Starting Up In Lausanne Has Never Been Easier

Published on:

Want to found in prosperous and wealthy Switzerland? Learn about startup & business possibilities, events, finances and co-workings in Lausanne.

As Victor Hugo said, Lausanne is a block of picturesque houses, spilling over two or three hills, which spread from the same central knot, and are crowned by a cathedral like a tiara. On the esplanade of the church, in front of the door, and thus at the top of the town, you see the lake over the roofs, the mountains over the lake, clouds over the mountains, and stars over the clouds. It is like a staircase where the thoughts climbed step-by-step and broadened at each new height.

On The Shore Of Lake Geneva

Advantages Of Starting-up In Lausanne:

  • Switzerland is surrounded by Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, and Italy. Thanks to its very compact territory, you can cross the whole country in less than 6 hours as well as travel to the other major startup hubs in Europe, for ex. Paris, London or Berlin, within two hours flying time.
  • For years Switzerland has been ranked as the most prosperous and wealthiest country in the world. Its population is not very big with only 8 million inhabitants, however, it is very well socially secured.
  • The two biggest Swiss cities are Zurich and Geneva, where you will find the concentration (more than 30% of the total Swiss population) of all the expats and foreign immigrants who mostly speak English.

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Launching a new venture in Lausanne requires a residence permit. If you are from the EU/EFTA, you will need to apply for the residence permit only after the first three months of your staying in the country. If the cantonal office sees the value your startup can bring to the local economy, you will get the permit to stay and work without any problem. If you are non-EU/EFTA, then the process becomes more complicated as you need to apply for the “business permit.” It takes around 6 months to get the approval.
  • The most used legal forms for the startup incorporation are Limited Liability Company (Sàrl/GmbH) and Public Limited Company (SA/AG). The former requires you to have the minimal capital of CHF 20.000. The latter requires you to have CHF 100.000 minimal capital.
  • Real estate in Switzerland and Lausanne in particular is very expensive. Therefore, I highly recommend to get in touch with the universities, which may be very interested in your innovation and provide you with the necessary infrastructure for the further innovative product commercialization.
  • The salaries are also very high in Switzerland. However, being in the university technoparks will greatly facilitate your access to the smart and talented graduates most of whom are required to have an internship.
  • And last but not least, Switzerland is a pretty small market if your product is for the masses. However, it is a wonderful place for you to test and launch the pilot campaign before expanding to Germany, Austria, France, Italy, etc.

The Community Of Lausanne Is Waiting For You

Lausanne_guide_community

Regular Events & Meetups:

  • Mobile Monday organizes regular networking events on the ICT topics all over Switzerland.
  • UX Romandie has the regular bimonthly Meetups for the UI/UX passionate people in the French-speaking Switzerland.
  • Petits Dejeuners (Startup Breakfasts) are organized by the governmental institution SPECo (Service for economic promotion and commerce). They cover every major startup and SME topic such as incorporation, financing, legal advices etc.
  • Swiss Fintech is the active Geneva community that organized more than 14 events in the last year.
  • VentureIdeas are regular events with a successful startup founder as the major speaker. Here you can learn some tricks or secrets from successful peers.

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • Seedstars World is a Switzerland-based competition for startups from the emerging markets. The finalist is presented on the Lift conference in Geneva every February. If you want to screen the other startups or find the investor, participate in the Lift conference.

I don’t think I need to introduce the Startup Weekend nor the TEDx because they are probably the most popular and global events in the world.

Enhance Your Productivity In Lausanne

Lausanne_guide_coworking

The geographical distribution of startups in Switzerland underlines the importance of the knowledge transfer. That’s why 50% of all the startups are located in the cantons of Zurich and Vaud around the two federal polytechnic institutes ETHZ and EPFL.

Co-working & Office Spaces In Lausanne:

  • La Forge is the best known early stage coworking space with very cheap prices. However, it’s only open for 6 months now. Then you are proposed a well equipped office in the Innovation Park.
  • Work’n’Share is a traditional coworking space for startups, freelancers and different business people. It has a cool location near the lake and offers some interesting events.
  • RAINBOW LAB is a big warehouse transformed into a co-working space only for startups and entrepreneurs. So there you will find crazy people working, having coffee together, taking short naps in a Quiet Zone, organizing one-on-one meetings or playing football on a kicker table.
  • Hackuarium Biohackerspace is a cool space for the life sciences and healthtech startups as its mission is to unlock the power of biology. There you can find a cool laboratory with open documentation and ecofriendly equipment necessary for your experiments.

Boost Your Startup Budgeting In Lausanne

Lausanne_guide_financing.

Incubators:

One of the major actors and influencers in the entrepreneurial ecosystem are universities. Universities often promote entrepreneurial activities indirectly. This form of promotion is one of the most successful ways to transform scientific discoveries into products and services. Therefore most of the incubators are university-based. One of the reasons is the university’s infrastructure as well as the easy access for startups to potential employees or team members.

  • Ecublens Science Park (PSE) and EPFL Innovation Center are located in the very heart of the Swiss Technical Institute (EPFL). They provide facilities for newborn startups as well as mature companies such as Logitech and Credit Suisse.
  • Yverdon Science and Technology Park (Y-Parc) is the first and largest technology park in Switzerland, offering land for sale, rental space, and a business incubator.
  • Biopôle is focused on Life Science startups.
  • Aeropôle is located near the Payerne Airport and focuses on aeronautics.

Accelerators:

In the Vaud canton there are not many accelerators. There is the most notable accelerator in Switzerland, known as Venturelab. It is a private initiative directed at transforming the “Swiss made” startups into world-class ones. At first it was simply a national startup training program. However now Venturelab has several different programs like Startup Casting program, the Acceleration Workshops, the insightful Founders Secrets workshops, Founders Circle, and investing Founders Cash Pot platform.

Nevertheless, don’t worry. Lausanne has built a sustainable and profound infrastructure for startups and SMEs. For the sake of any help on mentoring, promotion, office rental or financing, you are welcome to contact Innovaud, which reunites all the mentioned technoparks, mentors and investors networks in the Lausanne region.

Grants & Subventions:

There are around 150 organizations that support and provide a profound startup infrastructure. 120 of them grant awards for innovative business concepts and technological ideas, while other institutions provide labels to promising founders – e.g. CTI Label, EPFL Spin-off Label, ETHZ Spin-Off Label, Top 100 Start-ups, or Venture Leaders.

  • Venture Kick is a complex program in which startups can get early funding of up to CHF 130.000. They can also learn from the proven entrepreneurs during the kickers camps and get exposed to a network of experts and investors all over Switzerland.
  • IMD Start-up Competition provides early stage startups with the possibility of benefitting from the help and insights from participants in the IMD MBA and the Executive MBA programs, who will pitch the winner-startup to the VCs in Silicon Valley.
  • Trophée PERL is the major grant provided by the Lausanne Region that offers 5 prices up to CHF 1 million per year to the startups that are highly valuable for the canton.
  • Venture Leaders is a fully-sponsored 10-days development program in different startup hubs (Boston, Silicon Valley, Beijing) that provides startup founders with the possibility to learn from their counterparts all over the world.
  • Prix du Jeune Entrepreneur is organized to reward the best entrepreneurial project, having a link with either France or Switzerland, with up to CHF 26.000.
  • “Prix Coup de Pouce”  is a yearly award of CHF 50.000 directed at supporting interesting social business projects within the scope of health, environment and the fight against poverty.
  • W.A DE Vigier Foundation prize for Young Entrepreneurs is to award up to CHF 100.000 to young entrepreneurs (under 45 years old) for innovative, future-looking product or service concepts.

Crowd Investing Platforms:

  • Wemakeit.ch is the Swiss largest crowdfunding platform for the creative industries.
  • 100-days.net provides a platform for the Initiators (musicians, artists, designers) to display their projects and leave them there for up to 100 days to be funded by Boosters (friends, acquaintances, companies, benefactors).
  • Moboo is the first crowdfunding platform directed at supporting the startups in the French-speaking Switzerland, mostly Lausanne, Geneva, Valais.
  • Cashare is the Swiss crowdsourcing pioneer providing both crowd-lending and crowd-supporting.

Angel Investors:

  • A3 Angels is the Business Angels and Mentoring Club based in the EPFL.
  • Go Beyond: Investing AG is a network of around 200 angel investors investing in early stage startups in Switzerland, France, the UK, Belgium, Italy, Malta and the US.
  • Swiss ICT Investor Club (SICTIC) provides startups with the possibility to apply for funding up to CHF 1.5 million.
  • There are 5 more Swiss Business Angel Clubs as well as 21 individual business angels that you can investigate on the CTI Invest website.

Venture Capital Investors:

  • Venturekick/Venturelab mostly invests up to CHF 130.000 in early-stage startups within the scope of Web 2.0, Media, E-Commerce, Enterprise, Software, Mobile, Gaming, Medtech, Cleantech, Biotech.
  • Redalpine invests between € 0.1 – 2 million in startups, university spin-offs in the fields of Web 2.0, Communication, Search, Travel, Media, Gaming, Mobile Applications, Nutrition, Medtech, Biotech Platforms, Cleantech.
  • B-to-V invests in any stage startups within the scope of Cleantech, Internet, Mobile, Life Sciences, Retail, Services, Technology, Hardware.
  • Creathor invests up to € 10 million in any stage startups within the scope of Biotech, Cleantech, Financial services, Internet, Software, Medtech.
  • Investiere Venture Capital invests between CHF 0.5 – 2.5 million in early stage startups in the fields of Hightech, Medtech, Cleantech, and ICT.

Other Investment Opportunities:

With regard to the uncertain situation with the Swiss financial sector and fiscal attractiveness, innovation and a profound startup infrastructure has become the leading source for the country-sustained wealth. Some of the 150 organizations that support entrepreneurial ideas and talents, for example:

  • IBM is responsible for the Global Entrepreneur program and facilitates the investment in “high-flyer” startups.

Moreover, there are 29 institutional investor companies, for example Blue Ocean, DebioPharm Group, Cantonal bank, etc. as well 6 family offices: Bellegarde Capital, Delman SA, MYK Capital Group, Think Reloaded, Verium, QDN Partners.

Keep On Doing A Great Job In Lausanne

Lausanne_mentors

By now you are hopefully convinced that Switzerland, especially Lausanne, is a wonderful place to start your business. The very moment you arrive here, you should get in touch with Innovaud mentioned above and the Commission for Technology and Innovation known as CTI. Not only the CTI department CTI Invest is responsible for the startup funding. CTI Startup department, too, is interested in coaching and training the students thinking about launching the business, early stage startups by aligning to each selected startup a professional coach and inviting them to different startup camps all over the world. Annually there are roughly 300 new Swiss technology startups, based on spin-offs and new ventures, 80% of which survive their first 3 years also thanks to the support of the CTI.

After you grt in touch with CTI, make sure to visit their different events like CEO Day, Invest Day, and the major conference “100 Best Swiss Startups” where you will meet most of the actors of the Swiss startup ecosystem.

___________________

Last updated: July 29th, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

Sharing is caring, so please share this post. Thank you!