African startups have been invited to apply for the Switzerland-based zero-equity Kickstart Accelerator, with participating founders offered training, mentorship and the chance to win CHF25,000 (US$25,000).
Applications are open now for the 11-week Kickstart Accelerator, which will begin on September 4 and conclude with a demo day on November 17.
As well as having the chance to win funding for their startup, founders will receive a monthly stipend and attend masterclass sessions with mentors from corporate partners and the Swiss innovation ecosystem.
“Our inaugural year saw over 850 applications from across the globe and so we are looking forward to seeing the calibre of this year’s innovators. The Swiss ecosystem offers startups the opportunity to work with like-minded entrepreneurs, experienced mentors and some of the biggest corporate players to deliver impactful innovations to key industries,” said programme manager Patricia Schlenter.
Kickstart aims to develop close collaboration between corporate partners and startups, as well as between the startups themselves across the different verticals, during and beyond the duration of the programme. This year’s corporate partners include ICT provider Swisscom, multinational insurance firms Swiss Life and AXA Winterthur, and financial services company Credit Suisse.
“Innovation is a key area of focus for our business and we are committed to working closely with other companies to promote and strengthen Switzerland’s status as an innovation and digital hub. We are particularly interested in ‘smart cities’ as they will strongly influence society’s mobility and have a major impact on the insurance industry,” said Carola Wahl, head of transformation and market management at AXA Winterthur.
“Cooperation between the startups and corporate partners will allow the entrepreneurs to benefit from the corporates’ know-how and large customer networks, as well as enable them to develop new technologies and disruptive products together.”
Up to 30 startups will be selected to participate, with Kickstart looking for applications from companies in the food, fintech, smart cities and robotics spaces. Startups will have the chance to win proof of concept agreements with the corporates involved, and the accelerator will be operated by Impact Hub Zurich.