Acceleration and collaboration: The story of Zurich’s local partnership
Now more than ever is a time when we need strong collaborative action. Where organisations, with diverse skills, are able to come together and look at what it is that we can do together, that cannot be done alone. WWF & Impact Hub’s global partnership, would not be what it is, without the strong examples of the local partnerships, working to bring conservation and innovation together, for the purpose of achieving positive impact that travels across both communities. Zurich is one of these local partnerships that shows what can be done, when pandas and makers come together to innovate and accelerate!
From codesigned accelerators to high quality cross-organisational relationships, the recipe of the Swiss success.
Patricia, from WWF’s Switzerland tells the story of her experience of working with Impact Hub Zurich on a successful six-month long accelerator program, codesigned between the organisations and adapting to the needs of their participants. She also shares the quality of relationship that resulted from this collaboration and the positive impact of now having, what she considers as an extended cross-organisational team.
Impact Hub Zurich had just launched a national circular economy, focusing on circular startups in the economy, which were missing the planetary boundary elements, so I sat with people from the partnership and made some suggestions for adapting their circular economy model to include the elements. From these conversations we began exploring ways to start working with one another. We jointly developed a concept and together reached out to a funder, which resulted in us getting funding for a six month accelerator program. What we really wanted to test, was a different methodology for running an acceleration program. We focused on asking what was needed, and from that point, built the program as we went along.
During the accelerator, we brought in experts from the outside, Delft university inspired some of the material and participated as part of the jury at the end. We aimed to source not just our expertise internally from both the Impact Hub and WWF networks, but also externally. Through this, we were able to bring in people with specific skills and knowledge. On the Impact Hub side, they brought people who were great at pitching, practice and storytelling, and who also participated as part of the jury. When I think of the program, I would say the success of it was that we actually made it happen. That five out of the six organisations finished the program and at the end, said it was still worth it. All of them saying, I have come out of this program richer than I went in. A great test of the approach.
Through the partnership, we are able to share resources, strengths and expertise. We are able to identify which organisation has which strength. Impact Hub has its large community of startups, space for running events, wide reaching communications, facilitators, and they have a vibrant and energetic community. We have a very strong community as well, but it depends on the project that you want to run. I feel it really depends on the type of project you want to run as partners. For us in Zurich, the Impact Hub had already been building up their expertise on this topic, so we had complementary goals and a joint purpose. The partnership has expanded our contacts and knowledge and during the accelerator program, I saw them more that I saw my own team. Proximity is a big part of this, being close to the office, means we can pop over to have meetings.
Working with the Impact Hub team pushed me out of my comfort zone, which was great for learning. I really enjoyed working with the people, who I now consider as friends. After the accelerator ended, we continued to share opportunities, Pavena (IH) will see something that would be interesting for WWF and will ask if we want to be part of it. And the same thing vice versa. Also, having the joint brand power is quite a strong factor. In terms of the partnership, the accelerator program would not have been possible if we hadn’t been partners with Impact Hub. We were able to bring in the environmental expertise, but much of the process was facilitated by Impact Hub. I am incredibly grateful, for now I have very strong relationships with Zurich’s Impact Hub and am excited to set up the next joint project.
“In terms of the partnership, this program would not have been possible if we hadn’t been partners with Impact Hub. We were able to bring in environmental expertise, but much of the process was facilitated by Impact Hub. I am incredibly grateful, for now I have very strong relationships with Zurich’s Impact Hub and am excited to set up the next joint project.”
Patricia Matzdorf, Senior Partnership Manager, Innovation & Socio-Economic Change, WWF Switzerland