The >>venture>> foundation was founded in 2013 to formalize support for the >>venture>> competition, which has been empowering young Swiss startups since 1997. It is funded by the organizers and by the sponsors represented on the Advisory Board. The activities of the foundation are also made possible by generous hands-on support from mentors and jurors, which is provided exclusively on a pro bono basis. 



>>venture>> is the leading competition for up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Switzerland.
Founded by Dr. Thomas Knecht in 1997, the competition empowers young innovators to develop their business ideas into startup companies.
A joint initiative of ETH Zürich, McKinsey & Company, Knecht Holding, Innosuisse and EPFL, >>venture>> has been led by the >>venture>> foundation since 2013.
venture startup competition team
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Thomas Knecht

Board Chairman of Knecht Holding / Founder of >>venture>>

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André Kudelski

President of Innosuisse

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Martin Vetterli

President EPFL

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Ulrich Jakob Looser

Chairman of >>venture foundation>> / Partner of BLR & Partners AG

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Doris Leuthard

Vice-President Board of Directors Coop Group /Former Member of the Swiss Federal Council

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Marco Ziegler

Senior Partner McKinsey & Company

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André Hoffmann

Vice-Chairman of F.Hoffmann La Roche Ltd. & Vice-Chairman of >>venture>> foundation

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Joël Mesot

President of ETH Zurich



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The >>venture>> competition has counted on the generous support and partnership of some of the biggest names in Swiss innovation.  Together, we strive to provide the expertise, know-how and resources to budding entrepreneurs in the early-stage of development.


École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university. EPFL fosters a dynamic environment and is centered on three missions: teaching, research and innovation. The university hosts 14,000 people from more than 120 countries and is home to 13 bachelor programs, 24 master programs and 350 laboratories. Since 1997, an average of 13 high-tech startups have been created at EPFL each year.

ETH Zürich

A partner of the >>venture>> competition since its inaugural year in 1997, ETH Zürich represents world-class scientific competence, research to benefit the economy and society, and the education of highly qualified experts. As a hub of study, research and administration, the university hosts more than 20,000 students and 530 professors from 120 countries. ETH Zurich’s more than 400 spinoff companies and twenty-one Nobel laureates confirm its innovative power and excellent reputation.

McKinsey & Company

Consistently named the world’s most prestigious consulting firm, McKinsey & Company continues to deliver the top management advice leaders have trusted for nearly a century. Over the past decade, McKinsey has broadened its offerings in areas such as digital transformation, advanced analytics, design, and implementation to help clients succeed in a rapidly evolving business context. With more than 30,000 people, McKinsey serves clients in 134 cities in 67 countries. In Switzerland, McKinsey & Company is represented with offices in Zurich and Geneva.

Knecht Holding

Dr. Thomas Knecht is the founder of the »venture» startup competition. While acting as the managing director of McKinsey’s Swiss office, Dr. Knecht joined forces with ETH Zürich to launch the first edition of »venture» in 1997–98. Dr. Thomas Knecht is currently the chairman of Knecht Holding, which is a diversified service company. The company’s major divisions are the Eurobus-Group, Knecht-Reisen and Welti-Furrer.


Innosuisse is the federal agency responsible for promoting innovation in Switzerland. The agency provides targeted training courses to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among students and researchers and to teach them as well as current and future start-up entrepreneurs the fundamentals of business creation and development. Innosuisse also offers individual coaching for start-ups and for people interested in setting up a company and supports science-based innovation projects carried out by companies in cooperation with research partners.

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Our dedicated team works hard to bring you the necessary resources, putting together topline events and network  in order to help you take the best step forward in your entrepreneurial journey. We're more than happy to share more about the competition, so feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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Lea Firmin

Chief Executive Officer

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Martino Corti

Marketing & Events Assistant

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Nathalie Geiger

Events & Participants

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Marwan El Chazli

Marketing & Communications Intern

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Priscilla Sarnau

Marketing & Communications

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Iscia Vos

Events & Participants Intern

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Maria Giovanna Demontis

Marketing & Events