Credit Suisse and UBS are reported to be backing a new start-up hub in Zurich designed to promote the city as a European centre for financial technology.
The two banks have joined other Swiss companies to make an investment of $3.9 million to launch Kickstart, an accelerator which will help develop 30 start-ups from 19 countries in areas including financial technology, according to the Financial Times.
Putting Switzerland on the Map
Salvatore Iacangelo, head of digital transformation at Credit Suisse, commented: “We want Switzerland to be ready for the future. It’s not about trying to ringfence and keep competitors out, the goal is to establish the world’s financial centre also as a fintech centre and as a consequence everybody wants to join forces.”
Despite its strong presence in the finance sector, Switzerland has been slow off the mark in gaining entrepreneurial talent, especially in fintech. Hence, the aim is to make Zurich attractive for entrepreneurs by way of venture capital and investors that support new ideas.
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Andreas Kubli, group managing director at UBS Switzerland, one of the investors, said: “This could well serve as a new model of promoting start-ups and proving the viability of their business.”
Stephan Kuester, managing director of DigitalZurich2025, which runs the accelerator programme, said that the program is expected to run for a minimum of three years and will focus on the strengths of the Swiss, compared to other tech hotspots such as London and Berlin.
He added: “We also have an incredible concentration of blockchain start-ups, a host of well-known companies including Ethereum which have made a global impact. This is what we are building on, to expand this immensely vibrant local scene and get on the map alongside hubs like London, Tel Aviv and San Francisco.”
Kickstart’s launch comes as London’s status as a leading European technology hub, particularly for fintech, has come under the spotlight following the vote to leave the EU, with cities such as Zurich and Berlin having ambitions to become the new fintech capital of Europe.
Kubli said that UBS has backed the rollout of some digital technologies, including the use of blockchain to clear and settle financial trades. Many of those innovations have been realised in close co-operation with start-ups and are a vital part of our strategy.”