SWITZERLAND, THE START-UP NATION?
EPFL INNOGRANTS & SUPPORT TO STARTUPS
10 OCTOBER 2017
2Switzerland The Startup Nation?
WHAT’S A STARTUP NATION?
3Switzerland The Startup Nation?
FRANCE’S NEW EFFORTS
4Switzerland The Startup Nation?
THE INNOVATION DILEMMA
“I read occasionally about attempts to set up
"technology parks" in other places, as if the
active ingredient of Silicon Valley were the
office space. An article about Sophia Antipolis
bragged that companies there included Cisco,
Compaq, IBM, NCR, and Nortel. Don't the
French realize these aren't startups?”
“How to be Silicon Valley?”
Few startups happen in Miami, for example, because although it's full of rich people, it has
few nerds. It's not the kind of place nerds like. Whereas Pittsburgh has the opposite
problem: plenty of nerds, but no rich people.
5Switzerland The Startup Nation?
WHAT’S A STARTUP NATION?
“The book examines how Israel, a 60-year-old nation with a population of 7.1 million,
was able to reach such economic growth that "at the start of 2009, some 63 Israeli
companies were listed on the NASDAQ, more than those of any other foreign country.”
In their attempt to explain Israel's success in this area, Senor and Singer analyze two major factors
that, in the authors' opinion, contribute most to Israel's economic growth. Those factors are
mandatory military service and immigration.
The authors believe that Israel Defense Forces service provides potential entrepreneurs with the
opportunities to develop a wide array of skills and contacts. They also believe that IDF service
provides experience exerting responsibility in a relatively un-hierarchical environment where
creativity and intelligence are highly valued. IDF soldiers have minimal guidance from the top, and
are expected to improvise, even if this means breaking some rules.
The book also dwells at length on immigration and its role in Israel's economic growth: "Immigrants
are not averse to start from scratch. They are by definition risk-takers. A nation of immigrants is a
nation of entrepreneurs. From survivors of the Holocaust to Soviet refuseniks through the Ethiopian
Jews, the State of Israel never ceased to be a land of immigration: 9 out of 10 Jewish Israelis today
are immigrants or descendants of immigrants the first or second generation. This specific
demographic, causing fragmentation of community that still continues in the country, is nevertheless
a great incentive to try their luck, to take risks because immigrants have nothing to lose."
Additional factors cited by the authors include a sense of dissatisfaction with the current state of
affairs, a culture where individuals frequently tinker with technology, and government policies
friendly to start-ups.
6Switzerland The Startup Nation?
HOW NOT TO BE SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS?
Universities and research centers of a very high caliber.
An industry of venture capital (i.e. financial institutions and private investors).
Experienced professionals in high tech.
Service providers such as lawyers, head hunters, public relations and marketing
specialists, auditors, etc.
Last but not least, an intangible yet critical component: a pioneering spirit which encourages
an entrepreneurial culture.
Source: M. Kenney “Understanding Silicon Valley, the Anatomy of an Entrepreneurial Region”,
in chapter: “A Flexible Recycling” by S. Evans and H. Bahrami
Ingredients of tech clusters…
7Switzerland The Startup Nation?
WHAT’S A STARTUP?
Switzerland The Startup Nation?
In the USA, “a start-up is a temporary organization
designed to search for a repeatable and scalable
8Switzerland The Startup Nation?
Startups are not Small Companies (SMEs)