Seedstars, an idea born in Switzerland

March 22, 2018

A month now from Seedstars Summit 2018 happening in Lausanne, it's a great occasion to reconnect with Seedstars' roots: the highly innovative and startup-friendly country of Switzerland. Seedstars team had the chance to interview Presence Suisse to collect precious insights on the specificities of the country!

→ Switzerland is often described as the most innovative country in the world, whereas it’s much smaller than the US and China and has fewer resources than other countries in Europe. What do you think is the secret of Switzerland’s success in this field?

Switzerland is indeed well placed, and often number one, in international rankings. This is thanks to a combination of factors. Swiss research universities combine strong scientific results with an entrepreneurial mindset. This is supported by our apprenticeship system, which fosters early work experience and ideas grounded in business, not just in the academic system. The very good quality of life allows thinking about much more than basic needs. Finally Swiss innovation benefits from our position as a crossroads of languages and ideas in the middle of Europe.

→ Switzerland has been a true incubator for Seedstars. We really benefited from the fact that the country tries to foster innovation and help entrepreneurs. From your point of view what makes Switzerland the right place to start a venture?

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The clarity of Swiss laws on intellectual property, liability, and taxes helps entrepreneurs, especially during the early stages. Switzerland also offers lots of partnership opportunities for smaller companies. And one dimension is often underestimated: the serendipity. The chances to meet an entrepreneur on a train, seating next to a Minister and a University Professor is very likely higher than anywhere else. Proximity and high level of trust are playing a major role to create business opportunities, within an open-minded public action.

→ One of our core values at Seedstars is “keep it Swiss” which means for us that what we do, we do it well. What do you think made the Swiss mindset this way?

Proximity plays again a big role in this. As we know each other well, we do not want to disappoint our neighbours. This “Keep it Swiss” works as well for the “Swiss made”. There is a belief that there is a common responsibility to respect our standards and our quality in order to preserve our added value. We are trusted worldwide for this. If we cannot do something well, we are usually not doing it. We are also supporting Seedstars because we noticed that this spirit is shared! And we are happy to share it with all the participants.

→ All our team members coming from more than 30 different countries recognize the “Keep it Swiss” as our level of exigence for ourselves in terms of quality. In your opinion, How did Switzerland manage to get such awareness all over the world?

It is kind of a paradox, but that reputation came probably by investing more time in the making than in the talking. Swiss products speak for themselves. Switzerland was not a rich country, so it was really important to focus on the excellence and efficiency of the product itself. The Swiss industry was born that way. Combined with a pragmatic and stable political system and a good education, this healthy environment allowed the country to grow its reputation all over the world. And of course, chocolate did help to make it popular!

→ What are the actions taken by Presence Suisse to ensure Switzerland’s good visibility abroad?

A big part of Switzerland’s visibility abroad is due to renowned Swiss products and services. Our aim is to promote these success stories, to explain how Switzerland allowed them to make the most of what offers the country in terms of business opportunities: studies, travels, investment, politics, products,… These messages are shown on different channels, from Pavilion during World Expo to social media channels, including give away, events, media trips or panels. And we tend to partner up with existing projects and institutions in order to give them as much echo as possible. Small or big is not the most important: the values and messages that they incarnate are key. Seedstars World is a good example of it!

In the spirit of our proud tradition of innovation, we are looking forward to sharing, hearing your ideas, being inspired by your tenacity, and to dreaming of tomorrow’s world together.

We talk about Switzerland from many different angles, including sport, innovation, education, mountains and lakes, science, International Geneva, culture, history, cities, the economy, the environment, humanitarian work, Swiss traditions, and gastronomy. The stories we tell are inspired by the people of Switzerland, the Swiss who live abroad, and exchanges with other countries. We also represent Switzerland at major world events, as well as in our embassies and in the digital world.

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