About Gert Christen

Portrait Gert BusinessThis is me, Gert Christen

I like everything new!  That is why I love and work the business of innovation!

Innovation Strategist based in San Francisco, California. Helping companies expand to America thru USA Launching Pad.  Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company and teaching entrepreneurship at University of California, Berkeley.

Earlier in Zurich, Switzerland, as CEO of the BlueLion & Startzentrum startup incubators, founder of Startupfair, Switzerland’s biggest event for the startup ecosystem, and founder of the entrepreneurship department at my alma mater university in Zurich. Even earlier, as executive in tech companies e.g. starting Nokia’s App stores. And in the RF-ID and industrial automation industries in Europe and Asia.

Curriculum Vitae

Innovation strategist, internationalizer, startup accelerator, and new business builder.

My newest project is USA Launching Pad, a methodical way to help foreign companies enter the US market.

Independent Innovation Strategist for hire. Experience includes the corporate, startup, and public sectors, e.g. as  COO & Co-founder of the Superpublic GovTech lab in San Francisco and as part of San Francisco’s team for the US Smart City Challenge. Clients included the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Miami-Dade County, and Victoria B.C.

Startup incubation experience includes building the BlueLion Incubator in Zurich and creating its methodical incubation program for high-potential ICT and Clean Tech startup companies. 75% of BlueLion startups admitted to demo day secured financing within 6 months. Also headed Startzentrum Zurich tripling its number of annual contacts, refocusing it on the core mission.

At Startzentrum, founded Startupfair, Switzerland’s largest event for the startup industry with the live Startup Battle pitching competition. Was awarded the Swiss Marketing Trophy 2014 for the best national marketing campaign in the non-profit category. Named a digital shaper and future builder of Switzerland.

Founded the Entrepreneurship Department at HWZ University in Zurich, creating Switzerland’s most extensive program where student teams support startup companies to experience real-world entrepreneurship.

Executive in the mobile phone business, mobile content, app stores & mobile operating systems, telecom systems integration and network rollouts

Built Nokia’s first commercial app stores in North- and Latin America.

Headed project management & engineering of Nokia’s systems integration unit in North- and Latin America.

Spearheaded PurpleLabs licensing business in Asia for their innovative Linux-based mobile phone operating system.

Led Nokia’s network rollouts for mobile operators Salt and Sunrise in Switzerland.

RF-ID manufacturing, systems integration, distribution

Built one of the first distribution networks for RF-ID products in Asia.

Created the market for RF-ID in the textile industry, working both for an RF-ID manufacturer (made them #1 in the textile market) and for world’s largest industrial laundry equipment manufacturer.


I earned my M.B.A. from SMU Cox Business School in Dallas, TX, USA, and prior a Bachelor in Marketing from HWZ University Zurich where I won the best thesis of the year award for my thesis “Fit for Change?”.

I later obtained a didactic education at Zurich University of Teacher Education and prepared myself for board assignments at EPFL’s Startup Board Academy.

When I am not working…

IMG_5921Sailing has been my passion since childhood! I grew up in a small village by Lake Thoune in the Swiss mountains and spent every free moment windsurfing or sailing on the lake. You can check out the beautiful view and the Swiss mountain sailing weather here! Today I enjoy competitive sailing on the San Francisco Bay.

Skiing is a close second! I grew up with just 30 minutes to the next ski lift.

… and I love the foods of the world!

I am always curious, and my traveling gave me a chance to try many local foods while working on 4 continents. My work at BlueLion Incubator with cleantech startups and the cooperation with EU’s Climate-KIC initiative and WWF opened my eyes that we need to rethink what we eat and how we grow our food!