Innovation Blog

MassChallenge Switzerland Opens Applications for 2021 All Industry Accelerator and the Sustainable Food Systems Track


Since 2016, MassChallenge Switzerland has been a leader in helping startups across Europe grow their businesses, with 396 alumni raising $318M in funding. In 2020, we accelerated 94 early-stage startups, taking no equity or fees and connecting them to our corporate partners and broad group of expert mentors; because we ran the program virtually, we were able to connect more startups, experts, and partners than ever before.

Our 2021 program will run as scheduled, but will begin online and will only transition to hybrid or in-person programming and events when we can ensure the safety of our community. 2021 we have planned physical events, but as we don’t know how the pandemic will play out, the accelerator program is designed to be an on-line/on-site hybrid. Operating this way will enable startups from anywhere in the world to take part in the accelerator – yes most of our startups come from Switzerland and the EU, but we’re open to startups from any country.

In 2021 we seek high potential startups from anywhere in the world to apply to our early-stage accelerator, which will run from July to October and which is structured as follows:

  • A core, industry-agnostic program
  • A designated Sustainable Food Systems Track for 20-30 startups involved in the production, distribution, packaging and disposal of food.

Take a look at our 2020 winners to see startups like you who have grown their businesses by working with investors, our mentors and our corporate partners. View here.

“MassChallenge is everything you can expect from an accelerator and more. High quality mentoring, active industrial partners, coaching, investors’ days, cash and in-kind prizes at the end! The 2020 program had the additional challenge of being managed remotely and the MassChallenge team went above and beyond the call of duty creating a successful online version and maintaining active communication with all the participants. I could not recommend this program enough.” 

– Giovanna Laudisio, CEO and Co-Founder Naturbeads, 2020 Platinum Winner

“Looking back, MassChallenge was the best possible way to kick-start our entrepreneurial journey. The programme helped us take our initial idea and turn it into a registered company in less than half a year. Despite the COVID situation and the fact that all activities were organised online, we received invaluable support and feedback from the team and mentors.  They helped us understand critical aspects of building a company, as well as to refine our business case and present our project to future customers and investors. We have built strong relationships that will be intrumental in the coming months and years. We highly recommend any first-time entrepreneurs to apply and benefit from the value MassChallenge has to offer.”

– Luc Henry, CEO and Co-Founder Limula, 2020 Gold Winner

“While dealing with a once in a lifetime pandemic, we were extremely impressed with how MassChallenge was able to offer flexible workshops online, and how easy it was to still participate in the program. We were able to connect with corporations, coaches/mentors, and investors that gave us valuable insight into our next steps.”

– Samantha Anderson, CEO and Co-Founder DePoly SA , 2020 Platinum Winner

Benefits for Startups

Startups who’ve taken part in MassChallenge have raised over $6.2Bn of funds and created 157,000 jobs.  Below is a list of the benefits you can expect, and some testimonials from startups, who’ve been in your shoes – applied, and then gone through acceleration in Switzerland.

Unrivaled access to corporations

We facilitate startup connections to Nestlé, Bühler, Givaudan, Barry Callebaut, Südzucker, General Mills & more. We know what our partners are looking for and advise startups on how to work with corporations, so that engagement is simple and effective. Startups have created joint-ventures with, been funded by, or become suppliers to our corporate partners.  On top of this we also connect startups to our other partners across the world.

World class mentoring from 600+ experts

On average each startup has 3 mentors. Mentors come from many disciplines and have strong expertise. Many are entrepreneurs who have created (& exited) a startup. Our Entrepreneurs-In-Residence are role models, and have deep experience in raising funds, bringing a startup to market, scaling and then exiting. Again, our global network of mentors is open for startups to benefit from.

CHF 1 million in non-dilutive cash prizes

The money is decided by an independent jury of experts. It is truly “no strings” attached. On top we also give away CHF 200,000 of in-kind prizes involving legal services, accountancy, banking and IP strategy consulting.

Tailored program curriculum

We have a world class curriculum with 50+ hours of lectures and workshops delivered by founders, experts and VCs. We survey startups to ensure activities are highly relevant, bringing connections and adding value to our startups.

Connections to Investors

We have a deep and broad network of investors – VC, CVCs, Angels, and Family Offices. We run “meet the investor” events throughout the curriculum, and a formal Investors Day where we match startups and investors.

Free office space

Startups are welcome to stay in our office for the year. They can also use our maker space free of charge.

Proven model

More than 65% of Finalists raise funds during or immediately after the program.

Feedback to every startup that applies

Experts give qualitative and quantitative feedback on every startup that applies, to help entrepreneurs evolve their projects.

Startups like you benefited from our program. See what they had to say about us:

Additional Alumni Stories

Eligibility Criteria

We are looking for high potential start-ups that:

Are Early Stage: Startups will have, approximately, no more than $1Mio of capital raised, or $2M of Sales.
Have impactful and viable ideas:

Impactful: We exist to help startups make an impact. Our judges are looking for the startup to define the impact. Most successful applicants show how they create value for themselves and society.

Viable: Ideas need to be executed. We ask our judges to assess the quality of the team, their advisors and their plans to make things happen.

Timeline and Key Dates

January 20, 2021: Applications open
February 3, 2021: Application Tips Webinar #1 
February 24, 2021: Application Tips Webinar #2 
March 8, 2021: Applications close at 23:59 CET
April 7, 2021: Round 1 Judging results
May 3-7, 2021: Round 2 Judging
May 19, 2021: Finalists Announcement
June 29, 2021: Switzerland Accelerator and Sustainable Food Specific Track starts
October 28, 2021: Final Awards & closing ceremony

Apply Now

Apply here and make sure to select the program of your choice:

  • Choose the Switzerland Accelerator – for the INDUSTRY AGNOSTIC PROGRAM
  • Choose the Sustainable Food Systems Track – if you are focused on sustainability, food, and packaging

Good Luck!

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Visit the Join section of our site to learn more about the organization and how you may benefit by getting involved.

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