By Hana Skreta, Principal
The Swiss financial market provides access to capital in a way other countries simply can’t. The sheer volume of high net worth individuals and family offices with available capital, alongside institutional investors and start up incubators makes the investment opportunities unique in the country. This, along with a number of other benefits, means Switzerland has a booming start up ecosystem.
Fabrice d’Erm, co-founder at The Rocket Foundation comments: “Switzerland does a lot of things right for the start-up environment. I would highlight, among others things, the quality of labour force available and the eco system around Swiss universities, where students are actively encouraged to engage in entrepreneurial projects. As a result of this, the number of start-up spinoffs from universities is constantly on this rise. According to Startupmetrics, there were 34 alone from ETH in Zurich in 2021, and a cumulative 176 spin-offs between 2017 and 2020 for ETH and EPFL in Lausanne. Switzerland is also highly competitive as shown by the latest Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2021 where Switzerland has ranked 3rd in the world. When you combine access to quality labour force, bright new ideas and access to capital you create a positive eco-system for start-ups.”
The Swiss Federal Council is also currently reporting on the counties start up system, with the findings due to be published next summer, in 2022. There is the possibility of an innovation fund to provide improved support to start ups ahead of their first Serie A fund raise. The Rocket Foundation spotted this gap; there is a lull between seed or family and friends funding and the first, more formal, round and this is where some start ups are suffering roadblocks in their development. There is also some work to be done in terms of the scope and flexibility like foundations have in terms of investment in start-ups while being able to retain charitable status. Countries like the UK are more forward thinking here, but this may change with the Federal Council report next year.
The Rocket Foundation was launched in 2019 by Fabrice d’Erm and his partners to support projects that create positive social or environmental impact while contributing to one of more of the 17 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The foundation can support social entrepreneurs and charities in a number of different ways including grants, donations, loans or organisational support. Forming a launch base for visionaries who want to have a positive impact on our planet and society, the foundation fuels the most promising ideas and initiatives to boost their impact on society through providing mentoring, fundraising and coaching. Fabrice d’Erm: “Firstly, we are a group of like-minded people who share a common desire to contribute to a better society. We connected through our passion to give back and that led to forming The Rocket Foundation to multiply our impact. Our vision is to leave a better world by supporting underserved communities and individuals and by protecting the environment for future generations. Everything starts with the question: ‘What world & society are we leaving to our children?’ It is also a multi-generational project which we hope to pass on in the future.”
Just launching their first fundraising campaign for two new projects (Blue Ventures and Power Coders), the foundation is also launching its partnership model where individuals and corporates can join the team on their impact journey. “We see ourselves as a bridge between available capital and the social enterprises. We hope we can inspire more people to give back (or invest forward). We also believe in collaboration and joining forces to maximize impact so therefore we are partnering with other foundations in supporting societal or environmental projects. One key element of our model is the fact that 100% of donations go to the project selected by the donor. The co-founders take care of all administrative costs. In doing so, we ensure donors know exactly where their money is going, and ensure complete transparency.”
Sustainability is a key topic high on the agenda in Switzerland right now. “The Rocket Foundation is guided by the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and is active in five main areas: nutrition, education, the economic model, equality and the environment.” says Fabrice d’Erm. “To maximise impact, we support pioneers – true change makers with disruptive ideas – in pushing the limits of the final frontier. The Rocket Foundation’s vision is to leave a better world by supporting underserved communities and individuals and by protecting the environment for future generations. We live and breathe sustainability at The Rocket Foundation.”