Renowned for its technological advancements and business acumen, Switzerland has firmly established itself as a hotbed of innovation and a thriving hub for startups. The country – a place I’m also very happy to call home – combines scientific brilliance and entrepreneurial expertise. With a vibrant entrepreneurial landscape at its core, Switzerland continues to drive economic growth and spearhead technological progress.

As I reflect on my more than three-decade career in global banking, I can't help but marvel at the profound transformation that fintech innovations have brought to the industry. From humble beginnings in the 1990s to groundbreaking advances in 2023, these transformative changes have left an indelible mark on the world of banking and laid the foundation for a truly interconnected financial world.

With the introduction of online banking, we were able to offer our clients unparalleled convenience, extending our reach beyond physical branches. As the new millennium approached and e-commerce was on the rise, we integrated payment gateways into our platforms, empowering businesses to thrive in the digital era. In the latter part of my career, the concept of open banking has emerged as a driving force for collaboration and innovation. Through secure data sharing via APIs, we forged strategic partnerships with fintech providers, enriching our product offerings and fostering a customer-centric approach. Witnessing the positive impact of these collaborative efforts has been immensely rewarding.

Connecting people allows companies to focus on their core business and find the right solutions and experts to take care of the other areas, such as banking, IT, insurance solutions and so much more. Getting support from different experts allows innovators to turn their new ideas into a business model. This type of growth and economic activity isn’t only important for the founders and industries, it’s crucial for our communities, too.

What makes Switzerland such a great place for innovation

In the Swiss landscape, innovation isn’t just a buzzword but a deeply ingrained value that permeates every sector. Our unwavering commitment to fostering entrepreneurship has created an ecosystem that nurtures and empowers aspiring entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into impactful ventures and make a lasting impact on the global stage. Fueling this entrepreneurial spirit is a culture that encourages calculated risk-taking, embraces collaboration, and supports disruptive thinking. Both the country, and we here at UBS, cultivate an ecosystem where aspiring entrepreneurs are provided with the necessary support, resources, and networks to navigate the challenges and complexities of the startup journey. From mentorship programs and funding access to incubators and accelerators, our infrastructure empowers entrepreneurs to turn their innovative ideas into tangible realities.

Our trusted and longstanding business environment, characterized by political stability, a robust legal framework, and strong intellectual property protection, provides a solid foundation for startups to thrive. Access to global markets, a highly skilled workforce, and a strong network of investors and industry experts further enhance the growth potential of Swiss startups. Have I convinced you yet that Switzerland may just be the perfect location for your venture?

Boosting entrepreneurship through strategic partnerships

One of our key initiatives is investing in the next generation of entrepreneurial talent, and the intersection of science, technology, and entrepreneurship is one of the most important to nurture. We are actively engaging in the startups and SMEs field and continuously expanding the UBS ecosystem. For example, the UBS Marketplace, launched in October 2022, contains attractive offerings for startups and established SMEs. We have a strong business founders offering which is continuously expanded with new partnerships tailored to enable Swiss entrepreneurs founding their own business. We partnered recently with Tenity1, Switzerland's premier innovation ecosystem in the fintech and insurtech sectors. UBS Next, our venture and innovation unit, will be investing in the Tenity Incubation Fund, a bold move to bolster fintech innovation. With the strategic partnership and investment in Numarics, a digital accounting and fiduciary provider, we have reached a significant milestone in the expansion of our ecosystem to provide an integrated offering for startups and SMEs in Switzerland. Another element is our partnership with Zurich. During the digital account opening process with us, startups are also suggested suitable insurance solutions and offers can be created right away.

And ultimately for over seven years UBS has been actively supporting young Swiss enterprises and their founders in finding innovative financing solutions. UBS Growth Advisory is our dedicated and very experienced team that offers equity fundraising services and is leading our ever-growing growth credit offering for Swiss scaleups.

I believe that digitalization is the key to future-oriented banking, and partnerships such as with Tenity and Numarics provides us with a golden opportunity to expand our fintech network and unleash innovative ideas and solutions tailored to the specific needs of our Swiss clients. This partnership, like any, is rooted in knowledge exchange which plays a vital role in driving innovation.

What Nobel Laureates can teach us about entrepreneurship and innovation

With the Nobel Perspectives program, we ask Nobel Laureates in Economic Sciences to help answer the questions that matter most, so of course we’ve consulted them on this topic as well. I’ll leave you with some advice from the scholars themselves.

Edward Prescott, an expert on business cycles, emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and finding fulfillment in life. As someone with extensive entrepreneurial experience himself, he also encourages a deep understanding of how things work. “I like to organize things and see how it works. A good entrepreneur has to do that,” said Prescott. “The advice is individual responsibility. Do something you like and give it a good try and be proud of yourself. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do.”

“You only live once, so work hard and enjoy life,” said Prescott. “Give things a try, if you do your best and it didn’t work, you should be proud of yourself because you tried.”

Finn Kydland, Prescott’s co-laureate and a fellow expert in business cycles, was always motivated by questions and often in those questions, new ideologies emerged. “Sometimes you come up with questions where you realize the technology is not there at the time,” says Kydland. “A successful researcher ought to have the ability and the willingness to develop that methodology.”

When asked what his advice is for young entrepreneurs, he hesitated for a short moment. “Such a question is always hard to predict because the world is uncertain,” he says. “First of all, I'm a great believer in doing what you really are interested in, what you love to do. I mean, if we can combine that with earning a good salary, nothing is better.”

I strongly believe in holistic and seamless solutions offered by experts from different industries. The pace of innovation has increased massively, and we want to bring together people with great ideas, expertise, and solutions, with the aim of complementing each other's offerings while striving for excellence in our core business.

I remain committed to embracing the transformative power of fintech and cultivating connections with experts. The fintech revolution has thought me that the pursuit of innovation and progress requires constant collaboration with people who have diverse expertise and breakthrough insights. Together, we can continue to revolutionize banking. We bring forth new ideas and solutions that benefit our customers and the industry as a whole. If you’re considering a new venture, take this as your sign to make the leap.

About the Authors

Andy Kollegger is Head Institutional & Multinational banking at UBS and a member of the Executive Committee UBS Switzerland. With over 30 years at UBS, including several leadership roles, he caters to the complex needs of corporate and institutional clients, spearheads cross-divisional strategies, and harnesses digitization efforts. He balances work-life by spending quality time with his wife and their friends and families, hiking in the mountains and exploring the world off the beaten tracks.

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