Switzerland’s largest innovation accelerator is looking for Spanish startups

- April 5, 2018

Switzerland’s largest innovation acceleration program is looking for innovative Spanish startups, among others, for the third edition of its accelerator program.

The Kickstart Accelerator focuses on deep technologies – science and engineering driven technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Blockchain and others – across different sectors, bringing together key actors in these fields, according to a press release.

Late-stage Spanish startups with promise will meet with partners such as ​Credit Suisse and ​Swisscom regarding financial technology. Retailers ​Coop and ​Migros want to work with startups in the realm of retail and food; while universities such as ​ETH Zurich and ​University of Zurich will put their efforts towards learning technology and education.

The ​City of Zurich and ​AXA Winterthur give their support to proof of concepts and pilot projects in the field of “Smart Cities.”

The goal of the Kickstart Accelerator is to get pilot projects off the ground and help to grow successful partnerships between the participating startups and the institutions and partner companies.

switzerland accelerator spanish startups

Katka Letzing

​”The first two programs resulted in over 30 ambitious proof-of-concepts (PoCs) and collaborations,” ​says Kickstart Co-Lead Katka Letzing.​

“In our view, genuine and sustainable innovation is only possible through cooperation across sector and company boundaries. That’s why we are focusing even more on these partnerships this year.”

Startups already in the later-stages who are preparing to accelerate their market access, business models, and technology with the help of these collaborations can apply for the program now. Prospective startups can apply until May 27.

Thirty startups will be able to take their innovations in the fields of ​EdTech & Learning,​ ​FinTech & Crypto,​ ​Food & Retail Tech as well as ​Smart Cities & Infrastructure to the next level this fall in Zurich.

A two-day “Selection Bootcamp” will take place on July 9 and 10.

The 60 most promising startups out of the applicant pool are invited to pitch in front of a jury of experts. Thirty of them will make it into the program, which consists of a one-week Planning Sprint in September and an intense six-week Collaboration Sprint from October 1 to November 9 at the innovation and collaboration space K​raftwerk​ located in the centre of Zurich.”

According to the website, “Kickstart Accelerator bridges the gap between startups, corporates, cities, foundations and universities to accelerate deep tech innovation. Science and engineering driven technologies have the potential to solve humanity’s biggest challenges.”

“They require unprecedented collaboration between powerful established organizations and the most audacious entrepreneurs out there. Each year, Kickstart brings around 100 such entrepreneurs to Switzerland to collaborate with key players for proof-of-concepts, pilot projects and other innovation partnerships. ”

During the accelerator, prospective Spanish startups will live and work in Zurich while working with the partners to implement collaborative projects, and scaling their business at the same time. Mentors and partners will be provided from the Swiss startup ecosystem, prospective startups will take part in collaborative workshops, and they will each be bolstered by a 10,000 Swiss frank stipend. Kickstarter charges no fees or equity to take part in the program.

The workspace in which the accelerator will be held is called “Kraftwerk.” Kraftwerk is a former power station that has been converted into a work space with sprint rooms, an events hall, and a café.

“Kraftwerk enables new and efficient partnerships between established companies and startups who, together and across indus­tries, develop inno­vative and sustainable solutions for the challenges of digital transformation,” according to the Kraftwerk website. The workshop spaces include 8 shipping containers that have been converted into meeting rooms that can hold up to 20 people each. The events space is a huge hall with a  stage that can hold up to 200 people.

To enter the accelerator, a prospective Spanish startup must meet several requirements: a product or technology that is available (preferably with patent), a previous investment that has been secured, the venture must be ready for collaboration with Kickstart partners, at least one of the founders or senior executives must be present during key events (Final Selection, Collaboration (COL) Planning Sprint, CEOs & Founders Dinner, Opening and Closing Ceremony, key partnership negotiations), and at least one team member must be present during the whole Collaboration (COL) Sprint.

In addition, the startup must have a promising product in one of the following four sectors: EdTech & Learning, FinTech & Crypto, Food & Retail Tech, or Smart Cities & Infrastructure.

For EdTech, Kickstarter is looking for “startups, young tech companies and university spin-offs in blockchain, digital certification/badges/identities, computer vision, 3-D environments, content data analytics and APIs, AI networks, and lean platforms that are eager to apply insights from the learning sciences and affirm proof of concept with our partner organizations to accelerate Zurich’s emerging EdTech hub.”

In the realm of FinTech and Crypto, Kickstarter wants, “startups that can provide cutting-edge solutions to Swiss multinational banks, venture capital and industry partners. Topics include: Open banking, distributed ledger and smart contract technologies, wealth management and crypto.”

For Food and Retail Tech, Kickstarter is looking or “radical food and retail innovation in markets with a high growth potential. Kickstart is inviting startups from the whole range of the food and retail tech space to apply: health and nutrition, packaging, (Home) Delivery Systems, retail technologies and solutions (incl. food & grocery delivery), sustainability, or traceability to mention a few.”

And for Smart Cities and Infrastructure, Kickstarter wants, “innovative companies with know-how and ideas for future solutions in areas such as: mobility, healthy living, building construction, energy, etc. and that contribute to the attractiveness of the city, make it more environmentally friendly, lead to efficiency increases and higher social inclusiveness.”

To date, no Spanish startups have yet been featured in the Kickstarter Accelerator. This is an opportunity for Spanish startups to show their mettle on the European stage.

Jamie Rosenfield

James Rosenfield is a traveler, writer, and history buff. After obtaining a degree in International Affairs from the University of Colorado in Boulder, he decided to high-tail it from the USA to Colombia in search of adventure. He has a passion for skiing, live music, and speaking Argentinian "Castellano" with bemused Colombians.