The SwissNEXT Challenge is divided into three phases of two to three months each. The process is outlined below.

Phase I – Outlining the handover/takeover planning

Making a short presentation

The prerequisite for admission to the first selection presentation is the formulation of the planned handover or takeover plan. It can take the form of a management buy-out or buy-in, a takeover, an investment in the business, an initial public offering (IPO), sale to another company or individual, a merger or succession within the family. You may even plan a business model for a later sale to an investor.

You should explain your idea on two to three A4 pages and submit it as a PDF by email or as a hard copy by post three weeks before the selection presentation.

The internal Jury will make a pre-selection based on defined criteria. If your idea fulfills these criteria, you will be invited to the personal selection presentation. During this presentation you will have the task of convincing the internal Jury about you and your plan in three minutes.

A maximum of 10 participants will move on to the second phase.

Phase II – Turning the business idea into a business plan

Writing a business plan and extended presentation

In this phase, the focus is on the feasibility of your idea. You must write a business plan of up to 15 pages on the basis of your previously formulated concrete idea. It should be submitted as a PDF by email or as a hard copy by post three weeks before the selection presentation. Following this, you will have the task of presenting your business plan to an internal Jury in five minutes. The Jury will evaluate your presentation according to pre-defined criteria.

The 6 participants who are chosen from this round qualify for the third phase.

Phase III – Polishing your business plan

You have the task of designing a presentation which focuses on the implementation of your project.

At the final presentation, you will present the business and the implementation of the handover/takeover to the Jury and the public in seven minutes, using a medium of your choice. The Jury, consisting of at least one representative from the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), the Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer) of Baselland and the Cantonal Bank of Baselland (BLKB) will evaluate your presentation on the day of the finals according to pre-defined criteria. A representative of the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) will act as the president of the Jury.

This is a public event. Potential sponsors, possible business partners and the media are present.

For each of the three phases, different evaluation criteria are used to determine who will continue to the next round. You find the criteria for the three phases below.

Outlining the handover/takeover plan (Phase I)

Making a short presentation

In order to be admitted to the first selection presentation you must explain your handover/takeover plan on a maximum of two to four A4 pages. Your concept must include the following:

  • Formulation of a clear and understandable vision and implementation (graphically/visually)
  • Formulation of goals regarding the handover or takeover of the business
  • A brief description of the business
  • What is the intention behind handing or taking over the business?
  • A basic competitor analysis: What are our competitors doing? How are handovers/takeovers managed in similar companies?
  • Financial estimates: How much capital is required? Who will finance it?
  • Estimates regarding sales numbers / Net Present Value?
  • Timetable: What are the next steps?

You will receive written feedback as to whether you have reached the next phase. In order to get to the next round you need at least 18 of 30 points.

Writing a business plan (Phase II)

A more detailed presentation

The following suggested content for the business plan should be adapted to the nature of the project. The focus should be on the current status of the business and on forward-looking aspects (future planning) as well as emergency planning.

  • What are the current and desired states of the business?
  • Which new or changed business goals are to be pursued?
  • Should the business in the future be managed as before or are changes necessary?
  • Will the business profile be left as it is or changed?
  • Should the product range be left unchanged, reduced or quickly expanded?
  • Can the market be served as before or should new people and instruments be introduced?
  • Should the head count stay the same, be reduced or increased?
  • Where is investment needed and how will you go about this?
  • Is there a need for change of location and/or premises?
  • Can the company continue to work with the same business partners or is it time to develop new partnerships?
  • Is the present legal structure adequate or should changes be made?
  • Is the company’s financing adequate for planned investments and sales targets or is additional funding required (in the form of reserves or loans)?

The business plan content is adapted from the SME portal of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). link

You will receive written feedback as to whether you have reached the next phase. In order to get to the next round you need at least 24 of 40 points.

Polishing the business plan (Phase III)

Designing the final presentation

A seven-minute presentation using a medium of your choice

  • Short summary of the entrepreneurial vision/philosophy
  • Concrete feasibility and implementation of the handover/takeover
  • Presentation of arrangements for the transition phase
  • Communication (internal and external)
  • Financial, legal and tax questions

Evaluation criteria final presentation (Phase III)

The Jury selects the winners depending on the overall points achieved. In case of a tie, the President of the Jury will nominate the winner.

Arie Hans Verkuil, President of the Jury, and his team of internal and extrernal experts assess participants andd their innovations based on clearly defined criteria. The Jury consists of at least one representative of the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), the Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer) of Baselland and the Cantonal Bank of Baselland (BLKB).

Prof. Dr. Rolf-Dieter Reineke, Business and Academic Head

Rolf-Dieter Reineke is lecturer at the Institute of Management (FHNW). He studied political economics and business administration at the University of Münster and was awarded his PhD there on the subject of International Management.

He has many years of experience in leadership and project management in consulting, training and research in an international context. As the founder of several enterprises in the service sector and consultant in many projects related to business development, he has practical experience of entrepreneurship.

lic. phil. Stefan Philippi, Administrative Head

Stefan Philippi is lecturer at the Institute of Management (FHNW). He studied sociology, communication and media sciences, as well as history at the University of Basel.

He has many years of experience in project management and research.

He is a lecturer at the School of Business, FHNW, head of a Summer School programme and works on the SwissInnovation and SwissNEXT Challenges.

lic. jur. Sven Brüschweiler

Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer) Baselland

Sven Brüschweiler studied law at the University of Basel.

He has many years of leadership and project experience in banking and has a thorough knowledge of the perspective of both the client adviser and the client.

He is a project leader at the Chamber of Commerce Baselland and looks after both Swiss Challenge projects.

Steering Committee

Daniel Brändlin

Member of the Management Board, Cantonal Bank of Baselland (BLKB), Liestal

Daniel Brändlin has been a member of the Management Board of the Cantonal Bank of Baselland (BLKB) since 2010 and is the head of the Companies and Loans Division.

He is a political economist and has also worked for the corporate client services of a bank. He was previously the Head of Finance and Deputy to the CEO for ALLDOS International AG and the Congrex Group.

He is also a member of the supervisory boards of many companies. He is the president of the Steering Committee of SwissInnovation and SwissNext Challenges.

Landrat Christoph Buser

Director of the Chamber of Commerce Baselland, Liestal

Christoph Buser has been the head of SME promotion at the Chamber of Commerce since 2004, and became the director of the Chamber of Commerce in September 2012.

He is an FDP politician and was voted into the Cantonal Council in 2007. He is a member of the Political Economics and Health Commission and the Environment and Energy Commission.

Christoph Buser is a member of the Steering Committee and is on the Jury of SwissInnovation und SwissNEXT Challenges.

Prof. Dr. Arie Hans Verkuil

University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW)
Institute of Management

Arie Hans Verkuil is the head of the Institute of Management at the School of Business, FHNW. He has a PhD in business ethics and teaches management and leadership. He has many years of experience of leadership and project management in the areas of consulting and training.

As the founder of several enterprises in the service sector he has practical experience of entrepreneurship.

He is a member of the Steering Committee and President of the Jury of SwissUpStart, SwissInnovation und SwissNEXT Challenges.

A range of inspiring and motivating events will raise your awareness as you go along. Managers with experience of innovation management will share their knowledge and expertise with you. In addition the events will provide you with the opportunity to get to know like-minded people, to share ideas and to network.