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Tech tourism in Switzerland

Sven Lingjaerde, founder of the Europe Tech Tour. Sven Lingjaerde

High finance met high technology for a two-day whirlwind tour of Switzerland as the EuropeanTechTour organization got underway earlier this month.

This content was published on March 12, 2003 - 15:08

The tour brought international venture capitalists together with Swiss startup companies in the second such event in five years.

Delegates heard "pitches" from twenty-nine, privately-owned, Swiss companies in a variety of venues.

"This is a way to stay close to the Swiss entrepreneurial scene, " Holger Heims of Deutsche Venture Capital told Swiss Venture.

"Despite being in Munich and relatively close, there are still deals that don't get to us,"

Intel Capital, which has invested in six Swiss tech firms in the past few months, was one of the dozens of investment firms represented, as was LogiSpring, a corporate venture fund.

Exposure and interaction

"The Tech tour provides investors like ourselves with a wonderful means to gain both exposure to investment opportunities in a structured and efficient format, as well as interact with other investors in a focused but fun setting," says James Brown, an investment manager at LogiSpring.

The event provides startups with a chance to meet experienced investors from the private equity and investment banking sectors.

"In 1998 I presented Xemics at the first Swiss tech tour, and that helped us a lot in closing our first venture capital round a year later," says Roland Heer, CEO of Seclutions, a software firm.

"This year's event seems to have doubled its importance and quality. But it will still be hard to find investment money," says Heer.

Train tour

Participants were transported by boat, trains and buses to each of the venues selected for the tour. Each had an attachment to the high-tech economy.

Three companies made their pitches on a Swiss train rented for the event that traveled from Zurich to Biel.

Participants then traveled to Neuchatel where they were hosted by the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microsystems. They then visited the Federal Technical University in Lausanne.

Both of these organizations are developing an impressive track record for spinning off successful technology firms.

Unemployed entrepreneurs

Perhaps it was a sign of the times that a number of experienced, but unemployed, venture capitalist and managers participated in the tour as volunteers, to tap the market for a new gig.

In the coming weeks, Swiss Venture Update will profile a number of the companies who participated.

Some of them will already be known to regular readers as they have appeared in these pages over the past months, namely SVOX, Avalon Photonics, Bridgeco, Seclutions, Nemerix, Colibrys, brightrivers, Thales Technologlies, Aplvision, and esmertec.

But there are plenty of new names to be added to the list, some of whom are certain to end up being important parts of the Swiss economy in years to come.

By Valerie Thompson

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