Kickstart Programme Launches 9th Iteration to Drive Collaborative Solutions and Investments

Kickstart Innovation, a European open innovation platform, has launched its ninth programme. Annually, Kickstart attracts global startups that offer solutions to significant societal challenges, achieved through partnerships with major industry players.

These partners include AXA, Coop, Swisscom, La Mobilière, PostFinance, Sanitas, the City of Zurich, Canton de Vaud, and MSD. This year, IKEA Switzerland and Romande Energie have also joined the list.

To date, Kickstart has supported over 450 startups and facilitated more than 310 deals in the form of pilot projects and commercial collaborations (details available on our Collaboration map). The alumni, hailing from over 80 countries, have raised over CHF 2.5 billion in investments. Notable alumni include Planted, KernTec, Neustark, and AAAcell, among others.

“Start-ups increasingly need support in order to grow successfully”, explains Katka Letzing, Co-Founder and CEO of Kickstart Innovation. “Rising interest rates, increasing regulatory requirements, and the shortage of skilled labor are challenges that need to be overcome. Partnerships and target-oriented expert opinions on strategy and further development can be helpful and create new business opportunities. We also help organizations in the public and private sectors not to work in silos and make innovation that matters.”

The goal of Kickstart’s programme is to facilitate deals in the form of pilots or commercial collaborations between later-stage startups and established institutions who are looking to scale their products and services, find fresh revenue streams and invest in forward-looking models and practices. The programme has taken place annually since 2016, with digitalisation and sustainability becoming strong drivers of innovation across industries.

"Startups offer a wide spectrum of solutions for companies that are looking for new technologies and other innovative solutions for their further development. At the same time, these partnerships promote the growth of startups through access to experts and investment opportunities. This results in the integration of advanced technologies, innovation, and development of sustainability potential for all companies," explains Katka Letzing.

The search for the solutions of tomorrow takes place in six verticals: Health & Wellbeing, Finance & Insurance, Food & Retail, New Work & Learning, Smart Cities and Intrapreneurship. Each vertical has a core focus on specific innovation trends and needs of each Kickstart partner.

Next to building partnerships, Kickstart also provides access to a diversified investor network for startups and alumni raising financing rounds. Partners with corporate venture arms are actively involved, including Swisscom Ventures, AXA Strategic Venturing, and others. “We were able to connect with great startups in the past years and gain collaborations as well as investments including companies like Labster and PriceHubble. I am looking forward to more such collaborations this year.” said Alexander Schlaepfer, Partner, Swisscom Ventures.