The i4Challenge – Innovate in Basel

Now open for application until 31 July 2024

Connecting startups with local companies to meet real-life needs

For startups, SMEs, and individual innovators who want to bring their industry 4.0 project to market, the i4Challenge is a competition program that helps you make the next step towards that goal. When your project is ready for market, we help you connect with established companies that are looking for solutions like yours to establish a successful collaboration.

Apply now

52

projects accelerated

1.7

CHF delivered in kind

1000

hours of coaching delivered

Bringing your industry 4.0 project to market

The i4Challenge’s goal is to foster innovation in the Basel region by supporting entrepreneurs, startups and established SMEs with innovative industry 4.0 projects. Whether you have a working solution, a prototype or even just a new idea: Together, we’ll bring you forward on your way to market success.

 

Your project is a…
Our goal is to…
Solution ready to be sold
Connect you with an established local company for real-market testing.
Prototype
Enable you to develop and test your solution in a secure environment.
Idea
Help develop proof of concept and define your business model.

Your benefits

We connect you directly with established companies actively seeking solutions like yours, paving the way for successful collaborations. 

You’ll have the opportunity to address genuine industry needs with your innovative idea, allowing you to engage directly in real projects. This open innovation environment accelerates the establishment and validation of your business idea, ensuring it’s not just visionary but also viable and market-ready.

  • Significant in-kind support. Unlock up to CHF 40,000 in kind, providing crucial support without diluting your equity.
  • Market validation. Validate your project in a real-world environment and gain insights and feedback from industry leaders to refine your solution.
  • Strategic partnership opportunities. Connect with businesses looking for fresh, sustainable technologies to integrate into their operations.
  • Networking opportunities. Connect with our network of manufacturing industry leaders, potential customers and investors.
  • Cross-border opportunities. Benefit from our unique, tri-national location with access to resources and networks in Switzerland, Germany and France.
  • Expert feedback. Receive valuable feedback from experts in every stage of the i4Challenge.
  • Visibility and exposure. Showcase your innovation on a prestigious platform at key industry events.
  • 50% discount on CAS management program. Participate in the CAS management program of the University of St. Gallen at half the cost.
  • Delaware accelerator access. Get a spot in the Delaware accelerator program.
  • HTZ consulting. Get one day of free consulting from the Hightech Zentrum Aargau

Location-based additional benefits

As the innovation promotion agency of the Basel Area, we can afford additional benefits to local startups—whether already established in or willing to relocate to the region.

 

Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft or Jura Jura only
Be part of BE5.0.
Share your idea at the esteemed industrial transformation trade show in Mulhouse.
Invitation to our accelerator.
Experience a tailored acceleration journey that recognizes the uniqueness of your project
POC development assistance.
Receive funding in cash and value-in-kind from a partner company to achieve proof of concept for your project.
x
Establishment funding.
Receive funding to establish in or relocate to the canton of Jura.
x
Special BE5.0 showcase.
After completing the accelerator, you get to showcase your POC at the BE5.0 trade show.
x
Local mentorship.
Get paired with a local mentor that introduces you to the Jura ecosystem.
x
Individual coaching.
Receive personalized guidance from renowned experts for up to 18 months.
x
Apply for NEI status.
Being classified as Nouvelle Entreprise Innovante in Jura allows for various benefits like tax exemptions, unique in all of Switzerland.
x
Workspace at the SIP Jura.
Get a free desk at the Switzerland Innovation Park in Jura.
x

Partner with us and develop a POC with a startup

For local industrial companies seeking to enhance their operations and competitiveness, the i4Challenge serves as a unique marketplace. We bring established companies and innovative pioneers into contact with each other and ensure that the collaboration leads to success.

You collaborate with the startup of your choice and help to shape its solutions to match your current and future challenges.

  • Work with agile startups that can adapt their solution to your needs.
  • Gain access to our wide network of industry leaders, potential partners and talent.
  • Recognize and respond to digital disruptions in the market.
  • Recognize and implement new ways to create value for the end customer.
  • Implementing new insights from digital transformation.
  • Develop your digital business agility.
  • Take advantage of expertise and capabilities that exist in the startup ecosystem.
  • Increase your company’s visibility.
  • Help drive innovation in the Jura region.

Who it is for

We call out to individuals, startups and SMEs with a project that supports digital transformation in the areas of:

  • Robotics
  • 3D printing
  • Virtual reality
  • AI
  • Machine learning
  • Cyber security
  • Digital twins
  • Smart factory
  • IoT
  • Connectivity
  • Cloud / Edge computing

Why we do it

We’re in a unique position, both physically and innovatively. Located at the tri-national border in a region with a rich history in manufacturing, we can offer the perfect ground for innovation in manufacturing and sustainability. 

Over the past years, we’ve built a vibrant ecosystem of industry leaders, investors, partners and talent that we’re ready to leave at your fingertips to further our commitment: spearheading innovation through collaboration for the future of the region.

Prerequisites

Before applying, please consider the following criteria:

Field

Your project should offer innovative solutions or approaches within the realms of industry 4.0 with a sustainability angle for the manufacturing industry.

Stage

You can apply with just an idea, a prototype or an already working solution as long as it has potential for growth within the industry.

Location

While you can apply from anywhere in the world, being based in the Basel region, specifically Jura, gives you access to the full range of benefits. For more information, refer to the location-based benefits section above.

How it works

Registration

If you meet the prerequisites above, apply for the i4Challenge here. You’ll need to fill out our online questionnaire to participate in the selection process.

 

Selection

Our expert team will review all applications and follow up with selected projects for a more detailed interview. Even if you’re not selected for an interview, you’ll receive detailed expert feedback on your solution. 

From experience, about half of the initially entered projects will progress to the jury review stage in which the independent experts decide who to invite to pitch.

Pitch

If you’re selected to pitch, you get to present your project to a committee of industry experts who’ll review it thoroughly and provide detailed feedback before selecting the winners.

Growth

Our support for the winning projects are highly individualized and based on the maturity of your project. Discover in our benefits section how we help you bring your project forward to market success.

Open for application

Join the i4Challenge to take your project closer to market.

Whether you’re an individual with a groundbreaking idea, a startup poised for growth, or an SME ready to pivot, we help you accelerate your journey.

Apply now

Our program supporters

Our partners

Media partners

i4Challenge Jury

Marco Arnold

Position: ARNOLD IT Systems GmbH

Dipl. Ing. (FH)
Many years of management experience at executive level
Managing Director CEO, ARNOLD IT Systems GmbH

Dipl. Ing. (FH) Many years of management experience at executive...

Marco Arnold

ARNOLD IT Systems GmbH

Alain Dieterlen

Position: Université Haute Alsace

Lecturer Researcher IUT de Mulhouse at the University of Haute Alsace
Many years of experience as a researcher

Lecturer Researcher IUT de Mulhouse at the University of Haute...

Alain Dieterlen

Université Haute Alsace

Prof. Dr. Manuel Hess

Position: University St. Gallen (HSG)

Head of the St.Gallen Startup Navigator Lab at the Institute for Technology Management, University of St.Gallen
Engaged in applied research on the transformation process from startups to young companies
Co-author of the St.Gallen Startup Navigator and lecturer for students, entrepreneurs and managers on the topic of entrepreneurship

Head of the St.Gallen Startup Navigator Lab at the Institute...

Prof. Dr. Manuel Hess

University St. Gallen (HSG)
Jürgen Jähnert

Dr. Jürgen Jähnert

Position: Bwcon GmbH

  • External innovation expert for the European Commission and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education
  • Member of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Information Technology and Computer Science at the University of Stuttgart

Jürgen Jähnert

CEO Bwcon GmbH

Dr. Jürgen Jähnert

Bwcon GmbH

Stéphan Kohler

Position: Liebherr-France SAS

Ingenieur Arts et Metiers ENSAM
Deputy General Manager Production
Project Manager

Ingenieur Arts et Metiers ENSAM Deputy General Manager Production Project...

Stéphan Kohler

Liebherr-France SAS

Oliver Laux

Position: SIKO GmbH

Master of Science
Many years of experience as project manager and product development manager
Head of Product Development

Master of Science Many years of experience as project manager...

Oliver Laux

SIKO GmbH

Cyrille Monnin

Position: Productec SA

  • CEO of the company Productec SA
  • 30 years of experience in the B2B environment in various roles

CEO of the company Productec SA 30 years of experience...

Cyrille Monnin

Productec SA

Markus Mühlemann

Position: ValueOn AG
  • Founder and CEO of ValueOn AG; founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of TimeWinner AG
  • Investor and business angel at startup companies in the services & ICT sector; entrepreneur for 19 years
  • Project Competence AG was awarded the certificate “Best Business Transformation” by ASCO 2018 for the second time

Markus Mühlemann

ValueOn AG

Marc Nass

Position: Actemium Romandie

  • Business Unit Manager at Actemium Romandie
  • Many years of experience as an automation engineer
  • Active for more than 30 years in the chemical – pharmaceutical – biotechnology industry in the region

Business Unit Manager at Actemium Romandie Many years of experience...

Marc Nass

Actemium Romandie
Mark k Peter

Prof. Dr. Marc K. Peter

Position: FHNW School of Business

  • Heads the Digital Transformation Competence Centre at the FHNW School of Business in Olten. The center offers research, consulting, and educational services around the digital transformation to help organizations and employees develop and successfully implement digital growth strategies.Important studies and publications: www.kmu-transformation.ch, www.digitale-transformation-artikel.ch, www.arbeitswelt-zukunft.ch, www.digitales-marketing-kmu.ch, www.it-sicherheit-kmu.ch

Mark k Peter

Heads the Digital Transformation Competence Centre at the FHNW School...

Prof. Dr. Marc K. Peter

FHNW School of Business
HS KA QUINT

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Franz Quint

Position: University of Applied Sciences Karlsruhe

  • Professor for Communications Engineering at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences since 2002
  • VP for Research at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences since 2017
  • Previously employed at Daimler-Benz Aeropsace / EADS in the field of communications and radar as a developer/department head.
  • His research interests are digital signal and image evaluation, 3D vision, and communications engineering. He is a reviewer for international journals and conferences, for the DAAD, and for the accreditation of study programs.
  • Since the beginning of 2021, he has been the spokesperson for the tri-national university alliance TriRhenaTech of the universities of applied sciences on the Upper Rhine.

HS KA QUINT

Professor of Communications Engineering and Vice-Rector for Research at the...

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Franz Quint

University of Applied Sciences Karlsruhe

Martin Scheidiger

Position: Endress+Hauser Flow

  • Head of Department | DRP Process & Test Engineering Endress+Hauser Flow
  • 20 years of experience in electronics and electrical engineering (development QA, production)
  • 13 years of management experience at executive, departmental and project management level
  • 3 years i4Challenge Jury Member

Head of Department | DRP Process & Test Engineering Endress+Hauser...

Martin Scheidiger

Endress+Hauser Flow
i4 challenge jury

Isabel Steinhoff

Position: Dimenteers GmbH Co-Founder
  • Member of the board of directors at “Sichtbar Online Marketing AG”
  • Part-time journalist for the “Handelszeitung”, and others
i4 challenge jury

Graduated in 2009 with a degree in industrial engineering in...

Isabel Steinhoff

Dimenteers GmbH Co-Founder

Matthias Wagner

  • Many years of experience as project manager and member of the executive board in the areas of IT and operations for companies in the health care, FMCG and finance industries
  • Focused on international business areas and digitization projects

Many years of experience as project manager and member of...

Matthias Wagner

Lionel Socchi

Lionel Socchi

Position: Republic and Canton of Jura

  • Delegate for Economic Promotion, Republic and Canton of Jura
  • Training in the field of banking supplemented by a diploma in business economics from the University of Applied Sciences HES.
  • 10 years in the banking sector (financial analyst for SMEs), 8 years in vocational training (administrator of a training fund).
  • Since 2010 at the Jura Economic Development Agency: support for companies, networking, collaborative projects, export assistance and support through financial aid for company creation and development projects.
  •  Since 2019, head of the Jura Economic Promotion structure.

Lionel Socchi

Delegate for Economic Promotion, Republic and Canton of Jura

Lionel Socchi

Republic and Canton of Jura
Kathrin Guenther

Kathrin Günther

Position: GFT Integrated Systems GmbH
  • Graduated in 2009 with a degree in industrial engineering in electrical engineering and information technology.
  • 2009 Project management at Endress+Hauser in the area of process automation projects.
  • 2014 Master of Business Administration (MBA) and then took on various management positions at Endress+Hauser, most recently with global responsibility for the Group-wide “Energy Solutions” business area.
  • Changed to Uhlmann Pac-Systeme in 2016. Head of Technical Sales for software and automation solutions. Since January 2017, as Head of Digitalisation, she has been responsible for the company’s global digitalization strategy and since summer 2019, she has been responsible for the Digital Solutions business area/business unit of Uhlmann Pac-Systeme GmbH.
  • Since 2023 GFT Integrated Systems GmbH Konstanz, Chief Revenue Officer Industrial – Platforms and Services
Kathrin Guenther

Graduated in 2009 with a degree in industrial engineering in...

Kathrin Günther

GFT Integrated Systems GmbH
Frank Schönung

Dr.-Ing. Frank Schönung

Position: SEW

  • Since 2012 in the SEW research department responsible for:
    Logistics solutions with mobile logistics assistants
    Production concepts based on mobile assistance systems
    Urban logistics and transport logistics
    Knowledge network and university cooperation
  • Previously: Head of Department for Materials Handling at the Institute for Materials Handling and Logistics Systems at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Frank Schönung

research department SEW

Dr.-Ing. Frank Schönung

SEW
Urs Hofmeier

Dr. Urs Ch. Hofmeier

Position: Schweizer Salinen AG

  • Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, University of Basel; MBA, IMD Lausanne
  • Enthusiastic and experienced to use the social changes towards sustainability and digital transformation as a basis for innovative services and products.
  • Dedicated to guiding young entrepreneurs on their path to becoming successful leaders.

     

Urs Hofmeier

CEO Schweizer Salinen AG

Dr. Urs Ch. Hofmeier

Schweizer Salinen AG

Nina Habicht

Position: Partner and conversation designer at Paixon

  • Nina Habicht is a tech entrepreneur and has successfully bootstrapped companies in software development and AI as an early partner, Head of Marketing & Business Development and CEO. She supports startups and companies with strategic advice, growth hacking, business development and AI sales. Previously, she worked for international companies such as Bayer, Tamedia and Zühlke Group.Current mandates:

    •           Partner and conversation designer at Paixon

    •           Jury at Best of Swiss Apps

    •           Guest lecturer for chatbots and voice assistants at ZHAW, IT project management at HSLU

    •           Female Digital Innovator Award from Femtrepreneurs (2020)

    •           Founder & CEO of www.voicetechhub.com

Partner and conversation designer at Paixon

Nina Habicht

Partner and conversation designer at Paixon

Joëlle Tosetti

Position: Microtech – Booster

  • Program Manager Innovation
  • Trained as an engineer at the EPFL in microtechnology
  • Several years as an engineer at Philip Morris for the coordination of international projects
  • Trainer of teenagers
  • Since 2021, at arcm as Program Manager of the Innovation Booster – Microtech at 50%: implementation and operational management of the programme, support to companies, networking, support to collaborative project teams

Microtech – Booster

Joëlle Tosetti

Microtech – Booster

Ines Kljucar

Position: CCO & CDO Phoenix Mecano AG

  • MBA INSEAD, MSc of Business Administration HU-Berlin
  • Responsible for the digital transformation, sales- and marketing strategy and M&A. Prior to her engagement at Phoenix Mecano she worked for Körber Group, Bosch Building Technologies and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants
  • Advisor to the Equity Alliance, a NYC based VC fund investing in underrepresented founders
  • Active angel investor in Industry 4.0 startups, Climate Tech, Hardware and SaaS business models

CCO & CDO Phoenix Mecano AG

Ines Kljucar

CCO & CDO Phoenix Mecano AG

Kerstin Flötner

Position: Founder FLÖTNER CONSULTING

  • Founder of FLÖTNER CONSULTING – Business Consultancy for marketing and communication supporting StartUps und C-level management with go-to-market, brand building, innovation thought leadership and reputation management
  • Creative influencer helping entrepreneurs and StartUps to successfully convince and excite customers, partners, and investors to support their innovative ideas fostering profitable growth
  • 30 years industry experience, proven track record for growing the value of businesses and brands by positioning them as innovation leaders in sustainability, digital transformation, and future mobility (hp, Goodyear, SCA, Bitburger, Oerlikon)
  • Business angel and investor at StartUp companies
  • Member of Female Investors Network (FIN)

Founder FLÖTNER CONSULTING

Kerstin Flötner

Founder FLÖTNER CONSULTING

Guido Eckhardt

Position: Director of Business Consulting / Coach and Talent management at delaware Germany GmbH

CCO & CDO Phoenix Mecano AG

Guido Eckhardt

Director of Business Consulting / Coach and Talent management at delaware Germany GmbH

Eva-Maria Bonetti

Position: Managing Director at Bonetti & Partner GmbH

  • Life Sciences Entrepreneur with 30+ years of experience in the (Bio-)Pharmaceutical industry, in strategic and organizational  consulting, in coaching and as a sparring partner for  C-level leaders and managers in the industry

CCO & CDO Phoenix Mecano AG

Eva-Maria Bonetti

Managing Director at Bonetti & Partner GmbH

Uziel Zontag

Position: Founder / Executive Consultant

  • Expert in Digital and AI transformation within multiple segments such as:, AgTech, CyberSec, ICT, E commerce, Water management, Machine Vision and more. Main focus since 2017 within Industry 4.0, Digital and AI for manufacturing, Digital Twin and robotics and automation.
  • Wide background in Tech companies: business transformation consultancy, B2B digital services, investment strategy, start-up identification, successful exits, BOD participation, growth planning and implementation.

CCO & CDO Phoenix Mecano AG

Uziel Zontag

Founder / Executive Consultant

2023 Winners

Innovative solutions

New Ideas

2022 Winners

Innovative solutions

New Ideas

2021 Winners

SME and Startup

New Ideas

2020 Winners

SME and Startup

New Ideas

2019 Winners

2018 Winners

FAQs

Do I need to be based in the Jura region to apply?

You don’t need to be based in the Jura region to apply. But once you’re selected as a winner, your benefits will depend on your location (you’re welcome to relocate to Delémont, Jura, in case you win. We’ll cover your administrative establishment fee.)

Being located in Jura comes with additional benefits on its own: The Jura region is renowned for its strong manufacturing industry and innovation ecosystem. You’ll become part of a unique environment, conductive for the development of your project. This allows for unparalleled networking opportunities, direct access to potential collaborators and customers and immersion in a culture of innovation.

Furthermore, the canton of Jura itself is very supportive of startups. You can expect various local resources and incentives that can significantly accelerate the growth of your project.

What if I don’t have a fully developed product yet?

An idea is all you need to apply. We’ll provide you with the resources, mentorship and environment to further develop your concept.

How can my SME benefit if we're already established?

The i4Challenge is ideal for established SMEs with innovative solutions. We’ll help you scale and refine your solution through direct market access, expert mentorship and visibility.

Are there any fees to participate in the i4Challenge?

Participation in the i4Challenge is completely free of charge and other financial commitments. All we ask for is your time and dedication.

Will I receive funding for my project?

Jura-based (or relocated) projects receive cash and value-in-kind funding to cover part of the cost associated with developing the POC.

Other projects receive significant value-in-kind funding, amounting to up to CHF 40,000.

What happens if my project is not selected?

If we don’t progress with your project, you still gain valuable benefits from the application process. Every project submitted receives detailed feedback at every stage of the selection process, offering insights and suggestions for improvement and further development.

Have questions or need guidance on your application? We’re here to help.

Albert Hilber

Manager Upper Rhine 4.0

Email Albert