- IMD Business School  - IMD Business School  - IMD Business School

We are dedicated to creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem


We are dedicated to creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem

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, scale-ups 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.

The Venturing Ecosystems Initiative supports entrepreneurs to establish and grow new ventures by:

Providing startup funding through the MBA Venture Award: In 2022, an IMD alumnus proposed a non-dilutive grant to one graduating MBA with a startup idea each year for three years. The award includes free seed capital of CHF 100,000 as well as support from the IMD faculty and its entrepreneurial alumni. The 2022 winner of this funding was Brandon Taft, for his venture InStep.

Sharing insights into how to create and orchestrate ecosystems: 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.

Entering into successful collaborations that help accelerate the speed, scale, and effectiveness of social innovations: Examples include the elea Center for Social Innovation, Schwab Foundation, Global Impact Investing Network, EVPA and Ashoka.

Hosting the Leading to Scale-Up program, a joint initiative of IMD and Innovaud: The program is designed to propel Vaud-based tech companies from promising startups to fast growing, international scale-ups.

Fostering an ecosystem aimed at facilitating mentoring and the funding of business projects as an engine for innovation and growth: This is done through the IMD Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship.

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One of my favorite definitions of entrepreneurship is “creating something from nothing”.  One moment there is nothing there, a blank sheet of paper, an empty space, an accepted or unquestioned way of doing things, and at some time later there’s a new product, a new company, and a new way of doing things. The world has changed, in small or big ways, for better or for worse, thanks to the innovation efforts of an entrepreneur and his or her team.

Jim Pulcrano  Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management

IMD Start-up Competition

Jim Pulcrano, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management, created the entrepreneurship stream of IMD’s EMBA program in 1999. His insights into the Silicon Valley model of entrepreneurship since that time have led to the creation of the IMD Startup Competition. 

Now in its 26th year, the IMD Startup Competition offers 15 young companies the chance to work with IMD’s full-time MBA students, while a further 15 promising startups collaborate with the three EMBA cohorts. Since 1999, IMD EMBAs and MBAs have collaborated with over 500 Swiss startups and experienced entrepreneurship firsthand. In doing so, they developed a 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 Start-ups, 40 were ventures that had worked with us, including five of the top 25 scale-ups. 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.