Switzerland's biggest telco Swisscom has set up a CHF 10m (€7.8m) fund to finance local startups.
The early stage fund, which will be run by the telco's Swisscom Ventures arm, will invest in new businesses in the cleantech, media and ICT sectors.
For companies who fancy getting a slice of the investment action, one way in is via Swisscom's StartUp Challenge, announced on Tuesday.
Swisscom will pick the "five most exciting and promising startup companies" from those that apply and fly them to Silicon Valley later this year for a week of networking and mentoring to help work on their business model.
According to the telco, the early stage fund will hand out financing of between CHF 100,000 and CHF 500,000 (€80,000 and €400,000). While none of the Startup Challenge winners are guaranteed equity funding, Swisscom would typically offer between CHF 250,000 and CHF 500,000 (€200,000 and €400,000) in initial funding to any promising startups, and may put in further cash "for those companies that are developing well", a spokesman said.
Swisscom will also offer the startups operational support, such as discounted Swisscom products, technical help, access to ICT infrastructure and marketing assistance.
Swisscom is no stranger to startup funding: it also runs the Swisscom Ventures Fund, which has invested CHF 80m (€63.8m) in 23 companies since its creation in 2005. It funds new companies in Switzerland, Europe and the US, with investment rounds of between CHF 500,000 and CHF 5m (€0.4m to €4m).