10 solutions to transform Switzerland into a real startup nation

In Startup Scene by Sébastien FluryLeave a Comment

Last week, Western Switzerland magazine Bilan and Le Réseau (an association fostering innovation – why only in French?) published a Startup Manifesto. Based on a survey among startup entrepreneurs (launched by Raphael Briner and venturelab), the Manifesto comprises 10 ideas. Most of them won’t surprise much people active in the startup world, but these ideas need to be spread as widely as possible (to your dad, mum, girlfriend, former colleagues, etc.). Because there are many smart entrepreneurs here and great innovations. It’s not all to claim that Switzerland is ranked “most innovative country in the world” (based on the number of patents published – whatever it really means, as it’s not the patents fostering a country, it’s their transformation into something economically sustainable), yet we need massive support from politics to implement measure that really help entrepreneurs building businesses!

I had quite a similar idea (a Manifesto, but only with 4-4 points) last year while discussing with my friends of investiere.ch. My failure not delivering it (…). Anyway, I’m really happy seeing such a great initiative! And therefore I’m a big supporter of the Startup Manifesto! Let’s go signing it and share it as widely as possible!

Here are these 10 ideas (why on hell publishing it only in French?):

  1. Tax exemption of private investments in startups. An amount (maximum to be decided) invested in a startup is deducted from income or wealth tax at time of investment. This amount would only be taxed once the investment is getting paid back.
  2. Settle tax incentives for startup. Tax incentives fostering investments in Research & Development (not only for startups) and tax reduction on income coming from Intellectual property.
  3. Improve stock/stock options system for employees. Since 2010, employees’ options are no more taxed while employees receive them, but when the employees exercise them. Therefore, taxation for startup employees happens on a “virtual income”. It would be more logical to tax this income when the stocks are sold.
  4. Create a “fund of funds” for Venture Capital. Fund should be fueled on a voluntary basis by pension funds and kept under surveillance by federal authorities. Objective of this fund is to encourage the multiplication of professional investors active in innovative fields. The idea is already discussed at political level.
  5. Creation of a second market in Switzerland. There are too few IPO’s of innovative Swiss companies, which is braking company valuations and avoiding enough liquidity of the market (exit potential for early investors). Therefore, either facilitate IPO’s or create a dedicated segment.
  6. Facilitate the development of a collaborative economy. A legislation in favor of crowdfunding and the sharing economy is needed in Switzerland. Otherwise, these industries will grow outside of Switzerland.
  7. Creating a “Startup visa”. Ease the immigration of VC’s, founders and key employees with an attractive work permit, easily transmissible outside of Switzerland (it’s the right timing for this – read my post on the topic here!)
  8. Swiss Small Business Act. Facilitating the submission of startups in public/big companies calls for tender, so they can better get references (and money coming from business, rather than subsidies!).
  9. Remodelling CTI (federal Commission for Technology and Innovation). As the principal tool for supporting innovative SME’s, CTI needs to be simplified on the administrative side and better extend its support activities to companies outside of the academic field.
  10. A Swiss DARPA. Swiss Army should inspire itself from US Army to create a research agency to invest in long-term strategical projects, which can lead to disruptive technologies.

What are you waiting for? Go sign the Startup Manifesto… NOW!