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Get to know seven projects

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Benita Vogel

Published

20.09.2021

Pioniere des Projekts Twiliner im Gespräch

Since 2012, the Migros Pioneer Fund has already launched 100 projects. Introducing seven pioneers.

Karen Rauschenbach, Gründerin Circular Clothing

Circular Clothing, Karen Rauschenbach (45)

Migros Pioneer Fund support: 2020 to 2023

«Surround yourself with people who share your vision. Then wonders will happen.»

60 percent of clothes are thrown away after one year. Karen Rauschenbach aims to put a stop to this waste. She and her team at Circular Clothing are launching a network for certified recyclable fashion. The intention is to help Swiss designers make clothes from recycled or compostable materials. That isn't a straightforward affair. The fashion industry is secretive and is experiencing difficult times because of the pandemic. But Rauschenbach is convinced it can be achieved. «In five years I'd like to see lots of certified clothing at Swiss retailers, and consumers who know how to use a garment for longer, or how they can then dispose of it properly.»

Johan Rochel, Gründer ethix

ethix, Johan Rochel (38)

Migros Pioneer Fund support: 2018 to 2021

«Talk to future customers about their needs as soon as possible.»

Digitalisation and ethics – that sounds like a contradiction. Johan Rochel, Jean-Daniel Strub and Lea Strohm manage to square the circle. ethix advises companies and institutions on how to handle client data ethically, for example. They also organise round table discussions on such questions as whether artificial intelligence can be human. «The Covid pandemic has pushed the issue up the agenda,» comments Rochel. He nevertheless believes the next few years will be crucial. «We'll need to demonstrate that we can pull off the balancing act between social engagement, which we practise through grass-roots formats, and business success.» Now that support from the Migros Pioneer Fund has just ended, ethix will need to stand on its own two feet. Rochel's aim is clear: «We want to be the point of contact for ethical questions in the digital world.»

Nora Wilhelm, Gründerin collaboratio helvetica

collaboratio helvetica, Nora Wilhelm (28)

Migros Pioneer Fund support: 2016 to 2020

«Pool your resources – and never give up.»

Finding joint solutions to the climate crisis, racism or discrimination. That is what matters to Nora Wilhelm. In collaboratio helvetica, she has created a platform that helps individuals, companies and institutions to realise sustainability projects with the involvement of the population and stakeholders. It was difficult to start with. A young woman with an unconventional vision was a sitting target for critics. «We had a lot to learn,» comments Wilhelm. For example, she thought people simply needed the relevant information and would then take the initiative in launching systemic projects. Above all the Pioneer Fund believed in her right from the start. Today, collaboratio helvetica is self-supporting. «In five years we want to have created a dense Switzerland-wide network of change-makers who support each other and together seek to bring about systemic change. We'll be there to help them with the necessary tools, methods and formats.»

Luca Bortolani, Gründer Twiliner

Twiliner, Luca Bortolani (40)

Migros Pioneer Fund support: 2020 to 2024

«Don't shy away from the details – quite the contrary, in fact. You need to address them early on.»

A coach where you can get proper sleep. Luca Bortolani aims to make that possible with Twiliner. He wants to develop a high-comfort seat that converts into a bed. «That will give people travelling across Europe a sustainable alternative to air travel and an additional option to night trains that cover only a limited range of routes,» explains Bortolani. The entrepreneur nearly ditched his idea while it was still in its infancy – «because the technical, regulatory and financial hurdles seemed too high». Then the Migros Pioneer Fund came on board.  Bortolani and his team are now working flat out on solutions. «We'd like to make the offering so attractive that in five years' time, over 200,000 people a year will be travelling across Europe with Twiliner.»

Bernadette Höller, Gründerin der Plattform loopings.ch

Loopings, Bernadette Höller (39)

Migros Pioneer Fund support: 2020 to 2023

«Involve the target group in developing solutions as early on as possible.»

Bernadette Höller knows from her previous start-up life what innovation involves. Her latest project is all about professional opportunities for those in later life. The platform Loopings aligns the interests of companies and working people and lists a wide range of options for professional development for the over-45s and indeed over-65s. «We want to establish a national centre of excellence and knowledge.» There is a reason why Looping's target audience already starts at age 45. «At first we thought about supporting people from their mid-50s but noticed that's much too late to equip people to weather a professional crisis or be sufficiently agile to take control of their professional future.» The objective is to create a world of work in which everyone can determine and creatively shape their professional futures in the midst of the digital transformation.

Jenny Schäpper, Gründerin VillageOffice

VillageOffice, Jenny Schäpper (48)

Migros Pioneer Fund support: 2016 to 2019  

«Never give up, be stubborn.»

Jenny Schäpper became a pioneer unexpectedly. She set up a coworking space in the country – because she had had enough of commuting but did not want to work from home either. The process did not stop at one space. «When the person who became my co-founder pointed out how much CO2 could be saved if all employees could reach their office by public transport and bike in a quarter of an hour, we began to think bigger,» explains Schäpper. A few brainstorming sessions later and with more pioneers on board, the VillageOffice project took shape.  The team of pioneers set itself the goal of opening 1,000 coworking spaces in rural areas by 2030. «Local workplaces would hugely reduce travel,» comments Schäpper. At the moment she finds herself in a holding pattern. «The coronavirus pandemic has normalised the idea of flexible working but companies won't decide yet where they will let their employees work in the future.» However, she is convinced she will achieve her goal. «We are looking for new creative ways to overcome the crisis, such as collaborating with like-minded people.»

Gründer MakeThings, Marcio Ferreira dos Santos

MakeThings, Marcio Ferreira Dos Santos (41)

Migros Pioneer Fund support: 2019 to 2023

«In every problem, seek out the opportunity that you then focus on.»

Being able to make things yourself – that is the basic idea of MakeThings. «There are countless well-equipped workshops, studios and places throughout Switzerland where people can tinker, craft things and get creative,» explains Marcio Ferreira Dos Santos. He wants to help people locate and use these facilities through his online platform. As well as the premises themselves, in future MakeThings users will also be able to book workshops. Ferreira and his team are currently programming the platform.  For all the challenges of the pandemic, which has forced many facilities to close, the entrepreneur remains positive: «I want to see creative freedom break free of its niche status and give everyone the chance to make something themselves.»

Photo/stage: Twiliner

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