Technoparks seek more money for start-ups

Competition for places at Zurich's Technopark is fierce Keystone Archive

Ten of Switzerland's Technoparks have joined forces to push for more state and private funding to continue their work of providing a stable environment for high-tech start-ups.

This content was published on June 24, 2001 - 18:52

The Technoparks have established an umbrella association called "Swissparks.ch" to heighten their profile and fight for their interests on an economic and political level.

"The purpose of the new association is to exchange information on the one hand and on the other to forge a common commitment to some basic principles of what it means to be a Technopark," says the spokeswoman for Zurich's Technopark, Marina de Senarclens.

"The Association will also represent the Technoparks on the political stage and among the business community."

There is a wide range of Technoparks in Switzerland. Zurich's is financed completely by the private sector but some, such as those in Bern and Yverdon, receive state subsidies as well.

St Gallen's Technopark is partly funded by the Federal Institute of Technology and encourages spin-off companies from students and teachers at the Institute.

All the parks aim to give logistical support to entrepreneurs in sectors such as information technology, robotics and medical technology. Rents are cheap and the competition for places is fierce.

Zurich's Technopark is the biggest in the country and almost a decade after it was founded, it now houses 190 enterprises employing around 1,400 people.

"To be admitted you must present a good business plan which is evaluated by a group of experts," says de Senarclens. "They look at the project, its marketing potential and the personalities of the people involved to see if they have what it takes to become an entrepreneur."

The evaluation process is tough but de Senarclens says it is necessary to weed out the chaff. She says it's a successful procedure since the Technopark's failure rate over the past ten years is just 10 per cent. Outside Switzerland, 60 to 70 per cent of new ventures go under.

"The environment of a Technopark is very precious," says de Senarclens. "People who start their own company alone or with a very small crew often feel very alone but in the park they are with many people in the same situation."

Switzerland is at the forefront of industries such as medical technology and, with the founding of the new Technopark Club, de Senarclens hopes to attract more investment to ease the risk felt by many entrepreneurs in setting up their own company.

by Michael Hollingdale

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