As always, the Swissnex team is excellent at picking out the pain points for their startups and at helping address them. It is tremendously helpful that the team is ‘on-the-ground’ in the target markets and that their knowledge and networks are so extensive. India is a key spot in the world to improve preterm health, therefore the Market Validation Camp was very helpful to us as we got good leads from some investors and gained insights about the Indian healthcare system.Alex Nitsch OxyPrem
What We Do
The innovation team at Swissnex in India creates tailor-made, boutique experiences for Swiss startups and corporates to explore India as a business innovation destination.
We do this in three steps for Swiss startups, and depending on the requirements, you are welcome to choose all three or even one of the stages you’d like us to help you with. If you’re looking at India as a market for the first time, we help you “discover” it or gauge your market potential and business landscape in India. If you’ve already determined India’s market viability, we help you “validate” your startup with in-depth research, access to experts and we even mentor you on ways in which you could adapt your business model—including the possibility of conducting a pilot project—to the Indian ecosystem. And finally, as you prepare to “enter” the market, we curate a bespoke list of and connect you with investors, potential customers and partners, and assist you in actually starting your business in India. At every step, our goal is to empower you with the knowledge, connections and resources necessary for the Indian market.
We help Swiss corporates in several areas, no matter which stage your association with India is at. Everything we offer is customised to your company’s needs. If you’ve never explored India, we provide you with reports and analysis on how facts and figures interact with government policy in India so you can plan and make informed decisions. We also arrange for members of your team to visit India by way of a sabbatical to work on new ideas. We conduct landscape analysis and create reports based on material from primary and secondary sources that will make you aware of strategic areas for innovation collaboration. Once you define a clear objective, we accordingly familiarise you with current trends and connect you with key accelerators, universities and companies in related fields so you can become aware of the potential here. If you already have offices here, we help you utilise the potential talent of your workforce to their highest level, while also empowering them as intrapreneurs. We scout for cutting-edge technology and startups as well as universities particular to your needs to enable the right collaborations.
This is not an exhaustive list and we are more than willing to assist Swiss startups and corporates with requirements beyond what’s mentioned. We have worked with about 180 companies since we launched in 2010. We have more than 30 years of cumulative experience in the Swiss and Indian landscape across industries as well as a very strong network. Besides, nobody understands Swissness like we do.
Think of Swissnex as a trustworthy friend that hand-holds Swiss entrepreneurs through the entire process starting from exploring India as a market to setting up shop here. We are sector agnostic and we strive to enable knowledge exchange and collaborations between corporates and startups.
India is a large and rapidly-growing economy with an annual GDP growth rate of 7% as of 2022, according to the World Bank. Even the Indian government has implemented several policies to enable startup and growth, including tax breaks, and also supports and promotes innovation.
India’s skilled workforce and talent pool is a cut above the rest, with more than 80,000 startups and an increasingly growing startup ecosystem. Indian companies are generally also open to, and, in fact, encourage collaborations. Moreover, the Indian ecosystem is mature with numerous accelerators and 108 unicorns, as of May 2023, according to Invest India.
The advantages of using technology scouting are to spot potentially trailblazing innovations, as we have for companies such as Bühler, Swiss Post and Sulzer. The potential of co-development is enormous as you can rapidly iterate and test for a US, Australian and Brazilian market all at the same time to create a global product. In this space, we’ve worked with companies including Sleepiz, BluAct and Rapyuta Robotics. Developing products in India allows you to do more with less, increasing affordability and accessibility of products.
Here’s a more detailed look at our three camps and why we are the perfect launchpad for Swiss innovators and startups.
I. Market Discovery Camps for Startups
If you are a Swiss researcher-innovator and are interested in exploring entrepreneurship, the Market Discovery Camp is intended specifically for you. The idea is for you to explore whether your high-level applied research can be brought to the Indian markets. Every year a cohort of ten researcher-innovators is selected by way of the competitive Academia Industry Training (AIT) programme.
The Market Discovery Camp is an all-expenses-paid training programme spanning two weeks, where a ten-member cohort will spend one week in India and—after a gap of three-six months—one week in Switzerland. The gap is for the cohort to absorb their learnings and strategise accordingly before the second leg of the camp. Final selection of the cohort will be made by an expert jury.
Candidates are expected to prove their interest in India by presenting their hypothesis on why India is an exciting destination for them. Some ways in which you could do this is by telling us whether you see value in codevelopment in India, whether you think of India as an eventual market, if leveraging India’s strengths to expand to the world is what excites you, or if you want to understand the process of inexpensive development. Feel free to include other reasons for your interest in India. The more compelling your argument, the better your chances are at getting selected.
During your in-person India week, you can expect Swissnex in India to help you:
- Understand India’s unique business culture
- Understand the cultural ecosystem to see how your product fits in the market
- Understand the boundary conditions of your sector—how it is structured, different categories of potential clients, rules and regulations, governing bodies. This knowledge would allow you to think about how you’d like to frame your innovation in the Indian ecosystem including where you could place your innovation, what resources you’re likely to need to place your innovation
- Recognise and map the Indian ecosystem in a way that helps you understand the geographical and social constructs that would work best for your innovation
- Gain knowledge of the basic tenets of conducting business in India, including protecting your IP, setting up a company, potential costs of space and hiring
- Understand how funding works in India
- Establish professional contacts including networking with Indian peers in the same sector
- Ask tough questions so you are equipped to make informed decisions in order to minimise risk
- Connect with subject-matter experts
- Make public presentations at tech conferences and startup events that are attended by technology and innovation startups, multinational companies, investors, policymakers and key players in the ecosystem
- Gain a 360-degree view of the Indian ecosystem and its potential so you can make the right decisions including figuring out whether it would make sense for you to consider India as a market in the first place, and whether it is the right time for you to consider it
In the duration after the first leg of the camp, you will have time to reassess and rework your proposal based on your learnings.
In the second and final leg of the camp, you can expect:
- Masterclasses on incorporating your company; business development; team building and management; negotiating with investors
- Relevant company visits
- Presentation of your innovation to the Swiss ecosystem as well as a networking evening
On the final day, you will present your learnings to an expert jury, at the end of which the two top researcher-innovators will stand a chance to win a grant of CHF 10,000.
The Academia Industry Training (AIT) programme is supported by the Swiss government’s State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation (SERI). AIT is mandated by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), which is the Leading House for South Asia and Iran. In Switzerland, it is managed by Venturelabs, while in India we at Swissnex manage and execute the programme.
II. Market Validation Camps for Startups (Powered by Innosuisse)
If you are a Swiss startup that views India as a potential market and are interested in exploring it, the Market Validation Camp is for you. The tailor-made programme of up to one month, powered by Innosuisse, enables you to test your startup’s business idea onsite and develop a market entry strategy (Innosuisse is the Swiss Innovation Agency that backs science-based innovation). The camp is designed in a way that allows you to gain an immersive experience of the target market first-hand, test and validate your product, service or business idea on-site, speak with local experts and, if India makes sense as a market, develop a market entry strategy. You will also be assigned a working and meeting space with on-site support as well as a stipend of CHF 3,000 to cover your travel and F&B expenses. Applications for the Market Validation Camp are accepted on a rolling basis.
To be eligible for the Market Validation Camp, the Swiss startup must be enrolled in one of the three Innosuisse Coaching Programmes—initial, core or scale-up. You can also apply if you have been awarded the Innosuisse Certificate within the past three years. Startups that do not fulfil either of these criteria must first apply to the Innosuisse Coaching Programme.
While the startup has the option to attend the Market Validation Camp either in-person in India or online, which is tailored to the requirements of each of the startups, the purpose of the camp is to help you understand the market, meet potential partners and prepare for possible business collaborations.
During the camp, you can expect Swissnex in India to help you:
- Map your stakeholders in India including key opinion leaders, potential customers, investors and business partners as well as recognise your competition and potential collaborators
- Determine your product’s market fit
- Determine the pricing of your product
- Figure out supply-chain localisation
- Look at the bigger picture and gauge whether the market could evolve or devolve
- Assess potential risks
- Understand and consider all the relevant policies that could potentially affect you
- Conclude go/no-go decisions for entering the Indian market
III. Market Entry Camps for Startups (Powered by Innosuisse)
If you are a Swiss startup that is interested in and ready to enter the Indian market, the Market Entry Camp, also powered by Innosuisse, is for you. The customised programme lasts for three months where the Swiss startup will be provided with resources and support needed to enter the Indian market. This includes determining the most suitable company structure that would make sense for your business, tax implications and hiring your first employee, as well as developing a market to find your first customers. You will have the opportunity to attend relevant workshops, receive mentorship from experienced players and network with suitable stakeholders.
In the process of entering the market, we’ll help the Swiss startup identify potential partners and collaborators, and modify your products to suit the Indian market. We’ll also connect you with potential partners, customers and investors, as well as assist you with market development and finding the first customer for your business.
During your time here in India, you will be assigned a working and meeting space with on-site support as well as a stipend of CHF 6,000 to cover your travel and F&B expenses. Applications for the Market Entry Camp are accepted on a rolling basis.
Like the Market Validation Camp, the Market Entry Camp, requires that the Swiss startup be enrolled in one of the three Innosuisse Coaching Programmes—initial, core or scale-up. You can also apply if you have been awarded the Innosuisse Certificate within the past three years. Startups that do not fulfil either of these criteria must first apply to the Innosuisse Coaching Programme.
While the startup has the option to attend the Market Entry Camp either in-person in India or online, which is tailored to the requirements of each of the startups, we prefer that the Market Entry Camp be attended in-person since repeated touch points are needed to build confidence in India.
During the camp, you can expect Swissnex in India to help you:
- Get access to a platform where you’ll have the opportunity to promote your offering by positioning at industry events
- Liaise with policy-makers at the government level
- Test your product in India via pilot projects
- Facilitate company setup, payroll management, legal considerations, first employee recruitment
- Look for and finalise appropriate office space
We connect Swiss corporates with key stakeholders in India to help you access the latest relevant market research and intelligence on the Indian innovation ecosystem—including information on new technologies, latest trends and startups of potential interest. We also enable the right kind of partnerships between your company and startups, research institutions as well as the wider ecosystem for knowledge exchange.
Briefly, here are the six services we offer corporates:
I. Landscape Analysis
In this one-two month in-person workshop, we’ll provide you with thorough intelligence on startup communities including accelerators and incubators, investment funds, academic institutions, research centres and the top-10 startups that would be relevant to your business. As the first step, this information will make you aware of potential areas for innovative collaborations.
II. Immersive Ecosystem
This is a three-day in-person immersive experience in innovation hotspots including Bengaluru and New Delhi/ Mumbai where you’ll have the opportunity to interact with industry peers, meet relevant startups, visit accelerators and research institutions and participate in workshops where you’ll gain an industry-wide overview. This programme is ideal for Swiss leadership to deep dive and understand their capabilities in India.
Through our sabbaticals, we promote high-potential employees of your company in working on specific problem statements, defined by and strategically relevant to you. This is an opportunity for you to advance your international innovation as well as a chance for your promising talents to expand their horizons and feel inspired. Based on your requirements, you can choose whether you’d like for your employees to engage in a one-two day online immersion programme, a hybrid programme with four weeks in India and a few sessions online, an eight-week programme in India, or a residency for a duration of your choice where your employees will have workspace access on a monthly basis.
IV. Building Intrapreneurship Programmes
In this long-duration programme, Swissnex will engage with your employees to help them maximise their innovation potential by exploring new concepts, transformational technologies and design validation frameworks, which will consequently empower you to maintain your lead in the industry. The practical aspects of this programme include step-out days at incubators and accelerators, workshops and seminars by experienced entrepreneurs, assessment of ideas against innovation available in the market, pitching those ideas to relevant stakeholders and sharing best practices on innovation-related topics.
If you already have an engagement strategy in place for the Indian market, we’ll help you explore partnerships and investments with startups in India by way of targeted scouting. Over a period of three-six months, based on your requirements, we’ll review and shortlist 50 startups with whom you can explore collaborations. Based on the final value proposition, Swissnex will initiate discussions with each of the startups on your behalf and organise one-to-one meetings with them. We’ll offer you coaching so that the barrier for cross-border partnerships is minimised. We will also liaise to arrange follow-ups with the corporate and the startups for go/no-go decisions.
VI. University Outreach
If you’re looking to expand your presence in India, but are unsure of attracting the right kind of talent for ever-evolving innovation, we’ll look at your requirements and accordingly introduce you to universities and institutions in India. We’ll do this by plugging your company and in-house experts in relevant platforms like including introductions to campus recruitment offices over the course of one year. We could facilitate collaborations between your company and reputed Indian institutions to offer technical training, which is often an effective way to engage with Indian talentpool. We could also arrange for short-term exposure programmes for Indian students and executive trainees by way of scholarships, which could help you build brand visibility.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list and we customise programmes based on specific needs of the company. For more detailed information on how we work with corporates, please click here.
Testimonials and Success Stories
The Market Validation Camp was a founding part of our plans in India. We extensively scouted and eventually connected with key industrial players including leading energy think tanks and policy influencers, getting their valuable feedback about validation of solutions deployment, which is now serving as the key factor for our market entry plans.Saurabh Tembhurne SoHHytech SA
The Market Validation Camp in India has been a great experience. The support and engagement of the Swissnex team has been very helpful in order to better shape our understanding of the Indian market. We have significantly improved our understanding of the insurance/regulatory environment in India as well as of our go-to market approach. We have established a series of leads and deal-flows in the insurance ecosystem and have become members of the Insurtech Association of India (IIA). We have also engaged with the regulatory body Insurance Regulation and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) as well as the National Insurance Association (NIA), and we plan to enter the Indian market with our parametric solution.Thomas Krapf Riskwolf
India is one of our major target markets. The aim of the Market Entry Camp was to move towards industrialisation (including local manufacturing plan), product deployment (working with relevant local players), and legal entry plan (understanding bits and pieces of setting up operations in India), which were all successfully achieved. The camp helped in securing a development partner (which had been a bottleneck before), establishing leads with key corporate customers, and major media coverage of SoHHytec was offered thanks to physical participation at innovation events in Bengaluru. The Swissnex team went above and beyond to connect us with the right group of people and made our camp visit hassle free. We highly recommend the camp and would love to work with Swissnex in the future.Saurabh Tembhurne SoHHytech SA
We were able to position Riskwolf in the Indian market with a series of deal flows and MoUs executed. The Market Entry Camp has been instrumental to move ahead with our Indian market strategy. The programme supported us to gain more business traction, improved our understanding of the Indian insurance market and provided helpful insights into the local market environment. Participation in conferences in Bengaluru helped us position Riskwolf in the insurance market in India, it also introduced us to Indian players and helped us get coverage in local business-news portals.Thomas Krapf Riskwolf
India is a challenging market in which you tend to take two steps forward and one step back. It’s a market that requires patience and continuous engagement. Media coverage and participation at networking events is key to gaining ground and the Market Entry Camp also helped us in being part of the insurance landscape in India to enable our growth in this segment. The Swissnex team was always with us helping us push through the difficult nuances. They have been very professional yet friendly and have listened to our needs and focus points. We have made good inroads in the market due to their coaching and advice.Ashish Trivedi Riskwolf
Dr. Swetha Suresh