Research - 21.09.2023 - 08:57 

HSG experts develop start-up strategy for the canton of St.Gallen

The Canton of St.Gallen wants to become more attractive for young companies. HSG experts were significantly involved in the development of a cantonal start-up strategy that has just been launched. Among other things, the experts from the Center for Entrepreneurship recommend improving financing opportunities for growing start-ups, simplifying the start-up process and networking research institutions more closely. 

St.Gallen wants to establish itself as a startup location: To this end, the cantonal government has adopted a package with various measures. Central to this are, additional private investment funds of ten million francs and the establishment of an accelerator programme. The ten million is primarily intended to finance St.Gallen start-ups in the growth phase. The accelerator programme is intended to provide intensive coaching and networking for start-ups and thus increase their chances of survival. "Today it is the case that start-ups that want to grow after successfully entering the market often have too few financing options in St.Gallen," says Dietmar Grichnik, full HSG professor of entrepreneurship and technology management. "This sometimes leads to start-ups migrating to other regions - for example to Zurich, Munich or Berlin."

Grichnik and a team from the HSG's Center for Entrepreneurship (CfE-HSG) have developed a start-up strategy for the canton on behalf of the St.Gallen location promotion agency. To this end, they regularly exchanged ideas with the location promotion department and, in a workshop, with the heads of the finance department, the economics department and the education department. 

Last week, the canton announced that it had adopted the strategy, which was largely developed by the HSG experts. "The defined set of measures shows a very well-coordinated development opportunity for the St.Gallen start-up ecosystem," says Daniel Müller, head of the cantonal location promotion. The HSG experts had proposed "both quick and simple solutions as well as larger-scale interventions". The canton is now in charge of the implementation, but HSG will be involved in various initiatives as an important partner, says Müller.

HSG experts have access to a dense start-up network

To develop the start-up strategy, the HSG team was able to access a broad network in the start-up and investor scene: The CfE-HSG leads the Startup@HSG initiative. This promotes, coaches and networks students and start-ups with a connection to HSG and also awards the HSG Spin-Off Label. More than 170 companies now bear this label internationally. 

For the study, the researchers interviewed a total of 80 stakeholders from the fields of education/research, start-up support, established companies, investors, start-ups, politics and administration. "It emerged from the interviews that St.Gallen certainly offers good conditions for startups. The location conditions and infrastructure on site are good, and there are also four relevant educational and research institutions with OST, EMPA, KSSG and HSG," says Grichnik. 

The study identifies weaknesses such as a funding gap for growing start-ups, a lack of contact points for new firms in research and support from educational institutions (except for the HSG with Startup@HSG). Other identified weaknesses were the networking of the start-up initiatives and sparce opportunities for visibility. 

Value creation should remain in St.Gallen

In addition to better financing options and the establishment of an accelerator programme, the HSG researchers have outlined further measures in the strategy. These include the establishment of start-up contact points as well as knowledge and technology transfer points in the institutions, increased publicity of the start-up offers and opportunities in the canton of St.Gallen, simplification of the start-up process as well as regular coordination of the start-up funding actors. "The goal of all measures is to support the dynamic start-up scene in the canton of St.Gallen - this ultimately ensures that value creation, innovation and jobs remain local and strengthen the region," says Grichnik.

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