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3 The ABC of setting up a company A Introduction B Business Incubators and Technology Parks C Contact Points and Addresses for Company Founders D Overview of Legal Structures E Information for Non-Swiss

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3 The ABC of setting up a company A Introduction B Business Incubators and Technology Parks C Contact Points and Addresses for Company Founders D Overview of Legal Structures E Information for Non-Swiss Nationals F Checklist for setting up a company G Sponsorship Awards and Competitions Sponsoring body of the publication and of the website November 2012 start-up guide A introduction Introduction Welcome to the start-up guide! Dear readers There are many ways to start a business and a host of factors to consider before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. A brilliant business idea provides a very good start, but is it truly feasible and marketable? What are the skills ans resources required to be competitive? What are your capital needs and how do you feel about risks? Do you have a network of family and friends to support you? These are just some questions that need to be explored beforehand. While there is no recipe for creating the perfect entrepreneur, help is available when it comes to setting up a company. This issue of 3 contains useful information and valuable tips on how to go about starting a business in Switzerland, including helpful contacts and ressources to support you on your way. We hope you enjoy reading the 3 start-up guide and wish you the best of success with your entrepreneurial goals. Table of contents A Introduction pages 2 6 B Business Incubators and Technology Parks pages 7 8 C Contact Points and Addresses for Company Founders pages 9 13 D Overview of Legal Structures pages E Information for Non-Swiss Nationals pages F Checklist for setting up a company pages G Sponsorship Awards and Competitions pages is a collaborative effort of the following entities: Aargau Services - Economic Promotion of the Canton of Aargau Office for Economy and Labour of the Canton of Zurich Business and Economic Development Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology OPET Innovation Promotion Agency CTI State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO Sector SME policies More than fifty other partners participated in the realization and distribution of. Some of the websites to which reference is made in this publication currently only contain information in German. The copyright for this publication is held by the sponsoring body of the website Any reproduction, redistribution or further use, wholly or in part, requires the prior written permission of the sponsoring body. Contact details: Division of Business and Economic Development of the Canton of Zurich, 2 Sponsoring body of the publication and of the website November 2012 A introduction Arriving in Switzerland and setting up a company Attractive conditions There are several compelling reasons to set up a company or move the domicile to Switzerland. These include a favourable tax climate, political stability, a liberal labour market, social peace, a multilingual population, outstanding educational and research institutions as well as an excellent transport infrastructure (road, rail and air). More information about the general business conditions in Switzerland is provided by the Osec Business Network: If you already have a geographical preference, the cantonal organizations for the promotion of economic development are the right offices to contact: The cantonal and regional organizations for the promotion of economic development provide useful information and assistance covering topics including: Qualities of the preferred location, in consideration of the needs of the interested party Location search (real estate, premises, relocation, international schools etc.) Work and other permits Company foundation Regional branch, cluster and technology transfer networks Coordination of services rendered by the authorities (one-stop shop) Scope of possibilities dependent upon nationality and type of permit The overview Information for non-swiss nationals (see pages 31 32) gives a general outline of the options available to you to enter the country, take up employment, set up a company and acquire real estate. Note that for EU-/EFTA- nationals, a registration procedure applies for employment lasting up to max. 90 work days per calendar year: Choice of legal structure The choice of legal structure depends upon a number of factors (incl. available capital, business model, distribution of ownership and liability issues). The overview of legal structures on pages lists the main properties and requirements for the five most popular legal structures: sole proprietorship, GmbH (roughly the equivalent of: L.L.C.), AG (roughly the equivalent of: corp. [US], plc. [UK]), Kollektivgesellschaft (general partnership) and Kommanditgesellschaft (limited partnership). 3 Sponsoring body of the publication and of the website November 2012 A introduction Preparing to set up a company step by step The process of checking and preparing to set up a company involves a wide range of different topics, including: checking the availability of a company name and the desired URL, intellectual property, clarification of social security questions, search for a location, specific incorporation formalities, value added tax and other insurance issues. The checklist for setting up a company on pages gives a general outline of the most important steps involved when establishing a sole proprietorship, a GmbH or an AG. This admittedly fairly extensive checklist provides an important overview of aspects that need to be taken into account before and after the actual act of founding a company (which, per se, can be accomplished relatively quickly). Unlike other countries, there are no business licenses in Switzerland. However, a number of occupational activities are subject to authorization (this can be the case at a national, cantonal or municipal level). An overview of the federal level is available at Various cantonal authorities also provide overviews, such as the Canton of Zürich at It is advisable to contact the inter-trade organizations for industry-sector-specific information: Experience has shown that particular attention should be paid to the following topics: VAT registration, registration with the social insurances and obtaining the necessary permits. Failure to meet the stipulated requirements can lead to high payments of arrears, even years later. According to a study conducted by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences a few years ago, it takes roughly 9 hours over a period of 26 days to set up an AG in Switzerland. By international comparison, this translates into ranking in the upper midrange. General tax information Generally speaking, taxation occurs on the following three levels: federal, cantonal and municipal (communal). With regard to legal entities, the direct taxes are levied on profit and capital. In the case of natural persons and business partnerships, they are imposed on income and assets. Indirect taxes and charges in the form of duties on sales and consumption are reserved to the federal authorities. Natural persons who have their place of residence in Switzerland or their residency in Switzerland and work here are subject to taxation in Switzerland. As a general rule, taxes are not deducted by the employer, but levied retroactively pursuant to the principle of self-declaration in an assessment procedure. Natural persons with their place of residence or their residency in Switzerland without a settlement permit (C permit) who work as employees (this is gernerally the case for new arrivals with a B permit) are subject to tax at source (wage withholding tax). The tax at source is deducted directly by the employer and replaces the direct federal, cantonal and municipal taxes. If the taxable amount reaches more than CHF per year, a regular statutory assessment is made. Compared to the regular taxation, the tax at source is per se special insofar as the different tax rates of the municipalities (communes) do not come into play. Executive staff or specialists (i.e. expatriates) who are posted temporarily in Switzerland by their foreign employer (e.g. to set up a branch office) generally benefit from the deductibility of (effectively incurred) special work-related expenses. Natural persons without their place of residence or residency in Switzerland are subject to a limited tax liability (also tax at source) based on the economic affiliation, if they generate income in Switzerland. This refers, inter alia, to members of management of non-swiss com panies with a branch in Switzerland. To avoid or mitigate double taxation in Switzerland and abroad, Switzerland has double taxation agreements with more than 80 states. 4 Sponsoring body of the publication and of the website November 2012 A introduction Further information concerning taxes is available from the following websites: Federal Department of Finance (FDF) Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) SME portal of SECO Cantonal tax offices Cantonal economic promotion agencies Switzerland s three-pillar pension system The Swiss pension and social security system combines and aligns the state, occupational and individual provisions. It is based on a three-pillar system which rates individual responsibility very highly. By international comparison, the overall burden of tax and social security charges is moderate. (See also: 1st pillar Coverage of basic needs of the insured is secured through the Federal Occupational Retirement and Survivors Insurance (AHV) and the Invalidity Insurance (IV). Both these insurances are compulsory and financed through employer and employee contributions (income percentage). 2nd pillar The Occupational Pension Fund is complementary to the 1st pillar and designed to help secure a continuation of the former standard of living upon retirement. It is compulsory for all employees in Switzerland. It is also financed through employer and employee contributions (income percentage). 3rd pillar The individual, optional private provisions of employed and self-employed persons are intended to cover additional personal needs, primarily through bank and insurance savings. These provisions are partly tax-privileged. Supplementary benefits The three basic pillars of social security are supplemented by the unemployment insurance and the income compensation scheme (EO) to cover income losses resulting from military service, civil defense, civilian service and maternity. Children s allowances are to be paid pursuant to cantonal law. 5 Some of the websites to which reference is made in this publication currently only contain information in German. Sponsoring body of the publication and of the website November 2012 A introduction A good reception thanks to a growing network Differnet from other countries, Switzerland does not prescribe any compulsory membership in trade or industrial organizations or chambers of commerce. Also, the Swiss tend to be rather reserved when meeting people for the first time. Do not let this discourage you. Take the initiative and join associations and organizations. Make the most of the multifaceted networking platforms, of which there are plenty both for leisure-time interests and business activities. A selection of organizations is listed below: Chambers of Commerce, such as cantonal chambers of commerce Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce Association of Swiss Foreign Trade Chambers Industrial and other associations Trade associations International clubs Additional information sources In conclusion, here are some additional links and contact points that could be helpful or of interest: Contact personsfor EU/EFTA entrepreneurs who want to set up a company in Switzerland. National promotion program for high-tech business ideas and projects (life sciences, ICT, etc.): as a rule, the CTI R+D project is executed in collaboration with a university or a university of applied sciences. Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. Setting up a company online (platform of the Swiss Federation). Association for corporate financing SECA. Electronic proof of identity for the electronic processing of correspondence with the authorities. Swiss National Science Foundation: basic research and promotion of technology partnerships. Young Enterprise Switzerland Program: young people are given the opportunity to acquire their first entrepreneurial experience while running a mini-enterprise for one year. Start-up training of the innovation promotion agency CTI for entrepreneurially-minded individuals from universities and universities of applied sciences with a focus on the growth industries ICT, life science, bio- or nanotechnology. Central company index (includes all companies registered in the Commercial Registry). The German edition of was launched in November 2012 and contains editorial contributions covering topics such as financing, trends, technology transfer and articles about young entrepreneurs who have already ventured into self-employment. A PDF version is available at 6 Sponsoring body of the publication and of the website November 2012 b business incubators and technology parks Business Incubators and Technology Parks 1 2 National organizations Technopark -Allianz SwissParks Association of Technology and Business Incubators Interessengemeinschaft Coworking Schweiz Berne/Midlands Start-up/Innovation Consulting, Berne DufourWest, Coworking Space, Biel The HUB, Coworking Space, Zurich Citizen Space, Coworking Space, Zurich RocketPark, business park for internet start-ups, Zurich BIO-TECHNOPARK Schlieren-Zurich TECHNOPARK Winterthur, Winterthur CentralWay, Incubator, Winterthur glatec Technology Center at empa, Dübendorf La Chaux-de-Fonds 60 Yverdon Neuchâtel 59 Porrentruy Fribourg Technology Park, St-Imier (BE) Northwestern Switzerland Basel Incubator, Start-up Center of Basel University and FHNW, Basel CoworkingBasel, Basel Technology Park Basel Tenum AG, offices and services, Liestal business parc, reinach (BL) business parc laufental, Zwingen (BL) TZW TechnologieZentrum, Witterswil (SO) Plug & Start, start-up-factory, Olten Creapole SA, connecting ideas, Delémont TECHNOPARK Aargau, Windisch swiss upstart, Brugg upstart Zurich/Eastern Switzerland BlueLion, Zurich Incubator for ICT and cleantech companies Startzentrum Zürich, Zurich TECHNOPARK Zürich, Zurich grow start-up organization, Wädenswil Stftung Futur, Business Incubator, Rapperswil-Jona (SG) TZL TechnologieZentrum Linth, Ziegelbrücke (GL) RhyTech Materials World, Neuhausen am Rheinfall START! Business Incubator, Frauenfeld HTC High-Tech-Center AG, Tägerwilen (TG) Spider Town, Tägerwilen (TG) Bodensee Technologie & Trade Center AG, Kreuzlingen Tebo Technology Center at empa, St. Gallen STARTFELD, St. Gallen Genève Ostsinn, coworking space/project support/education and knowledge, St. Gallen VentureWorks, Incubator, St. Gallen ri.nova impulse center, Rebstein (SG) E-Tower, Start-up Center of HTW, Chur Innozet, Innovation and Start-up Grüsch (GR) Lausanne Vevey Central Switzerland BusinessPark Zug, the start-up center in Zug CoworkingZUG, Zug TECHNOPARK Lucerne, Root Längenbold Coworking Box, Lucerne micropark Pilatus, Alpnach Technologiezentrum Schwyz, Steinen 66 Bulle 57 Montreux Sion Martigny 7 Schaffhausen Basel Frauenfeld Baden Winterthur Liestal St. Gallen Wil Aarau 34 Delemont Olten 19 Zürich Herisau Appenzell 26 Solothurn Rapperswil Biel Grenchen Sursee 40 Zug Luzern Sargans 1 45 Burgdorf Bern Schwyz Glarus Thun Brienz Altdorf 38 Chur Davos Interlaken Grindelwald Airolo Disentis St. Moritz geodata swisstopo Sierre Brig Bellinzona Locarno 61 Eclosion SA, Plan-les-Ouates (GE) Lugano 62 FONGIT, technology center, Plan-les-Ouates (GE) Chiasso 63 Neode Parc, center for micro-/ nanotechnology, Neuchâtel Valais BioArk, biotechnology site, Monthey BlueArk, technology site for renewable energy, Visp IdeArk, technology site for multimodal interaction/ multimedia information management, Martigny PhytoArk, development site for plant cell based products, Sion-Conthey TechnoArk, ICT site, Sierre TeleArk, ICT site, Brig Western Switzerland Parc Scientifique PSE, Lausanne Biopôle Business Park Lausanne, Epalinges SwissMedia Center, Lausanne Eclau, Coworking Space, Lausanne La Fondation des Ateliers de la Ville de Renens, Renens SwissMedia Center, Vevey TecOrbe Greentech Center, Orbe (VD) Y-Parc Swiss Technopole, Yverdon-les-Bains Technopôle, center for micro-welding, Sainte-Croix (VD) Neode Parc, center for micro-/ nanotechnology, La Chaux-de-Fonds Fri Up, Business Incubator, Fribourg Fri Up, Business Incubator South, Vaulruz (FR) Fri Up, Business Incubator North, Murten (FR) Venturi Incubateur SA, Villaz-St-Pierre (Fr) Ticino Centro Promozione Start-up, Lugano Tecnopolo Lugano, Bioggia 8 Sponsoring body of the publication and of the website November 2012 c Contact points and adresses for company founders Contact Points and Addresses for Company Founders Education and further training Akad business (combination of classroom and face-to-face learning) business Basecamp Berne Business Tools Zurich BWL Betriebswirtschaftliches Institut & Seminar Basel AG (distance learning) CTI Entrepreneurship In 2013, the Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI will start a new training program for the founders of science-based start-ups (five-day course and semester courses). The modules: «Business Creation» and «Business Development». (starting in spring 2013) EB Zurich ESW start-up Universities of Applied Sciences Henri B. Meier School of Entrepreneurs School of Business Administration, Fribourg IFJ Institute for Young Entrepreneurs Free start-up courses Life Science Zurich Learning Center (LSLC) SIFE Swiss Institute for Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Business Administration, Chur SIU Swiss Institute for Entrepreneur Training start-net Courses to set up a company successfully StartUp Weekend Switzerland (Basel, Berne, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Zurich) STARTUPS Swiss School for International Business Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Switzerland TECHNOPARK Academy, Zurich 9 St. Gallen University, Swiss Research Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship upstart of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland upstart venturelab Start-up training of the Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI for students and high-tech start-ups. Wyrsch Entrepreneur School AG for SMEs Young Enterprise Switzerland Yes! Consulting Adlatus Aargau Services Start-up consulting in Canton Aargau BaseCamp4HighTech, Berne CimArk, Sion EVA The Basel life sciences start-up agency FFC-STEP Finding First Customer Innovation Promotion at EPFL Innovation Promotion Agency CTI Genilem Non-profit association for free start-up coaching GründerZentrum Solothurn Import/Export consulting of the Swiss School for International Business beratung i-net innovation networks switzerland, Basel innobe Start-up and innovation consulting in the Canton of Berne Innovations Transfer Central Switzerland ITZ IFJ Institute for Young Entrepreneurs Free start-up consulting Jung-Unternehmer-Zentrum (young entrepreneurs center) Flawil, Gossau, Wattwil, Wil CCF (financial expertise center) of the Canton of Valais KMU next Foundation for SME succession KMU Zentrum at HTW Chur KMU-Zentrum Liechtenstein at the University of Liechtenstein Platinn Organization for the promotion of start-ups and SMEs in the cantons FR, GE, JU, NE, VS, VD Swiss Franchise Association senexpert For support and advice, affordable business consulting partners STARTFELD Consulting and coaching of young entrepreneurs in the cantons AI, AR, St. Gallen Startzentrum everything for young entrepreneurs Stiftung KMU Schweiz (SME Foundation Switzerland) Startup Academy, Basel STARTUPS Technologie Forum Zug TECHNOPARK Allianz TREUHAN
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