Campus - 26.06.2024 - 11:00 

Newly established HSG START Accelerator Foundation promotes startups in Eastern Switzerland

The HSG START Accelerator Foundation supports national and international startups in the professionalization of their companies with a special funding programme. The founding partners are HSG, START Global and Switzerland Innovation Park Ost, or (SIP Ost). On June 26, 2024, the three organisations officially signed the agreement. The foundation, which is based at SIP East, is now in operation for entrepreneurs.
Members of the project team (f.l.t.r.): Jürg Stuker, Max Bieri, Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik, Dr. Cornelia Gut-Villa, Niklas Rückwald, Dr. des. Bernd F. Schneider

The HSG START Accelerator is to become the leading accelerator program in Europe and will support technology-oriented startups on their growth path. In autumn 2024, the organizers will test a three-month intensive program with a so-called "pilot batch". The first regular batch will start in spring 2025. The program prepares national and international startups specifically for the growth phase and helps them to increase their chances of survival and their attractiveness, especially for venture capital investors. 

St.Gallen as an attractive location for young entrepreneurs

The canton of St.Gallen wants to establish itself as an attractive location for young entrepreneurs. The government of the Canton of St.Gallen would therefore like to support the joint project HSG START Accelerator of the University of St.Gallen together with Switzerland Innovation Park Ost (SIP Ost) and START Global with CHF 5.4 million. At the same time, CHF 4.6 million is to be made available to financially strengthen the existing "Startfeld" foundation. The Cantonal Council discussed the matter at first reading during the summer session. The second reading is scheduled for the 2024 fall session.

The joint project arose from the mandate of the Canton of St.Gallen's location promotion department to develop a startup strategy for the canton. The accelerator program will strengthen the regional startup scene in the long term and close a gap in services and financing. St.Gallen currently lacks such a program. During the "START Summit" startup summit at the end of March 2024, it was announced that the foundation would be established in June 2024. 

Three foundation board members with startup experience 

The Board of Trustees of the Accelerator program is made up of three members who are active and committed in the St.Gallen startup scene: 

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik (chairmanship): 
Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik is vice-rector for Innovation and Quality, full professor of Entrepreneurship and director of the Institute of Technology Management (ITEM-HSG) at the University of St.Gallen. As founder and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship (Startup@HSG) and the Global Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, he is committed to promoting HSG spin-offs and the Swiss startup ecosystem. As a coach and investor, Dietmar Grichnik is involved in fast-growing companies such as First Stop Health, a telemedicine company listed in the Inc. 500, and CareerOS, an EduTech startup from the USA. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation Switzerland Innovation and the Board of Directors of Switzerland Innovation Park Ost (SIP Ost). Dietmar Grichnik is one of the top 100 leading entrepreneurship professors worldwide.

“With the HSG START Accelerator, we are joining forces to promote our entrepreneurial talents with the aim of making a contribution to society and the economy in the region.”
(Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik)

Dr. Cornelia Gut-Villa (Vice-Chair):
Cornelia Gut-Villa graduated from the University of Zurich and has over 20 years of experience in banking, strategy consulting and startup coaching. Among other things, she is managing director of the Startfeld Foundation, which finances young entrepreneurs in the seed phase, and is responsible for investor relations at Switzerland Innovation Park Ost (SIP OST). Cornelia Gut-Villa is also active on the board of the Swiss ICT Investor Club (SICTIC), the first point of contact for technology startups based in Switzerland that are looking for "smart money" financing. She is a member of the Board of Directors of various companies (including Egonym AG and Signifikant AG) and a member of the Board of Directors of Swiss VR. The SECA (Swiss Private Equity & Corporate Finance Association) named Cornelia Gut-Villa the 18th Business Angel of the Year in 2021. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board at HSG. 

“Thanks to the HSG START Accelerator, a tool is being created so that startups can develop the skills for international scaling and successfully implement their business models on global markets.”
(Dr. Cornelia Gut-Villa)

Andreas Göldi (member of the Foundation Board):
Andreas Göldi has been a partner at the venture capital firm b2venture since 2019 and is an enthusiastic technologist, serial entrepreneur and investor with over 25 years of experience. In the 1990s, while still a student at the University of St.Gallen, he founded his first startup Namics, a digital consulting company that was acquired a few years later. The company built several pioneering websites in German-speaking countries in the early days of the Internet. After 2004, Andreas Göldi founded several other companies in the fields of online media, social media analytics and video marketing. Born in St.Gallen, he spent twelve years in the Boston region, first as a Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and from 2007 as an entrepreneur. His two US-based startups were early adopters of machine learning and cloud infrastructure.

“Europe is producing groundbreaking technological innovations, but in terms of commercialization in startups, we are lagging behind other parts of the world. The program aims to make a contribution to advancing this topic in the St.Gallen region.”
(Andreas Göldi)