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.

2022 MBA Startup Winner

InStep, a digital health venture that aims to transform consumers’ movement data into personalized health analytics, has been selected as the inaugural winner of the IMD Venture Award.

2021 MBA Startup Winner

NEMIS Technologies provides a lab-free detection system for pathogens. Investment enabled NEMIS to scale up production and to pursue its global expansion strategy.

2020 MBA Startup Winner

The Swedish helicopter sales and marketing company, Savback Helicopters, and the Swiss eVTOL company, Dufour Aerospace, signed a distribution agreement for Dufour’s eVTOL aircraft.

2019 MBA Startup Winner

Swiss healthcare startup Loop Medical is reinventing blood collection with its painless and easy-to-use blood collection device.

2018 MBA Startup Winner

KOMP-ACT develops electric actuators to reduce machinery energy consumption. Investment from strategic investor, Pariter Partners, will support the development and growth of the Swiss startup.

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.

elea Entrepreneur Program

In 2021, a leadership development program for social impact leaders was launched in partnership with the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization. The elea Entrepreneurs’ Community represents a vital element of IMD and elea’s engagement with its partner organizations. The Community provides a forum where social impact entrepreneurs can exchange ideas, co-create, and build capabilities to achieve impact and entrepreneurial success.

Schwab Foundation

The Schwab Foundation identifies and selects the world’s leading community of social innovators – entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs – and engages them in shaping global, regional, and industry agendas that improve the state of the world in close collaboration with other leaders in business and government.

The Global Impact Investing Network

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is dedicated to increasing impact investing around the world by building critical infrastructure, education, research, and other activities. Impact investments are investments made to generate positive and measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets and target a range of returns.


EVPA is a unique network at the intersection of finance and purpose, driven by knowledge and focused on impact. We aim to increase prosperity and social progress for all, fix inequalities and injustices, and preserve the planet.

EVPA gathers a diverse group of capital providers (funds, foundations, investors, banks, public funders) and innovators to catalyse, innovate, and scale impact.


Ashoka is an international citizen-sector organization whose mission is to build an ‘Everyone a Changemaker World’™. Its vision is a world that responds effectively to social challenges, and where everyone is empowered to be a driver of positive change.

Ashoka has a community of over 3,500 social entrepreneurs it supports by helping them get started, grow, and collaborate.

Impact Finance Forum

The global financial system is changing, and Switzerland plays a leading role in it. Launched in 2021, the Impact Finance Forum addresses this change and contributes to strengthening the position of the financial sector as well as laying the foundation for a sustainable future for our next generation.

LEVO Framework

Levo helps entrepreneurs combine financial with social and environmental sustainability and bring it into the heart of their business planning. The framework provides entrepreneurs the tools to help them assess, monitor, and continuously improve the operational sustainability and impact of their business – future-proofing them year after year.

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

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.

Meet the Team