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Entrepreneurship Power at STARTUP CAMPUS

Jacques Hefti & Matthias Hölling

Have you ever wondered who the people are behind the CTI training courses of STARTUP CAMPUS? Here is your answer: We would like to present to you the two Co-Directors of STARTUP CAMPUS, Jacques Hefti and Matthias Hölling. We conducted a short interview with them, in which we asked them to tell us about the collaboration between the two locations and what makes STARTUP CAMPUS unique to them. Over the past three years, their initiative successfully supported over 1,000 business founders.
We start with Jacques Hefti. Under his leadership, Business Concept Training courses are held several times a year. In our next newsletter, we will feature Matthias Hölling, head of the module ‘Business Creation and Business Growth’, who will share his views concerning STARTUP CAMPUS.


jacques hefti

Jacques Hefti, Co-Director of STARTUP CAMPUS


What is your professional background and what are your responsibilities at STARTUP CAMPUS?

Jacques: I can rely on more than two decades of industry experience as a board member and CEO in the supplier industry for public transport and tourism. Additionally, I gained extensive know-how during my time as a co-founder of several companies. Even today, I am involved as a joint founder and administrative board member in two organizations. In my function as senior lecturer at ZHAW, I have been focusing since 2010 on research and advanced training in the area of strategic management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Coaching international companies as well as startups on how to create sustainable business cases constitutes an essential part of my activities. Since 2012, I have been a Co-Director of Startup Campus and a course supervisor for the training module “Business Concept”, with which we have already supported and guided more than 200 entrepreneurs towards their future as founders and leaders of successful teams. I have a Master’s in Business Administration from Strathclyde Business School in Glasgow, where I am currently completing my PhD.


Do you see any advantages for STARTUP CAMPUS in the cooperation between the two locations, Zurich and Winterthur?

Jacques: Absolutely, as the two locations combine diverse competencies. As the biggest hub for mature Swiss startups, Technopark Zurich is one of the most important addresses for all startup-related matters – and has been so for 25 years. The Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the ZHAW School of Management and Law in Winterthur bridges the gap between universities and technical colleges by providing seed-phase support through institutions such as Runway Startup Incubator and several events aimed at raising awareness such as the ZHAW Startup Challenge. All of these activities involve locations in Wädenswil, Zurich, and Winterthur. Technopark Winterthur complements these entrepreneurial activities as a reliable and proactive cooperation partner.


What exactly is THE consortium?

Jacques: The consortium can be seen as virtual startup accelerator focusing on startup training. The Federal Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) provides financial support, while content is provided by the consortium and its partners. Our long-term goal is to increase our coaching activities in order to provide better support for startups after they have successfully completed a CTI Training program. Even today, we can already draw on a pool of more than 100 startup experts.


What makes the positioning of STARTUP CAMPUS unique? What makes you believe in its concept?


  1. We are independent and neutral. We support entrepreneurs without asking for equity or obligations. We are committed to startups in their early stages and provide full support even when it is tricky to identify a startup’s future potential.
  1. STARTUP CAMPUS has close ties to universities, colleges, technology centers, and incubators and is firmly integrated in the Swiss Startup ecosystem. From the ETH Zurich, the University of Liechtenstein, ZHAW in Winterthur, Zurich and Wädenswil, and St. Gallen’s Startfeld to Technopark Zurich and Runway Startup Incubator – all the big players in Eastern Switzerland are on board and contribute their expertise.


How does the future look like for STARTUP CAMPUS?

Jacques: Startup Campus will continue to operate as the interface between science and startups. In the future, we will focus on the digitalization of our business model and on providing long-term support to the founders beyond the Startup Training courses. Coaching services and bringing together coaches and startups will therefore be a central objective of STARTUP CAMPUS.


Do you always agree with course implementation, or are there sometimes heated discussions between you and Matthias?

Jacques: We have a very constructive exchange and complement each other very well in our own abilities and perspectives. However, the administration of a startup accelerator in the form of a consortium is not a simple matter because leadership has to be lived very differently in a virtual organization than in a company.
Our discussions have so far not been too heated,. Of course we have issues that seem important to us and which we like to communicate and represent. I really appreciate the collaboration with Matthias and am pleased with the current progress we have achieved, both as a management team and as an organization.


Contact details:


Tel.: 079 635 05 32