Francesca @ Swissnex Boston

The Swiss National Startup Team visited the East Coast for the 15th time in a row; a 10 days business development boot camp with pit stops in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Niccolo, Project Leader of this program called Venture Leaders, was supported by my colleague David and myself. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot on how to manage a big project as well as how to launch your own business in the US. But let’s see what it is.


Every year since 2001, the Venture Leaders program has introduced over 280 Swiss start-ups to the US start-up ecosystem. Co-organized by Venturelab and swissnex Boston, this program includes executive education, mentoring workshops with local industry leaders and investors and demo events for 20 of the most promising start-ups spinning out of our technical universities. The 2015 team encompasses a large array of industries with innovations ranging from the biotech to the robotics and engineering field.

In the first week the Venture Leaders benefited from a three-day intensive program at Babson College, one of the highest ranked business schools in the world, specialized in management and entrepreneurship. The team attended classes led by Prof. Les Charm and Prof. Ed Marram on team building, decision-making processes, strategy, and leadership.

The day after, they had the opportunity to pitch their businesses in front of experienced experts of the respective industries. These sessions provided the entrepreneurs with valuable feedback for refining their ideas and strategies. The sessions took place at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), a co-working space more than 600 start-ups. The CIC is considered the ‘Mecca’ of start-ups in Boston, where many large corporations decide to have a presence and access to a strong pool of resources for innovation.


For the first time in the history of the program, the Venture Leaders had the pleasure to get to know the practices of a global Design Thinking Agency. The group visited Continuum, a world-leader in this creative method. The entrepreneurs were introduced to the design thinking method and could apply the method hands-on to some of their own business ideas. Michael Amante, Pete Chapin and Michael Dunkley of Continuum did a great job explaining the design thinking technique and showing some new perspectives to the group.


In the second week, the six Biotech Venture Leaders took off very early to attend the BIO International Convention in Philadelphia: the largest global event for the biotechnology industry. I had the great opportunity to be in charge of the organization of these 3 days in Philly. At 5.30am we woke up, ready to represent the Swiss Start-up Corner, within the SWISS Pavilion at the BIO International Convention.


Many other activities happened in Philadelphia and in New York; I will update you in my next blog entry. Stay tuned and follow this great experience on twitter @CzFrancesca

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