A few weeks back, we shared with you a first glimpse of our Selnau project.  The project, now called “Kraftwerk”, is our newest and so far biggest collaboration project with partners like digitalswitzerland, ewz and Engagement Migros.

We shared some first drafts of what the space could look like and brainstormed more ideas with our community. But – as was mentioned to us in the last Townhall Meeting – we very counterintuitively to our vision from the Co-Manifesto didn’t start with why… so let’s make up for that now! 


Why is Impact Hub Zürich doing this?

Our Co-Manifesto also states that we believe that the grand challenges of our time can only be solved through cooperation and collaboration (instead of isolation). Even -or especially- if that means bringing unlikely allies to the same table to meet at eye level and work on solutions together. For us that means that the knowledge of startups, corporations & organizations, but also of every individual is needed. We focus on developing solutions, learning from each other and having an impact together. This is what Kraftwerk does: We develop this space together with many different stakeholders right from the beginning!

In addition to these strategical reasons, we also have some very practical reasons for this collaboration. Put simply: We are running out of space! Not only of coworking and meeting space, but also space to host all the workshops called Factories, that bring startups and larger corporations together. These Factories are newer workshop formats that are focused on bringing interdisciplinary teams from the Impact Hub Community of entrepreneurs and makers together, who are getting paid for their expertise and experience, to work on the development prototypes and digital transformation of products and services.

Teaming up with digitalswitzerland, ewz and Engagement Migros, who all share the mission and vision of transforming the industries and business in Switzerland, allows us to form praxis-oriented teams mixed from startups, large corporates, freelancers etc. to collaborate and work on innovative solutions for our future. This will turn Zürich into a global economy- and innovation hotspot for makers!


Not an entirely new idea! 

Impact Hub Zürich has had partnerships with large companies from the very beginning. AXA and Swisscom, for example, have been with us from the very start. 

Our collaborations started with “simple” product and service sponsoring (hello phone booths at Viadukt), moving to partnering our most famous startups incubation program, the Impact Hub Fellowships, to support early stage startups with money, expertise and networking.

In the last two years, we put more and more focus on actually working with these companies and bringing them closer to the world of startups – which was very beneficial for both sides. May that be in the every day life at our coworking spaces or by fostering collaboration. The results were, that companies showed interest in changing their ways of doing business (see this or this example of AXA) and in preparing for the future. They took the chance to learn from startups, but also support them with expertise and money where possible (see example of Swisscom organizing the IoT Hackathon or of Engagement Migros’ Creative Hub supporting Creatives to become entrepreneurs). Our startups could broaden their networks and get in touch with potential partners and customers. And more than once, members could share their project and expertise in speaker engagements with our partners through these collaborations.


Collaboration is happening

Of course we knew that bringing unlikely allies together can be a tricky thing as their realities, as well as their needs & goals are very diverse. But this is why our Co-Manifesto is the basis for all collaboration in our community. Trust, transparency & meeting at eye level – to only name a few – are crucial values in this mission.

Our experience in the past has shown in many ways that having startups and larger companies in the same space as coworkers can have many positive effects. Here are some of the stories that unfolded within our community over the past years:

  • Livingdocs and Swisscom: A spontaneous meeting at Auer&Co between Gabriel Hase (Livingdocs) and André Schraner (Swisscom) has let to a successful PoC, where Swisscom has implemented Livingdocs’ content management system for Bluewin. Read more here!
  • Movu and Swisscom: Former Summerpreneurship participants Movu and Swisscom started a collaboration to bring true change to the world of moving in Switzerland. Read more here!
  • SINGA Factory and Engagement Migros: Innovation through diversity is the goal behind SINGA. Our partner is supporting the startup, that brings the spirit of entrepreneurship to refugees in Switzerland. Read more here!
  • Eaternity and Engagement Migros: Long-time Impact Hub member Eaternity teamed up with Engagement Migros to bring CO2-neutral menus to all over Switzerland. Read more here!  
  • Opendata.ch and Engagement Migros: Through their 3 year program business innovation food.opendata.ch, Engagement Migros worked with opendata.ch to bring the Open Foot Data Hackdays to life last February. Read more here!
  • And then there are all the interesting cooperations between startups and corporations that resulted from Kickstart Accelerator, our 11-weeks accelerator program, last year.

All these stories have encouraged us that we are on the right path to tackle the grand challenges of our time and fulfill the core stated in our Co-Manifesto:

We are a community of creators building a radically collaborative world!


How does a new space contribute to this?

Kraftwerk in Zurich Selnau will be the prototyping ground for furthering our mission: Collaboration. Across Industries. Across Sectors. Across Countries. Our newest baby will be a space to foster communities, innovation & collaboration. 

Therefore it will not be a coworking-space like Colab or Viadukt. We envision it as the evolution of a coworking space, a coworking space 2.0, or – as we like to call it – a collaboration space. Creating an atmosphere, programs and events that enable collaboration and co-creation is our ultimate goal here. Why? Because collaboration is the new coworking!

We want to develop new formats for this and try to find new ways (programs and events) for collaborations that are beneficial to all parties (strictly in the sense of “me, us, all of us” from our Co-Manifesto).  That’s why we need your input what you need/want from a collaboration space.

We look forward to you taking an active role in bringing real change to the future of business & solving the grand challenges of our time. 

If you have any feedback, input or ideas please let us know by writing an email to Katherina or – if you are a Member – by talking to your personal host!