Background - 08.02.2024 - 11:30 

Start-up funding in St.Gallen: Government applies for special loan – HSG strengthens innovation and transfer

An attractive location for young entrepreneurs: this is what the Canton of St.Gallen should be known for in future. Armed with a start-up strategy developed by the University of St.Gallen (HSG) in 2023, the government is ready to move forward. It is applying to the Cantonal Council for a special credit of ten million francs to implement the measures. 5.4 million is earmarked as start-up funding for the establishment of the "HSG START Accelerator" Foundation. The Cantonal Council is expected to discuss the matter next June.
Cantonal Council may approve 10 million francs. 5.4 million earmarked for start-up funding and the establishment of HSG START Accelerator Foundation.

In the summer of 2023, Prof Dr Dietmar Grichnik and a team from the HSG's Center for Entrepreneurship (CfE-HSG) developed a start-up strategy for the Canton on behalf of St.Gallen's location promotion agency. To this end, they regularly exchanged ideas with the location promotion organisation and, in a workshop, with department from Finance, Economics and Education. Now it is time for implementation: Last week, the Canton of St.Gallen provided detailed information about the plans. A special credit of CHF 10 million, which will be requested from the Cantonal Council, is to be utilised as follows: The existing "Startfeld" foundation is to be financially strengthened with CHF 4.6 million. This will enable it to increase the funding per start-up from CHF 300,000 to CHF 500,000 if necessary or to support additional start-ups.

A further CHF 5.4 million is to be provided as start-up funding for the "HSG START Accelerator" foundation, which is to be soon established. This amount will be used to set up and operate a new accelerator programme that will support national and international start-ups in their growth and professionalisation.

The University of St.Gallen, START Global and Switzerland Innovation Park East are founding partners of the new foundation, which is intended to be self-supporting in future. It would be the first independent accelerator in Switzerland without an industry focus to support start-ups on their growth path. The international focus will enrich the start-up scene in the Canton of St.Gallen. 

A useful addition to existing programmes

"Innovation knows no boundaries. With the HSG START Accelerator, we could usefully supplement the proven Startup@HSG incubator and make local start-ups fit for rapid market growth – also internationally. Such an offer has been lacking in St.Gallen up to now," says Dietmar Grichnik, who has headed the new Vice-Rectorate for Innovation (PIQ) and Quality at the HSG since 1 February. The accelerator programme would strengthen the regional start-up scene in the long term and close a gap in supply and financing. "This strategic orientation will increase the dynamism of the start-up ecosystem, promote innovation in a more targeted way and strengthen value creation in the region," Dietmar Grichnik is convinced. It would also support other measures that have also been taken internally at the HSG.

For example, the new President's Board has emphasised the central importance of innovation and transfer for the HSG by setting up the "Entrepreneurship & Innovation" service unit in the PIQ. Entrepreneurial talents are closely supported and specifically promoted at the HSG during the incubation, acceleration, transfer and spin-off phases. The professionalisation of the entire entrepreneurship funnel as well as the transfer of knowledge and technology is a central task of the HSG, also in order to create value for St.Gallen as a business location. 

START Summit is just around the corner

Speaking of creating value for the region: on 21 and 22 March 2024, St.Gallen will once again become a meeting place for the international start-up scene. The START Summit, organised by HSG students, will take place in the Olma Hallen in a strategic partnership with the HSG. Over 7000 founders, investors, media representatives and other interested parties are expected to attend the event in St.Gallen. In addition, the city of St.Gallen has recently made networking the local economy with international guests at the event one of its annual goals.

Image: Start Summit 2023 | Hannes Thalmann

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