Campus - 15.03.2023 - 15:47 

University of St.Gallen (HSG) supports start-ups from emerging countries

HSG is helping 33 young entrepreneurs from emerging countries develop their start-ups. To this end, the young men and women spend a semester at HSG. The idea for this Start Fellowship programme came from HSG students. 

“Anyone who establishes a company as an HSG student will do so under the perfect conditions - such as having access to coaching or investor networks. We want founders from emerging countries to be able to benefit from these opportunities too”, says Janos Gründling. Together with a team of 13 students, he is responsible for organising the START Fellowship programme at the student organisation START Global, within the scope of which, 33 students from seven Latin American countries will spend a semester at HSG this spring. Here they will be trained on entrepreneurial topics and can network with start-up founders, coaches and investors. One highlight is their participation in the START Summit at the end of March in St.Gallen. This is Europe’s largest conference for entrepreneurship and technology organised by students.

HSG students developed programme

The START Fellowship was developed and implemented by HSG students from START Global. The programme is also integrated into the official exchange offers of HSG’s Student Mobility Services. In 2023, a third group of students who have founded start-ups will be coming to HSG from Latin American countries, thanks to this initiative. 

Their stay will be fully financed by the Swiss Fondation Botnar. “Thanks to this support, they can focus fully on developing their companies during their time in St.Gallen”, says Gründling, who is himself is a bachelor’s student in the Business Administration degree programme at HSG. 

Expansion to further continents

Because the programme is still being set up, the focus is currently on Latin America. “There is also an extremely active start-up scene there”, says Gründling. However, it is planned that young entrepreneurs from other regions of the world will also be able to apply in 2024. In addition, more than the current maximum of 35 places will be offered. In the current year, around 300 applications were received from Latin American countries.

The students behind the START Fellowship were able to draw on HSG’s strong international network to implement their initiative. HSG offers its students exchange opportunities with over 200 partner universities worldwide. In 2022, around 1400 HSG students took advantage of this opportunity. At the same time, around 700 foreign guests students studied at HSG. The Fellowship initiators made additional contacts with some Latin American universities during a trip through Latin America, which could serve to expand the HSG exchange network. They were supported in this by HSG’s Student Mobility Services.

The Latin American students attend up to two courses on entrepreneurship at HSG. In addition, they get to work in The Hub, located at St.Gallen train station. Various HSG start-ups work in this co-working space on several floors. Workshops on entrepreneurial topics also take place there on a regular basis. “Depending on their questions, we also put them in contact with experts in various fields,” says Gründling. 

At the end of March, they will participate in the START Summit and, at the end of their stay, a trip to the lively start-up ecosystem of Berlin is planned. Shortly before they leave for their home countries, the Latin American entrepreneurs will be able to pitch to Swiss investors again at Google’s offices in Zurich. 

START Global wants to use the programme to increase global equal opportunities. “The funded start-ups will hopefully create sustainably better living conditions in their home countries. The programme also aims to create global networks that connect HSG with entrepreneurs worldwide beyond the exchange semester”, says Gründling. One concrete example is the start-up Contler, which digitalises hotel services: It was jointly founded by HSG student Ruben Lardi and Colombian Fellowship participant Mateo Bolívar Sierra. 


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