In its 7th year Kickstart is one of the largest European Innovation Platforms, bridging the gap between startups, corporations, cities, foundations and universities to accelerate partnerships and deep tech innovation. Since 2015, Kickstart has supported over 400 startups and facilitated over 200 deals in the form of pilots and commercial projects coming from over 80 countries, raising more than CHF 2 billion in investments so far including Planted, Huma, Labster and others.
Kickstart supports partners in identifying key topics and opportunities for open innovation. A select number of the best national and international startups and scaleups are chosen each year to participate in a 10-week program to facilitate collaborative innovation partnerships and commercial deals to co-create in the form of Proof-of-Concepts, pilots and commercial projects with Kickstart partners, leading organizations and companies such as AXA, Coop, Swisscom, La Mobilière, PostFinance, Sanitas, The City of Zurich, Canton de Vaud, Credit Suisse, Galenica, CSS Insurance and others.
Later-stage startups in the Finance and Insurance vertical that are paving the way to a more sustainable future for corporates and SMEs alike include Doconomy from Sweden, a world-leading provider of applied environmental impact solutions who empower individuals and corporations to take responsibility for their environmental footprint, as well as German scaleup The Climate Choice; a software platform for decarbonising supply chains. To tackle the underleveraged market potential of €7.8B due to women saving instead of investing, Finmarie from Germany is joining the program this year to improve the lives of millions of women across Europe and help them get on the path to financial independence.
It is cited that 50% of the world’s population lives in cities today, which is predicted to increase to 68% by 2050. This results in over usage of infrastructure, leading to sustainability issues and major challenges ahead. Out of 10 startups joining Kickstart’s Smart Cities cohort this year, 9 are working towards a more circular economy. These include LEDCity, a Swiss cleantech startup developing an intelligent plug-and-play lighting system which can reduce 90% of the energy consumption compared to conventional systems, as well as UK-based Naked Energy who are innovating in the field of solar collectors to produce a solar energy technology with one of the world’s highest energy densities installed.
With an estimated 1 billion people needing to be retrained by 2030 due to the increase in automated tasks and creation of upwards of 133 million new roles, we are looking forward to introducing startups such as US-based SkyHive and Austrian-born Leadbacker to our New Work and Learning vertical. SkyHive uses real-time data and skill-based analysis to help people see beyond a traditional job title, and Leadbacker is one of the leading AI-powered people development platforms.
All 6 startups joining the Food & Retail vertical this year are working towards a more circular economy. A big trend this year is on sustainable packaging; both in terms of material and supply chain, which is promising due to the food industry being the largest manufacturing industry in the EU. PlasticFri, a GreenTech company from Sweden is using breakthrough technology to turn agricultural waste to eco-friendly products for replacing plastics, whereas Austrian-born Supaso produces sustainable insulation packaging made from recycled waste paper for the shipping of temperature-sensitive goods. Kickstart is also welcoming Swiss vegan creamery New Roots, who is developing, producing and selling ethical, sustainable and healthy alternatives to cheese and other dairy products based on 100% plant-based, organic ingredients.
The digitization of health is mandatory to provide access to personalized and connected care. Startups joining the Health & Wellbeing vertical this year include medicalmotion, a German deep-tech startup that provides the world’s most personalized and cause-oriented AI-driven multimodal platform to finally combat body pain at its core, as well as TOM, the first fully anonymous therapy solution from Switzerland providing valuable features for tracking medication and empowering patients to improve their medication competence.
“We are pleased that more and more startups have sustainability clearly at the core of their developments,”
adds Katka Letzing, CEO and co-founder of Kickstart Innovation.
“We received applications from 58 countries this year with not only strong focus on potential proof of concepts and commercial deals, but also on strategic investment opportunities which increased significantly from last year, which is all supporting innovation strength in Switzerland and Austria.”
Participants go through a stringent shortlisting process that includes alignment workshops, a partner safari and pitch invitation with the corporates and ecosystem experts in the jury. This year, over 170 judges were involved in the final selection of this cohort, with circular Economy and sustainability at the forefront of the decision-making process.
The 12 Fintech and Insurtech Startups are:
Finance & Insurance
Boomerang Ideas (Switzerland)
The Climate Choice (Germany)