazing team that made these 11 weeks one of the best periods of my personal and professional life. Thank your for your help, guidance and support.Eris Dhionis SakoCTO, BOTA Systems
- Kickstart Accelerator made it possible to get PoC’s with Migros & Coop, the two biggest retailers in Switzerland. This allows us to improve our product and get it ready to market much faster. Being the winner of the Food Vertical makes us really proud. Thank you for this great journey.Aron KenesseyCo-Founder Faitron
- Kickstart Accelerator provided the right environment to grow our seed into a small plant. We are very grateful for this amazing experience and all the support. Thank you!Malik El BayCEO at modum.io
- The Kickstart-Accelerator was a great opportunity to learn a lot about the startup world and to interact with inspiring and innovative young entrepreneurs from all over the world. Being part of this 3-month program was a chance for Swiss Life to support the fresh ideas and mindset of these young people during an intense mentoring process while building valuable relationships that will carry on beyond the Kickstart Accelerator.Beat MarbachCTO, Swiss Life Schweiz
- Having a special food vertical inside is unique. It provided us with amazing support of experts in this specific industry. Both Kickstart Accelerator and Zurich gave us the necessary tools and environment to successfully launch the operations here & to boost our start up.Wladimir d'HarcourtCEO, Dalou
- Kickstart has definitely accelerated our business in those 11 weeks- getting in touch with the key people to validate our B2B use cases, accessing supportive mentors and experts in the food industry, and keeping us in the loop with the whole entrepreneur ecosystem in Switzerland. With the cool & well-kept funky space, the collaborative environment, and the lasting friendships we have built, joining Kickstart was a very wonderful chapter in FoPo's starting phase, and was truly enriching for me as an entrepreneur.Gerald Perry MarinCFO at FoPo
- So, Kickstart was an eye opener for both my CTO and me. For my CTO it was his first time out of Rwanda so he got the chance to see how things were handled in the western world. For me, I got the chance to work with a great mentor of a high profile as his was from an investment bank, and helped to structure mergims; but also I met with high profile people with whom a connection has been created and no thought they will help my startup to accelerate. This was must do experience for any startup looking to shift in the next gear.Louis Antoine MuhireCEO of Mergims
- Kickstart Accelerator offers start-ups the unique opportunity to benefit from the know-how and network of a global corporation. And for us at AXA it's another way of entering into collaborations with start-ups that can support our business model with the possibilities offered by new technologies or innovative ideas.Carola WahlHead of Transformation & Market Management, AXA Winterthur
- The word "accelerate" is an accurate description of what happens in the Kickstart Accelerator. We are amazed by all that we have learnt from the mentors, partners, investors and the KSA team in the 11 weeks . Every morning you walk in the door, you are surrounded by people who love to roll up their sleeves and get stuff done.Andy XueCEO at Surong 360
- Kickstart Accelerator is one of the best things that have happened to EntoCube. Dedicated mentorship, world class masterclasses, access to the most interesting corporations and no strings attached funding without losing any equity - the deal is almost too good to be true.Perttu KarjalainenCEO & Co-Founder EntoCube
- Swisscom is proud to be a founding partner of Kickstart Accelerator. The program builds a bridge between worldclass start-ups and major companies as well as the Swiss Start-up ecosystem. By giving them access to the relevant network, experts and mentors we help them boost their business model. For outstanding start-ups who work in fields with strategic relevance for Swisscom, the Accelerator can even be a door-opener for a Proof of Concept or investment. Thus, we accompany young talents on their way to become a successful company.Roger Wüthrich-HasenböhlerChief Digital Officer Swisscom