If there is one prevailing characteristic of Zug it certainly is the accessibility of their government for citizens and companies alike. During the second day of the Dutch-Swiss Fintech Fact Finding mission this was a pivotal point in a major part of the interventions. It is exactly this openness of the city and canton authorities that has been instrumental in the creation of Crypto Valley Zug.
Appropriately, one of the people who coined the term of “Crypto Valley’ Vasily Suvorov opened the visit to the location which has rapidly spread its fame around the world. The Vice President of the Crypto Valley Association told the audience that currently 10 to 20 start-ups per day walk into his door. The umbrella has grown from 17 members in 2017 to over 500 today, making sure to bring in people into the Zug area, rather than just letterboxes, as mr Suvorov stressed. The CVA promotes the ecosystem of Zug and offers broad support to crypto companies, by creating events in a first-class infrastructure. In June 2018, CVA will for instance organize ‘the Worlds’ first blockchain conference driving progress through academic excellence’.
Bernhard Neidhart, Head of the Office of Economy and Labour of Canton Zug underlined the low threshold of the authorities, many of whom can simply be reached by mobile phone. He emphasized the steady growth of the number of companies in Zug, not just in the past few years caused by the blockchain boost, but actually since the beginning of the favorable tax regime created in the 1940’s. As many as 32.000 companies enjoy these conditions, many of which, he confessed, are just addresses.
In this talk, prince Constantijn of Orange, special envoy of the Startup Delta in the Netherlands, referred to the stability in government that the Netherlands and Switzerland share and called Zug: ‘a great place to connect’ He appreciated the success of Zug in putting the entrepreneurial viewpoint first. He equally valued the practical attitude of the Swiss Financial Authority Finma in refraining from too strict regulations for blockchain companies. Blockchain, the Prince said, fits well into the Dutch culture of decentralization. Stressing that the Dutch want to embrace blockchain, he draw a parallel with the development of genomics, that the EU opposed vehemently, and as a result, is now legging behind the competition in a major way.
A boattrip on Lake of Zug transferred the delegation to Risch, on the other side of the lake, and from there by bus to the Suurstoffi Campus of the Hochschule Lucerne. Enjoying lunch and the fairytale scenery of the Swiss mountains the group could listen to two blockchain entrepreneurs, who had chosen the Crypto Valley to establish their Head Quarters. Nabil Naghdy of Status.im implored the rigid attitude of big Silicon Valley players such as Google, his former employer. New ideas often are met with “we will take your imput, thanks’ – reason why mr Naghdy chose to set up Status.im. The company employs 60 people in 22 countries on 4 continents; 3 people sit in Amsterdam, while headquarters are in Crypto Valley Zug, obviously.
Ryan Jesperson of Tezos declared that he was absolutely delighted to move his family from the US to Zug. Even his son, initially reluctant to leave his friends in Salt Lake City, could be convinced in the knowledge that a Swiss army knife would now come within reach. The ICO of Tezos generated as much as a billion dollar, which means that there is some work to be done. The business model of Tezos relies on self-governance, Mr. Jesperson explained. Tezos being 3.0 of blockchain, he pretended that the technology is more robust and secure than former versions. The users of the network on the blockchain vote on how they want the network to develop. Every user can propose upgrades to the technology, wherever he or she is, making it a transparent and secure technology.
The Suurstoffi Campus of the Polytechnic of Lucerne, the next destination, was the backdrop for a session on the importance of education and knowledge exchange in the creation of IT start-ups. The eco-friendly Hochschule is surrounded by an innovation Park of some 100 companies, start- ups as well as blue chips such as Novartis, Sandoz, Siemens and Mobilezone. With all of them, the school maintains a close working relationship, allowing the students to work on real business cases, and by the same token, allowing the companies to tap into fresh talent every year. It is a perfect biotope to foster innovative ideas using the blockchain technology.
Mathias Ruch of Lakeside Partners predicted that, if you wanted to start up a crypto company anywhere in the world, chances are 50 % that you end up in Zug. Of the top 10 ICO’s, 4 are based in Switzerland. Lakeside is instrumental in IT consulting, PR services and the organizing of events such as the Blockchain Competition and the Blockchain Summit, taking place in April 26 in the Crypto Valley Zug. Mr. Ruch waxed lyrical about the quality of people you can recruit in Switzerland, enabling you to bring your project to the next level. This, he claimed, is a unique proposition of Switzerland. Citing the words of Federal Councilor Johann Schneider Ammann, mr Ruch claimed that Switzerland is on its way to become a crypto nation.
22 March 2018 – Renske Heddema for the DBRT
This evening is part of a three-day fact-finding mission with Dutch Delegates, accompanied by their Special Envoy, the Dutch Prince Constantijn van Oranje. The entire programme is organised and hosted by Kickstart Accelerator, Start-up Delta, Holland FinTech and the Dutch Business Round Table Switzerland.