CAMPing out at swissnex

When it comes to the start-up universe, the US market still shines brighter than a supernova. That’s why the swissnex outposts in San Francisco and Boston are dedicated to helping Swiss entrepreneurs get connected in the two innovation hubs. Now, thanks to the US Market Entry CAMP, kicked off in September of 2010, Swiss start-ups in the CTI (Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency) program have a clear and direct launching pad.

Designed by CTI Start-up, swissnex San Francisco, and swissnex Boston, with vital support from GEBERT RÜF STIFTUNG, the CAMP aims to both speed up and smooth out the transition into the US market through a focused, three-month stay at either swissnex. Tailored activities are built around each company’s unique needs and goals in order to increase chances of success in the competitive landscape.

“For a start-up, the US market presents many new opportunities and offers the potential for massive growth,” says Gioia Deucher, swissnex San Francisco’s head of entrepreneurship. “While Europeans are culturally similar to North Americans in many ways, there are subtle differences that require adaptability and time for an entrepreneur to get used to. Through the CAMP, we work with start-ups to jump ahead of the learning curve for maximum success.”

The CAMP is part of CTI’s Going USA initiative. Companies must first be nominated by a CTI coach, then approved by a professional panel of business leaders in the US before being offered the three-month office infrastructure in San Francisco or Boston, customized agenda, and small stipend toward travel and accommodation. Acceptance to the CAMP is based on company quality, maturity, fit for the US market, and pre-defined milestones.

The swissnex offices in Boston and San Francisco can host up to two start-ups at a time. swissnex experts work with these companies and their coaches to acclimate them in the local market, provide initial introductions to investors, facilite interactions with mentors and professional organizations, and monitor  progress.

The first CAMPers at swissnex San Francisco arrived in November, 2010. Dacuda, represented by CEO Alexander Illic, developed technology for the world’s first scanning mouse and announced an exclusive license with electronics company LG at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, 2011. Samuel Müller, CEO of Mirasense, brought his Scandit iPhone app to the US, which lets users shop, share, and compare commercial products with a barcode scanner and related functionality.

Since 1996, the CTI Start-up program has enabled entrepreneurs to realize their innovative ideas professionally by providing targeted guidance and coaching. For the last four years, swissnex San Francisco has managed the program’s US arm by offering workspace and access to a network of industry experts, venture capitalists, and potential partners. Over 30 Swiss technology-based start-ups, from IT to biotech and including numerous spin-offs from Switzerland’s Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne, have passed through San Francisco as part of Going USA. The CAMP takes this guidance to the next level.

Earlier stage start-ups considering entering the US market can now also take advantage of CTI’s US Market 101 Expert Module in Switzerland. While this course is not a prerequisite for the CAMP, it can be helpful. The CAMP is coordinated with the Venture Leaders platform to leverage strengths and provide Swiss start-ups with every opportunity for a truly stellar rise.

Questions or comments on the CAMP? Contact CTI’s Ulf Claesson, swissnex San Francisco’s Gioia Deucher, or Pascal Marmier at swissnex Boston.