"Serial entrepreneur", "venture capitalist", the Grison Alex Fries exiled in Silicon Valley knows the Swiss innovation ecosystem well. He looks with admiration at the one in the canton of Vaud, but underlines its shortcomings.

How do you rate the Swiss ecosystem?

For me, there is no doubt that Switzerland, and even the canton of Vaud stands out. It is home to the best innovation, the best engineers and the best ideas in the world. Right now, everything is better than in Silicon Valley. I am thinking of Switzerland as a whole, because the country is very small, and it does not really make sense to divide it into cantons.

The potential is certainly significant. But what are the obstacles?

There are many think tanks and great universities in Switzerland (EPFL, IDEAP, CSEM, PSI, EPF, EMPA, IMD, Uni de Genève, Lausanne, etc.), which could develop fantastic technologies, which these institutions are currently doing. The problem we have is that they are not sufficiently commercialized. Either they are licensed by large companies, and only the university benefits, or spin-offs are created from some of them. This must change. We need venture capital to be more widely granted to start-ups or spin-offs in the start-up phase. We should automatically grant $100,000 to each spin-off or start-up leaving one of these institutes. We also need better mentors. Go and get them from all over the world! Bring successful entrepreneurs and investors from Silicon Valley who know how things work, and much more!

How do you view institutional investors?

It is essential that pension funds, governments, companies and banks invest in venture capital funds. We would invest in more companies if these funds were larger. Currently, only a few of them are benefiting from it. Finally, we need these start-ups to grow, progress, as well as exits, which are extremely important. This leads to many multimillionaires, "angels" who in turn invest in many start-ups. This makes money for venture capital funds, a lot of money for fund investors, and generates more taxes, jobs, happiness, etc. I am saddened when I see all these Swiss and Vaud start-ups coming to see me in Silicon Valley because they can't find enough good mentors or exits in Europe.

What is your vision for the region?

The problems are well known: the canton of Vaud has money; we can provide the mentors. It would be very simple to create a "mini Silicon Valley" in the canton of Vaud or in Switzerland with all the talents, funds and companies that are there.

Partner at Alpana Ventures, Alex Fries believes it is "essential for pension funds, governments, companies and banks to invest in venture capital funds".