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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Kickstart Accelerator Chooses 30 Promising Startups for 2017 Programme

Kickstart Accelerator announces the startup shortlist for its second cohort comprising of FinTech, Food, Smart Cities and Robotics & Intelligent Systems verticals in Zurich

Kickstart Accelerator – one of Europe’s largest multi-corporate, zero-equity technology accelerators – an initiative of digitalswitzerland and operated by Impact Hub Zurich – has today announced its shortlist of 30 startups for its second cohort in the four verticals in Zurich.

1500 startups tried it – 30 made it

The startups were carefully selected from over 1,500 applications, after the top 60 were invited to participate in the final part of the selection process – a two day bootcamp in Zurich. At this stage, they had a chance to pitch their ideas to an experienced jury, comprised of industry professionals, investors and corporate representatives. In the end, 30 startups, 2% of all those that applied, were chosen to take part in an 11-week programme taking place from 4 September to 17 November 2017. Kickstart Accelerator will be based in Kraftwerk, an old transformer station which has been converted into a unique collaboration and innovation space in the heart of Zurich.

15 countries and almost half female co-founders

This year, startups from a total of 15 countries, including South Korea, South Africa, Finland, Ukraine and Singapore have made it into the programme. Almost two thirds of the startups (19) come from Europe, whereas five startups will travel to Zurich from the US, three from Asia, two from Africa and one from Australia. “It’s great to see applications from so many countries, wanting to build, challenge and scale their businesses here in the Swiss innovation ecosystem”, said Patricia Schlenter, Programme Manager at Kickstart Accelerator, “what I am particularly excited about is that 13 out of 30 startups at the Kickstart Accelerator have at least one woman as founder.”

From Pollution control to Blockchain-as-a-service

The selected startups work on a variety of innovative ideas, with aspirations to either disrupt traditional industries or capitalise on new technologies. In the Smart Cities vertical, for example, there is a lot of interest around tracking and controlling pollution and two of the selected startups, uHoo and Hawa Dawa, are working on products that help to measure air pollution both outdoors and indoors. Meanwhile, South Korean startup Blocko aims to deliver Blockchain-as-a-service that would provide the environment with development tools and building kits for application developers who are not familiar with Blockchain. A more detailed overview of all 30 selected startups can be found here and below.

Interest from top-tier corporates grows

Kickstart Accelerator offers startup-friendly benefits packages. Unlike other leading programmes, it takes no equity, provides no strings attached funding and gives access to some of the best known corporates locally and internationally. Having such strong corporate backing is one of Kickstart’s most significant differentiators and allows startups to benefit greatly from partnering with well established market players. Corporates, on the other side, have shown a lot of interest in the programme as well. For example AXA Winterthur and Swisscom formed a team and will join the programme as intrapreneurs.

Global consulting firm PwC returns this year as one of Kickstart Accelerator`s corporate partners. Commenting on the programme, Dr. Christian B. Westermann, Leader Data & Analytics and Partner at PwC Switzerland, said: “Artificial intelligence and the further development of robotics will lead to long-lasting changes in our world, at a speed never seen before”,  We are very pleased to leverage our global network to support the most promising startups and give them the opportunity to actively shape these exciting market developments.”

Andreas Kubli, Head of Multichannel Management & Digitisation at corporate partner UBS Switzerland said: “The fintech industry is experiencing fast growth and will continue to contribute to the future of the financial sector around the world. I am really looking forward to collaborating closely with the promising fintech startups in this year`s cohort. I am convinced that we can support young entrepreneurs with our expertise but also benefit from mutual exchange.”

Strong support from dedicated advisors

Supporting this year’s programme is the Centre for Digital Revolution (C4DR), a multi-city business development hub founded by tech pioneer Eric Van der Kleij, which focuses on the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution – artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain and robotics. Van der Kleij and his experienced team will advise Kickstart on the creation of content-rich initiatives for the programme which will deliver market viable innovations, help the startups become resilient to market and technological changes whilst delivering measurable benefit to business and society with their products and solutions.

In addition, the startups will receive specialist advice from a dedicated team at evitive, a strategy & innovation advisory firm specialized on venture building. The team will help the cohort prepare in readiness for of Proof of Concepts (PoCs) with the global partners – a key target outcome for the programme. Evitive is represented by Senior Partner Pascal A. Miserez, and enhanced by FinTech Specialist Salvatore Iacangelo.

Expansion to Lausanne and Basel

Alongside the four Zurich verticals, this year Kickstart Accelerator offers two additional verticals based in Lausanne and Basel. In cooperation with École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, Kickstart Accelerator has launched a new EdTech vertical for 10 international startups, who will be announced in August. Furthermore, in recognition of Switzerland’s strong medical and research environment, Kickstart Accelerator has entered into a partnership with BaseLaunch to offer also a healthcare-specific vertical in Basel, which will announce participating startups in late summer.

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