“Our goal is to become a deeptech event with global appeal”

Stefan Kyora

01.06.2018 13:52
Jean-Pierre Vuilleumier

Startup DAYs will take place in Bern on 25 and 26 September. With the opening up to international visitors and start-ups, a new design, prize money of CHF 100,000 and more content, the character of the event has changed fundamentally. We talked to organiser Jean-Pierre Vuilleumier, managing director of Startup INVEST.

In recent years, Startup DAYs has undergone many improvements, but this time a whole bundle of innovations has been implemented. Is this a new dimension?
Absolutely. The new name shows this. We have relinquished the ‘Swiss’ and the event is now called Startup DAYs. This signals the most important change, the opening up to other countries. We want to attract more guests and start-ups from abroad to Bern.

That should mean many more visitors. What are the goals?
More than 1,000 visitors are expected to participate on the second day, and half of the start-ups present should come from abroad.

And that’s why it needs a new location?
Exactly. Startup DAYs will still be at the Stade des Suisse on the first day. In the evening, the investor DINNER will take place in the Kornhaus Keller, in which for the first time the 30 best start-ups from the pitching competition can participate. On the second day, we will be in the KURSAAL Bern.

How would you describe the realignment of the event? Where will the journey go?
Our goal in five years is to be known worldwide as a high calibre event for deeptech start-ups. We do not want a mass event with more than 10,000 participants, but a high quality event that represents ‘swiss made’.

How will you attract foreign start-ups?
We will address start-ups primarily through partners. Startup INVEST has had foreign investors as members for years and we will also involve new partners. We have a lot to offer. We will give start-ups access for two days to the entire Swiss ecosystem, including investors, corporates, supporters and start-up showcases. Last but not least, young companies also have the chance to win CHF 100,000 in the competition.

The pitching battle has been completely redesigned. What are the most important changes?
For the first time there is significant prize money of CHF 100,000. We have also redesigned the selection process: 200 start-ups will compete on the first day, with the Startup DAYs jury selecting the top 30. On the second day, the investors and corporates present will choose the top five from the semi-finals. The audience then decides on the winner and runners-up from these five.

In addition, the event has numerous panels, including keynotes. Why this combination?
We are not offering visitors lengthy lectures, but short introductory speeches followed by panel discussions where visitors can ask questions via the event app. The keynote speakers and panelists are top-class.

Which elements have remained the same?
Start-up offers are still the focus on the first day, with masterclasses, panels and the opportunity to network and arrange 1:1 meetings. Networking will continue to be an important focus on the second day. The new location allows up to 1,500 1:1 meetings, including impromptu, unplanned meetings. Extra quiet corners will be set up for this purpose.

And what about the prices?
They have risen only moderately. There is also an event ticket for the first time; ie, an event pass for both days. And Early Bird tickets are available now.

More information and registration on the website of the event.

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