The 5 Must-Attend Startup Events in Switzerland 2017

Last week, a new innovation manager joined my team at Swisscom. Metin has a track record in open innovation and startups but is new to the Swiss startup ecosystem, and now needs to get up to speed quickly. One of the best ways to understand what’s going on and to meet the relevant startups is events and conferences. So which ones are the top events that you need to attend?

Stage time @ START Summit 2016

Stage time @ START Summit 2016

I thought I’d share our list because it can help everyone interested in immersing in the Swiss startup scene. I’m aware that this selection is subjective and does leave out some very cool events. However, I believe the compilation has a good balance across geographies, stages and perspectives:

  • Start Summit is on March 24/25. This entrepreneurship conference started out in 2012 as a small student initiative, which doubled the number of participants each year to an impressive 1,500 visitors last year. It is still run by students and attracts not only Swiss entrepreneurs but like-minded people from all over Europe. Because of HSG’s reputation, they can attract top speakers such as the Bibop Gresta, COO from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. In addition to the talks on two stages there are a lot of entrepreneurship initiatives with a booth and a joint hackathon with ETH Zurich (we are also there). The focus is on fintech. Overall: This conference is professional and fun!
  • EPFL Startup Night is one of the best networking events in the startup scene for Lausanne and Geneva. The selection of speakers is usually great and you’ll find around 30 startups with their own booths to see what they do. It is also the place to be of startup investors in Western Switzerland and will be on April 26.
  • If you are looking to work for a startup or need co-founders or employees, you should apply to the Startup Speed Dating events taking place in May and October. Each time, they match about 40 startups with over 120 candidates. Organized by the ETH Entrepreneurs Club, the entrepreneurship initiative from ETH Zurich, which has built an impressive line-up of events, this is hands down the best marketplace for startup recruiting in Switzerland.
  • If you want to go a bit more techy, you mustn’t miss HackZurich. Initiated by the EHT Entrepreneursclub, this is now become the largest hackathon in Europe. Over 500 hackers from more than 30 countries participated in last year’s event. Save September 15–17 if you’d like to be there.
  • Coming out of the CTI Invest community, the Swiss Startup Day event in Berne is the annual get-together of the Swiss startup scene – startups, investors and corporates got to be there. Great keynotes (last year with Bundesrat Johann Schneider-Ammann), a VC pitching and over 600 one-on-one sessions with investors make this day a must. The next edition takes place on Oct 25 with an investors’ dinner the evening before (invitation only).

In addition to those bigger annual events it may be worthwhile to also check for smaller events here: ImpactHubKickstartAcceleratorSECA:, InnovaudFongitDigitalswitzerland and of course our Pirates Hub Newsletter.

Looking forward to seeing you around!

You can follow me on Twitter & Instagram @pennyschiffer.

HackZurich Demo Day

HackZurich Demo Day