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Pascale Vonmont, Director of Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #313 - Pascale Vonmont: Foundations in Switzerland

Pascale Vonmont

April 6, 2023

16:00 - Building a foundation 

17:55 - Managing public perception of foundations

22:11 - Determining the success of a program

26:33 - Gebert Rüf’s funding strategy

32:48 - Why Switzerland is a great ecosystem

About Pascale Vonmont:

Pascale Vonmont is the director of the Gebert Rüf Stiftung, which funds innovative Swiss university projects. She is also a board member at Swiss Foundations, VentureKick and the Swiss National Science Foundation, and a jury member of EY “Entrepreneur of The Year” Switzerland. She holds a PhD in Chemistry from ETH Zurich.

Founded in 1999, Gebert Rüf is the largest private science and innovation-funding foundation in Switzerland, with the objective to promote «Switzerland as a top location for business and as a place to live». As a private funding agency guided by its mission statement «making science effective», it supports entrepreneurial projects which are committed to achieving an impact. They’re supporters of known Swiss projects like InnoBooster and Venture Kick.

Pascale Vonmont manages the operational side of the foundation. She supports the board of trustees in its strategic activities, manages the foundation's support programmes, and networks the foundation's activities with central partners.

Pascale’s decades of experience have taught her that foundations should make a priority out of transparency and approachability, and need to recognize that innovation is a risk which sometimes necessitates failure, but failure doesn’t mean that the work wasn’t worthwhile. Gebert Rüf also helped create Swiss Foundations, a “voice” for foundations in Switzerland which offers practical advice and educates foundation bodies.

Gebert Rüg’s funding strategy has 4 main pillars:

  • Science and entrepreneurship: bridging the gap between research and the market;
  • Science and education: focusing on building future skills;
  • Science and society/economy: making science with society, not just for society. Making this science available to the public at large through “scientainment” (science-focused entertainment);
  • Foundations in Switzerland: keeping Switzerland an attractive country for business through a liberal regulation foundation.

Pascale advises startups thinking about applying for a Gebert Rüf grant to first get in touch with them by calling or emailing, so that both parties can make sure that the startup’s area of activity falls within the foundation’s scope. 

Gebert Rüf is currently celebrating their 25th anniversary, which prompted them to co-produce a bonus series with us early this year celebrating the role of foundations in entrepreneurship.

Memorable quote:

"The key role of every foundation is to do impactful funding. No matter how small they are, there will be a gap in the market requiring their funding."


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