Switzerland – Silicon Alps – joins the start-up ecosystem

Ah, Switzerland. The land of chocolate, cow-bells, skiing and prices that make you want to cry. A place that has built a global brand on providing a safe, risk-free haven for other people’s money and not being disruptive or belligerent. Clean, orderly and wonderfully peaceful — yes, the clichés are true.

Not then, you might think, a country especially suited to launching a startup — but you’d be wrong. Long a hub for high-tech and medical sciences, Switzerland now boasts an ecosystem of Internet entrepreneurs that’s blossoming as fast as the proverbial Edelweiss in spring.

“I don’t know any other country on Earth that is so good at seed funding,” enthuses Johannes Reck, co-founder and CEO of GetYourGuide. His story is illuminating — after founding GetYourGuide in 2008, his team was approached by a local bank with a seed funding offer, an out of the blue reversal of roles that typifies what’s happening here.

“In literally every other country in the world I’ve been to, entrepreneurs struggle so hard to get their first seed funding,” he says. “In Switzerland you have a lot of institutions who provide money, literally for free, very early on.”

 

via TNW Europe

 

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Read about start-ups scenes in L.A. and Berlin:

 

And, some beautiful photos of Switzerland:

Continue reading Switzerland – Silicon Alps – joins the start-up ecosystem

Ballona Wetlands – 600 acres of Los Angeles coast will soon be restored

In a first step toward restoring one of Southern California’s few remaining wetlands and opening it to the public, the state has approved spending $6.5 million for planning a massive restoration of the degraded Ballona Wetlands.

(In the plan) initial proposals call for spending $100 million to remove concrete levees and truck out tons of sediment dumped on the property, allowing water from Ballona Creek and the sea to flow into the wetlands. Bike paths would be built atop earthen flood-control berms on the reserve’s perimeter and public boardwalks would allow visitors access to the site without disturbing plants, birds and other wildlife.

“We have the potential at Ballona to restore this degraded and damaged habitat and return it to a beautiful, sustainable natural refuge for people and wildlife,” Luce said.

The vast coastal wetlands once spanned 2,000 acres at the mouth of Ballona Creek, covering much of what is now Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and Venice. Only a quarter remains today, much of it a dry, fenced-off expanse of brush that is littered with garbage in places, surrounded by high-rises and subdivisions and criss-crossed by congested boulevards.

Developers and environmental activists wrangled over the site for decades before the state agreed in 2003 to spend $139 million to acquire it as an ecological reserve.

via LA Times

 

And, nationally wetlands are still disappearing:

A national wetlands inventory released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that between 2004 and 2009, the lower 48 states lost a net average of 13,800 acres a year. That compared with a slight annual gain in wetlands during the previous six year-period.

“Wetlands are at a tipping point,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “While we have made great strides in conserving and restoring wetlands since the 1950s, when we were losing an area equal to half the size of Rhode Island each year, we remain on a downward trend that is alarming.”

via LA Times