Christoph Birkholz is the co-founder and managing director of the Impact Hub, Zurich. There are also Impact Hubs in Vienna, São Paolo or San Francisco – there are already more than 50 across the world.

Christoph Birkholz is the co-founder and managing director of the Impact Hub, Zurich. There are also Impact Hubs in Vienna, São Paolo or San Francisco – there are already more than 50 across the world.

The idea of "Innovation through collaboration" is the fundamental thinking behind the Impact Hub, which was established in the west end of Zurich in 2011. This is a place for networking amongst business founders, creatives, start-ups and companies with a shared interest in shaping the future of the economy. Together with this community, SIX is driving the development of the Fintech center of Zurich.


Why is FinTech a relevant issue in the Zurich Impact Hub?

Impact Hub stands for the future of business. In Zurich in particular, this also encompasses the future of banking and finance, areas in which we see two major trends that we are addressing: digitalization and transparency/impact finance. A number of our start-ups, as well as our partners such as Swisscom, SIX and AXA, are dealing with the issue of digitalization in the banking and financial sector. We would like to take up this momentum alongside other players such as Swiss Finance Startups or the Zürcher Bankenverband (Zurich banking association) with a view to establishing a FinTech cluster with a global reach in Zurich as well. The Impact Hub itself will not be the leading FinTech hub, but will play an active role across cluster and sector boundaries. However, the community and activities of the Impact Hub can make a contribution to invigorating the cluster with concrete measures.

Where and how is the Zurich Impact Hub already making a commitment to this issue?
Until now it has mainly been members of the community who are either operating in the FinTech space as start-ups or who use our premises for FinTech meet-ups. Our activities within the Impact Hub will continue to focus on this area: we see ourselves as enablers and are delighted if major companies, associations and the public sector take up this issue and drive it on our platform, on our premises and within our network. We are then happy to provide some additional help with formats such as "Disrupt Finance", which will bring FinTech start-ups from abroad to Zurich in November to give managers and media representatives an insight into international trends and to initiate potential cooperation arrangements. With Impact Hubs in Singapore, London, New York, San Francisco and São Paulo, we are in an ideal position in this regard.

What are your hopes and expectations in relation to cooperation with SIX?
SIX will occupy a leading role in the digitalization of finance. Together with other players, the expertise and network of SIX are required to place Zurich on the global FinTech map." In particular, we are looking forward to working alongside SIX with start-ups, or in developing new themes such as "intrapreneurship" – i.e. entrepreneurship within major companies – together with managers from SIX. We are right at the beginning of our partnership, but the momentum to date shows that we will be tackling a wide range of specific initiatives together over the coming years. It's an exciting time.