Program NETS: New Entrepreneurs in Technology and Science,

An important concern of Gebert Rüf Stiftung is the conceptual and entrepreneurial interaction with science. This concern stems directly from the foundation's purpose, which is: «To support Switzerland as a top location for business and as a place to live». At the heart of its long-term area of activity «Wissenschaft und Unternehmertum» is the promotion of science entrepreneurship among the younger generation of academics at Swiss universities.

Objective: Closing Gaps in the Innovation Chain

Basic research is a crucially important part of the university and research landscape, as befits the leading position of Swiss institutions of higher education in various areas of research. However, basic research focuses on insights within the realms of science. Transfer mechanisms geared to putting discoveries to use in practice are therefore less well developed. Gebert Rüf Stiftung's «NETS» program, which has long been subsumed into the state-funded «venturelab» initiative of the the Swiss Federal Government’s Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI/Innosuisse, addressed the need for support for early-stage entrepreneurship.

NETS Estonia

In 2005, as part of Gebert Rüf Stiftung's Swiss Baltic Net Program, the NETS program was adapted to Baltic circumstances and exported to Estonia. The Swiss Baltic Net provided all the funding for NETS Estonia until 2007. Then it was integrated into the «Brainhunt» or «Ajujaht» program, which is financed by the Estonian state. Brainhunt is a competition for young scientists with innovative business ideas. The aim is to further develop the best ideas and use them to start successful companies.

Effects: What Has Been Accomplished Through NETS?

The New Entrepreneurs in Technology and Science (NETS) program was launched by Gebert Rüf Stiftung in 1999. It was a unique entrepreneurship training program for young knowledge-based entrepreneurs at Swiss universities. The program was set up and conducted in collaboration with partners in Switzerland (Create Switzerland) and the US (swissnex and Babson College Boston). In 2006, NETS was integrated as the venture leaders program into venturelab, a national program financed by the Swiss Federal Government’s Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI)/Innosuisse. 10 years after its inception, the NETS/venture leaders program can look back on an impressive success story: 115 out of 187 participants have founded their own company, created more than 900 skilled jobs and attracted over CHF 210 million in investment capital.

Follow-On Program: «Venture Kick» Pre-Seed Fund

The Venture Kick fund set up by Gebert Rüf Stiftung and Ernst Göhner Stiftung as private backers addresses a gap in the transfer of innovation, namely turning research work into promising business ideas. Venture Kick not only funds the first steps of people with ideas, but also develops their entrepreneurial skills. A three-stage process culminates in a solid business plan and concrete strategies for commercially exploiting these ideas.

Approved projects NETS