Empowering Innovation

Discover how IMD promotes innovation

Empowering Innovation

Discover how IMD promotes innovation

What We Do

IMD’s mission is to challenge what is and inspire what could be, and to develop leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society. This requires an entrepreneurial mindset: a willingness to try something new. Since 1998, IMD EMBAs and MBAs have collaborated with over 500 Swiss startups and helped strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We work with startups, scaleups and other high-growth, high-impact initiatives to help them direct leadership, create a strategy, build in customer-centricity, and construct a resilient organization that delivers to its customers, employees, and shareholders. When an IMD graduate creates or joins a startup that succeeds in its mission, we believe we have delivered on ours.

Empowering Innovation

Empowerment denotes the agency to innovate and forms the bedrock of entrepreneurial creativity. Whether in a new company or an existing corporation, it is the vital ingredient to all innovation.

Innovation requires a person or a team to believe there is a better way to do things. It also demands they believe that they can create the solution.

Startup Funding

The MBA Venture Fund

In 2022, an IMD alumnus supported the startup idea of an MBA. Since then, IMD alumni have awarded 20 grants per year, with some of the funds allocated to support entrepreneurs in their MBA studies, and another portion comprising non-dilutive grants to graduating MBAs with startup goals. For promising ideas, we offer free seed capital of CHF 100,000, as well as support from the IMD faculty and its entrepreneurial alumni.

Startup Competition

Previous winners of the IMD Startup Competition have flourished. In the recently announced Top 100 Swiss Startups, 40 were ventures that had worked with us, including five of the top 25 scale-ups.

Read the IMD Startup Competition conditions here.

IMD has also partnered with Innovaud for a new scale-up program for fast-growing startups.


According to McKinsey, ecosystems will play a key role in every aspect of the global economy by 2030, driving around $80 trillion in annual revenues.

The key principle of ecosystem thinking is that we cannot create the future alone – organizations need to collaborate with a variety of partners that complement and reinforce each other.

Ecosystems enable organizations to grow, to drive a regenerative transformation, to jointly face challenges, and to explore opportunities.

No longer the exclusive domain of a handful of digital giants, ecosystems now represent the immediate future for transforming incumbents, new ventures, and platforms.

Find out how to create and orchestrate ecosystems.

Social Innovation

Social innovation creates solutions that benefit society by addressing immediate needs more effectively than current policy or business activity. Social innovation develops products, services, markets or models and processes and relies on collaboration to optimize its impact on global society. The IMD elea Center for Social Innovation views ecosystem development as integral to the development and acceleration of social innovation.

Below are some examples of successful collaborations that have helped accelerate the speed, scale, and effectiveness of social innovations.

Our History

Jim Pulcrano, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management, created the entrepreneurship stream of IMD’s EMBA program in 1999. His insights in the Silicon Valley model of entrepreneurship over 24 years led to the creation of the IMD Startup Competition.

Since 1999, IMD EMBAs and MBAs have collaborated with over 500 Swiss startups and experienced entrepreneurship first hand. In doing so they developed respect for those who took a different path and gained valuable insight into the extreme ambiguity that founders face every day. Some have even been inspired to embrace entrepreneurship themselves.

Previous winners of other IMD Startup Competitions have flourished. In the recently announced Top 100 Swiss Startups, 40 were ventures that had worked with us, including five of the top 25 scaleups.

Some of our top entrepreneurial ‘alumni’ include, AC Immune (now a public company), Artmyn (which was sold to Invaluable), Dacuda (acquired by Magic Leap), Doodle (acquired by Tamedia), Faceshift (acquired by Apple), GlycArt (acquired by Roche), Kooaba (acquired by Qualcomm), and Swiss unicorns MindMaze and Nexthink among many other successful firms.

Case Study Timeline

  • 2001

    New-animal.com: Merging Three E-Marketplaces

    An exploration of the target market, core proposition, ancillary services, competitive environment, and business model of three European Read the case
  • 2002

    Papyrus Laser

    Papyrus Laser markets specialized stationery and products that enable small quantities of high-quality printed communications with just a PC and printer.

    Read the case

  • 2003


    Shockfish, a 1998 Swiss startup, produced and sold SpotMe, a wireless networking device that enables people to meet, conduct business and interact at conferences.

    Read the case

  • 2005


    Venture Valuation conducts a valuation of Genedata, a Swiss start-up, to help Novartis Venture Fund structure the next financing round.

    Read the case

  • 2006

    Endoart SA

    EndoArt SA, a small venture, develops and commercializes medical devices for the telemetric control of the flow of bodily fluids.

    Read the case

  • 2011


    This case describes how Reed Hastings started up a DVD rental service in 1997 that gained over 4 million subscribers by 2007.

    Read the case

  • 2013

    Social Entrepreneurship on Fogo Island

    The Shorefast Foundation aims to promote economic and cultural resilience using a social entrepreneurship model in isolated communities of Newfoundland, Canada.

    Read the case

  • 2014

    Freitag: Desiging the agile company

    FREITAG specializes in bags made of recycled truck tarpaulins. Two graphic designers, Markus and Daniel Freitag, founded the company in 1993.

    Read the case

  • 2016

    Gamaya: Taking Farming into the 21st Century

    Gamaya credibly demonstrated the contributions its drone-born miniaturized hyperspectral cameras could bring to local sugar cane farmers in Brazil.

    Read the case

  • 2018

    AM-Pharma: Creating value

    This case describes the inception of biotech firm AM-Pharma in 2001, then continues up to its deal with Pfizer in 2015.

    Read the case

  • 2019

    Beekeeper: From pivoting startup to disrupting scaleup

    Beekeeper faced considerable challenges to become a fast-expanding company with over 130 employees across the world, with a plethora of large clients.

    Read the case

Research, Insight & News

IMD professors and research fellows now produce around 40 cases per year related to new ventures. Faculty insights into entrepreneurship are also featured in a growing number of articles, webinars and podcasts focused on this domain.

Much of this has been made possible due to increased opportunities to interact with entrepreneurs, and the appointment of six research fellows who work alongside faculty to capture the learnings.

In our wider community, IMD’s Alumni Center for Entrepreneurship strives to foster an ecosystem aimed at facilitating mentoring and the funding of business projects as an engine for innovation and growth.

Venture Asset Management Initiative

The Venture Asset Management Initiative is dedicated to accelerating and deepening academic and investor practitioner understanding of, and competence in, venture asset management in Switzerland and Europe. Partnering with Swiss Ventures Group (SWVG), a privately funded group that has become one of the most active early-stage investors in Switzerland, the Initiative has been established as an innovation hub to create valuable academic research.

Meet the Team