How to create an agricultural innovation space right in the heart of Switzerland?

St-Aubin is located in the canton of Fribourg in the heart of Switzerland. The scenery is typical Swiss: A village surrounded by vast agricultural fields, next to it an industrial area and further away the world-renowned lakes and Swiss Alps. Right there the canton of Fribourg has now the ambition to create a world-renowned innovation environment in the field of agriculture, food and biomass. The so-called “St-Aubin Innovation Space” covers 120 hectares of cropland as well as laboratories and office spaces.

In order to find the first ventures, which cultivate the “St-Aubin Innovation Space”, the canton of Fribourg ran the “Agri & Co Challenge”. With the experience of seven consecutive years of seif Awards for Social Entrepreneurship, seif worked with the canton to design and perform the venture competition. This also included the online tool for the application and selection process and the moderation of the Jury process. Among the Jury members were the four big agriculture companies Nestlé, Cremo, Fenaco and Micarna. `It was inspiring to see how the jury members judged the entrepreneurs on their contribution in solving todays pressing issues in agriculture like water scarcity, heavy use of chemicals, reduction of bio diversity and food waste. It was a privilege to work with these experts` says Karen Rauschenbach, CEO of seif.

Last Wednesday, ten promising projects were awarded to relocate in the innovation space in the next two years for free. The winning projects stand out in the degree of innovation, feasibility and sustainability as well as their market and job creation potential. Additionally, the jury selected six companies for a remote collaboration program that includes an all-inclusive discovery week during which they will visit different companies and meet potential partners in Switzerland. In total, the challenge received 154 applications from 53 countries.

The “Agri & Co Challenge” is a best practice case on how to bring impact-driven innovation and sustainable economic growth to Switzerland. And we as an impact-driven organization are proud to contribute our share.