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Chosen through the 19th annual IMD Startup Competition, with inputs from CTI/KTI, investiere, MassChallenge Switzerland and VentureKick from 135 candidates, see the 26 ventures that will work with IMD's MBA and EMBA participants in 2017.


Could your startup benefit from help to crack a resistant business challenge? Do you need fresh thinking to refine and validate your business model or provide some new momentum to your fund-raising efforts? Could outsiders help test your concepts and help you develop the most appropriate development routes?

Many ventures have gotten value from working with our MBAs and EMBAs. In the most recent Swiss Top 100 report, IMD-supported startups captured 31 of the top 100 places, 5 of the startups are in the top 10, and 11 in the top 25. Do you want to be in that group next year?

In collaboration with CTI/KTI, VentureKick, MassChallenge Switzerland and investiere, we are searching for Swiss startups to benefit from the free-of-charge support of our MBA and EMBA students.


Created in 1999, this competition provides a unique opportunity for regional startups to benefit from the help and insights from participants in the IMD MBA and the Executive MBA programs - highly talented, experienced and motivated individuals who have been carefully screened to participate in two of the most selective and rigorous business programs in the world.

The objectives of this activity are two-fold:

  • Provide a hands-on learning experience in entrepreneurship and new ventures for the IMD MBA
    and EMBA classes
  • Provide input, insights and support to regional early-stage companies, to improve their chances
    of funding and success


We are looking for early-stage companies that have a solid chance of market success, have a team that is curious and willing to open themselves up to a small group of management "students" and to enter into both strategic and business model discussions, can provide a good learning opportunity for our participants and whose timing fits with the IMD programs.


  • A real venture with an established team and resources already in place.
  • A demonstrated willingness to work with the participants and communicate openly with them. The venture must have at least one person working on it fulltime from January through May (MBA) or June through October (EMBA).
  • The venture must be independent (not a subsidiary of an existing, established company nor a wholly-owned spinoff).
  • A willingness to be open with the participants about the company, its finances and its technology.
    A Non-disclosure Agreement can be requested of the participants.
  • The venture should ideally be local. Ventures based further away (Paris, Grenoble, Frankfurt, etc.) will be considered but they must incorporate the need to travel to Lausanne in their budgets and time agendas.
  • The ability to cover minimal costs. There is no cost to the startup for the MBA/EMBA support. The exception to this is for those startups working with the Executive MBAs where an expedition to Silicon Valley incurs costs for the start-up entrepreneur who joins the expedition (see below). The limited incidental expenses incurred by the participants on behalf of the startup (for example phone calls if an industry survey is conducted, printing of reports, etc.) are required to be reimbursed. This will be discussed upfront with the startup before any expenses are incurred.
  • Strong commitment to support the project and to dedicate the necessary time to move the project forward with the participants. Startups failing to abide by this commitment will be immediately removed from the program.

The quality of the opportunity and the commitment of the team will be determining factors.


Startup Competition - Key Milestones and Deadlines

  • November 14, 2016: Deadline for submission as per the criteria above.
  • December 5, 2016: Formal notification to all selected candidates.
  • December 13, 2016: Deadline for accept/decline response from selected candidates.

Executive MBA Startup Project - Project Timing

  • June 13, 2017: EMBA-selected companies meet with EMBA class at IMD in Lausanne and start collaboration
  • September 10-15, 2017: Cohort 1 of EMBA teams travel to Silicon Valley with one representative from each startup
  • September 17-22, 2017: Cohort 2 of EMBA teams travel to Silicon Valley with one representative from each startup

MBA Startup Project - Project Timing

  • January 24, 2017: MBA-selected ventures meet with their MBA teams at IMD in Lausanne 17:30
  • January 28, 2017: Onsite introductory visits for MBA participants (wherever possible or desirable)
  • January 24 - April 2, 2017: MBA-selected ventures collaborate with their MBA teams


Up to ten startups will be chosen to work with the two Executive MBA classes - a group of experienced international executives (average age 40 years old) - who, in small teams, will analyze and challenge
their business plans, teams and company strategies and pitch their startups to venture capitalists and angels in Silicon Valley in September. With the exception of a few meetings with the EMBA class, the majority of the work
will be done virtually. One or two EMBA teams will be assigned to each company.

In the EMBA program the participants will not be undertaking specific projects but rather they will be looking at your company as a whole, reviewing the overall business model with the goal of putting together a fundraising pitch to present in Silicon Valley in September.

One member of each startup is required to join the Executive MBA class for the Discovery Expedition to Silicon Valley, U.S.A. for six days in September. The startup member will participate in the activities of the Discovery Expedition at no charge but must cover his/her own travel and lodging expenses. In Silicon Valley, the startups will be pitched to a small group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists and/or angel investors. The IMD EMBA participants will do these pitches and will receive feedback on their presentation content and quality. The startup entrepreneurs are invited to talk with the potential investors following the pitches.

Examples of previous competition winners:
Abionic, ARTMYN, Augurix, BestMile, BioVersys, Dacuda, Diagnoplex, Exalos, FaceShift, Flyability, Geosatis, GlycArt Biotechnology, id Quantique, iTaste, Kooaba, L.E.S.S. Lemoptix, MabImmune, Novaccess, Qvanteq, Xeltis and Xsensio.


The class of 90 MBA participants is a group of high caliber, experienced (average age 31 years old) international students. Up to 15 startups receive the dedicated support of a team of 5 to 7 MBA participants over 3 months between end-January and April, under the supervision of an IMD Faculty member. The teams put in an average of 6-8 hours on the project each week, for a total support package equivalent to at least 500-600 work-hours.

For these dedicated projects, the team will focus exclusively on business-related issues of the new venture, e.g. customer value proposition, supply-chain management, market entry strategies, etc. helping to develop critical components of its business plan to a point where they can potentially be presented to new funding sources. They will provide managerial or technical support (but not substitute for the entrepreneurial team). There is a clear expectation that entrepreneurs will be entirely transparent in terms of strategy determination and will capitalize on the opportunity offered to work with the team.

As the MBA projects seek to develop elements of the startups business plan, it is critical that the participants are involved in the important strategic/business model discussions that will determine the future success of the business. This eliminates startups looking for students to run simply a market study, a competitive analysis or similar limited activities that do not give participants true insights into the company. While market analysis is usually an important component of a project, it should not be the only one; the participants should get involved in issues such as validating the customer proposition and the business model, developing the market entry strategy, etc.

What type of projects can you use the fulltime IMD MBA participants for?
The winners of the Startup competition provide IMD participants with the real-life startup experience they need as part of their training. As such, we never select projects that do not involve the participants in the strategic / business model discussions of the startup, i.e. the issues that will determine success. This eliminates startups looking for students to run simply a market study, a competitive analysis or similar limited activities that do not give participants true insights into the company. While market analysis is usually an important component of a project, it should not be the only one; the participants should get involved in issues such as validating the customer proposition and the business model, developing the market entry strategy, etc.

Examples of previous competition winners:
AC Immune, Axovan, Ayanda, Bluetector, Biowatch, CashSentinel, CombaGroup, Comparis, DahuShaper, Doodle, Endosense, FasTree3D, Gamaya, G-Therapeutics, Hyperweek, Logifleet, LyncéeTec, Keylemon, NexThink, PicoDrill, Preclin Biosystems, Primequal, Memonic, Qualysense, SpinX,, Softwing, SpiroChem, Sysmosoft, Uepaa, VisioWave, ViSSee and Wavecall..


Learn more about startup companies that have worked with participants in the IMD MBA and the Executive MBA programs.

To apply, please click here.

Your executive summary should provide a clear and concise description of your product/service, your current team, the market you plan to enter, your competition, your timeline for implementation and your expected financial needs for the year ahead.

Up to 10 startups will be chosen to work with the Executive MBA class and up to 15 will be chosen to work with the IMD MBA class. A team of IMD Faculty with extensive experience of entrepreneurial activities will make the selection of projects with advisory support from Switzerland's CTI/KTI Startup organization and Venture Kick. If the jury has questions, a short interview, either in person or by phone, may be requested. We will contact selected companies in early December and expect a formal commitment by the selected venture shortly afterwards. Please check the above schedules to assure that, if chosen, you can comply with these dates.

Please contact for information on the application process.

Startup competition

Six of the top 10 Swiss startups have worked with IMD

Learn more
Master of Business Administration