IMD and Innovaud have been supporting startups for many years, through initiatives such as the IMD Startup Competition and the NNexus and Scale Up Vaud programs. But until now, there has been a gap in the overall innovation support ecosystem for tech startup founders who, after getting their business off the ground and completing their all-important first funding round, need targeted aid to kick-start the scale-up process, recruit talent and get their company ready to grow – fast. The LeadiNNg to Scale-Up program fills this gap. “CEOs are often left alone to make all the decisions when their company starts to gain traction,” said Patrick Barbey, the director of Innovaud. “With this new program, IMD and Innovaud are aiming to propel startups to scale with even better support.” A scale-up is a rapidly developing company that achieves 20% annual growth in headcount or revenue in three years. There are currently 43 companies that meet this criterion in the canton of Vaud.
A partnership that was meant to be
The idea behind LeadiNNg to Scale-Up stemmed from a conversation between Patrick Barbey and Jean-François Manzoni, the president of IMD. “We are really proud to be able to support entrepreneurs with best-in-class leadership learning from IMD professors. The partnership adds real value to Vaud’s innovation ecosystem, where academia plays a major role,” said Patrick Barbey. The two organizations have a long history of working in partnership, so developing a joint program was a no-brainer – and building it from scratch was an incredibly smooth process. “Combining IMD’s and Innovaud’s long expertise in supporting entrepreneurs makes this program unique in Switzerland. It is a real differentiator for the canton of Vaud,” explained Anne-France Borgeaud Pierazzi, Head of Public Affairs at IMD.
By founders, for founders
Founding a startup can be a lonely process, and it can be helpful for founders to know that their peers are facing the same challenges. This is why one of the most important aspects of the LeadiNNg to Scale-Up program is building trust among participants. “Though we’ve had quite a bit of experience with startups and scale-ups, we did quite a bit of research and interviewed every candidate, to design this program to focus on the essentials for them”, said Jim Pulcrano, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management at IMD. The program covers three key topics – leadership, organizational design and strategic scaling. Ten sessions spread over six months combine practical case studies with in-person experience-sharing from other entrepreneurs.
For startups, the benefits are numerous: they receive coaching from leading entrepreneurship professors at IMD, gain access to a network of successful scale-ups and entrepreneurs, become part of a community of ambitious founders facing similar challenges and receive a certificate of completion recognized by IMD and Innovaud.
Scalable by design
The overall goal of LeadiNNg to Scale-Up is to build stronger scale-ups that create jobs and boost the local economy. The first round of the program, which is supported by Innovaud, was intended exclusively for Vaud-based startups. Given the demand and enthusiasm it generated, both Innovaud and IMD hope that the program will become self-sustaining and that, in the near future, it will also open up to international startups. Information about the next call for startups will be published in due course.
The 14 members of the first LeadiNNg to Scale-Up cohort:
- CashSentinel – Payment and contracting systems for marketplaces (ICT)
- CYSEC – Data security in confidential computing (cybersecurity)
- DRINKOTEC Beverage Technologies – Complete management and productivity platform for beverage operations (IoT)
- Droople – IoT solution for monitoring water treatment systems, sanitary ware and appliances (ICT)
- INVOLI – Air traffic detection and management solutions for drones and air traffic (drones)
- Iprova – Bringing digital transformation to inventions using ML and NLP (AI)
- Ligentec – Custom-designed photonic integrated circuits (PICs) for LiDAR, quantum computing, biosensing and new space applications (engineering)
- Lookmove – Dynamic and autonomous real-estate search engine and B2B SaaS tools for agents (ICT)
- Novigenix – Data-driven precision medicine (biotechnology)
- Swibeco – Digital one-stop-shop for managing all employee benefit programs in one place (ICT)
- Tayo – Property management platform for simpler interactions between property managers, tenants, co-owners and suppliers (ICT)
- Veertly – Platform for hybrid and online events and digital interactions (ICT)
- Visium – Services and products for companies’ AI transformation journey (AI)
- Zaphiro Technologies – Smart grid solutions for the energy transition (ICT/engineering)