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A large number of Indian entrepreneurs are looking to tap Switzerland's startup ecosystem to set up their new enterprises there with the Alpine nation planning to bolster its appeal as a preferred location for startups through a number of globally competitive measures. 

According to a statement from the Swiss government, the European nation's top-decision making body, the Federal Council, had asked the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) to examine Switzerland's startup ecosystem, following which it has found that while this ecosystem is generally in good shape, there is room for improvement in a number of areas, namely technology transfer, internationalisation, access to skilled labour and financing. 

The Federal Council has now tasked the EAER and the Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP to examine further measures in these areas in greater detail and the findings are expected to be presented in June 2022. 

Noting that startups play an increasingly important role in a country's innovative strength, the Swiss government said the startups make a significant contribution to harnessing the innovation potential resulting from research and also play an important role in the development and application of new technological innovations. 

With India becoming a major global hub of entrepreneurs seeking to tap the startup route, industry experts said Switzerland can emerge as a major destination for Indians looking to set up their new enterprises in a global financial centre. 

Several investment bankers and international law firms also said they are being approached by potential startup initiators from India to examine Switzerland's potential as a startup location, following the recent measures announced by the Swiss government. 

Himanshu, Founder and CEO of IDDI Investments' parent firm Switzerland For You SA, which is looking to attract entrepreneurs and investors from across the world including India to Switzerland, said the Swiss government's decision can go a long way in promoting the Swiss economy on a sustainable way. 

"Given the dynamics of the rapidly changing business environment, it is essential to constantly update the ecosystem with a view to attracting young talents and budding entrepreneurs from not only other parts of Europe but across the globe," said the Indian-origin businessman who is settled in Geneva and goes only by his first name.

 "Once the review is completed by the EAER and the report is out, it is expected that the Swiss authorities will act with double the speed to make the country’s startup ecosystem internationally competitive and also the best in the world," he added. Himanshu said, "Swiss Federal Council's decision to authorise the EAER to review the country's startup ecosystem is a well thought out move which will go a long way in promoting the economic interest of Switzerland on a sustained basis."

The Swiss Federal Council had first commissioned the EAER in December 2020 to investigate which factors are crucial for the performance of the startup ecosystem and how knowledge and technology transfer can be accelerated. 

The latest report from the EAER shows that the startup ecosystem in Switzerland is generally in good shape, but there is still room for improvement in a number of areas. "The EAER is therefore proposing to the Federal Council various measures to be examined in greater detail; namely ways of optimising technology transfer, boosting internationalisation, improving access to skilled workers and honing regulation," the Swiss government said. 

In view of the fact that numerous states have launched extensive programmes to support startups in recent years, measures for a more active growth strategy should also be examined in order to strengthen Switzerland's appeal as a location for startups in the long term, it added. To this end, the Federal Council has decided in particular to comprehensively examine the advantages and disadvantages of a Swiss innovation fund. 

The aim is to explore the extent to which such a fund could expand the venture capital market in Switzerland and thus improve the growth opportunities of innovative companies in Switzerland. Experts said while Switzerland has been fighting a perception battle for a long time in India with regard to alleged parking of black money in Swiss banks, it has also been always known as high on technology in various sectors where Swiss companies operate and therefore startups can be instrumental in charting the country's future economic growth trajectory. 

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