National media and politics often congratulate themselves about the success of Swiss innovation. For instance, the Global Innovation ranking index puts Switzerland at the first place worldwide, but how relevant is this index? You have to know that it is based on the number of patents regarding to the country population. Maybe it’s a good indicator of patentable innovation like in pharma, mechanics, etc. But what’s about the ICT sector? By definition, ICT code is really difficult to protect. And if yes, will cost millions to defend with not much certainty of winning, even if you were copied.
But does Switzerland really exist on the European tech startup scene? To have objective opinions, I’ve asked some of my fellow international bloggers on how they see Switzerland from an outside, neutral perspective. I hope to have a serie of post coming from “all” the corners of Europe. First to express her impression is Romanian ubiquitous blogger Adelina Peltea, which I’ve already mentioned here (author of Customer Seduction startup book).
Although a big economical power, Switzerland seems a bit absent on the tech startups scene, at least for the international eyes. You don’t get to see many of Swiss tech entrepreneurs at European conferences, neither read about them in the media. So from the outside it is a bit unclear: there are not many of them, they just stay local or they just don’t communicate enough about themselves? In any case, there is a spark there seen from outside as well, and I can only encourage its development and internationalization. A good bridge to the Swiss startup scene is the Facebook group that counts 600+ members. Quite active, written in English and welcoming foreigners. It is a good beginning, with plenty of space for development. And interactivity with other startup scenes can only do good. Sebastien’s blog (here! startupolic.com) is also a great bridge between the local scene and the international one. I met him at a conference in Berlin and since then we’ve kept in touch. He is very active in promoting Switzerland in the tech and entrepreneurship world. For example, it is from him that I know that the great entrepreneur and investor that helped the rise of Berlin startup ecosystem, Christoph Maire, is a Swiss citizen. Also, not so long ago I was contacted by an Alumnus of a youth entrepreneurship network I was a member as well – Michael Weber is planning to build a business accelerator in Switzerland (SeedStars) and he was reaching out for international advice. This openness to what is happening in the world can only put them on a good track and I wish them all the best. As far as I understand, the fact that the employee life is a good one in Switzerland (with great opportunities and high salaries) makes entrepreneurship less appealing. But those who have the spirit to do it should think about the chance to do something truly disrupting. By doing the worldwide interviews with founders and investors for my book, I can only notice that entrepreneurs don’t live in countries anymore. They all live in the global online world. Today access to information and connectivity is insanely easy. They all seem to be in the same ecosystem, we are no longer limited by geographical borders.
And here is my advice to Switzerland: be more active on international level, connect with people abroad, know what other entrepreneurs are doing in any corner of the planet. They are your potential partners and competitors.