This article was published on September 20, 2008

Switzerland gives start-ups Silicon Valley offices

Switzerland gives start-ups Silicon Valley offices
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
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Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

Here’s another great idea I heard during Web 2.0 Expo New York. Dania Gerhardt from social collaboration platform Amazee (review here) told me about her brand new office in San Francisco. Somewhat surprised, I asked her how an-angel funded start-up could afford that. To my excitement, she told me the Swiss government provides promising tech start-ups like Amazee a shared office space in downtown San Francisco. Isn’t that a genius way of supporting your national start-ups?

Flickr: SearchThe building is called Swissnex. Here’s an explanation from the web site:

Swissnex San Francisco is initiated by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) as a public-private venture, and managed in cooperation with the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, swissnex San Francisco is an annex of the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco. Vital financial support is provided by public and private sponsors sharing swissnex San Francisco’s commitment to “connecting the dots.”

Amazee got this office space thanks to the CTI Startup program, initiated by the Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology. When they enter the building on 730 Montgomery Street (which dates from 1852), they have wireless Internet connections, video/audio-conferencing, projection capabilities, and a fancy board room to play around with. What makes it even more interesting, is the fact that any Swiss with something interesting on his mind can work at Swissnex. So apart from the fact that Amazee can operate in world’s most booming tech atmosphere, they’ll also be inspired by other ambitious folks.

Swissnexx also has offices in Shanghai, Singapore, and Boston.

Does your country support a similar initiative? Or do you think that it’s actually a waste of money? I know plenty of people who dislike anything subsidized, so this post may be an interesting foundation for a good discussion.

Whatever the result of that discussion will be, I don’t think Swiss entrepreneurs like the Amazee team and Dominik Grolimund from Wuala (review here) will really mind. They have an excellent opportunity to build their presence in Silicon Valley.

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