Vaud is the Leading European Innovation Ecosystem: Here is How You Can Fit Right In


Vaud is the Leading European Innovation Ecosystem: Here is How You Can Fit Right In

Seedstars Global

MAY 13, 2021

When the pandemic slowed down economic activities, and completely shut down certain industries, no one knew how grave the repercussions were going to be. A year later we are still uncertain, but know that export rates are lower, as well as GDP growth of even the world’s biggest economies. However, for the Swiss canton of Vaud, the situation is not as grave as in other places, due to their resilient and diversified economy.

The third largest state of Switzerland has had a successful decade in terms of GDP growth, job creation and export rate which have all gone up around two percent on average in the last 10 years, according to Raphaël Conz, the Economic Promotion Manager at SPEI (the Office for Economic Affairs at Canton de Vaud) who kicked off the “Discover Canton of Vaud as a leading European center for Innovation in Switzerland” webinar on May 11th.

Vaud has become one of the leading ecosystems in Innovation in Europe and worldwide, with a high density of research and development facilities, academic institutions and companies of all sizes. For that reason, Seedstars has organized a webinar in partnership with the canton of Vaud on how they can help companies leverage government support for starting or expanding their business in Switzerland or Europe.

Seedstars was in a way incubated by the canton - by providing financial support, but also connecting us to a lot of other key players. The government support was crucial in growing the company.” said the Seedstars co-CEO and co-founder Alisée de Tonnac.

Research and development are the core of the Vaud ecosystem

The webinar kicked off with a presentation by Conz on the five pillars of a successful startup ecosystem the canton has developed, ideal for fostering innovation in key fields.

Switzerland is not only a land of watches, mountains and chocolate. It’s a place for technology, innovation, quality of life and environment. It’s a place to develop trust and security.” said Conz.

The environment awaiting new companies is one where almost 10 percent of the canton’s population is working in R&D, with many students and academics in 20 universities. This pool provides unmatched access to talent and technology for startups. Additionally, there are six technology and innovation parks where new entrepreneurs can network and find partners, mentors, investors etc. With international giants such as Salesforce, Cisco, Siemens, GSK, Nestle and many more having their headquarters in Vaud, the possibilities in acquiring mentors are aplenty.

The regional government is proactive in their support, taking new or foreign entrepreneurs throughout the whole process. Even though there are certain legal predispositions in accessing financial support, agencies such as Innovaud are there acting as a gateway between international companies and regional players. Their Key Account Manager Frederic Reymond told the attendees that Innovaud can help them establish a legal entity in Switzerland, explain the taxation system and certain financial incentives, support them in obtaining work permits etc.

Success stories from Switzerland and the globe

The number of startups operating in Vaud attests to the success of governmental policies and strategies. There are around 400 startups, 10 percent of which have been scalable. This means they have had an average year-on-year growth of employees of 20 percent or more, and at least 10 employees with long-term contracts. Switzerland is equally attractive to investors, as most of the 2 billion CHF invested were by foreign funds and companies. Most attractive industries are BioTech, ICT, Digital Health, CleanTech, SportTech, Agri and FoodTech etc. As the speakers emphasized, the innovativeness and research potential of the intellectual property are key factors in determining if a company is a good fit for Vaud.

Kamilo Melo and his startup KM-RoBoTa are a true example of what the canton of Vaud can do for international companies. Kamilo came from Colombia to work as a professor at EPFL, one of Europe’s most vibrant science and technology institutions. After several years in Switzerland, he decided to start a company working in robotics, more specifically animal locomotion. Their robots are being sold to academics and artists from around the world, while they are working on building more advanced robots that can for example sense their environment, swim, move in harder terrain etc.

When the pandemic started and the event industry closed, there were exhibitions, art shows, and universities closed as well, we were left with almost no revenue. But with the support of the canton and the government, we managed to pull through. They truly give back a lot.” said Kamilo.

For more details on how to set up a company in Vaud check out the full video of the webinar here. The Q&A session was full of interesting questions from entrepreneurs from all over the world and the presentations from our speakers provide plenty of information to get you started.

Don’t forget to register for the Grand Finale on May 20th at 2 PM CET, to see some of the AgriTech and FoodTech startups supported by Vaud for some inspiration.

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