Startfeld and Switzerland Innovation Park Ost are merging with immediate effect. The respective boards approved the merger on June 15. With the merger, the Innovation Park achieves one of its main goals for 2022: the establishment of functioning structures on the Lerchenfeld campus.
Following the Federal Council's decision in spring 2021 to include Switzerland Innovation Park Ost (SIP Ost) as the sixth location site in the Switzerland Innovation network, SIP Ost was founded as a stock corporation in September 2021. CEO Hans Ebinger started his operational work in January 2022.
Switzerland Innovation Park Ost was deliberately located in the west of the city of St. Gallen on the Lerchenfeld campus, where Startfeld has been at home since 2016 and now occupies over 6500 square meters of space. Among other things, around 30 startups that want to bring innovative products and services to market have their offices, factories and laboratories in this ecosystem. Since Startfeld was founded in 2010, over 900 jobs have been created and investments of over 100 million Swiss francs have been generated.
Merger due to many similarities
Both organizations are not only housed in the same building, but also have significant overlap in their shareholder structure, including the Canton and City of St. Gallen, Empa, HSG and the University of Applied Sciences Ost, which is why the merger was already being considered during the application phase of the Innovation Park. After the operational start beginning of this year, the idea for the merger was turned into a plan. The extraordinary general meeting of SIP Ost AG as well as the general meetings of the associations Startfeld and Startfeld Innovationszentrum approved the merger on June 15.
Both organizations benefit from the merger. For Startfeld – with respect to the location Buchs and the larger area covered by the Innovation Park – the possible area of operation is enlarged. In addition, services can be professionalized in the context of the Innovation Park. Peter Frischknecht, previously managing director of the associations Startfeld and Startfeld Innovationszentrum, will continue to act in a responsible position, especially for the campus development, which includes among other things the renting of the rooms and the structural expansion of the location. SIP Ost, on the other hand, will be able to take over functioning structures and established offerings and build its innovation center on them, which will also be of use to start-ups. No changes will result for the employees of Startfeld, who will be taken over by the Innovation Park in the same function. Duplication and additional costs are avoided, since the Innovation Park does not have to build up these roles again.
Roland Ledergerber, President of the Board of Directors of Switzerland Innovation Park Ost, comments on the merger: «The team in charge at Startfeld has done a great job of building up the park in recent years. They have succeeded impressively in building up a vibrant young entrepreneur ecosystem. Many companies have been established, many jobs have been created and a lot of entrepreneurial risk capital has been mobilized. We can build on this. I would like to express my sincere gratitude towards the Startfeld team for this.»
Further steps in the development of Switzerland Innovation Park Ost
With the merger, SIP Ost fulfills one of its main goals for this year: to build functional structures. The strategy of the Innovation Park continues to be to build up two professional focal points and to create a range of services. One of these focal points will deal with increasing «health and performance» and will be spatially located in St. Gallen. The second focal point will deal with «sensor technology», a core topic of the strong regional MEM industry, and will later be located in Buchs. In the coming months, the SIP Ost will be looking for interested parties for pilot projects to establish these focal points. Also in the second half of 2022, the first services for SMEs are to be offered. For this purpose, the Innovation Park will also increase its staff.