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
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:
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.
"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."