10 Startup Incubators in Switzerland You Can’t Miss in 2024

Jul 2, 2024
/
13 min read
10 Startup Incubators in Switzerland You Can’t Miss in 2024

Taking a business off the ground is hard, and it’s even harder to keep it afloat. Running out of funds, failing to find a market demand, and being eaten by competition are just some of the pitfalls that may await you on your way. But what if you can avoid them by entering an incubator?

Startup incubators will help you develop and validate your idea, conduct market research, and build valuable connections with experts in your industry. However, all of these are possible only if you know how to differentiate a worthy incubator from a mediocre one.

Successful startup projects hold an important place in our portfolio. Since 2008, we have been delivering software solutions to clients across various industries. Continuously deepening our expertise in this area, we offer startups a wide range of services, including technical consulting, conducting discoveries, MVP development for startups, and ongoing growth support.

In this blog post, we’ve cherry-picked the best startup incubators in Switzerland to choose from. Also, you will learn what to consider before entering an incubator and how to make the most out of your time there.

By the end of the article, you will know:

  • The key benefits of joining a startup incubator and how it can help mitigate common startup risks.
  • Essential criteria for evaluating and selecting the right startup incubator for your business.
  • An overview of the top startup incubators in Switzerland and the unique advantages they offer.
  • How to leverage mentorship, networking, and practical experience within an incubator to accelerate your startup’s growth.

Strategies for maintaining flexibility and adaptability in your business plan to respond to market needs and opportunities.

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List of the 10 Best Accelerators and Incubators in Switzerland

Before getting to a list of startup incubators in Switzerland, let’s start with a checklist that will help you evaluate incubators on the market.

  • Define your industry and check if the incubator has an industry-specific program
  • Consider the incubator location and ensure you are ready to move there for some period of time
  • Check out the mentor network of the incubator – are there people you want to learn from?
  • Check out if the incubator takes equity – a share of a company’s value and decide what % of equity you are ready to give
  • Check out how many startups have graduated from each of the top startup accelerators in Switzerland and what results they’ve achieved.


Now, let’s review these best Swiss startup incubators in more detail.

VentureKick

Venture Kick provides a nine-month kick-off program to help spin-off projects from Swiss universities accelerate time to market and attract investors. 

Venture Kick is hosted by the charitable “Kick Foundation” and monitored by the Swiss Federal Supervisory Board of Foundations. It has already launched 1,000+ startups and has a portfolio of 700 growing tech companies.

Main benefits

  • By entering this incubator, you will gain access to entrepreneurs’ funding, media exposure, credibility, kickers camps, and a network of investors and industry professionals.
  • Startups can get up to CHF 150,000 in start capital, as well as the chance to win an additional CHF 850,000 in equity funding from the Kickfund

MassChallenge Switzerland

It’s an early startup accelerator in Switzerland that works with startups from different industries and offers an agnostic program for Sustainable Food, Sustainable Industry & Climate Solutions, and Health. They have supported over 720 startups and created 50K+ jobs.

Main Benefits

  • Their global partners include such companies as Nestlé, Bühler, Givaudan, dsm-firmenich, Louis Dreyfus Company,  Omya, Südzucker, PMI, and Bystronic. 
  • You get mentorship programs from 400+ experts with no equity in return.
  • You have a chance to win up to CHF 1M in non-dilutive cash prizes and other awards.
  • You will get support in accessing the EU market as well as trade links.

10 Startup Incubators in Switzerland You Can’t Miss in 2024 1

Kickstart innovation

Kickstart Innovation, based in Zurich and Lausanne, offers a 10-week innovation program for scale-up startups. Their alumni have raised over CHF 2.5 billion and got 350+ deals. 

Main benefits

  • This one of the best startup accelerators in Switzerland takes no equity and gives you access to a variety of mentorship programs, access to partnership funds, and media exposure.
  • Networking events and access to partnership fund.
  • It connects organizations in the public and private sectors with carefully selected startups to help companies scale their business and get new clients.

Swiss Startup Association

In addition to networking, startup desks, and education sessions library, Swiss Startup Association has a lot of special offers for startups such as discounts on different tools that will help your business grow.

Main benefits

  • A variety of networking events, from Education Sessions to Founders Dinner.
  • Interactive workshops and expert speeches in Education Session Library.
  • A large investor community with over 1600 members.

10 Startup Incubators in Switzerland You Can’t Miss in 2024 2

Axelra

Axelra is one of the most popular accelerators from Switzerland. It’s a Tech Venture Builder that offers programs for different startup stages, from ideation to scaling phases.

Main benefits

  • 4 main programs to choose from: PowerWeek, Pre-MVP, MVP, From Idea to Scale with the offerings customized to your startup stage and needs.
  • Axelra is aimed to speed your go-to-market time and halve your time to Series A funding to just 25.2 months, compared to 56 months in traditional setups.

Fongit

Fongit is an innovation program that provides two main programs: initiation innovation (for early-age projects that have an idea and want to shape it and test it on the market) and Startup Support (for more mature innovative projects that already have a pitch deck and team). 

Main benefits

  • Customized coaching matching your goals.
  • Legal support.
  • If you’re just looking for funding, you can apply to Fongit Innovation Fund that offers 3 different types of investment: FIF Grant with CHF 50K investment, FIF Seed Loan with 100K investment, and FIF Growth Loan with CHF 400K investment.

BaseLaunch

BaseLaunch partners with scientists and entrepreneurs to help biotech ventures enter the market and grow. They help build ventures to the point where they complete a series A financing and their portfolio has already raised over $600M in financing. 

Main Benefits

  • Up to $500, 000 in financing.
  • Unlike other most popular incubators from Switzerland, they don’t have a specific program and customize the offering depending on your needs.
  • A large network of partners such as Roche, Johnson & Johnson, CSL, etc.

Blue Lion

Blue Lion Startup Hub has already supported 400 startups and raised 45M in investment. There, you get access to a curated network of experts and mentors who will guide you on the path to startup growth. They also have a curated investor network with angels and venture capitalists.

Main benefits

  • They have 3 main types of programs: Acceleration program for the pre-seed phase, KlimUp program to support climate tech startups with up to CHF 250k non-dilutive funding, and Impact Academy – a 5 month program with the tailored support of the corporate coach.
  • Tech for Impact Awards, where you get a chance to win a prize money of 30’000 Swiss francs, as well as non-financial support and access to investors and potential partners.

10 Startup Incubators in Switzerland You Can’t Miss in 2024 3

Tenity

Tenity is a global ecosystem with a focus on tech solutions with an application in the financial industry. They have graduated 300+ alumni with a total $380M+ in funding and offer such benefits as dedicated coaching, renowned mentors, and special programs depending on your needs. 

Main benefits

  • Pre-Seed program, where it selects the best startups and invests CHF50k / SGD70k, taking a small equity stake of 2.5% and a program participation fee of CHF 10k / SGD 15k in return.
  • A specialized network of over 200 mentors and experts in FinTech and InsurTech.

Venture Mentoring

Venture Mentoring is a non-profit educational organization that works with startups and small businesses. Venture mentoring helps you determine product-market fit, create an MVP, refine a pitch deck, and connect with the best entrepreneurs.

Main benefits

  • Its services are completely free, and it does NOT take equities.
  • Startup founders interact with the selected group of mentors where they set up goals and discuss the strategies and techniques to achieve them. Each meeting lasts from 90 minutes to 2 hours.
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How to choose the right startup incubator and make the most out of it

Entering an incubator can turn into an exciting journey, but only if you have an itinerary. To get the most out of it, you need to set goals and understand your desired outcome. Here’s a step-by-step plan that will help you choose the best Swiss startup incubator.

Define your point A and set SMART goals 

Firstly, you need to understand your point A. Create a list of what you have now (for example, an idea, team, office), and based on this, define what you need in the first place: idea validation, mentor, investment, office, networking, or user research. 

After that, set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals to track during your time in the incubator. For example:

  • Perform 10 interviews with my target audience in 3 months.
  • Define 5 main pain points my product solves.
  • Create a go-to-market strategy in 9 months.
  • Build connections with 10 influencers in my industry.

The better you define your goals, the faster you’ll move to achieving your business objectives. Also, having growth milestones under the belt will help you create an exit strategy and not fall into the illusion of doing something for the sake of just doing it.
10 Startup Incubators in Switzerland You Can’t Miss in 2024 4

Choose the incubator type 

There are different types of startup incubators: profit or non-profit, focused on specific industries, or industry agnostic:

  • For-profit incubators: These incubators take equity from the startups they help launch.
  • Non-profit incubators: These incubators are usually funded by grants or donations and don’t take equity.
  • Industry-specific incubators: These incubators work with startups in a specific industry, such as healthcare, food, finance, etc.
  • Geographic incubators: These incubators operate in specific geographic areas and provide local networking or events.

Check out the incubator’s success stories and track records

The first thing you need to do after defining your main goals is to ensure the incubator has “graduated” successful startups. Also, check out who leads it. The incubator should be led by startup founders or investors who had successful exits. Avoid incubators run by people with no high-growth startups.

Here’s an excellent quote by the YCombinator:

The number of accelerators is proliferating faster than the number of startups. This terrifies me because most of the people who are advising companies in accelerators have no idea what they’re doing. They’ve never worked at a startup, they’ve never started a startup, they’ve never funded a startup outside of the accelerator. You’ve got to ask yourself why on Earth should I take advice from this person who’s never done any of the things that they’re telling me I should do, never seen any of these things work?

Ensure that you’ll spend most of the time talking to people and building your product

You can spend years polishing a plan that will never become a reality. This is one of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make. Consider incubators with a focus on practice – where you’ll experiment, talk to dozens of potential customers and investors, build your product, test hypotheses, make mistakes, and start over again.

As Maxime Blondel has said (if you haven’t read his Medium, you’ve lost a lot!): “The essence of entrepreneurship lies in execution, not theory.”

Ensure the incubator has a strong network of mentors and ask if you can choose whom to work with

Mentoring is the major value that incubators and accelerators should provide. Ask what mentors you’ll work with and how much time they will spare to teach you. Ideally, choose an incubator with mentors in your industry who understand your target market and will help you create a market development strategy. 

Also, specify if there is an option to customize the program according to your needs. Each startup is unique, and sometimes, generic mentoring might not suit you. Look for an incubator that provides personalized programs and connects you with the right mentors.

Don’t rely on an incubator only

The world is a cruel and unjust place, and sometimes, incubators just want you to stay and pay the rent. Remember to take the most out of these startup incubators in Switzerland, but continue to seek collaborations, partnerships, and opportunities outside of the incubator. 

Don’t limit yourself; attend different industry events, grow your network, and ask for advice. Last but not least, never let anyone ruin your dream and vision of your startup. Be wild, be curious. Consider different opinions, but always listen to your gut.

Be ready to change your initial idea

According to studies, 93% of all successful businesses have undergone pivots from their initial ideas. This means that successful startups had the courage to change their business plan after investing in thorough market research. Pivoting may include changing your positioning, pricing, services, or even a target audience. Be ready to adapt to the market needs and change your business plan after entering one of the best startup incubators in Switzerland or another country.

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Wrapping Up

Partnering with an incubator is vital for startups that need support, educational resources, mentoring, and, of course, funding. But don’t expect the incubator to solve all your problems (even from rated/best Swiss startup incubators) and bring the product right into the hands of paying customers. Remember that there is no magic pillow, and you need to really invest your time in learning, networking, and product testing.

Now that you have a list of the best startup incubators in Swizerland and know how to choose them, the next step is to decide which ones suit your business best and apply as a participant. 

If you need tech support for your startup, our team is here to help. We can support you through investment pitches as a tech partner, get the product design concept for your next pitch session in just a few days, or cover your CTO role. Feel free to contact us for a consultation, and let’s discuss how to bring your product to market.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Switzerland a Good Place for Startups?
Switzerland's political stability and strong economic performance make it a prime destination for startups. Its startup ecosystem ranks 6th in Western Europe and 10th globally. On average, Switzerland's startups raised 4941235 US dollars. Switzerland is also called startup heaven in the heart of Europe, as it offers startups global reach, access to international markets, and multilingual talent.
What are the Benefits of the Online Startup Incubators?
Top startup incubators in Switzerland can become a life-changing game for entrepreneurs. By entering an incubator, you get access to a variety of tools for your market growth: mentorships with professionals from different industries, coaching, funding opportunities, networking, office space, legal services, etc. Also, you connect to a large ecosystem of like-minded entrepreneurs, where you can get support and understanding.
Where Can I Find the Detailed Information on the Any Startup Incubator Application Processes?
Usually, all the important information is listed on the incubator’s website together with the application form. You can also find the contacts (such as email) of the certain incubator and reach out to them directly to ask more about the application process.
What Startup Incubators Should I Avoid?
Avoid startup incubators with no successful exits or case studies. It’s better to choose incubators with the highest percentage of seed companies moving on and successfully raising an A round. Also, avoid incubators with no reviews from real-life entrepreneurs.

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