Campus - 24.01.2023 - 10:29 

HSG spin-offs focus on sustainability

HSG spin-offs have created over 6000 jobs in recent years. Many of the 171 companies bearing the spin-off label are active in HSG-related sectors such as the finance and insurance industries. But innovative start-ups by HSG graduates are also working in the food industry and in the IT sector. The new "HSG Spin-Off Barometer 2022" also shows that almost all of the companies are oriented towards sustainability goals.

"HSG spin-offs create lasting value in the regional, national and even international spheres," says Dietmar Grichnik, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Technology Management at HSG. This is confirmed by the recently published "HSG Spin-Off Barometer 2022": the 171 official HSG spin-offs – i.e. selected companies founded by HSG graduates – are estimated to have created a total of over 6,000 jobs. In addition to various statistics, the barometer presents some particularly successful HSG spin-offs and their business activities. 

On average, each HSG spin-off creates 23 jobs. One outlier is Planted Foods, which produces plant-based meat substitutes and now employs 190 people. The digital insurance company WeFox has created as many as 1600 jobs across Europe.

Value creation for Switzerland and the region

A large part of this value creation benefits the Swiss economy. Most of all HSG spin-offs have their headquarters in Switzerland (131 companies), many in Germany (25), some in the rest of Europe (4) or in the USA (2). For the barometer, 37 HSG spin-offs were surveyed further in a non-representative, qualitative study. In 2022, 52 percent of these companies had an annual turnover of over CHF 500,000. 67 percent of HSG spin-offs have received funds from venture capitalists, business angels and family offices to date.

Regional business representatives emphasise the benefits of the start-up activities at HSG: "HSG spin-offs create jobs and new, innovative networks locally as well. The entrepreneurship promoted by HSG thus benefits the region and its economy," says Markus Bänziger, Director of the St.Gallen-Appenzell Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK).  

Currently, 27 percent of all HSG spin-offs have their company headquarters in the canton of St.Gallen, 44 percent in the canton of Zurich. "The current barometer also wants to find out why there is this migration," says Grichnik. The young entrepreneurs were therefore asked, among other things, how they rate St.Gallen as a location for start-ups. "We are currently developing a start-up strategy for St.Gallen on behalf of the cantonal government. The results from this survey will flow into it," says Grichnik, who led the study on the Spin-Off Barometer. IHK Director Bänziger says: "There is a lot of discussion about the 'brain drain' from eastern Switzerland towards Zurich. The perspective of the young entrepreneurs now available also provides us as IHK with indications of the areas in which the region can improve in order to retain skilled workers and companies here."

Spin-offs align with UN sustainability goals

Companies must apply for the HSG's Spin-Off Label. The conditions for receiving the label include that the founders must have a HSG connection, that innovative products/services are offered, that the Swiss economy benefits in the event of success and that the business model has strong growth potential. 

A new requirement is that a spin-off must be oriented towards at least three of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The barometer shows that 78 percent of spin-offs are already oriented towards at least one of these goals – climate protection, the reduction of inequality and the development of high-quality educational opportunities are particularly well represented. In addition, 51 percent of the spin-offs surveyed would like to improve their sustainability in various areas. "Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the start-up environment, and investors in particular are actively asking about it," says Grichnik. 

The barometer further shows the diversity of the markets in which HSG spin-offs are represented: Finance and insurance (19 per cent), software (16 per cent), retail (14 per cent) and food and agricultural technology (11 per cent) are the most represented. "This diversity shows that HSG founders take their knowledge from HSG core subjects and apply it to very different areas," says Grichnik. 
The complete HSG Spin-Off Barometer 2022 is available for download here.

The complete HSG Spin-Off Barometer 2022 is available for download here.

Contact for queries:
Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik, Director of the Institute of Technology Management (ITEM-HSG)

+41 71 224 72 01

Diego Probst, Head of Startup@HSG

+41 71 224 72 02 

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