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Start Me Up: Silicon Valley Startup Camp

Cultivating the next generation of Swiss entrepreneurs starts young. But with the help of the Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, or the Bank of the Canton of Vaud (BCV), in Switzerland, a new crop may soon be hitting the scene.

This September, BCV partners with swissnex San Francisco and other institutions to offer the Silicon Valley Startup Camp to students under 25 studying in the Swiss canton, which is equivalent to a US state. To participate, students must have bright ideas for the future and a willingness to think outside-of-the-box.

BCV Silicon Valley Startup Camp

Qualifying individuals had until May 21st to apply for the Camp by providing a proposal for the startup of their dreams along with a description of what they hoped to get out of the program.

Up to ten students will be selected this summer by a jury to win a weeklong immersion in the Silicon Valley beginning on September 8th. Their prize is being organized by swissnex San Francisco’s Startup Services team and includes a heady mix of fun and learning, with an emphasis on the learning.

Quote BCV startup camp

“It won’t be passive, that’s for sure,” says Cyril Dorsaz of swissnex San Francisco.

The ambitious agenda for the budding entrepreneurs will ask them to identify a startup idea on day one and build on it throughout the week during workshops, visits to big name companies as well as hot new startups, networking opportunities, and more. On the last day, participants present a full-blown pitch to the group as if they were CEOs looking for investors. Students will also work in teams to complete tasks in exchange for points.

For BCV, the competition encourages and inspires students to think about an entrepreneurial career. Organizers know that the best way to get students acquainted with the startup spirit is by giving them a real life taste of the Silicon Valley mindset—one of the world’s most famously and frenetically entrepreneurial places. And who better to help than embedded Silicon Valley experts with a deep understanding of Switzerland? Who better than swissnex San Francisco?

“I knew about the swissnex work in the domains of science, high tech, and entrepreneurship, so I asked [Executive Director] Christian Simm and his team to help us with a press trip in Silicon Valley a couple of years ago,” says Christian Jacot-Descombes, BCV Head of Corporate Communications. “They went above and beyond and played a major role in organizing a very successful trip. They had the knowledge, the network, and the smile to help us discover the Silicon Valley. When it came to choosing a partner for the Silicon Valley Startup Camp, swissnex was the obvious choice.”

The swissnex San Francisco Startup Services team is drawn to the BCV project because “It’s an example of a private company interested in education and giving back,” according to Cyril Dorsaz. “And that’s something we support.”

Stay tuned. The next big idea is bound to come from Switzerland.


The Silicon Valley Startup Camp is run by BCV in collaboration with the University of Lausanne, EPFL, the Haute Ecoles Spécialisées, the Vaud Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CVCI), the Fondation pour l’Innovation Technique, British American Tobacco, swissnex San Francisco, and Philias.

Learn more about swissnex San Francisco’s Startup Services, including the US Market Entry CAMP.

Watch the video of the BCV Startup Camp