Empowering Innovation

Discover how IMD promotes innovation

Startup Funding

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.

Networking at IMD

Startup Competition

Previous winners of 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 scaleups.

Find all our winners here.

Read the IMD Startup Competition conditions here.

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

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

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
e-marketplaces in the 1990s.
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Papyrus Laser
Papyrus Laser markets specialized stationery and products that enable small quantities of high-quality printed communications with just a PC and printer.
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Shockfish, a 1998 Swiss startup, produced and sold SpotMe, a wireless networking device that enables people to meet, conduct business and interact at conferences.
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Venture Valuation conducts a valuation of Genedata, a Swiss start-up, to help Novartis Venture Fund structure the next financing round.
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Endoart SA
EndoArt SA, a small venture, develops and commercializes medical devices for the telemetric control of the flow of bodily fluids.
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This case describes how Reed Hastings started up a DVD rental service in 1997 that gained over 4 million subscribers by 2007.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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IMD Interview - Jim Pulcrano with Samantha Anderson, DePoly
Topics: Entrepreneurship, Innovation
By Pulcrano, Jim; - 23 January 2023
DePoly CEO tells us more about the startup's technology, which converts post-consumer PET items into virgin-grade raw materials, creating circular economy for plastics.
Growth at all costs. Not so fast! There are alternative playbooks
Topics: Innovation
By Jim Pulcrano - 11 November 2022
In a time of more turbulent markets, there’s something to be said for slow and steady growth – with or without large amounts of capital.
6 min. read
IMD Interview - Jim Pulcrano with Valentina Triacca, Lymphatica
Topics: Entrepreneurship, Innovation
By Pulcrano, Jim; - 26 January 2023
Valentina, founder of Lympathica Medtech, tells us more about the startup's solution, LymphoDrain, a micropump designed to be implanted just under the skin.
Seven qualities of successful scale-up CEOs
Topics: Innovation
By Jim Pulcrano - 17 August 2022
Being humble, identifying key metrics, and partnering with anchor customers are some of the traits that might help CEOs beat the odds and reach “scale-up” status.
7 min. read
IMD Interview - Jim Pulcrano with Semira Gonseth Nussle, Genknowme SA
Topics: Entrepreneurship, Innovation
By Pulcrano, Jim;Woodcock, Stuart;Wendt, Ulrich;Hunn, Adrian - 16 September 2022
Semira, a medical doctor specialising in preventive medicine and a researcher in epigenetics, tells us more about her work and experience running her own company, Genknowme.
Case study
Roasting plant coffee: From engineer's dream to customer's delight
Topics: Brand Management, Value Creation
By Jim Pulcrano - 16 August 2022
Jamie Robertson joined in 2017 as an investor and CEO of a new unit in the UK and opened a store in London. Jamie perseveres as he realizes that the customer experience will make a difference.
How IMD’s EMBA team helped one startup to fly
Topics: Strategy, Entrepreneurship
By Alexandre Catsicas - 9 June 2022
How a group of EMBA students helped an industry-disrupting startup win over Silicon Valley investors during a discovery expedition to Palo Alto.
Case study
Matternet-Swiss Post: Drone-Based Healthcare Delivery (A)
Topics: Strategy
By Yu, Howard H.;Chauvet, Marc - 8 September 2009
Startup Matternet entered in 2017 the market of drone-based delivery of medical samples in Switzerland, via an investment from Swiss Post.
Case study
Baabuk's All Wool, No Bull: Choosing the Best Next Step
Topics: Strategy, Marketing, Entrepreneurship
By Pulcrano, Jim;Woodcock, Stuart;Wendt, Ulrich;Hunn, Adrian - 15 December 2019
Baabuk is a Swiss-based startup brand that sells woolen footwear. The case assesses the benefits of pricing over deep market analysis and considers the benefits of ‘customer fit’.
Case study
Netguardians: Beating Fraud From the Inside
Topics: Strategy
By Cordon, Carlos;Ferreiro Vilarino, Teresa - 30 August 2016
After developing powerful software, young entrepreneurs Raffael Maio and Joël Winteregg founded NetGuardians in 2007.
Case study
Eat Me: The World on Small Plates
By Leleux, Benoit F.;Menon, Vikas;DeCock, Garrett;Wah Ma, Hoi - 29 September 2014
As Serena Shamash opened the doors to her newly renovated restaurant, the last thing she was expecting to see was two inches of water covering the floor of the bar.
Case study
IR Microsystems (A): June 2002
By Leleux, Benoit F. - 31 December 2004
IR Microsystems developed a unique technology to produce a detector array for infrared light that could be used in a number of industrial sectors, most notably for composition analysis of gases and liquids.
Case study
Flybaboo: How High Can It Fly?
By Leleux, Benoit F.;Constantinou, Dinos;Bourgeois, Henri - 31 December 2004
A niche airline start-up in a crowded market, provides students with the opportunity to examine topics such as market entry, competitive strategy, product differentiation and positioning, branding, and entrepreneurship.
Case study
Novartis Venture Fund: Valuation Dilemmas
By Leleux, Benoit F.;Kemanian, Victoria;Pahwa, Atul;Siebenbürger Hacki, Katrin - 1 January 2005
The Novartis Venture Fund is considering investing into a start up,Genedata, and must take into account the valuation analysis.
Case study
SourcingParts: Offering a supplier Relationship Management Solution
By Cordon, Carlos;Lehtivaara, Petri;Heikkilä, Jussi - 1 January 2002
SourcingParts is a start-up company providing supplier relationship management solutions. This case describes the situation that SourcingParts faced in the summer of 2002 and the development of its business.
Case study
Cell Network: From Idea to Take-off
By Strebel, Paul;Ohlsson, Anne-Valérie - 1 January 2001
The case describes the initial phase, including focusing the business, venture capital funding, winning the first client orders, reorganization, and diversification.
How investors can spark positive change
Topics: Social Innovation
By Vanina Farber - 10 December 2021
Impact investment is a rapidly-evolving, diverse world that offers value beyond financial returns for investors and social enterprises of all shapes and sizes.
6 min. read
IMD alumna honored for empowering communities in South Africa
Topics: Social Innovation
By Sibongile Manganyi-Rath - 1 February 2022
Sibongile Manganyi-Rath, EMBA 2018, recognized with Influential Leaders award for improving access to healthcare in low-income communities in South African townships.
3 min. read
In the field with Angaza: A Silicon Valley journey
Topics: Social Innovation
By Vanina Farber, Shih-Han Huang - 1 February 2022
How can a social enterprise stay true to its purpose while making money for itself and its investors, both traditional and impact?
3 min. read
Sharing the spoils: lessons from Peru
Topics: Social Innovation
By Rosario Bazán - 18 February 2022
One Peruvian company has grown a leading agribusiness while nurturing the health of communities and fostering female employment at the same time.
3 min. read
Case study
Largo.ai in Hollywood: Good enough?
Topics: Digital
By Jim Pulcrano, Laure Frank, Désirée Gilgen, Konrad Meyer and Federico Paparella - 16 August 2022
The case tells the story of Sami Arpa a young entrepreneur with a passion for the movie industry. Sami Arpa and his start-up Largo leverage technology to improve the movie industry
Jim Pulcrano
Adjunct Professor Jim Pulcrano
Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management

Jim Pulcrano has extensive expertise in entrepreneurship, particularly startup culture, strategy, customer centricity, marketing, and disruption. A former Executive Director at IMD, he runs the annual IMD Startup…

Julia Binder
Professor Julia Binder
Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation Director of IMD Center for Sustainable and Inclusive Business

Julia Binder specializes in the intersection between sustainability and innovation. Her research and teaching explore the processes, strategies and mechanisms that allow entrepreneurs and managers to combine economic,…

Vanina Farber
Professor Vanina Farber
elea Professor of Social Innovation; Dean of the Executive MBA

Vanina Farber is an award-winning economist and political scientist who specializes in social innovation and the mobilization of private capital for impact investing. Her research focuses on innovative, practical,…

Benoît Leleux
Professor Benoît Leleux
Stephan Schmidheiny Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance

Benoît Leleux is recognized as a leading specialist in entrepreneurship, venture capital, private equity, and corporate venturing, particularly in emerging markets, and is the winner of numerous case writing awards in…

Mark Greeven
Professor Mark Greeven
Professor of Innovation and Strategy and Dean of IMD China

Mark Greeven draws on a decade of experience in research, teaching and consulting in China to explore how to organize innovation in a turbulent world. He was named on the prestigious Thinkers50 Radar list of 30 Next…

Leif Sjoblom
Professor Leif Sjoblom
Professor of Financial Management

Leif Sjöblom is Professor of Financial Management at IMD.

His areas of special interest are:

  • The restructuring of the telecommunications industry
  • Performance measurement and shareholder value creation
  • Micro-entrepreneurship…