Incubators offer a great opportunity for early-stage entrepreneurs to develop their innovative ideas and to receive support for starting off on the right foot.

USI Startup Centre runs the incubator of Università della Svizzera italiana. Set up in 2004 as a collaborative program designed to help innovative startups start their business, today the core activity of the USI Startup Centre incubator is to help early-stage entrepreneurs with innovative ideas solve the problems commonly associated with running a startup by providing a series of services, namely professional advice and support, training, workspaces, and access to the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in the region.

Key facts

USI Startup Centre moves in a very dynamic and heterogeneous environment which is shown by the variety of sectors its incubated startups belong to. This reflects the diversity of both businesses operating in Ticino and the research areas of the academic landscape of the region.


Latest update: 31.12.2021

Startups currently incubated 28
ICT 32%
Life sciences 25%
Engineering 18%
Energy and environment 18%
Social sciences and business management 7%
Post-incubated startups 26
Number of experts/coaches 40+
Number of applications in 2021 89
Number of applications since 2004 1203


Who can apply?

USI Startup Centre engages with startuppers seeking to establish innovative entrepreneurial business in Ticino. The Centre provides access to the academic expertise present in Ticino, as well as support and services for startups. The incubator of USI Startup Centre supports graduates and post-graduates from Swiss universities and universities of applied sciences as well as foreign university degree holders domiciled in Ticino who seek to launch a startup. Applications from individuals who do not meet the above requirements but intend to pursue innovative projects in Ticino, that are of particular interest for the training and research activities of USI and for the economic growth in Ticino, may also be considered.

How does the incubation process work?

Incubation process

The selection process for admission to the Incubator of USI Startup Centre includes three main steps:

  1.   application
  2. candidacy
  3. pre-incubation

Depending on how the project evolves and advances, the length of this phase may vary, but generally startups complete it within 6 months.

The incubation phase usually lasts around two years. After this phase, the startup is ready to fully enter the market. As a post-incubated company, the doors of the USI Startup Centre remain open for networking and advice, as appropriate.


The candidate applies to the incubator of the USI Startup Centre through an online form. If the application meets the criteria of USI Startup Centre, the candidate is invited to an interview aimed at further exploring the proposal. Based on the documentation provided and the outcome of the interview, USI Startup Centre decides whether the project is eligible to move to the candidacy phase.

Application form >> click here


During this phase, the candidate shapes the project. With the support of the staff, the candidate begins to face challenges and opportunities offered by the innovation ecosystem, assesses the innovativeness of the project, defines its potential market and its financial and organisational implications. When ready, the candidate officially presents the project to USI Startup Centre. If the project is considered ready, it will be accepted in the pre-incubation phase.


The aim of this phase it to develop a viable business model that can be presented to potential partners and first investors. USI Startup Centre supports this process and provides access to coaches, as appropriate. Also, the candidate has access to the Incubator open-space and its basic services. The candidate is accepted in the Incubator after having successfully presented the start-up to the USI Startup Centre community, when possible, and to the USI Startup Centre team.


During the incubation period, the startup develops its products and services, acquires its first customers, attracts funding, and shapes its operational system. This phase should last no longer than two years. The startup has full access to the Incubator infrastructure and services and benefits from the USI Startup Centre team advice and to coaching from experts, as appropriate. By the end of the incubation phase, the startup is expected to continue autonomously on its growth path.


Once it has left the Incubator, the startup may decide to stay in touch with USI Startup Centre and its community. USI Startup Centre remains available to provide support when possible.