New SwissEF fund aims to support startups and innovative SMEs in Switzerland

12. Febru­ary 2019

Zurich (CH) — The “Swiss Entre­pre­neurs Fund” has been laun­ched by Swis­sEF toge­ther with the insurer Mobi­liar and the major banks UBS and Credit Suisse, the foun­da­tion announ­ced on Thurs­day. The first inves­tor is Mobi­liar, which is contri­bu­ting CHF 100 million.

The Finan­cial Market Autho­rity Finma appro­ved the fund at the end of Janu­ary. — This would allow the fund to be opened up to the target size of CHF 500 million over the next few months. The initia­tors hope that insti­tu­tio­nal inves­tors such as pension funds, family offices and wealthy private indi­vi­du­als will also invest in the fund.
The fund aims to invest directly, but also via third-party funds, in inno­va­tive compa­nies with growth poten­tial. The majo­rity of the invest­ments are to be made in compa­nies that have their head­quar­ters or a “signi­fi­cant share of their value crea­tion” in Switzerland.

Invest­ment focus of the Allied Banks
What is unique is that the two big banks were jointly invol­ved in an invest­ment vehicle, accor­ding to Swis­sEF. UBS contri­bu­tes its exper­tise in venture capi­tal and private equity funds. On the one hand, it invests in estab­lished invest­ment mana­gers, but also selec­tively promo­tes the forma­tion of new private equity funds. Credit Suisse, on the other hand, will be respon­si­ble for direct invest­ments in start­ups and inno­va­tive SMEs.
The target is for 50 to 66 percent of invest­ments to flow into Swiss compa­nies, with invest­ments also to be made prima­rily in compa­nies from neigh­bor­ing count­ries. Direct invest­ments are to amount to at least 20 percent of total invest­ments, and 65 to 80 percent of the funds will be inves­ted in third-party funds. The fund money is to be allo­ca­ted in a balan­ced way at diffe­rent stages of deve­lo­p­ment, i.e. in venture capi­tal, in invest­ments in fast-growing compa­nies and in small to medium-sized “buyouts”.

Startup loca­tion Switzerland
The Swiss Entre­pre­neurs Foun­da­tion, which is supported by the private and poli­ti­cal sectors, was laun­ched in Decem­ber 2017 under the patro­nage of then-Fede­ral Coun­cilor Johann Schnei­­der-Ammann to address the “chal­lenges facing Switz­er­land as a loca­tion for inno­va­tion and start­ups”. The foun­da­tion, based in Bern, has been under the patro­nage of Fede­ral Coun­cil­lor and head of the EAER Guy Parme­lin since the begin­ning of 2019. Johann Schnei­­der-Ammann will remain asso­cia­ted with Swis­sEF as Hono­rary President.

The foundation’s goal is for Switz­er­land to expand its “leading posi­tion as a loca­tion for busi­ness and inno­va­tion” and create new jobs. In doing so, it intends to take a two-pron­­ged approach. In addi­tion to the Swiss Entre­pre­neur Fund, which is now being presen­ted, it also imple­ments projects aimed at impro­ving the frame­work condi­ti­ons for entre­pre­neur­ship and inno­va­tive technologies.

Last year, he said, the foun­da­tion had alre­ady laun­ched two projects. The “Swis­sEF UpSca­ler” program is inten­ded to provide compa­nies in the growth phase with a “tailor-made support program”. A team from a pool of 50 expe­ri­en­ced “top entre­pre­neurs” and experts assist such compa­nies. In the “Swis­sEF Shaper” program, entre­pre­neurs are to be brought into cont­act with repre­sen­ta­ti­ves from natio­nal poli­tics and sensi­tize them to their concerns.

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