Programme overview

Our incubation programme is a journey designed to enable high-potential early-stage startup projects to kick off on the right foot. The programme is structured in different phases, each with a specific focus, from business model definition to fundraising and setting up for growth.

Who can apply?

The USI Startup Centre incubation programme is embedded within the academic environment. It is open to startups from USI and SUPSI students, researchers and professors, as well as to other startup projects based in Ticino. To be eligible, the startup should have the following characteristics:

  • Early-stage
  • Science-based
  • Potentially scalable
  • Linked to the training and research activities of USI or other local academic institutions

Application process

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, and all the candidates undergo a competitive selection process composed of a written application and an interview. In the application form, the candidates are expected to provide an overview of the project, including:

  • Problem
  • Solution (Invention)
  • Competition
  • Target customers
  • Current achievements
  • Founder profile and motivations
  • Team
  • Prospective collaboration with USI/SUPSI
  • Needs

Application form >> click here

Incubation programme structure

If the application is successful, the project enters the pre-incubation phase. At this stage, which typically lasts six months, the startup team focuses on testing the initial assumptions and developing a viable business model through an in-depth market and competition analysis and initial customer feedback. The USI Startup Centre supports this process and provides access to the initial service package.

Following the pre-incubation phase, the team has an opportunity to present the project to the USI Startup Centre community and Scientific Board. Startup projects that meet the selection criteria can be promoted to the incubation phase and start benefitting from

  • Access to offices and open spaces at the new East Campus in Lugano
  • Support from the USI Startup Centre team, which works closely with each startup
  • Specialised coaching from a network of more than 40 experts
  • Access to tools, resources and partner offerings

During the incubation period, which generally lasts two years, the startup works on the product-market fit, develops proof of traction and shapes its operational system. By the end of the incubation phase, the startup is expected to be able to raise the required funds and continue autonomously on its growth path.