Switzerland launches first financial tech accelerator, Fintech FUSION
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Cityscape of Lucerne in the evening, Switzerland. Photo Credit: Mariia Golovianko / Shutterstock

Cityscape of Lucerne in the evening, Switzerland. Photo Credit: Mariia Golovianko / Shutterstock

Recently Geektime had the opportunity to interview Sébastien Flury, FUSION’s program director, about what the first class will look like

Switzerland is the land of mountains, cheese, chocolate, and banks. Now, it is good to see that the world’s financial empire also appreciates innovation.

This month, Switzerland’s first fintech accelerator, Fintech FUSION, is launching a 12-month acceleration program that will host 10 startups from all over the world. FUSION was founded earlier this year by Polytech Ventures, an early-stage VC fund based out of EPFL (one of the top 10 engineering schools globally) in Lausanne that focuses on early stage startups working on digitizing industry value chains such as financial services.

Recently, Geektime had the opportunity to interview Sébastien Flury, FUSION’s program director.

Pavel Curda: What is FUSION?

Sébastien Flury: Fintech FUSION is supported by corporate partners like the leading banking software firm Temenos and asset manager Notz Stucki (more to be announced soon), as well as resource partners CapCo, Kudelski Security, Arcanys, id est avocats, and Interactive Data. FUSION intends to reinforce the position of Switzerland as a worldwide financial hub and make Switzerland one of the top fintech capitals. We aim to support about 10 startups a year to bridge the gap between a ready MVP (minimum viable product) and sales/early growth.

What is your view on financial innovation?

Digital transformation in financial services has just started. It is one of the largest industries in the world and therefore the potential is very large. We believe that segments such as private banking, asset management, insurance, and commodity trading present high potential for disruption.

What makes you better than other fintech accelerators? What are other good fintech accelerators?

FUSION is the only acceleration program for fintech startups in Switzerland and offers a 12-month acceleration program. It aims to be the bridge between a prototype and first sales. FUSION is also a 700m2 office in city center of Geneva gathering FUSION’s startups as well as other fintech partners (residents + hackers in a co-working space): this with the intention to become a fintech hub in Geneva.

FUSION doesn’t take any equity from the startups and is paid back on the performance of the accelerated startups. We think that having a program of 12 months is also more adequate to really foster the startups on the commercial side and not only on the fundraising side. Most accelerators last 3 months, which is sufficient to have a great pitch deck but not to go through sales cycles for instance.

Other fintech accelerators include SBCFintech, Barclays Accelerator, or Fintech Innovation Lab, with a good list here.

FUSION has a multi-partners approach and is multi-industry, and mostly focuses its efforts on the key assets of Switzerland: wealth management, risk management, commodities trading, insurance, data privacy, and cybersecurity.

Who are your mentors and what will they provide?

We have serial entrepreneurs and senior finance executives among our mentors: Their names will be released later in October. They’ll be supporting/mentoring our 10 startups on a regular basis, provide them knowledge and expertise, as well as opening doors.

Which teams did join?

The startups making up the 2015 intake are drawn from a cross-section of countries and offer solutions across the spectrum of financial services, from insurance to wealth management. As examples, Acebanker from China offers a mobile app to democratize wealth management services in China, Biowatch from Switzerland makes authentication more secure and less cumbersome using wearable devices, Fundrs from Holland uses Blockchain technologies to make asynchronous payments easier and more secure, Edge Laboratories from Switzerland delivers a disruptive risk & valuation software for institutional investors, and Wecan.Fund is pan-European and enables peer-to-peer loans to SMEs.

For more information about FUSION’s first class of startups, check out this infographic.

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