How Foreign Entrepreneurs Can Connect with Local Resources: Switzerland

Switzerland has cemented its status as a hotspot for innovation and entrepreneurship, drawing foreign entrepreneurs from around the world. Today, there are an estimated 600,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) driving the economy — thanks to the country’s fertile ground that allows startups to thrive. 


In 2022, Switzerland was ranked eighth out of 51 economies worldwide in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a testament to its supportive environment for entrepreneurship, including access to funding, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and a diverse network of resources.


However, breaking into the Swiss market as a foreign entrepreneur can be intimidating without a clear understanding of the local landscape. This is where connecting with local resources becomes crucial. In this blog, we'll guide you through the key resources available to foreign entrepreneurs in Switzerland. By tapping into these resources, you can harness the country's entrepreneurial spirit and unlock your full potential. 

Swiss Resources for Foreign Entrepreneurs: Your Guide to Success

As a foreign entrepreneur looking to do business in Switzerland, tap into following resources to improve your chances of success:

Startup Accelerators

Startup accelerators are programs that offer mentorship, training, and access to resources such as funding and networking opportunities, to help early-stage startups grow and succeed.


Switzerland is home to over 107 startup accelerators and incubators that cover a wide range of industries, from fintech and biotech to cleantech and artificial intelligence. Some of the most notable accelerators include Kickstart Accelerator, F10 FinTech Incubator & Accelerator, and MassChallenge Switzerland.


By participating in these accelerator programs, foreign entrepreneurs can connect with local investors, mentors, and other entrepreneurs, building relationships that can help them succeed in the Swiss market.


Networking Events

Switzerland offers a diverse range of networking events, from industry-specific conferences to startup community gatherings. One such example is the Swiss Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (SECA) annual conference, which brings together investors, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders in the Swiss startup ecosystem. Another example is Startup Grind, a global community of entrepreneurs that hosts regular events in cities around the world, including Zurich and Geneva.


Attending these events not only provides opportunities to meet potential partners and clients, but also to learn from other entrepreneurs and industry experts. Moreover, networking events can help entrepreneurs gain visibility in the local market and connect with potential customers. 

Government Support Programs

Switzerland's reputation as a business-friendly country is not just a myth - it's backed up by the wealth of government support programs available to foreign entrepreneurs. These programs offer a range of financial support, mentorship, and resources that can be invaluable to those looking to establish and grow their businesses in Switzerland.


One standout program is Innosuisse, which has been a game-changer for startups since its launch in 2018. This government initiative provides funding of up to 70% of the direct project costs to startups working on innovative projects. With over CHF 1 billion in funding provided to date, Innosuisse has established itself as a major player in the Swiss startup scene.


Another government support program, the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), has been helping entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground since 1996. The CTI provides financing and coaching services to entrepreneurs and has contributed to the creation of over 10,000 jobs in Switzerland. For those seeking venture capital, the Swiss Start-up Invest program is a public-private partnership that provides funding to startups in Switzerland. 

Other Resources

Switzerland offers a range of resources to support foreign entrepreneurs beyond the traditional startup accelerators, networking events, and government support programs.


For instance, co-working spaces provide entrepreneurs with flexible workspaces, amenities, and a collaborative environment. With over 320 co-working spaces in Switzerland, entrepreneurs can access an extensive network and benefit from exposure to new ideas and perspectives.


The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) also provides a valuable mentorship program. This program pairs entrepreneurs with experienced mentors who offer guidance on various aspects of starting and running a business. Additionally, entrepreneurship programs offered by universities like the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and the University of St. Gallen provides access to expert professors, cutting-edge research, and networking opportunities.


To leverage Swiss resources as a startup, stay informed and engaged. Attend networking events, follow local news and business publications, and seek mentorship and guidance to help you navigate the local business landscape and gain valuable insights into industry trends and innovations.


Remember, building a successful business takes time, effort, and persistence. Setbacks are inevitable, but with the right mindset and resources, you can overcome them and achieve your goals.


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