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Startup A magazine from


Deal with Intel Nicolas AbelĂŠ is aiming high Young entrepreneurs Learning from Thierry Mauvernay

The winners: L.E.S.S. Simon Rivier (left) and Yann Tissot with their new light technology


TOP 100 Start-ups in Switzerland


“The TOP 100 startups are taking over the world with their innovations.”

Beat Schillig Founder of the IFJ Institut für Jungunternehmen


ccording to world rankings, Switzerland is the global leader in innovations. A look at the TOP 100 startups reveals why. The majority of the most promising startups in Switzerland have been founded on the basis of cutting-edge research from our internationally renowned universities. They want to use disruptive technologies and business models to reshape and revitalize entire industries. L.E.S.S. (page 10), for example, is doing exactly that with its lighting solutions. The startups celebrated by the TOP 100 represent a selection from the more than 100.000 companies founded in the past five years. It comes as little surprise that these founders are drawing the interest of major enterprises and investors all over the world. BKW, Swisscom and Swiss Post are just three heavyweights actively seeking to collaborate with innovative startups (page 40). And InSphero, the biotech startup crowned number one on the 2014 TOP 100 list, has recently announced the successful completion of a CHF 20 million financing round. This is great news. After all, capital is urgently required for any startup looking to conquer the world with its innovations.

handelszeitung . 2015

“Startups need perseverance, money and a dose of luck.”

Laurina Waltersperger Handelszeitung


irtually anyone can found a company. But who has got what it takes to go the distance? For the fifth time, Handels­ zeitung is pleased to present the 100 best Swiss startups. After five years, 90 of the 100 startups originally singled out for recognition are still going strong. This is an impressive figure when one considers the perseverance, money and luck required to be successful. And whether they are developing smart light sources, miniature diagnostics inventions or flying drone inspectors, the majority of the top-ranked enterprises for this year are demonstrating this kind of perseverance. The founders embarked on a search for cooperation partners and investors and found their business collaborators. However, as Thierry Mauvernay, entrepreneur at family business Debiopharm, explains in an interview, attracting financial backers can prove to be difficult once a company has reached a certain size. Mauvernay is a long-term investor in the diagnostics company Biocartis, which was the only Swiss startup to go public this year – on the Euronext stock exchange based in Amsterdam. Other startups have already achieved the greatest prize of all. Engineer Nicolas Abelé recalls the exciting few hours when he sold his photonics startup Lemoptix to Intel in March.


Researchers against diabetes Nadja Mrosek, Christof Jänike and Peter Harboe-Schmidt (left to right) from Glycemicon (rank 9).

The TOP 100 startups 12 Rank 1: L.E.S.S.

21 Rank 5: Sophia Genetics

23 Rank 9: Glycemicon

16 Rank 2: Abionic

22 Rank 6: Knip

23 Rank 10: Lunaphore

19 Rank 3: Flyability

22 Rank 7: TrekkSoft

24 Ranks 11–100

20 Rank 4: Bcomp

23 Rank 8: QualySense

50 The jury

How two physicists from Frenchspeaking Switzerland want to bring the age of LED lighting to an end.

Cover image and content: Tina Sturzenegger

International regulatory approval in sight: portable allergy testing ­systems save time and money. Spherical: why the drones of the future will be smooth with a spherical design.

03 Editorial

By Beat Schillig and ­Laurina Waltersberger

11 Background

The Swiss startups with the best prospects

handelszeitung . 2015

Linen for the industry: how flax-­ reinforced composites can reduce vehicle weight.

At the interface of big data and ­genetics: even François Hollande made a stop at Saint-Sulpice. Fintech: the insurance broker attracts an increasing number of clients via mobile phone. Practical: travel agencies from all over the world use booking system developed in the Bernese Oberland. Gluten-free: why global food ­corporations are showing an interest in sorting robots.

Diabetes prevention: the active agent THBA enables fat cells to ­react to insulin once more. Quicker, cheaper and more precise: tissue analysis marks the beginning of personalized medicine. Ninety companies on 10 pages, along with the results of the special categories. A glimpse behind the scenes: who the 100 voting experts are and where they come from.



A magazine from

Imprint magazine is a supplement of the business ­publication Handelszeitung TOP 100 startups Concept and implementation: ­ IFJ Institut für Jungunternehmen, St. Gallen; Journalistenbüro ­Niedermann GmbH, Lucerne. Editors: Jost Dubacher, Stefan Kyora, Claus Niedermann Collaboration: Kaspar Meuli, Pirmin Schilliger. Handelszeitung Editorial Team Editor-in-Chief Stefan Barmettler Editing Laurina Waltersperger Art Direction and Production Studio Peter Wittwer Photography Tina Sturzenegger Proofreading Urs Bochsler, Renate Brunner, Beat Koch Lithography Laurent Guye, Steven Leach, Silvia Mahrer Editorial address Handelszeitung, Förrlibuckstrasse 70, 8021 Zurich, Tel.: +41 (0)43 444 59 00, Fax: +41 (0)43 444 59 30,,

Scene 36 “Failure should be allowed” Debiopharm head Thierry Mauvernay on good ideas, talent, capital and ­entrepreneurial expertise.

40 Nicolas Abelé

Micro-projectors are big business for the Lemoptix founder and his investors.

42 Forging ahead with startups

How major enterprises take advantage of the inventive spirit and creativity of startups.

Drones like flowers Flyability founders Nicolas Durand (left) and Iwan Märki (rank 3).

Publishers Ralph Büchi (Director), Maike Juchler (Assistant Director) Advertising Renato Oliva (Director), Adi Frei, Urs Keller, Verena Tschopp, Karin Urech, Eveline Fenner (Art), Tel.: +41 (0)43 444 58 43, Email: Western Switzerland: Servais Y.F. Micolot, Brigitte Lopez-y-Martin (Sales), Email:, Tel.: +41 (0)21 943 76 20 Marketing/Reader Market Michael Ebnöther (Director), Patrizia Serra (Project Lead), Nicola Eberhard (Product Manager), Sabine Carrieu (Assistant PM) Publisher address Förrlibuckstrasse 70, 8021 Zurich, Tel.: +41 (0)43 444 59 00, Fax: +41 (0)43 444 59 32, Email: Orders for single issues Email: Retail price: CHF 8.00 ISBN: 978-3-9524325-3-2 Print Swissprinters AG, Zofingen

Thierry Mauvernay The biotech entrepreneur wants Switzerland to become “a nation of startups”.

Publishing house Axel Springer Schweiz AG Supplement in Handelszeitung No. 38 Disclosure of major shareholdings within the meaning of Art. 322 StGB: Amiado Group AG

handelszeitung . 2015

50 or



storage space

Business is full of difficult questions. Good thing that for financial matters there’s an easy answer: The start-up package for young entrepreneurs.

r e first yea h t g in r u arge d Free of ch


The Swiss startups with the best prospects The ranking Startups listed in the TOP 100

have a 90 percent chance of survival. Text: Claus Niedermann


he top 100 startups in Switzerland have been selected for the fifth time. As in previous years, 100 experts from all over Switzerland nominated 10 startups that they believe to have the most potential (see “The concept” column on the right). The results are compiled in the 2015 ranking list of the TOP 100 Swiss startups, which this magazine is now pleased to reveal. But how should the ranking be assessed? Statistically speaking, only one out of two startups reaches its fifth year of business. However, as an evaluation of the TOP 100 list from 2011 shows, those enterprises ranked among the annual TOP 100 Swiss startups perform markedly better: ▶ 90 of the 100 startups listed in 2011 are still actively operating in the market. ▶ 14 companies underwent a trade sale. Biotech company Covagen, for example, was sold to Johnson & Johnson for an estimated CHF 220

million. Other successful exits include the sale of scheduling tool Doodle to Tamedia, the takeover of special offer portal DeinDeal by Ringier, and the sale of photonics firm Lemoptix to Intel (see interview on page 44). ▶ 1 company went public – medical technology company Biocartis. ▶ 75 companies are continuing to develop and grow. These include high-fliers such as Optotune, with its tunable focal lenses, and biotech company InSphero, which has recently completed a CHF 20 million growth funding round. ▶ 10 companies were liquidized. Online music platform restorm, for example, had to declare bankruptcy. The founders of IT startup also called it a day. It is certainly worth checking the selected 100 startups from time to time. The website www.startup. ch is a good resource for this. The platform features an up-to-date rundown of all the innovative and promising startups in Switzerland.

TOP 100 startups of 2015

The concept A hundred experts with in-depth knowledge of the startup scene have had their say. Most are involved as business angels or venture capital investors, or otherwise deal with startups on a daily basis. Each expert was allowed to propose 10 top startups with the greatest business potential, awarding 10 points to their top selection and one point to the last. The companies with the most points made it into the 2015 TOP 100 Swiss startups. Beat Schillig (above) and Jordi Montserrat (below) from the IFJ Institut für Jungunternehmen created the ranking in 2011. Starting in 2004 with the venturelab training program, they have trained and analyzed thousands of startups. Since 2007, the two have been in charge of the Venture Kick initiative, which has already provided CHF 16 million in seed capital from private foundations to around 390 spin-offs from Swiss universities. Lucerne-based Journalistenbüro Niedermann also helped to establish the ranking. The project is supported conceptually and financially by the Gebert Rüf Foundation and the Swiss Private Equity & Corporate Finance Association (SECA). Handelszeitung is the longstanding media partner for German-speaking Switzerland, while PME Magazine is the media partner for the French edition.


InSphero, Dacuda & Co.

The best startup news

Companies in operation for more than five years are removed from the ranking. This year, 13 companies from the 2014 list are no longer eligible for ranking. This includes top-ranked companies such as InSphero (rank 1), HouseTrip (rank 4), Climeworks (rank 7), Joiz (rank 8) and Dacuda (rank

The latest developments in the Swiss startup scene can be found each day on the news portal Available in several languages (German, English, French and Italian), the portal is the go-to source of information for Swiss business founders, startups and support-

handelszeitung . 2015

10). Drone producer senseFly (rank 15), online temping agency STAFF FINDER (rank 24), Bernbased medical technology company CAScination (rank 61) and hospital and nursing home care solution provider Compliant Concept (rank 91) were all excluded from this year’s list.

ers. The website highlights trends, has daily news features by and about young, growthoriented companies, and provides information about events and training courses. The highlights of the week are compiled and sent out every Friday in the startupticker newsletter.

All beginnings are easy. With hands-on startup support from IFJ.

The startup team of Ava AG

Build up your business with a starting credit of up to 5.000 Swiss francs! IFJ Startup Support is the first address for Swiss entrepreneurs. Since 1989 we have supported more than 100.000 startups. We guide you on your way to successful businesses with free courses, a personal startup support and our online incorporation service. And with the starting credit from our partners like ABACUS, Mobiliar, PostFinance, Swisscom, Google, HP, Microsoft or Swiss Life you save hundreds of Swiss francs.




Let there be (better) light

Bright sparks Simon Rivier (left) and Yann Tissot want to show the world what their new lighting technology is capable of.

handelszeitung . 2015


L.E.S.S. Three years after it was founded, the clean-

tech startup from Lausanne is on the verge of industrial production. The doors to a host of different markets and millions of consumers are now wide open. Text: Pirmin Schilliger Photo: Tina Sturzenegger


ewer LED lighting in the future, more L.E.S.S. Lighting. This is the objective of the Lausannebased startup in a nutshell. The enterprise has developed an entirely new lighting technology called ‘Light Efficient SystemS’ or L.E.S.S. for short. This technology is far superior in many respects to the LED lights that have supplanted conventional light bulbs in the market. If the startup prevails, it might spell lights out for LED lighting before too long. “Our aim is to replace LEDs with L.E.S.S.,” explains CEO Yann Tissot at the company headquarters, located at the EPFL Innovation Park in Ecublens. It might sound ambitious, but it could succeed due to the disadvantages of LED lighting: LED lights require a relatively large amount of space and do not illuminate areas evenly. And although they are more energy-efficient than light bulbs, they still leave much to be desired: 60 percent of the electrical power is converted into heat rather than light. The alternative which L.E.S.S. has now developed is based on the dissertations of Tissot and Simon Rivier, founders and heads of research and development at the startup. As a doctoral candidate, Tissot carried out research into photonics, while Rivier focused on non-linear optics. The consolidation of their research ultimately resulted in the development of the new technology: optical fibers based on nano-structured glass fibers, which generate light that is much stronger and more evenly distributed than LED solutions and requires much less space. As a way of visualizing the concept, Tissot compares the fibers with

handelszeitung . 2015 2015 . handelszeitung


neon pipes that are “thinner than a single hair but serve as a brighter and more homogeneous light source.” He places one of the company’s earliest products, a ringshaped illumination system about the size of a small lamp, on the table, puts a coin underneath it and asks: “Shadows? Do you see

“Our aim is to replace the current crop of LED technology with L.E.S.S.” — Yann Tissot

any shadows?” In fact, it is possible to spin and rotate the twofranc piece anywhere under the lighting ring without seeing even the merest hint of shadow. What does this mean? The lighting innovation is here and it works. All that is left to do is to put it into series production and devise a successful marketing campaign. This constitutes a major challenge for the small startup, which is now working to gradually

develop practical applications and products for its new lighting concept. Tissot and Rivier have already found the company’s first customers. Their L.E.S.S. light will be installed in ‘inspection lamps’ used for quality control purposes in the precision engineering and electronics sector. The homogeneous light enables a more thorough inspection to be made with microscopes, video cameras and special software. Several Swiss watch manufacturers are now turning to the new optical fibers from Lausanne, as are companies from Germany and Japan that produce quality control systems for use in the electronics, medical technology and automotive sectors. As a supplier of system integrators, L.E.S.S. is serving something of a niche market for the time being. “However, the volume is much greater than we first envisaged,” says Tissot. The company director does not want to give away anything more

about this second area of application just yet, other than the fact that it involves a large-scale order for a German car producer. “All I can say at the moment is that our optical fibers will revolutionize an important component of the car,” he says mysteriously. The third area of application on the horizon for the optical fibers is perhaps the most lucrative and promising of them all. The focus here is on a mass market rather than on customized solutions for special applications. What sort of market? Screens of the type used in laptops, tablets, smart phones and so on. It appears clear that if the LED lights currently used for background illumination (dozens per device) were to be replaced by the optical fibers from Lausanne, the screens would be both brighter and last longer thanks to the reduced power consumption. Not only that, but the use of minuscule fibers would allow for the

One technology – six applications New screens The nano-structured glass

Sensor technology Inte-

fibers from French-speaking Switzerland facilitate the design and construction of thinner and brighter screens that consume far less power than current liquid crystal displays. The engineers at L.E.S.S. have already developed a prototype.

grating L.E.S.S. lights into an optical sensor or a camera enables images to be recorded with a level of contrast and depth of field previously unknown in the market.

Quality control

Homogeneous light makes it easier to inspect extremely small components such as screws, bushings, drill bits, housings and profiles.

handelszeitung . 2015

Watchmaking The quality


industries work with liquid, gaseous, explosive, extremely cold or otherwise sensitive materials. The robust L.E.S.S. lights are particularly suitable for use in food production or the chemical industry.


Factory automation Many



of light is essential when working with small parts. Space-saving L.E.S.S. lights make it easier to handle watch dials, crystals, jewels, bezels and other critical components.

Medical technology

A key characteristic of L.E.S.S. nanofiber lighting is its capacity for low heat emission. This is especially beneficial when handling tissue, cells or implants.


Polyvalent The L.E.S.S light is suitable for cameras, screens and ­interior lighting.

Yann Tissot, CEO L.E.S.S. My private luxury:

A real mechanical watch is on my wish list. However, I have not been able to ­afford one yet. A source of inspiration to me:

Self-made entrepreneurs, creative people, art and artists. My greatest flaw:

I underestimated the complexity involved and the time required to conduct a round of financing. A newly discovered app:

A Spanish language ­learning course.

handelszeitung . 2015

design and production of extremely flat screens without a frame. These are benefits that beg the question: why are the major display systems and tablet manufacturers not yet clamoring for the startup’s business? “It is not enough to present major companies with a few fibers and, in a best case scenario, a prototype,” Tissot states. For a large-scale operation to even consider doing business with the startup, it would need thousands of L.E.S.S. units for test purposes alone. Until recently, the company did not have enough capital to arrange for a production run of this magnitude. Now the situation has changed completely. In spring 2015, L.E.S.S. successfully completed an initial round of financing totaling CHF 3 million – primarily from prominent venturelab business angels. “The money will be used to set up an initial industrial production run,” reveals Tissot. Further developments are necessary for this. However, the switch from

manual to automatic production is set to be completed soon. If everything goes according to plan, the first production line will be in operation by the end of the year. The aim is to gradually ramp up production in a 250 m2 space recently rented by the company.

“We are using the capital sourced from the angels to set up an i­ ndustrial production run.” — Yann Tissot

Next year’s production forecast is set at 10,000 units, followed by 100,000 in 2017 and then at least one million in 2018. It will be a race against time, states Tissot, “as demand for the optical fibers is already outstripping supply.” Is this the sort of problem a startup wants to have, or is it more a source of stress? “Both,” admits the CEO. As a former top swimmer, he is more than familiar

with racing against time. It is forecast that over CHF 1 million will be generated in revenue just this year. L.E.S.S. wants to break even by 2017 at the latest. Tissot and Rivier estimate that in five years’ time they will employ around 200 people and achieve a sales volume in the mid-double-digit million range. The company headquarters is set to remain in Lausanne; offices in Asia and the USA are planned for marketing purposes. The primary market on which L.E.S.S. is setting its sights is currently worth over CHF 12 billion. Founded: 2012; employees: 7

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A revolution with regulatory approval Abionic: The system for meaningful allergy tests in doctor’s offices

and pharmacies shakes up a market worth billions in revenue.

Text: Stefan Kyora Photo: Tina Sturzenegger



handelszeitung . 2015

Abionic has been located in the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne since it was founded five years ago. Although the company has increased the number of rooms it rents on-site, space is beginning to get rather tight. The number of employees is growing steadily. A team of 19 people now works for the fledgling medical technology company. An experienced marketing manager started at Abionic at the beginning of September. He came at exactly the right time. Since the end of May, Abionic has been testing its allergy test system in the market. The first devices are in use at various doctor’s offices and pharmacies. There is major interest coming from pharmacists in particular. And for Abionic CEO Nicolas Durand, there is something else even more important: “Up to now, all devices have been working perfectly. Our customers have encountered no problems whatsoever.” One could almost say this is a given. After all, the systems developed by the Lausanne-based company are nothing less than a revolution. They analyze drops of blood from patients using a ‘lab on chip’. The blood is methodically mixed with regents on a chip in

minuscule compartments and channels, and the results are then immediately analyzed. The chips are attached to a CD-sized disc inserted into the Abionic reader in order to mix and analyze the blood. This device first maneuvers the chips in a certain way and evaluates the liquid at molecular biological level. Up to now, molecular biological analyses of this kind required the use of large, expensive and complicated devices that only specialized laboratories can afford. Abionic is bringing blood analysis technology to doctor’s offices and pharmacies for the first time. Not only is the Abionic system significantly cheaper, it is also faster and much easier to operate. At the same time, it offers the same level of precision as laboratory devices in terms of results. The main benefit for patients is that the device informs them of all intolerances within 20 minutes. The system can test up to 10 allergies at once and provides precise information about the severity of the allergies. The road to regulatory approval has been long and challenging. The startup had to perform a series of clinical tests and develop

Quick and easy Iwan Märki (left) and Nicolas Durand present their portable allergy testing system.

an intelligent quality management system that could, for example, facilitate the traceability of individual chips. “Securing regulatory approval in May this year was a huge milestone for us,” explains Durand. “We are entering an exciting phase right now, because we are doing a lot of different things at the same time,” continues Durand. In addition to market testing in Switzerland, Durand is now ready to start serious negotiations with partners for the distribution and possibly also production of the system in other European countries. A subsidiary has already been established in the USA,


where Abionic is aiming to secure approval from the FDA by 2016. Abionic is also building an automated production line in Lausanne. For the first time in the company’s history, Durand was able to secure a bank loan for the construction of the production line thanks to a guarantee from the Canton of Vaud and some tough negotiating. The loan is also symbolic of the fact that the company is now gradually emerging from its startup phase. “I think that before long we will be an SME rather than a startup in the normal sense of the word,” notes Durand. Despite this, another financing handelszeitung . 2015

“Securing regulatory approval in May was a milestone for us.” — Nicolas Durand

round is planned with investors in 2016. “Right now we are making sure that we are up to speed in all aspects of the business, so that we can channel investor funds directly into growth areas,” explains Durand. There is ample opportunity for growth. Today’s global market for allergy tests is worth over one billion dollars. According to a report

by market research company MarketsAndMarkets, this is set to double to more than 2.2 billion dollars by 2019. The market researchers estimate annual growth of 12 percent. As such, this is not the end of the road for Abionic by any means. The technology developed by the EPFL spin-off is suitable not only for allergies, but also for other blood tests. Preparations are already underway at Abionic to ramp up operations in this field. As Durand states, “we already have numerous other applications in the pipeline.”

Nicolas Durand My private luxury:

Doing acrobatic stunts over Lake Geneva in my airplane. My greatest flaw:

Impatience. A source of inspiration to me:

My family with my two children. A newly discovered app:

Netflix video-on-demand service.

Founded: 2010; employees: 19 2015 . handelszeitung

Explore the business potential of your technology:



Get your kick:



Structures as light as a feather Adrien Briod (left) and Patrick Thévoz

A robot reminiscent of a dandelion It rolls, it floats and it can even poke people without ­injuring them: the Gimball drone by Flyability. Text: Kaspar Meuli Photo: Tina Sturzenegger

Anybody looking to get in on the drone business cannot afford to just sit around. “We cannot afford to allow for organic growth. We are under huge pressure to bring a product onto the market as soon as possible,” says Patrick Thévoz, CEO and co-founder of Flyability. This is no overstatement. When the ETH Lausanne spin-off was founded in September 2014, the company, which is dedicated to the development of drones with all-new flying characteristics, consisted solely of Thévoz and his partner Adrien Briod. One year later, the startup’s ranks had swelled to 17 employees, all engineers specializing in robotics and artificial intelligence with the exhandelszeitung . 2015

ception of a lawyer. The first prototypes of the drone, called Gimball, have already been sold. A total of 200 units are planned for 2016, and Flyability wants to be producing hundreds more in 2017. A glimpse of the company headquarters in the historic center of Lausanne suggests, for the time being at least, that mass production is still some way off. The drones are manufactured in a windowless back room that contains two 3D printers, a CAD cutting machine and a clutch of soldering irons. An assembled Gimball sits on an IKEA sofa in the reception, meeting and coffee room. The unique feature: its spherical struc-

ture made from composite materials that houses the actual flying apparatus. Thanks to this innovation, the drone is not put out of action if it collides with an obstacle. Gimball is the very first drone to exhibit such characteristics and, in doing so, opens up all kinds of new application possibilities – flying between bridge support beams for inspection purposes, checking the inside of power point boilers or flying into burning buildings to survey the situation. Flyability owes its rapid growth largely to the proceeds gained from various startup and technology prizes, such as Venture Kick and venture leaders. The most significant of these was the Drones for Good Award endowed with one million dollars. As a result, the founders were able to employ staff as well as being thrust firmly into the international limelight. “That gave us a lot of credibility,” says Thévoz. “Now everybody in the drone sector knows who we are.” Founded: 2014; employees: 17

Patrick Thévoz My private luxury:

An aperitif on my little sailing boat. My greatest flaw:

Impatience. A source of inspiration to me:

The vision of taking ­robots out of the ­laboratory and making them suitable for ­everyday use. Recently downloaded:

A tool for customer relationship management.







Wanted for their flax matting Christian Fischer (left) and Cyrille Boinay

Light and strong Bcomp Natural fibers for ski cores and interior trim in cars. Text: Jost Dubacher Photo: Tina Sturzenegger

Christian Fischer My private luxury:

Relaxing with my family. My greatest flaw:

I am an incorrigible optimist when it comes to time. A source of inspiration to me:

My children’s desire to discover things. Recently downloaded:

issuu, a news app.

handelszeitung . 2015

The automotive sector has a problem. From 2020 onwards, new, extremely strict CO₂ emissions regulations will be introduced across the EU and the USA. The emissions of a typical new car must be reduced to 95 grams per kilometer covered. At present, the figure stands at 130 grams. To achieve a reduction of around 30 percent, the vehicles have to lose weight. Flax fiber-reinforced polymer components by Bcomp could help car manufacturers reach this target. These flax fibers are light and have extremely good mechanical properties. “Not only that,” says co-CEO Christian Fischer, “but they are also

cheaper than carbon fibers.” It is now four years since materials engineer Fischer teamed up with marketing expert Cyrille Boinay to present the idea at Venture Kick and got started with funding of CHF 130,000. In a small laboratory on the site of the former Cardinal brewery in Fribourg, they experimented with various spinning and weaving techniques, analyzed suitable polymers and filed the relevant patents. The pair’s first foray into the market was with flax-reinforced ski cores. Since then, approximately 25 producers from around the world are now using the ultra-

light ‘bCores’ in their products. Fischer and Boinay believe that they will break even this year partially thanks to these orders. But they are not content to rest on their laurels: for the past six months, the pair have been working on projects with a number of major German car producers. Bcomp is on the way to becoming an automotive supplier. The aim of the current projects is to develop ultralight interior trim and body parts. To that end, the natural fiber non-woven mats found inside cars will be reinforced with the ultralight ‘Power-


The road to ­personalized ­medicine For genetic diseases to be treated, they first have to be diagnosed. Sophia Genetics has the right analysis tools for the job. Text: Kaspar Meuli Photo: Tina Sturzenegger

What was the greatest hurdle? Jurgi Camblong does not need to think twice: “Getting the first contracts signed.” According to the CEO of Sophia Genetics, it proved to be more difficult to convince customers than investors. “When it happens, things start to crystallize. That’s when you realize the importance of having customers.”

Ten new contracts per month: Jurgi Camblong, ­co-founder and CEO of Sophia Genetics

When the first ten contracts were signed, the startup cracked open the Champagne in its office on the campus of ETH Lausanne. Today, Sophia Genetics is concluding ten new contracts per month. Founded in 2011, the company, which specializes in genome analysis, implements standardized analyses of genetic data collected from patients on behalf of various hospitals. The aim is to detect mutations that are characteristic of cancer, diabetes and other diseases. Data analyses are fully automatic, and the algorithms devel-

oped for this purpose are being improved and refined all the time. Sophia Genetics is part of the digital revolution currently taking place in the world of medicine. The startup is on its way to the top. The company acquired impressive new office space in the Lausanne suburb of Saint-Sulpice at the beginning of the year, while the workforce is expected to swell to 60 employees by the end of 2015. The startup is a showpiece enterprise – even François Hollande stopped by during his most recent state visit. The stated objective of Jurgi Camblong and his co-founders Pierre Hutter and Lars Steinmetz is to achieve global market dominance. They are already planning to go public in 2017. And after that? Camblong would like to found a new startup. “At the moment I’m playing the role of conductor,” says the Frenchman, “but actually I feel I’m more of a composer.” Founded: 2011; employees: 50

Jurgi Camblong My private luxury:

Time. My greatest flaw:

Impatience. This inspires me:

Founded: 2011; employees: 8 handelszeitung . 2015

Last download:




Ribs’ developed by Bcomp, which will cut down on weight by around 50 percent. The focus is on door covers, seat shells and roof linings. “We are currently in the preliminary development stage,” says Christian Fischer. But he is well aware that product cycles are shorter for car interior parts than they would be for, say, the development of new gearboxes or electronics components. As such, he is brimming with confidence: “It is a strong possibility that our components will be a standard feature within two to three years.”

My school in the French Basque Country. It was founded by parents that wanted to do something to prevent the Basque language from dying out.


Clear as daylight with Knip KNIP After it conquers

­Switzerland, the Zurich-based startup with the insurance app wants to tackle the ­ German market. Text: CLAUS NIEDERMANN

Everybody has insurance, but there is a significant lack of transparency surrounding individual policies. “I want a mobile app that allows me to manage my insurance schemes and always gives me the best prices and the best service – preferably for free.” This was the vision that Christina Kehl used as a basis to found the fintech startup company Knip together with Dennis Just. The idea of a digital insurance manager was met with support: business angels provided the company with the necessary starting capital. The first insurance companies could then be approached about cooperation. The app, which was brought onto the market more than a year ago, provides the user with a clear overview of their current insurance policies, tariffs and services. The app automatically identifies areas where the user can save money and lists options for improved services. The service is free thanks to an administrative fee paid by the insurance companies. Unlike conventional insurance brokers, Knip is therefore not dependent on commissions. The Zurich-based startup is already managing insurance policies valued at more than CHF 20 million in Switzerland. In total, 95 percent of all insurance companies in the country are cooperating with Knip. The app is now being launched in the German market. And as a member of the venture leaders Swiss national startup team, Dennis Just has already explored business options for the company in the USA.




Founded: 2013; employees: 65 WWW.KNIP.COM handelszeitung . 2015

Peak performance TrekkSoft founders Philippe Willi, ­Valentin Binnendijk and Jon Fauver.

Online store for adventurers TREKKSOFT The online booking software is taking care

of administration tasks for thousands of tour operators. Text: CLAUS NIEDERMANN Photo: Tina Sturzenegger


More and more holidaymakers are booking their tours, museum Rank visits and adventures online. Service providers – in particular independent outlets – have to go digital. The Interlaken-based TrekkSoft has developed an online booking tool that takes care of administration and billing for them. TrekkSoft makes it simple for service providers to present their website or app. And tourists can use it to book and pay with the minimum of fuss. Integration onto third-party sites is also supported, as is marketing on search engines such as Google or social media platforms. “We now want to drive and scale up growth,” says co-founder Philippe Willi. Firstly, this involves the largescale acquisition of other tour opera-

tors and, secondly, opening additional distribution channels to TrekkSoft customers – holiday directories from top sellers and ratings platforms such as TripAdvisor. The foundations for these measures have been laid. The system developed in the Bernese Oberland has already advertised more than 11,000 offers. Thus far, bookings processed have resulted in a passenger volume of two million. The tool is now available in 15 languages. Funding is also secure – TrekkSoft raised CHF 1 million in a third round of financing at the start of the year, which it will use to further develop the company. Founded: 2010; employees: 21 WWW.TREKKSOFT.COM


Gluten-free thanks to a high-speed robot QUALYSENSE The robot a­ nalyzes grains, seeds and beans at lightning speed – it can also check for gluten. Text: Claus Niedermann Photo: Tina Sturzenegger

The QSorter Explorer developed by Empa spin-off QualySense sorts cereals and beans at breathtaking speed. It can manage 50 grains per second, which equates to a couple of hundred kilograms per hour. Nevertheless, company founder Francesco Dell’Endice wants to increase output to several tons per hour. The financial resources required to further develop the product have already been sourced, partially thanks to a major development order for a food company. “It’s a multi-million deal,” says the CEO with a smile. Even if it does manage to increase output to such a degree, QualySense still has to guarantee the same level of quality. The fu-

ture aim is for visual quality criteria to be checked off and biochemical properties such as protein content, fungal infestation and gluten to be detected in a single step. The contamination of cereals with gluten is a hot topic in the industry right now. In the USA, 40 percent of the population attaches



importance to gluten-free products. This is strategically important for the major food producers and represents a business opportunity for QualySense. Breakfast cereal producers can use the QSorter to guarantee that its products are gluten-free. Founded: 2010; employees: 24 WWW.QUALYSENSE.COM

Sorted Olga Mykhailova, Francesco Dell`Endice and Paolo D`Alcini

Hope for diabetics

Rapid cancer test

GLYCEMICON A natural active agent against diabetes.

LUNAPHORE EPFL spin-off personalizes medicine.

Text: Stefan Kyora


The active agent developed by Glycemicon is called THBA. It could signal the end of diabetes, an extremely widespread disease. The active agent restores the ability of fat cells to respond to insulin, something which they are otherwise unable to do in people suffering from diabetes. The results of the pre-clinical development phase are promising. “In the past few months, further long-term studies have confirmed how safe and Rank effective THBA is,” says

CEO Nadja Mrosek. As the active agent is naturally occurring in the human body and in food, it can be developed as a ‘medical food’, which is a quick and simple route to regulatory approval. The team at Glycemicon is already working to optimize the production process. “We have made significant progress and have been able to reduce production costs,” explains Mrosek.


handelszeitung . 2015

Founded: 2013; employees: 5 WWW.GLYCEMICON.COM

Personalized medicine is a huge trend in the life sciences sector. And it is not without reason, either: therapies tailored to patient requirements promise to be more effective and work more rapidly. For this to become a reality, the industry requires technologies that enable diagnoses to be made quickly, simply and for a reasonable price. Lunaphore is currently developing a technology of this kind – it can be used to analyze tissue and is primarily intended for the de-

10 Rank

tection of cancer tumors. The prototype enabled analyses to be carried out twenty times quicker than is currently the norm. It also increased the accuracy of the diagnosis by 90 percent. The team, headed by Ata Tuna Ciftlik, Déborah Heintze and Diego Dupouy, have convinced investors of their worth this year. In April, Lunaphore completed a financing round to the tune of CHF 2 million. Founded: 2014; employees: 13 WWW.LUNAPHORE.CH

RANKS 11 TO 100 11. PIQUR Therapeutics Basel  The team around founder Vladimir Cmiljanovic is working to develop new medicines that are suitable for interrupting intracellular signal paths and which thereby prevent the formation of tumors. 2015 was a good year for the Baselbased company: early in the year, there was positive news regarding the tolerability of the first active ingredients; in June, PIQUR won the Swiss Economic Award in the High-tech/Biotech category; in July, the startup concluded a second round of funding with CHF18 million.

12. ProteoMediX Schlieren  With current prostate cancer tests, there are too many false alarms that lead to unpleasant and expensive biopsies. With an innovative new test, ProteoMediX wants to change that. Initial results have shown that the test could make it possible to reduce the number of biopsies by as much as 50 percent. Investors believe in the project. At the start of this year, Proteo-

MediX raised another CHF1 million in series B financing.

13. Faceshift Zurich  Why do animated characters in films show human emotions? Because there are tools like the one developed by Zurich ETH spin-off Faceshift. The software from Faceshift records the movements of the face and implements them in real time in the facial gestures of an avatar. The amazing solution has caused a furor worldwide and is used in some 30 countries. Its customers come from the video game and film production sectors, psychology research and surveillance technology.

14. Teralytics Zurich  Each year, the American magazine Forbes selects 30 young people under the age of 30 from the technology sector who are believed to have the capability to change the world. This year, a

Swiss man made the list: Georg Polzer, the 26 year-old founder of Teralytics. The ETH spinoff founded in 2012 analyzes large amounts of data for its private- and public-sector customers. Using the anonymized data from Internetcapable devices and credit cards, the software generates patterns that help predict the future behavior of buyers and commuters.

15. Codecheck Zurich  In June 2014, Roman Bleichenbacher converted his Codecheck association into a corporation. Shortly thereafter, the company took 31st place in the TOP 100. This year saw the firm rise again. The app from Codecheck converts a smartphone camera into a barcode scanner and provides access to the reviews of more than 20 million cosmetic, nutrition and household items. Codecheck is especially popular among users who are gluten or lactose intolerant. In Germany, the app has recorded more downloads than WhatsApp at times.

TOP 5 The top Internet/mobile startups

Pure high-tech

handelszeitung . 2015


user can then view the customized jeans in the online store in a 3D visualization. Pure high-tech ingenuity, in other words, which beyond the online sale of bespoke jeans could develop into a business in its own right. Guggenbühl: “Our customization and 3D visualization tools could be licensed.”

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Everything can be called up online. But appealing web-design is not enough. Interactive services on the web and on mobile devices require software that flexibly adapts to the user's requirements and assists with the current task. “We're actually a high-tech company,” says Andreas Guggenbühl (pictured). Together with Michael Berli, he founded the startup RealLook (rank 19) and created the Selfnation website. The site enables users to order customtailored jeans online. At the core of the solution lies a mathematical algorithm developed by the two ETH engineers, which calculates the optimal cut and fit for jeans. The


Zurich, rank 6

Codecheck Zurich, rank 15

ScanTrust Lausanne, rank 16

RealLook (Selfnation) Zurich, rank 19


Zurich, rank 26

16. ScanTrust Lausanne  In May, ScanTrust concluded a funding round of over USD 1.2 million. The investors included business angels and strategic partners from the packaging industry. The latter source is very relevant, as the technology platform from ScanTrust is designed to put a stop to product piracy. Consumers can download the app and use the quick response code on the product or packaging to verify in real time whether the product is authentic or a cheap imitation.

17. ActLight Lausanne  Light can be converted into electricity, and vice versa. In one case, this principle is used in the design of distance sensors or barcode readers, in another for the design of solar cells. The EPFL spin-off ActLight has developed a technology platform with which both processes can be made more efficient. The long-term goal, among others, is to equip portable devices with photovoltaic technology. In July, ActLight concluded a series A funding round with three business angel networks and Swisscom Ventures.

18. Leman Micro Devices Lausanne  The sensor module from Leman Micro Devices (LMD) turns a smartphone into a measuring station for vital functions. The Lausanne-based

The eight industries in the rankings Cleantech


company is eying smartphone manufacturers as its first customers. But that's when things will really take off: when users activate the LMD module, they receive access to what the EPFL spin-off calls a Mobile Health Ecosystem, which includes hospitals, insurance companies and public-sector authorities.

19. RealLook Zurich  The Zurich startup RealLook has made customtailored jeans from the Internet a hot commodity. It uses software that creates a 3D model from measurements entered by the customer and calculates the pattern on that basis. Since last November, the founders Andreas Guggenbühl and Michael Berli have also been producing men's jeans. The company expanded to Germany in early 2015 and concluded a funding round in the millions this August.

20. Gamaya Lausanne  The farming industry will have to produce as much food in the next 50 years as in the last 10,000 years combined. To sustain this extraor-

Medtech Micro/ Nanotechnology

Internet/ Mobile

dinary level of production, new technologies such as the imaging and analysis system from Gamaya will be needed. Here's how it works: a drone flies over a cultivated field with a highresolution camera, software analyzes the data and provides the farmers with specific information regarding the use of water, fertilization or pest-control.

21. easySys Rapperswil  Founded in 2013, EasySys develops and sells accounting software for small companies. The Rapperswil-based company scored a veritable coup in June by acquiring UBS as a strategic partner. For EasySys customers, that means that their accounting data from the EasySys account is automatically reconciled with the balance and transaction data from UBS e-banking. In February, the startup concluded a funding round of over CHF 4.5 million.

22. DistalMotion Lausanne  Minimally invasive operation techniques shorten the recovery time and are therefore

Electronics/ Mechanical



less costly than conventional procedures. Their weakness is translating the movements of the surgeon into manipulations within the body. DistalMotion has constructed a transmission device that promises unparalleled precision. Michael Friedrich has been the CEO of DistalMotion since last November. He founded the medical technology company Aïmago, which was sold to US-based Novadaq in April 2014.

23. On Zurich  The running shoes from On are special: over a dozen patented elements on the outsole ensure that they feel soft when the foot comes down and firm when pushing off. The technology is appreciated by top athletes such as Nicola Spirig as well as recreational runners. On shoes are currently available at over 1,600 retail stores in over 30 countries. In addition to its headquarters in Zurich, On also has a location in Portland, Oregon.

24. MindMaze Lausanne  This ETH Lausanne spin-off is commercializ-

Startups by Industry

Top performances in the ICT sectors


Internet/ Mobile

The ICT industry cluster and the life sciences dominate the Swiss startup landscape and underscore the importance of the two sectors as the actual engines of growth and innovation in Switzerland. In this year's ranking, the wide-

ranging industry of information and communication technologies (ICT) occupies the top position with 41 companies. About half of them are newcomers that cracked the TOP 100 for the first time, including such high-fliers as the

FinTech startup Knip, the online farm shop Farmy, the relocation platform Movu, Protonmail and Archilogic. Notable commonality: with their smart products, they make our everyday lives easier, whether at home or in the workplace.








Electronics/ Mechanical





Micro/Nanotechnology Other 2015 . handelszeitung

25. Fastree3D Lausanne  The company didn’t quite manage to take home the globally coveted USD 1 million Powerful Answers Award from the American telecommunications firm Verizon, but it did crack the top ten in the transport category. This impressive result was posted by the Lausannebased company Fastree3D. They impressed the jury with 3D image processing technology that makes it possible to locate moving and distant objects in real time. The Fastree3D platform is interesting for carmakers and robotics companies, among others.

26. Uepaa! Zurich  The rescue app Uepaa! functions on the basis of an innovative peer-to-peer (P2P) localization capability, even outside of telephone networks and without GPS coverage. The first version of the app was released in 2013 for mountain hikers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Uepaa! has already been downloaded 25 million times. Since the last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the P2P technology from Zurich has also been available to software developers as a kit.

27. Farmy AG Zurich  Tobias Schubert and Roman Hartmann both have an affinity for healthy and sustainable products. But they don't have the time to go to farm stores and markets every time they go shopping. So they founded Farmy, the online shop for regional and organic products. The two Zurich-based entrepreneurs went online in 2014. The number of orders rose quickly right away and a group of major investors got on board in December.

28. Anokion Lausanne  The technology of the EPFL spin-off Anokion makes it possible to mitigate the body's immune system reaction against exogenous proteins; an important step towards effective treatment of allergies and autoimmune disorders. In June, Anokion announced a collaboration with Astellas, one of the three largest pharmaceutical companies in Japan. The goal, among others, is to develop medications against type 1 diabetes.

29. BestMile Lausanne  At the last Swiss Venture Night in Geneva, Best-

Mile, a company founded in early 2014, took home three of the four prizes awarded, for software that controls a fleet of driverless dial-a-bus buses. The pilot system on the EPFL campus was launched in March. The ceremony was attended by Federal President Simonetta Sommaruga and French president François Hollande.

30. Mila Zurich  Mila founder Manuel Grenacher couldn't find anyone to repair his printer at home. His frustration led to a business idea: in March 2013, he founded a platform for local services such as IT support and furniture assembly. Today, Mila operates the platform together with major companies like Swisscom, EWZ and Vodafone, along the lines of employees and/or customers helping customers.

31. Movu Zurich  When customers enter the details of a planned move, Movu provides up to five free quotes. The model has Movu on the up and up: the Zurichbased company concluded a second funding round in July. Its investors include Ringier Digital Ventures, b-to-v and major business angels.

32. Combagroup Molondin VD  90 percent less space, 99 percent less water and no chemicals: this is the formula for success for the innovative greenhouse technology of the Vaudbased Combagroup. A funding round in early 2014 enabled the company to build a 500-squaremeter pilot facility. In July, the company was awarded the sustainability label of the social entrepreneurship initiative & foundation (seif).

33. Agilentia Zurich  The online platform from Agilentia simplifies communication between companies, super­ visory boards and shareholders. In Switzerland, Sherpany is already established. The platform is used by such major companies as Adecco, Nestlé and SwissRe. There's no end in sight for the company's growth: in February, Agilentia announced that its customer base had grown by a further 30 percent.

34. Amal Therapeutics Lausanne  Amal Therapeutics has been developing vaccines against tumors since 2012. The scientific basis for their work is the research done by founder Madiha Derouazi at the University of Geneva. A study published in June showed that Amal's approach works on various tumor models.

35. 3BaysOver Geneva  The platform from 3BaysOver is positioning itself as a virtual all-year congress of the global tourism industry. Tour operators, travel agen-

TOP 5 Moving up in the ranks Amal Therapeutics






Fastree 3D




Geneva, rank 34 (last year: 98)

Basel, rank 11 (last year: 74)

Geneva, rank 35 (last year: 85)

Lausanne, rank 25 (last year: 72)

Küsnacht, rank 49 (last year: 90)

Fast biotech startups The five startups that climbed the most compared to last year demonstrate the diversity of the Swiss startup scene: from biotech through to hardware and software, it's all covered. The biggest movers were Piqur (rank 11) and Amal Therapeutics (rank 34), two biotech companies. The result is all the more astonishing when considering that the industry is generally regarded as slow due to regulation and technological complexity. But both companies put in a great effort. Piqur has attracted attention through multiple major funding rounds. Amal reaches milestone after milestone. Over the past year, major investors have piled into the Geneva-based startup and an experienced pharmaceutical manager took over as president of the supervisory board. This year, Amal also made headlines on the technological/medical side of things. Cancer Research published Amal's study results in June. Cancer Research is no run-of-the-mill journal, but the most-cited one. Amal CEO Madiha Derouazi (pictured) had this to say: “Our research results represent the proof of concept and demonstrate the strengths of our technology platform for the development of safe and effective vaccines against cancer.”

moved up in the ranks:

ing a real-time virtual reality technology. The first field of application was in motor rehabilitation following brain injuries or strokes. In February, the company launched an application in the field of virtual reality for computer and online games. At the same time, the Lausanne-based company concluded a funding round of USD 8.5 million.


Setting up business online:// The SMEPORTAL of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO is the leading information platform for small and medium-sized enterprises in Switzerland. Company founders can register their business in the Commercial Register, with the Compensation Office and for VAT and Accident Insurance online. So to save time and money, take advantage of the online business services.


36. HYT Biel  In HYT watches, the hours are indicated by a colored liquid slowly moved around the watch face by two mechanically driven micropumps. The luxury watchmaker has now launched more than two dozen models. With a great deal of success on the market. The company is now pushing its international expansion.

37. CRISPR Therapeutics Basel  Basel’s Crispr Therapeutics is not yet two years old. But in its short history, it has already conducted two funding rounds that brought in a total of USD 89 million. The investors are convinced that the genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 is groundbreaking and will lead to new treatments against diseases with genetic causes.

38. VIU Ventures Zurich  Direct sales of hand-made designer glasses: this model has helped Zurich-based Peter Kaeser, Fabrice Aeberhard and CEO Kilian Wagner establish a strong position on the highly competitive Swiss glasses market in just two years. VIU has flagship stores in Zurich, Basel, Munich and Berlin. And then there's the mail order business based on the idea of trying at home. The company already has 20 employees.

39. Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals

Basel 

This spin-off of the University of Basel is developing a compound for the treatment of autoimmune disorders. The substances developed on the Antibody-Catch technology platform block specific antibodies that attack the body's own tissue. In June, the Basel-based company won the third round of the Venture Kick investment program and received CHF 130,000 of seed capital.

40. Bluetector Root LU  Water polluted with toxins or chemicals can cause problems for biological sewage treatment plants, or even put them out of action. Bluetector’s BlueBox Ultra is a purification system that fits in a container and efficiently and affordably cleans this problematic waste water. Last autumn, the company delivered its first purification systems to a major international customer. And this year a pilot plant is planned that will extract oil from sewage sludge.

The top medtech startups

Intelligent rehab Every year, some 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke. The result is severely compromised physical coordination and attention. The path back to a normal life includes intensive therapy. Lausanne-based MindMaze (rank 24), under the leadership of the neuroscientist and computer scientist Tej Tadi (pictured), has developed an innovative new rehabilitation device. It is based on a unique link between EEG brain measurements, motion capturing and augmented reality. Using the device, the patient reaches for a virtual object – such as a glass of water – and sees in real time whether, and by how much, he has missed the glass. Patient tests in two Swiss clinics have been completed. It has now been approved for use and market

41. Calciscon Bern  Vascular calcification is a major health issue worldwide and is the number-one cause of death for patients with chronic kidney diseases. The blood test T50 developed by the biotech startup Calciscon now offers an in-vitro test of the blood serum that provides information regarding the patient's predisposition for calcification. Early this year, Calciscon concluded a successful funding round. The money is now being used to launch the T50 test kit on the European market. The first customer is the University Hospital of Bern.

42. Newscron Lugano  Newscron got its start in 2012 as a softwarebased news aggregator. In March of this year, the Ticino-based company expanded its service through topic-specific channels with selected news. Newscron reports that the Niuws app has already been downloaded more than 500,000 times.

43. Nezasa Zurich  Nezasa allows users to plan high-quality, personalized trips online. Its investors included Doodle founder Myke Näf and Gregory Ger-

activities are set to begin in Switzerland, Germany and the UK. Like three other companies in the top 5 (Abionic, Lunaphore and DistalMotion), MindMaze emerged from ETH Lausanne. That's no coincidence in the opinion of CFO Pierre-Emmanuel Meyer: “The ecosystem that we have here works outstandingly.”



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cies, hotels and event organizers can use the online B2B platform to establish contacts quickly and easily. In July, the Lausanne-based company completed a round of funding that brought in CHF 1.2 million.


Lausanne, rank 2

Lunaphore Lausanne, rank 10

DistalMotion Lausanne, rank 22

MindMaze Lausanne, rank 24

1Drop Diagnostics Neuchâtel, rank 48

hardt of the Zurich-based web agency Amazee Labs. Last fall, the Zurich-based company signed a partner contract with the SAP subsidiary Concur, which develops and operates a portal that calculates the expenses of over 25 million business travelers.

44. SwissLitho Zurich  The IBM research center in Rüschlikon is world-renowned for its expertise in micro- and nanotechnology. A new production method for three-dimensional nanostructures was developed there. SwissLitho, founded in 2012, is successfully commercializing this expertise and the Zurich-based company is currently building a global sales and distribution network.

45. Proton Technologies Plan-l.-O. GE  An encrypted e-mail service for everyone: this is the vision of a handful of former CERN employees, who went independent with a company named Proton just over a year ago. A crowdfunding campaign raised no less than USD 550,000 in seed capital. And last March, an American investor and the Geneva startup incubator Fongit added a further USD 2 million. 2015 . handelszeitung


46. Kandou Bus Lausanne  Mobile phones with double the battery life and data centers that consume 25 percent less electricity. This could be possible with the hardware technology from the EPFL spin-off Kandou, which was formed in 2011. It accelerates data transmission within electronic chips.

TOP 5 The newest companies









recapp IT


Zurich, rank 71 (3/18/2015)

Martigny, rank 60 (2/3/2015)

Lausanne, rank 20 (1/22/2014)

Chavannes-près-Renens, rank 93 (12/17/2014)

Martigny, rank 83 (10/13/2014)

Well prepared for a good start “It was the right time to form the company officially,” says Vincent Forster (pictured), CEO of Versantis (rank 71). More than six years of research and development preceded the day in March 2015 when the company was officially entered in the commercial register. Versantis works on nanoparticles that absorb toxins in the patient's body so that they can be discharged. This makes it possible to inhibit drugs, or toxins, that emerge when the liver fails. Vincent Forster had been preparing for the launch of the company since 2013 and took part in the venture leaders program in 2014, for example. The years of preparation culminated in a rapid take-off once the decision was made to go ahead with the formation Versantis can already point to preclinical results demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of the technology. Moreover, the startup has gained CHF 1.5 million through awards, the support of foundations and convertible loans from Zürcher Kantonalbank. handelszeitung . 2015

47. Malcisbo Schlieren  Malcisbo develops vaccines against bacteria and parasites for humans and animals. Among its projects is a vaccine against Campylobacter bacteria in chickens. Although harmless for chickens, this bacterium is the leading cause of food poisoning worldwide. Its investors include the Swiss venture capitalist Red Alpine and Zurich Cantonal Bank.

48. 1Drop Diagnostics Neuchâtel  Expensive and protracted blood tests in labs may soon be a thing of the past: 1Drop Diagnostics is developing a device with which blood tests can be carried out in a doctor's practice, on the hospital bed or directly at the patient's home. Last October, the company won the CHF 300,000 innovation prize of the Banque Cantonale Neuchâteloise.

49. Starmind International Küsnacht  The software from Starmind is sometimes referred to as the intra-company Google. The tool assigns queries from employees to the responsible experts across the entire company and hierarchy. Starmind is hoping the software will revolutionize knowledge management in large enterprises. Founded in 2010, the spin-off of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Zurich reported strong sales growth in early 2015.

50. OrbiWise Plan-les-Ouates GE  A low-power network (LPN) consumes little electricity or battery power. The reason: small data packets are transmitted only sporadically. It is therefore ideally suited to Internetof-Things (IoT) projects. Founded in early 2014, OrbiWise offers ready-to-use LPN applications in the fields of supply and disposal as well as agriculture.

51. Nanolive Lausanne  Nanolive founders Yann Cotte and Fatih Toy developed a microscope that enables comprehensive examination of intact cells. Among other things, their 3D Cell Explorer makes it possible to document the effects of medications and chemicals on a cell. For this technology, which opens up new opportunities in the development of pharmaceuticals, Nanolive became the first company from western Switzer-

land to receive the pioneer prize of Zürcher Kantonalbank.

52. Mininavident Basel  The School of Life Sciences FHNW and the University of Basel have developed a 3D navigation system for dental implantology. It is being commercialized by Mininavident, a company founded in 2012. In March, the company completed a second funding round of over CHF 1.4 million. The investors included Aargauische Kantonalbank.

53. CashSentinel Yverdon-les-Bains  Real-time payments of large sums at low costs: the FinTech company CashSentinel from Yverdon makes it possible. The Vaud-based company aims primarily at the used car market and entered a partnership with Autoscout24 in January. Their transaction value exceeded the CHF 1 million threshold in June.

54. Typesafe Lausanne  Static webpages are old news. The demands on software are rising. One answer to this trend is reactive applications. They are scalable, failsafe, responsive and event-driven. That creates a need for programming platforms like the one developed by Lausanne-based Typesafe. Founded in 2010, the company has 70 employees and counts companies such as Twitter and LinkedIn among its customers.

55. Advanced Osteotomy Tools – AOT

Basel 

The CARLO (Computer-assisted, Robotguided Laser Osteotome) operation system simplifies bone surgery. The core elements are a 3D navigation system, a handling robot and a laser-based cutting method. In early 2015, AOT generated several million francs in a funding round. Investors included the German holding company SHS, business angels and Zürcher Kantonalbank.

56. Scrona Zurich  Founded in 2014, this ETH Zurich spin-off develops print heads with extremely high resolution. The smallest structures are 1,000 times smaller than a human hair. Application areas include security printing, lab technology and microelectronics.

57. Diviac Zumikon ZH  Diviac is a compound of the words “dive” and “maniac”. And indeed, everything on diviac. com is maniacally devoted to diving. The cloud-based platform offers users a personalized and shareable dive log book with inter-


58. Koring Basel  Soft tissue surgeon Philipp Kirchhoff was driving home from a conference when he had the big idea: he envisioned a ring-shaped implant that stabilizes ostomies, or stomas. In 2013, the first successful implantation of the Koring was performed at Spital Limmattal. The innovation is now sold in numerous European countries and Israel.

59. Aeon Scientific Schlieren ZH  Last November, Aeon Scientific won the renowned Swiss Technology Award in the Startup category. The award honored a contactless control system for medical instruments in the human body. Last year, the company generated CHF 4.3 million in a third funding round.

60. Biowatch Martigny  Today, devices and logins are primarily protected with PIN codes and passwords. That's not very convenient for users. Help is due to arrive in the form of the biometric watch from the Valais-based startup Biowatch. It recognizes the authorized user by the individual vein pattern on the forearm and can unlock mobile phones and PCs, or open doors, wirelessly via NFC or Bluetooth.

The best biotech startups

Startups attract top talent Switzerland is a small country, but in the field of biotechnology it is one of the major players. In Europe, it ranks up there with the greater Cambridge (UK) and Copenhagen/Malmö areas. The biotech industry even enjoys the luxury of having three clusters in parallel: Zurich, Lausanne and Basel. The top 5 in the industry reflect that. Sophia Genetics and Anokion hail from Vaud, Glycemicon and ProteoMediX from Zurich. Basel's representative is called Piqur (rank 11) and also packs a punch. The consensus in the pharmaceutical research community is clear: disruption of intracellular exchange of phosphate groups is one of the leading causes of cancer. It opens up signal paths that turn an ordinary cell into a cancerous lesion. Piqur wants to block these

paths with highly specific drugs. The company has meanwhile recruited senior staff who have worked at Novartis, Roche and other major pharmaceutical companies. The basic idea, however, comes from the University of Basel, or more precisely from the doctoral dissertation of 36 year-old Vladimir Cmiljanovic (pictured). Today, he is the CEO of a company that has so far attracted CHF 55 million in venture capital.



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faces to various diving computers and fish databases. In late 2014, an angel round raised nearly CHF 1 million.

Sophia Genetics Lausanne, rank 5

Glycemicon Zurich, rank 9

PIQUR Therapeutics AG Basel, rank 11

ProteoMediX Schlieren, rank 12


Lausanne, rank 28

61. Noonee Rüti ZH  Keith Gunura, the current CEO of Noonee, worked at a packaging plant where he had to stand for up to 10 hours a day. That got him thinking and he came up with an idea. Years later in the Robotics Lab at ETH Zurich, he developed an aluminum exoskeleton that can be locked in the desired position. It has just been announced that VW will test the chairless chair in a plant near Bratislava.

62. Akselos Lausanne  The logic on which most simulation technologies are based is from the 1970s. Newly developed algorithms increase the precision and speed of simulations many times over. Akselos, a spin-off of EPFL in Lausanne and MIT in Boston, has used that to build software tools used in mechanical and plant engineering around the world. The Lausanne-based company has branches in the US and Vietnam.

63. Pix4D Lausanne  The software from Pix4D uses aerial images to create 2D and 3D maps. The business is driven by partnerships with camera and drone manu-

facturers as well as aircraft equipment suppliers. In February, the spin-off of the EPFL Computer Vision Lab opened up branches in San Francisco and Shanghai.

64. Geosatis Le Noirmont JU  The electronic ankle bracelet from Geosatis recognizes when the wearer attempts to take it off or damage it. Such monitoring systems help reduce the cost of the penal system. Last October, the Jura-based company concluded a funding round that generated some CHF 1.5 million. Investors included Swisscom, among others. The ankle bracelets from Jura are already in use, including in South Africa.

65. Femtoprint Muzzano TI  The 3D printer from Femtoprint is capable of producing nanostructures and microsystem components out of glass and other transparent materials. Founded in 2013, the driving force behind the startup is the successful serial entrepreneur Nicoletta Casanova.

66. Recommerce Rotkreuz ZG  For anyone who finds it tiresome to auction off

their used smartphone, laptop or tablet, an alternative has been available for the past three years: simply selling the device to the Zugbased company Recommerce. The company refurbishes the gadgets and sells them on the platform. Investors include the venture capitalists b-to-v Partners and the media company Ringier.

67. UrbanFarmers Zurich  Fish farming and vegetable cultivation in a closed system in the middle of a large city and, thus, close to customers – UrbanFarmers makes it possible. Vegetables and fish are already being produced at an old train depot in Basel and sold at a nearby Migros store. UrbanFarmers has also launched projects in Berlin and the Hague. In early 2015, it concluded a further funding round of over CHF 2.1 million.

68. Flatev Zurich  The machine from Flatev is the size of a toaster and bakes ready-to-enjoy tortillas from capsules. Following a second seed round the year before, the Zurich-based company generated a further USD 3 million in April of this year. The money is needed to crack the US market. 2015 . handelszeitung

ican tortillas generate some USD 12 billion in sales annually in the US.


The top newcomers Flyability






easySYS AG




Lausanne, rank 3

Zurich, rank 6

Lausanne, rank 20

Rapperswil, rank 21

Zurich, rank 27

Welcome to the club To ensure our ability to feed the rapidly rising global population in the future, farming must become more efficient. To make sure that happens, technologies like the one from the EPFL spin-off Gamaya (rank 20) are essential. Its hyperspectral camera – the smallest of its kind worldwide – provides data for the detailed analysis of plants and soils. This makes it possible to optimize fertilizing and pest control practices and substantially increase yields. The new company was only founded at the start of 2015 by the team around Yosef Akhtman (pictured). The drones from Gamaya, with their integrated high-resolution cameras, are already in use in Europe, Russia and Brazil. A boom in the demand for agricultural technologies can be observed in the US as well. As the winner of the Swisscom StartUp Challenge, Gamaya now has the chance to find more international partners and investors in Silicon Valley and finetune its own business model together with mentors. The newcomers scored other startup prizes as well: most recently, they came in the TOP 5 of the Venture competition for young entrepreneurs and have received support from Venture Kick. handelszeitung . 2015

69. Ampard Zurich  Ready for the energy transformation: Ampard develops and markets an energy management system with a solar electricity storage system for private and commercial use. The Ampard system makes local consumption transparent and integrates the decentralized storage system in a virtual power plant, which in turn trades in electricity and generates revenue. Last December, BKW and Zürcher Kantonalbank invested in Ampard, pumping in CHF 2.5 million.

70. TestingTime Zurich  TestingTime recruits test subjects for the user tests and market research of third parties. Its customers include Migros, Helsana and SBB. The unique selling point of the startup founded in 2014 is the software-based management of the approximately 20,000 available test subjects.

71. Versantis Zurich  Every day in the west, approximately 370 people die from an overdose of drugs or medications. An overdose can also have organic causes. In cases of liver failure, the body can no longer discharge its waste. Although 450 million people worldwide are affected by liver failure, there is a lack of efficient detoxification methods. Filling that gap is the goal of the ETH spin-off Versantis.

72. Equippo Zug  The portal from the Zug-based company Equippo is set to become a global marketplace for used construction equipment. Equippo connects buyers with providers and handles the transaction financially and logistically. The company, founded in 2014, conducted a first round of funding this summer. It already has 10 staff.

73. Contovista Schlieren  The term personal finance management (PFM) represents a trend in the finance industry. PFM systems help individuals and small and medium-sized companies to manage all of their financial transactions via the Internet or app. Zurich-based Contovista develops PFM modules with interfaces to common e-banking solutions. Its first major customer was Schwyzer Kantonalbank.

74. Rqmicro Zurich  Microbiological contamination of drinking and industrial water has been studied for over

100 years. In the past, it could take days for results to become available, but the ETH spin-off Rqmicro has now developed a procedure that can provide contamination results within minutes. A mobile device for rapid detection of legionella bacteria is slated for launch soon. As a member of the venture leaders Swiss startup national team, the company will be presenting its innovation this fall in China.

75. I Believe in you Bern  The crowdfunding platform, founded by Mike Kurt and Philipp Furrer, has been online since the end of June 2013 and focuses on financing Swiss sports projects. This benefits individual athletes as well as teams, clubs and event organizers. The figures are impressive. In the last two years, 258 projects from 83 different sporting disciplines have been financed.

76. ParkU Zurich  Some people profit from their unused parking spots, while others find a place to park when they need one. This is the simple principle behind the ParkU platform. Thanks to the financing of well-known business angels, the Zurichbased startup has gained a foothold in 17 cities to date. It already has 28 employees and over 5,000 parking spots on offer in Switzerland and Germany. The company now wants to expand to Austria and the Netherlands.

77. NEEO Solothurn  NEEO has set itself the goal of controlling all electronic end devices in the home with a remote control that it has developed. The startup financed itself early this year through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. 6,081 supporters invested a total of USD 1.56 million in the project. And in early summer, NEEO won the young entrepreneur's prize of the W.A. de Vigier Foundation.

78. InvestGlass SA Plan-les-Ouates GE  A financial information service tailored to the precise needs of the investor? This is the idea behind the platform from InvestGlass. All important information about financial markets and transactions, including risks, is prepared according to the individual needs of the user. The platform is used by financial institutions such as the Geneva-based private bank Syz, asset managers and investors.

79. Archilogic AG Zurich  This Zurich-based company offers a scalable and modular 3D engine that can quickly convert real estate floor plans into 3D models. The mod-


80. DEPsys Sàrl Yverdon-les-Bains  One of the consequences of the expansion of renewable and decentralized energy sources is that more and more end consumers are becoming energy producers. The existing grid is not well suited for this. Stability problems in lowvoltage networks are the result. DEPsys is making the electricity grid intelligent and launching GridEye, a modular control platform.

81. DAHU Sports Company Fribourg  A ski boot with which you can drive a car, go hiking and do your shopping – the Fribourgbased startup DAHU has made it a reality. It consists of a soft boot and a removable exoskeleton. Last winter, the new company was already present with its new collection in eight countries. In Switzerland alone, nearly 50 retailers now carry DAHU.

The top software startups

Quiet creators Web platforms and apps: the most spectacular company stories in the IT world are written in the Internet/ mobile segment. Developing and writing complex software almost sounds old-fashioned by comparison. Startups like the big-data specialist Teralytics, the St. Gallen-based EasySYS and the Zurich-based Faceshift (rank 13) are doing it anyway. Faceshift was founded as a spin-off of EPFL's Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory. While at EPFL, CEO Thibaut Weise (pictured) developed software that enables real-time recognition of facial expressions and the animation of avatars without markers. This makes it faster and less

St. Gallen Valais Bern Geneva Basel-Stadt Other Vaud Zurich

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expensive to apply human facial movements to an animated character. He now has 13 employees. His customers include studios in the games, film, advertising and animation fields. Asked about his future prospects, Weise manifests the pride of the developer: “We want to have the best animation solution on the market in the future as well.”



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els can be displayed in a browser and are used by an increasing number of real estate portals, architects, engineers and designers. In August 2015, Archilogic generated 1.5 million pounds from angel investors and family offices for its further international growth.


Matten bei Interlaken, rank 7

Faceshift Zurich, rank 13

Teralytics Zurich, rank 14


Lausanne, rank 20


Rapperswil, rank 21

Startups by canton

Switzerland: Country of entrepreneurs


The startup hotbeds in Switzerland remain the centers Zurich and Lausanne. 66 of the 100 companies come from the two ETH campus cantons. The canton of Basel-Stadt comes third with seven


young companies, but is far behind second-placed Vaud. It is notable that Zurich not only brings forth many ICT startups, but also holds the undisputed top position in the life sciences.

28 38 2015 . handelszeitung

82. SWISSto12 Lausanne  The 3D-printed components for the transmission of Terahertz signals made by the EPFL spin-off are extremely powerful. The components are used for signal transmission in scientific instruments. But there's more; thanks to a cooperation agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA), SWISSto12 has also cracked the market for satellite communication. The startup also has plans to establish itself in the huge market for telecommunications in aircraft, trains, ships and vehicles.

83. recapp IT AG Martigny  This Valais-based company transforms multilingual conversations into text files that can be searched according to speaker, keywords and topic. It is already in use in the Valais cantonal parliament. But recapp's ambitions don't end there: it also plans to launch an app for the professional and private realms. The app converts spoken words into texts that can be further processed by the user.

84. Xsensio Sàrl Ecublens VD  The nanosensor platform from the EPFL spinoff can fit on the tip of a finger and requires almost no electricity. The wearable lab (Lab-onSkin) can analyze the sweat on the surface of the skin and provide real-time information about the current health status of the wearer. Last fall at the New York Fashion Week, the company presented a t-shirt outfitted with their sensor, whereby the t-shirt material provides the energy required to operate the sensor.

85. Everyglobe Zurich  Everyglobe operates out of Zurich and Berlin and is aimed at the global hotel market. Hoteliers are suffering from their increasing dependence on booking platforms such as booking. com. With the new price comparison monitor from Everyglobe, hotels can boost their direct bookings through their own websites by up to 30 percent and reap massive savings with regard to commission fees.

86. SamanTree Medical Lausanne  SamanTree uses digital microscopy for a scanner. This enables the surgeon to check whether a tumor has been completely removed while a cancer operation is ongoing. Such an immediate check was not possible before. If portions of a tumor remain in the body, further operations are usually required. In January 2015, this EPFL spin-off concluded a funding round of over CHF 4.5 million.

87. Memo Therapeutics AG Basel  The same disease, but a different progression, handelszeitung . 2015

suggests that the patient with the better disease progression has special antibodies from which new medicines could be isolated. Memo Therapeutics offers a technology platform for the characterization and reproduction of human and animal antibodies. In August, the ETH spin-off concluded a funding round of over CHF 2.3 million.

88. AgriCircle Rapperswil  This new company uses big data for agriculture. On its web platform, field data and historical weather data enable farmers to estimate the growth and disease development of their crops. This boosts productivity and they can generate up to 20 percent higher yields. AgriCircle is active in Switzerland and Germany.

89. Designergy SA San Vittore GR  A building envelope does not have to be a cash drain. Instead, it can be used profitably to generate electricity. This Graubünden-based company has developed fully integrated photovoltaic roof elements to make that possible. The system is watertight and features thermal insulation. After the first successful installations, the system is now being marketed to a broad audience.

90. DealMarket AG Zurich  DealMarket brings investors and fundraisers together and supplies them with customized information. The global private equity marketplace ensures transparency. The cloud-based deal-flow management tool helps financial professionals achieve greater efficiency and investment performance.

91. Winterthur Instruments W’thur  The Coatmaster from Winterthur Instruments measures the thickness of coatings – precisely, quickly and without contact. The measurement system works with all types of coating, even if the coated part has a complex shape. The startup has developed a customer base in several European countries and enjoys great success in the automotive industry. It concluded a further funding round this summer.

92. Thelkin Winterthur  Thelkin manufactures devices for mechanical component tests. The highly precise test systems work fully electrically instead of hydraulically or pneumatically and are therefore easy to maintain, energy efficient, quiet and clean. They are used where the highest precision is required, such as in orthopedics, micro­ electronics, plastics and the watchmaking ­industry.

93. G-Therapeutics SA Chavannes VD  This EPFL spin-off is developing a method for treating patients with spinal injuries. It is based on flexible implants that enabled paralyzed rats to walk again in studies. Clinical studies are currently underway with the implantable system for the stimulation of the spinal cord and robot-aided therapeutic training in humans.

94. AVA Zurich  Roughly a third of couples have difficulties fulfilling their desire to have children because of timing issues. That's where AVA can help. At night, a bracelet measures all parameters that ensure an accurate prediction of the ovulation day. As a member of this year's venture leaders Swiss startup national team, the company not only notched successes with Venture Kick and the W.A. de Vigier prize, but also conducted a funding round that generated millions.

95. Imperix Sion  The electricity grids must be rebuilt if they are to handle the increasing amount of alternative and decentralized energy production capacity. Founded in 2013, the EPFL spin-off Imperix researches and develops services and products related to this transformational process. Early this year, the Valais-based company presented its first product: Boombox, a control platform that makes the electricity grids of tomorrow more intelligent and reliable.

96. Frontify AG St. Gallen  Frontify has a cloud-based web application for brand & design management on the web. Well over 10,000 users worldwide use the dynamic project platform, which also enables communication between designers, programmers and clients. In the fall of 2014, the St. Gallen-based company concluded its second funding round. This year, Lufthansa began using Frontify across the whole company for design and brand management.

97. KB Medical Ecublens VD  This EPFL spin-off has developed a robotics system that assists surgeons in risky procedures such as spinal fusion surgery and thereby shortens the operating time. For the further growth of the company, KB Medical brought in the experienced Marc Wismer as CEO in the fall of 2014.

98. Helmedica AG Winterthur  With the rockethealth electronic medical history from Helmedica, doctors and clinics have the option of keeping patient files on iPads and mobile devices. The solution helps the differ-


99. Meteomatics GmbH St. Gallen  Meteomatics has developed drones that record weather data with precision. This improves storm and fog forecasts considerably. The current status of the weather can be identified more precisely, enabling high-quality 24-hour forecasts. The objective is to establish a drone measurement network that benefits interested parties across the economy, from energy trading companies to insurance companies, airports and tourist areas.

100. Pharmalp Conthey VS  This Valais-based startup has already developed three product lines: probiotic food additives, a spirulina product to reduce and prevent anemia, and products made from Swiss Alpine plants, such as a gel to soothe the skin in the event of sunburn or insect bites. The products are now available in most Swiss pharmacies and drugstores.

The best cleantech startups

Digital efficiency According to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, data centers in Switzerland consume roughly 2,000 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. This is equivalent to more than half the annual production of a smaller nuclear power plant such as MĂźhleberg. Add to that the fact that data transmission and end devices also consume electricity. Technologies that bring greater efficiency are therefore more than welcome. Three of the five best cleantech startups work on hardware marked by major advancements in terms of electricity consumption: L.E.S.S. (rank 1), ActLight (rank 17) and Kandou Bus (rank 46). Under CEO Serguei Okhonin (pictured), ActLight has developed a technology that converts electricity into light and light into electricity.

This makes it possible to produce small but efficient solar cells that can power sensors and other devices that are connected to the Internet. On the other hand, ActLight enables highly efficient light sensors that can measure the heart rate when integrated in smartwatches, for example. Depending on the application, the sensors require up to ten times less energy than conventional products.



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ent players to connect with each other. This year, the Winterthur-based company entered into a strategic partnership with HINT AG, a specialist for ICT infrastructures in the health care sector.


Lausanne, rank 1


Fribourg, rank 4


Lausanne, rank 17

Bluetector Root LU, rank 40

Kandou Bus Lausanne, rank 46 2015 . handelszeitung 2015 . handelszeitung


The experts on the scene

100 experts have selected the TOP 100 startups, with each expert choosing and rating their ten favorites. The rankings list is based on the total of these scores.

A Carole Ackermann, Zurich. President of Business Angels Switzerland (BAS). CEO of OphthaMetrics. CEO of Diamondscull, investment company in the medical and environmental fields.

Domenico Alexakis, Zurich. Director of the Swiss Biotech Association.

Olivier Allaman, Fribourg. Director of the Fribourg-based business incubator Fri Up.

Claude Amiguet, Neuchâtel. Director of the Neode Science and Technology Park Neuchâtel.

Lukas André, Zurich. Managing partner at venture capital firm Affentranger Associates AG. Co-founder of various IT startups.


Marc P. Bernegger, Zurich. Partner, supervisory board member of Next Generation Finance Management AG. Founder of various web companies. Angel investor focused on FinTech/ Finance 2.0.

Thomas Billeter, Herrliberg. Founder of multiple companies and a business angel. Director of TallyFox Social Technologies AG. Partner of SeestattExperts AG.

Laurent Bischof, Lausanne. Managing Partner at Polytech Ventures, focused on early-stage and series A funding rounds of high-tech startups.

Philip Bodmer, Dübendorf. Business angel. President of the Foundation for Promotion of the National Economy. Expert at the de Vigier Foundation.

Thomas Bähler, Bern. Specialist at Kellerhals Attorneys at Law, including for private equity/ venture capital firms. Co-founder of SEF. Jury member for the Swiss Economic Award.

Roman Balzan, Zurich. EMEA TECH Industry Programs at Google. Expert in social media and e-commerce.

Patrick Barbey, Lausanne. Managing Director of the Vaud-based promotion agency InnoVaud. Co-founder of various startups.

Yann Barth, Delsberg. CEO Creapole, Jura Canton Center for Innovation and Startups.

Brigitte Baumann, Zurich. CEO and co-founder of the business angel platform Go Beyond Early Stage Investing. European Business Angel of the Year 2014. handelszeitung . 2015

Nicolas Berg, Zurich. Founder of multiple companies and a business angel. Co-founder of Redalpine Venture Partners. Involved in various panels for young entrepreneur awards.

Jan Bomholt, St. Gallen. Founder/CEO of the MeinEinkauf portal. Co-founder of the b-to-v business angel network.

Silvio Bonaccio, Zurich. Director of ETH transfer/spin-offs, member of the steering committee of the venture startup competition at ETH Zurich. Co-founder and member of the Swiss Technology Transfer Association (swiTT).

Diego A. Braguglia, Zug. General partner at VI Partners, venture capital firm. Focus: life sciences/biotech.

David Brown, Lausanne. Active business angel. Founder/co-founder of various startups including and Poken SA. Venture Kick jury member.

Peter E. Burckhardt, Basel. CEO Basel Inkubator. CEO EVA – the Basel life sciences startup

agency. President of BioBac (Bio Valley Business Angel Club).

C Heinrich Christen, Zurich. Partner Ernst&Young, Managing Partner St. Gallen. Focus: medtech. Partner in charge of Entrepreneur of The Year Switzerland/Lichtenstein.

Raphaël Conz, Lausanne. Promotion économique du canton de Vaud (SPECo).

Alexandre Coquoz, Neuchâtel. Associate Director of Innobridge SA. CEO of Jade Invest SA, a venture capital firm initiated by CSEM.

D Alberto De Lorenzi, Bioggio. Founder of multiple companies. Business angel with focus on ICT startups. Partner at De Lorenzi & Partners. CTI Startup coach.

Benoît Dubuis, Director of Campus Biotech and Wyss Center for Bio- and Neuro-engineering. President of BioAlps. Founder of Inartis Network. Publisher of the newsletter Republic of Innovation.

Pascal Dutheil, Lausanne. Founder of Andromede Consulting. Focus: seed and early stage venture capital. CTI Startup coach.

E Markus A. Eugster, Zurich. Active business angel. Chief Officer EMEA at XL Catlin Switzerland, global corporate insurance firm.




Axel Favre, Lausanne. Debiopharm Investment S.A, holding company of the biopharmaceutical group Debiopharm. Focus: Cleantech, IT and personal services.

Claude Florin, Lausanne. Business angel. Founder/president of the A3 Angels club. Partner at Polytech Ventures and VentureConcept. Focus: medtech/mobile telecom.

Mark Forster, Zurich/San Francisco. Angel investor. CEO/founder of Adello. Specialist in mobile advertising. Managing Partner of P-MV digital momentum AG, holding company focused on mobile computing.

Mattias Frieden, Zurich. Entrepreneur and business angel. Coach at GoBeyond. Specialized in strategy development, risk management.

Jan Fülscher, Männedorf. Managing Director of Business Angels Switzerland (BAS). Founder and director of Swiss ICT Investor Club SICTIC. Juror and coach for various startup competitions.

Peter Harboe-Schmidt, Schwerzenbach. Cofounder of various pharmaceutical companies such as SpiroChem AG, Xigen Pharma SA and Glycemicon.

Reto Hartinger, Zurich. Serial entrepreneur and business angel (including President of Erfa-Gruppe Internet Briefing.

René Hausammann, Winterthur. Director of Technopark Winterthur and Transfer ZHW.

Urs Haeusler, Zurich. CEO DealMarket. Founder of Haeusler Management & Ventures. Focus: Internet. Board member of Swiss Finance Startups Association (SFS).

Wolfgang Henggeler, Zurich. Director of Physical Sciences at Unitectra, technology transfer organization at the Universities of Zurich, Bern and Basel.

Antonio Gambardella, Plan-les-Ouates (GE). Director of the Geneva-based startup incubator Fongit. Venture capital expert and angel investor.

Frank Gerritzen, Lausanne. President of Business Angels Switzerland (BAS), western Switzerland. Board of Careerplus Group SA. Founder of the Swiss branch of the Wealth Peer Group.

Eric Gisiger, Zurich. Investment Director at SVC – AG for SME venture capital. Chartered financial analyst (CFA).

Patrick Griss, Schlieren. Co-founder and Executive Partner at Zühlke Ventures. Focus: high-tech startups. Member of the Advisory Board of glaTec, the technology center at Empa.

Daniel Gutenberg, Zug. General partner VI Partners, venture capital firm. Focus: IT. Business Angel of the Year 2011 (SECA).

Michel Jaccard, Lausanne. Founder/partner at law firm id est avocats sàrl. Expert in corporate finance, new technologies and media.

Mario Jenni, Schlieren. Director of BIOTechnopark Schlieren, life sciences center for the Zurich metropolitan area. Co-founder and Managing Director of glaTec technology center at Empa.

K Kilian Kämpfen, Flamatt. Chief Business Development at Ringier Digital AG, competence center for online marketplaces and e-commerce. Venture Kick jury member.

Fernand Kaufmann, Zurich. Business angel. Focus: cleantech. Advisor at Emerald Technology Ventures. CEO of HPL S.A. (High power Lithium)

Nicole Herzog, St. Gallen. Business angel. Cofounder/member of the board at Haufe-umantis AG, Talent Management. President of the board at Agilentia AG.


handelszeitung . 2015


Peter Hogenkamp, St. Gallen. Serial entrepreneur and angel investor. Supervisory board member at the relocation platform movu. ch. VRP / CEO of Newscron.

Matthias Hölling, Zurich. Team director of the TECHNOPARK Zürich Foundation. Previously with Technology Spin-offs ETH Transfer.

Markus Hosang, Basel. Venture Capitalist. General partner at BioMedinvest. Focus: life sciences.

David Hug, Zurich. Managing Director at Ringier Digital Ventures. Previously with Zürcher Kantonalbank in the field of startup finance.

Patrick Hug, Zurich. Deputy Head of Startup Finance at Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB).

Cédric Koehler, Zurich. Managing Partner at the European holding company Creathor Venture. Focus: ICT, media, new materials.

Marjan N. Kraak, Zurich. Group director for spinoff startups, ETZ Zurich/ETH transfer. Manager of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab of the Life Sciences, ETH Zurich.

André Kühni, Aarau. Director of small and medium-sized company services/startup consulting at Aargauer Kantonalbank.

Stefan Kyora, Lucerne. Co-founder/Managing Editor of Co-owner of Journalistenbüro Niedermann. Business journalist. Focus: high-tech startups and corporate finance.

L Hervé Lebret, Lausanne. Manager of innogrants at EPFL. Former principal of venture capital company Index Ventures.

Hansruedi Lingg, Root-Längenbold. CEO of Technopark Lucerne.




Karim Maizar, Zurich. Partner at Kellerhals Anwälte. Specializes in corporate law, corporate finance. Director of the Startup Desk.

Pascal Marmier, Shanghai. Executive Director/Vice Consul General at swissnex China. Co-organizer of venture leaders in the USA and China.

Dominique Mégret, Bern. Manager at Swisscom Ventures. Co-founder of Kickstart Ventures.

Simon Meier, Basel. Investment Director of Roche Venture Fund. Jury member for Venture Kick.

Didier Mesnier, Geneva. Executive Officer of Alp ICT, high-tech cluster western Switzerland.

James Miners, Plan-les-Ouates (GE). Business advisor at Fongit, the Geneva-based incubator for high-tech ventures.

Felix Moesner, Cambridge, USA. Swiss Consul, CEO Swissnex Boston. Co-organizer of venture leaders Boston / New York.

Magne Y. Orgland, Teufen. Business angel. Managing Partner at Norga Capital and Meridian Capital Holding. Board member of 1741 Asset Management AG.

Markus Oswald, Schwyz. Venture capitalist. CEO of the Innovation Foundation of Schwyzer Kantonalbank.

Xavier Paternot, Geneva. Managing Partner at Vinci Capital. Focus: growth financing for Swiss high-tech companies.

Maurice Pedergnana, Zug. Managing Director of SECA Swiss Private Equity & Corporate Finance Association. Managing Partner of Zugerberg Finanz AG. Professor of Banking & Finance at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Alexandre Peyraud, Geneva. Partner of alecent, startup financing.

Eric Plan, Sion. General Secretary of CleantechAlps, Cleantech Cluster western Switzerland. Coach at cimARK.

Carolina Müller-Möhl, Zurich. Chairperson of the Müller-Möhl Group, investment management. President of the Swiss Economic Award.


Roberto Poretti, Lugano. Initiator and director of Centro Promozione Startup.

Erika Puyal Heusser, Zurich. Manager of Startup Finance/Pioneers, Zürcher Kantonalbank. Board member of Go! Ziel selbstständig.

Penny Schiffer, Zurich. Business angel. Associate at Swisscom Ventures and management of Swisscom Startup Challenge. Trendscout Silicon Valley. Beat Schillig, St. Gallen. Founder and President of the IFJ Institut für Jungunternehmen. Initiator of venturelab, venture leaders and Venture Kick. Business Angel of the Year 2012 (SECA).

Peter Schüpbach, Langenthal. Business angel. Founder of multiple businesses (including Miracle, Fashion Friends). Co-founder of SwissCommerce, manages e-commerce projects in niche markets. Partner at NewBorn Ventures. Focus: ICT projects.

Christian Schütz, St. Gallen. Partner of the b-to-v Partners business angels network. Jury member of venture leaders.

Florian Schweitzer, St. Gallen. Co-founder and partner of the b-to-v business angels network. Board member at SECA.

Peter Seitz, Zurich. Serial entrepreneur. Managing Director of the ETH Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (ieLab).

Paul E. Sevinç, Zurich. Angel investor. Founder of Squeng. Focus: computer science. Co-founder of Doodle AG.

Michael Näf, Zurich. Business angel. Founder of Deputy director of the FinTech incubator Swiss Life Lab. Startup coach at the ETH Innovation & Entrepreneurship Lab.

Peter Niederhauser, Zurich. Serial entrepreneur/ business angel. Partner at Masterinvest. General partner at venture capital firm Redalpine Venture Partners.

Lutz Nolte, Bern. Vice President of the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and Funding President for startups and entrepreneurship. Director of the Institute for Surgical Technology and Biomechanics at the University of Bern.

Q Till Quack, Zurich. Angel investor. Co-founder and CEO of Kooaba (acquired by Qualcomm). Product manager at Qualcomm.

Michael Sidler, Zurich. Business angel. Partner Redalpine Venture Partners. Consultant Boston Consulting Group.

Colin Turner, Geneva. Business angel. Mentor A3 Angel. Co-founder of greenTEK ventures.

R Jost Renggli, Zurich. Co-founder/Partner at Venture Valuation / Biotechgate. Jury member for Venture Kick.

Olivier Rozumek, Lausanne. Founder and Managing Director at orhizon. Focus: strategic investment in high-tech companies.

handelszeitung . 2015

Christian Schaub, Zurich. Co-founder and CEO of Redbiotec. Trainer at venturelab. Technology consultant for financial institutions and industrial companies.


Jordi Montserrat, Lausanne. Business angel. Board president at Logifleet SA. Responsible for management of Venture Kick and venturelab.



V Paul-André Vogel, Sion. Director of CimArk, startup support network. Coach for CTI Startup.

Pascale Vonmont, Basel. Deputy Director of the Gebert Rüf Foundation. President of the Startupticker Foundation. Delegate on the strategic council of Venture Kick. Jury member for venture leaders. Advisory Board of seif, Swiss Social Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Jean-Pierre Vuilleumier, Zurich. Managing Director of CTI Invest. Co-founder of Swiss Startup Day.

W Lucian Wagner, Zurich. General partner at EuroUS Ventures, Investing for US Growth. ­ Co-founder/President of Launch in US Alliance.

Steffen Wagner, Zurich. Co-founder and Managing Partner of Investiere, Verve Capital Partners AG.

Christian Wenger, Zurich. Business angel. Partner at Wenger & Vieli, corporate and commercial law. Focus: private equity/venture capital/M&A. Board member at SECA. President of CTI Invest.

Sandy Wetzel, Yverdon-les-Bains. General manager at Y-Parc SA – Swiss Technopole.

Z Roland Zeller, Köniz. Business angel member of various supervisory boards. Co-founder of the online travel agency Board member at GetYourGuide. Advisory board of MARWAS Business with India.

Jürg Zürcher, Zurich. Partner at Ernst & Young, biotechnology leader for EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India, Africa).

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our core business involves the development of new technologies for the pharmaceutical industry in clinical trials to the stage that they can enter the market as drugs. You also invest in startups. What do Swiss startups offer you? Thierry Mauvernay: they offer an incredible amount of innovation and ideas. Every year, we test over 800 molecules. A further 200 requests or so pertaining to diagnostics end up on our table and 150 are submitted across IT, energy efficiency and people care, in which we are also involved. Of these, we select two to four startups for investment purposes. What sort of startups are you interested in? There is a strong demand for diagnostic products. We are increasingly focused on new technological options in our three main areas of oncology, infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders. One example is the startup Spinomix, in which we have been investing for the past four years. This year, we acquired its diagnostics tool, FibroTap, which is used in conjunction with infectious diseases. This tool enables bacteria to be extracted and analyzed much faster than before. We are also interested in IT startups and inventions that serve people or improve energy efficiency.

“We’ve got the talent, but not enough capital” Thierry Mauvernay The family business

entrepreneur and pharmaceutical strategist talks about his commitment to the startup scene.

Text: Laurina Waltersperger Photos: Olivier Evard

kind. This is because there is the framework conditions that would attract and encourage these venture capitalists are lacking.

Do startups need to have an attractive game plan to court the attention of investors? Definitely. Anybody can set up a business in Switzerland. Even securing initial capital poses little difficulty thanks to private investors, various startup funds and monetary prizes. But once capital requirements exceed CHF 1 million, things become much more difficult.

But location development in this country is carried out on a large scale. Correct. However, efforts are primarily focused on bringing as many foreign companies to Switzerland as possible. The requisite framework conditions that would attract venture capitalists are badly underdeveloped and are not a priority at all.

Why? From this point on, it is primarily professional financial backers that invest in the business. In Switzerland, there are only very few investors that provide venture capital of this

What does that mean in concrete terms? In terms of fiscal policy, venture capital companies are treated in exactly the same way as any other business. This means that there are no risk premiums like in other countries,

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i.e. no tax breaks. This is a key incentive, because these companies are taking on a considerable risk by focusing on startup financing. But this risk is not rewarded in any way in Switzerland. Why is that? One reason is that failure is not accepted in our culture either for entrepreneurs or investors, and this stifles the necessary dynamics to a large degree. Secondly, there are no special financial benefits for venture capitalists in Switzerland. But money alone is not all it takes to find success with a business idea. Of course. Just as important – if not more so – is the level of entrepreneurial experience

“We have to think g­ lobally, embrace the concept of the startup nation. This is something that Switzerland still has to learn.” — Thierry Mauvernay

within the company. And it is precisely these venture capitalists that have the most experience and expertise. They are professional investors that have assessed countless business plans, enjoyed successes and shouldered losses, and they can provide a startup with all the experience it needs. How does Switzerland fare in comparison to other international players? Setting up a company requires talent and capital. We have the talent. What we lack are sufficient financial resources to support the development of these companies. There is no risk culture in Switzerland either. What can you tell us about the high capacity for innovation in Switzerland?

Biography Thierry Mauvernay has been a delegate of the Board of Directors of Debiopharm since 2012. The 62-year-old started at the familyrun company 15 years ago. His father Rolland-Yves Mauvernay founded the business in 1979. Debiopharm employs 350 staff. It acquires licenses for products, carries out clinical development through to the human proof-ofconcept stage and sells the licenses for the marketable agents to major pharmaceutical companies.

We do have a reputation, without a doubt. Nevertheless, we pride ourselves on our capacity for innovation despite the fact that almost 50 percent of patent applications are filed by Roche and Novartis. Without these two companies, Switzerland would be much further down the international ranks. French-speaking Switzerland is currently making every effort to stimulate innovation in the life sciences sector with the Health Valley project. That should give you cause for optimism at least. We now have a major biotech cluster here along Lake Geneva. This facilitates innovation. But a few things still have to be developed before we are well-equipped for the future. 2015 . handelszeitung

“We have to go further afield and incorporate other areas as well.”

proving rather challenging for both universities and companies. In my opinion, there is too little open space both at ETH Lausanne and at the biotech campus on the old Merck Serono site in Geneva that enables people to work together and exchange ideas. Other university environments such as Stanford and Berkeley show that the situation could be very different. The exchange between chemists, lawyers, economists and engineers is much greater on these campuses. There are interdisciplinary teams that launch new business ideas. The same applies to companies. Boston has a host of coworking spaces where businesses from a range of different industries work side by side. You’d have to spend a long time looking for something like that here.

— Thierry Mauvernay

Where do you see potential for ­improvement? Switzerland is attempting to copy the Silicon Valley model with its biotech cluster. But this model was cutting edge in California maybe 30 years ago. Back then, the vision was that the Valley would be the cradle of information technology. But this has not been the case for a long time now. Today it is the valley of services. The focus is no longer on individual clusters such as IT or life sciences. We are talking about entire ecosystems that connect these fields together to create new business models. So you’re saying that we are still thinking in terms of old divisions here in ­Switzerland. Just take a look at the cluster in Frenchspeaking Switzerland. Even today, there are handelszeitung . 2015

very few links to other fields that would stimulate the development of new ideas. When I talk about health, I am not referring solely to startups and pharmaceutical companies that produce new drugs. You have to go further afield, incorporate other areas as well. For example, the food industry, the environment, sport, medical technology and universities are all viable areas of application for health-related innovations. Here in Lausanne, we would have had the perfect framework with which to develop this concept due to the presence of Nestlé, the WWF, the International Olympic Committee, ETH Lausanne and Lausanne University Hospital. The network is there – is it simply a case of using it more effectively? We have to work on strengthening relationships across the board. At the moment, this is

This recipe for success does not seem to be beyond the realm of possibility. No, but a fundamental rethink is required. We have to create spaces that bring creative people together. I’ll give you a simple example. Debiopharm also invests in property. In conjunction with these activities, we set up the Futura estate in Schlieren. It features new apartments, community spaces, allotments, a day nursery, a packing station, lodgings for guests, conference rooms and electric bikes and cars to rent. There is also a coach that informs residents about available services and encourages social exchange. The same concepts have to be utilized for startup zones – the creation of incubators, for example. Can it be achieved within the next few years? It’s a question of will. If the government takes a greater hand in things and the political will is there, we can make rapid progress. Achieving critical mass is another priority. The concept of the startup nation developed by Fathi Derder is what we should be aiming for, because this is what it's really all about. In French-speaking Switzerland, we cannot afford to limit ourselves to thinking in terms of Geneva, Lausanne or Valais. We have to take a global approach to the entire Lake Geneva region and beyond.




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The leverage effect

Strong brands on ideas. Why mo the lookout for unconventio nal re a partner progra nd more major firms are la unching ms for startup s. Text : Jost Dubach



rosumer is the new concept making waves in the European electricity market. These are companies and households that on the one hand consume electrical energy and on the other act as producers that either consume their own solar power or feed it into the electricity grid. There are currently around 50,000 photovoltaic installations in Switzerland. Behind these systems lie three forces that have characterized the energy market for the past few years, namely: the partial liberalization of supply and demand, support for new renewable energies, and the progressive digitalization of society. “The energy sector is being turned on its head. Traditional value chains are being breaking down,” states Martin Kauert, manager of the Level Up startup program (see page 41) launched by BKW Energie AG. The movement kicked off at the start of the year in collaboration with the startup platform venturelab. For Kauert, it was time for things to change. As the Head of Technology Scouting at BKW, he is in the ideal position to note the developments: “Many of the most promising aphandelszeitung . 2015

proaches in the fields of smart grids and energy efficiency are being championed by fledgling high-tech companies.” One such company is the Zurich-based Ampard, which has developed a system that enables decentralized photovoltaic installations to become smart. It uses battery energy storage systems to link these installations to autonomous networks that optimize consumption and sell surplus power to third parties. BKW is not the only Swiss corporation with an eye on the technology and startup scene. In the pharmaceutical industry, collaboration with highly innovative startups is part of the business model. At Roche, for example, a team of around 80 employees manages a global partner network of 240 research institutes and young biotech companies. “Corporations In 2013, approxihave the mately one-third of ­tendency the Basel-based to shut thempowerhouse’s revenue was generated selves off.” by products whose — Christine Larbig, innovation researcher scientific foundations were laid beyond the company’s walls. At present, the startup spirit is gripping the financial services industry. Incubators and co-working spaces for company founders are beginning to spring up all over down-

town Zurich. These spaces are supported by companies such as stock exchange operator SIX and life insurance provider Swiss Life. The aim is always the same: to harness the market power of these companies to quickly bring new ideas to fruition. The phrase on everyone’s lips is open innovation. Around a decade ago, the American economist Henry Chesbrough published his book of the same name. Since then, open innovation has been advanced as the answer to tougher competition, shorter innovation cycles and digitalization. In the finance industry, the pressure to innovate is the result of new transparency rules and growing price sensitivity on the part of customers; in the world of telecommunications, it is the American internet giants that are kicking things into high gear.

Photo: Fotolia

Energy, logistics and communication – three partner programs

Program: Level Up When it comes to constructing large-scale alpine hydroelectric power plants, BKW is a pioneer. The Bern-based company now wants to play a leading national role in the development of a sustainable, efficient and intelligent power supply network. This is why the corporation has been systematically entering into partnerships with startups since the beginning of 2015. BKW gives selected startups the opportunity to work with internal experts as a means of further developing new technologies and business models relating to production, energy efficiency and the electricity grid, and validating them on the market.

Program: Development and Innovation The Development and Innovation business unit headed by former IBM manager Claudia Pletscher is a platform for the development of business ideas. The unit is looking to establish contact with startups pursuing new approaches in the fields of communication, logistics, payment transactions and passenger transport. The initiators are invited to expound on their ideas and present them in-house at Swiss Post. If both parties are interested in continuing cooperation, the mailing giant guarantees support for the further development of these projects.

Program: Swisscom Ventures AG Since it was founded in 2007, Swisscom Ventures has invested in over 35 companies in the fields of IT, digital media and telecommunications. As a strategic investor, the company offers financial support and access to technical and sales infrastructure. Alongside its investment activities, Swisscom runs the Swisscom StartUp Challenge partner program. The core of the initiative is an annual competition. The five winners receive tailored support and training from Swisscom and venturelab and also take a trip to Silicon Valley. 2015 . handelszeitung


Partnering with Swiss Post

“Uncomplicated and open” How does it feel to be David? Not bad at all, especially as our partner Swiss Post does not act like Goliath by any means. Why exactly was Swiss Post attracted to your company? First I have to explain what Senozon actually does. We aggregate various data sources − timetables, road infrastructure information, building registers or business censuses – and use them to model traffic behavior in a specific area. What does modeling mean? We use scientifically tested modeling and simulation software to create a kind of weather forecast for transport. We predict where many people are in transit at once, whether they are using public transport or private cars, and which activities they are doing and for how long. How reliable are the predictions? The amount of data and the software tested are already replicating reality extremely well. We are also calibrating our mobility model based on samples. This involves taking the multitude of traffic flow data – road and public transport – and synchronizing the measurements with the model. Who are your customers? In terms of consultation, our customers are primarily private traffic planning offices. We are now also selling ready-to-use traffic and mobility analyses about specific locations to clients such as real estate companies and retailers. How did your relationship with Swiss Post start? In 2012, an acquaintance of mine told me about Co-Star, the tool used

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Michael Balmer Co-founder of ETH spin-off Senozon

to submit external ideas to Swiss Post. We sat down for two or three hours, outlined our service and were invited to a presentation. What happened then? We were assigned an advisor who arranged meetings for us with the relevant experts in the various departments of the company. Postauto showed considerable interest in us, which led to intensive discussions and ultimately a joint project in the Sitten region. What responsibilities did Senozon have? The focus centered on various Postauto routes in the Sitten area. Postauto reviewed the routes and saw that our expertise could help to optimize their services. In 2013, we launched a joint project. An analysis of potential transport demand in the region helped Postauto to tailor its services more effectively to the requirements of passengers. When you look back at the collaboration, what benefits would you say you took from the project? Apart from the order itself, the partnership gave us greater insight into the issues that Swiss Post has to resolve. Furthermore, Postauto is obviously a strong reference for us in the transport sector. Finally, we were pleased that passenger count data was made available to us for modeling. Corporations are generally seen as self-centered and complicated. What was your experience? The collaboration with Swiss Post was uncomplicated and open in every respect.

Dominique Mégret has been the Head of Swisscom Ventures, the investment arm of Swisscom, for the past eight years. In this time, he has read hundreds of business plans and listened to several thousand presentations. He estimates that around 10,000 startups are active in the information and communications technology sector (ICT) worldwide. They are financed by 500 major venture capital funds and more than twice as many corporations as part of strategic investment programs. At Swisscom, it is estimated that ICT startups receive around USD 50 billion in funding each year. This equates to approximately four times the corporation’s turnover. For Mégret, the situation is clear: “We cannot beat this global community, so we have to become part of it.” The former management consultant is right at home at the conferences and on the panels of the Swiss ICT scene. This is where he comes face to face with how company founders and startups see the world. “Major companies with tens of thousands of employees have the tendency to shut themselves off from their surroundings and shield their in-house strategy from criticism,” says Christine Larbig, innovation researcher and tutor at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. As a result, the awareness of new technologies, markets and customers becomes lost: “Open innovation, on the other hand, opens up companies to ideas and knowledge.” The approach therefore goes far beyond conventional knowledge and technology transfer (TOT) practices. TOT projects with universities are clearly defined and have specific objectives; they are also highly scientific. “For our requirements, TOT projects should have a greater market focus,” explains Thierry Golliard, Head of Open Innovation at Swiss Post. As a result, the public service giant expanded its list of academic contacts in 2012, launched the Post Venture program and entered into systematic cooperative partnerships with startups. The first project was the Post Idea internal business plan competition. In 2012, the corporation asked its 60,000+ employees to come up with ideas for the Swiss Post of the future. This year, the creativity competition is called Post Venture 15 and is also open to external innovators, company founders and entrepreneurs. “We will have a list of the ten best new business ideas by mid-December,” says Golliard.

Although cooperation projects with startups are not yet the norm at Swiss Post, the plan is to make this happen. After all, the results are already plain to see (see interview on page 42) and the market dynamics in logistics, e-commerce and mobility remain as strong as ever. The situation is exactly the same in the telecommunications sector. WhatsApp has shown network operators how quickly things can change. The free app has taken a huge bite out of the SMS business. As Dominique Mégret states, “we cannot afford to let a development like this happen to us again.” This is a tone that was rarely adopted by representatives of corporations until recently. In the world of open innovation, failures are not simply swept under the carpet; they are openly communicated so that others can learn from the mistakes made. “A couple of WhatsApp seminars for the employees is not enough,” states Mégret. Rather, a structural basis is required from which to pursue the open innovation approach. However, this is

easier said than done. In 2012, the University method for new business ideas. “CO-STAR of Applied Sciences St. Gallen published an helps startups to formulate their ideas and open innovation monitor our employees to quickly that analyzed a survey of “We can’t fight against grasp their value,” says Thi200 top managing direcerry Golliard. Once contact the community, so we tors from German-speakbetween the startup and ing countries. The up- have to become part of the corporation has been shot: all referred to open it.” established, the next stage innovation, but only one — Dominique Mégret is to hold pitches. Startups in three companies had with promising ideas can incorporated the concept into its day-to-day present their plans to the relevant experts. If operations. they succeed in attracting interest, the partnership will be given more resources to deFor innovation researcher Christine Larbig, velop. the findings published by the Open InnovaThe outcome of a collaborative project tion Monitor came as little surprise. “A mul- can take many forms. It may end with a martinational company has a much different ket-oriented feasibility study or lead to the way of approaching things than a small-scale corporation getting on board as a shareoperation.” As long as there is no basis of mu- holder, as was the case for BKW and Ampard. tual understanding and communication, co- Last November, the energy group bought operative partnerships have little chance of shares in the startup together with Zürcher success. Kantonalbank. “The products developed by At Swiss Post, CO-STAR has therefore Ampard may help us to expand our services.” been developed as a simple structuring says Martin Kauert.



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Budget Rent a Car is pleased to present a new, all-inclusive product that makes business trips much less expensive. Jens Willkomm, Head of Corporate Sales for Switzerland and Austria, talks us through its new Business Ready Plus tariff. Mr Willkomm, smaller companies in particular often have a very limited budget for business trips. How do you support this target group? “We at Budget know that even company employees who rarely go on business trips want the car rental process to be as simple as possible. We have fulfilled this desire. We have developed a product especially for this target group that enables them to travel safe in the knowledge that they are fully covered. Thanks to Business Ready Plus, the driver is not liable to pay any costs in case of damage or theft. This package

includes 4,000 free kilometers per month for long-term rentals. Whether it is for a business trip, delivery or daily journey to and from work, we wish to offer small businesses an effective alternative to company cars or public transport.” How much do small-scale entrepreneurs pay with Business Ready Plus? “With the all-inclusive product, customers pay as little as CHF 80 per day to rent a car in vehicle class

What vehicle models do you have in your fleet? “Whether it's a compact car for a business meeting in the city, a saloon for a business trip, or a transporter for a move to new business premises, our fleet features vehicles from all well-known manufacturers. We also offer a range of additional services such as navigation and mobile WiFi devices that make any trip easier.” Most important of all – how can entrepreneurs take advantage of Business Ready Plus? “Our corporate client advisors can be reached on +41 (0)43 456 92 27. They will provide the client with a budget discount number (BCD) straight away, which they can use to reserve

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their rental car by phone or online at” 2015 . handelszeitung


“Our story was brilliant” Nicolas Abelé The engineer from Lausanne founded the photonics company Lemoptix together with three partners. In March, he sold the firm to American chip giant Intel. Interview: Jost Dubacher — Photo: Martin Heimann


he price that Intel paid for Lemoptix has never been disclosed. Nicolas Abelé: And I hope so too. All parties involved have agreed not to disclose any details of the deal, and it looks as though there have been no leaks on that front. What is the situation with the company premises in Lausanne? Is Lemoptix set to remain there? The entire engineering team – that’s 17 people altogether – is still there at the moment. I can’t say any more about it. I signed a confidentiality agreement to that effect.

Biography Nicolas Abelé completed his doctorate in microsystems technology at ETH Lausanne in 2006. Afterwards he worked as a developer in industry before serving as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Lemoptix in 2008. He was responsible for the development strategy, technical collaborations and patent management.

Your financial backers have invested a total of CHF 5.5 million in Lemoptix. Were you satisfied with the deal? Definitely. We were all extremely satisfied. We had received a series of verbal financing proposals, but then Intel came along with the right offer at the right time.

colored laser diodes. The mirror projects the image line for line onto the projection surface. It is quicker than the human eye can see. The system is radically simple, meaning that it can be built according to a compact design. Our laser projector is as large as a sugar cube.

What aspect of your technology did the Americans find intriguing? Let me take the example of the projector. In conventional models, thousands of pixels generate individual light points that are then projected onto a surface via a complex optical system. In our system, a single small mirror diffracts the light from three different-

You founded Lemoptix in 2008. How did it come about? I was working as a doctoral student in Microsystem Laboratory 4 at EPFL. It was there that I learned about an inquiry from a company in industry. The manufacturer of a barcode reader was looking for ways to miniaturize its devices. I spent some time on the

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project and found out through my research that somebody had built the world’s first laser projector back in 2002. Although the image quality was poor, my colleagues and I were fascinated by the idea. In 2006 we received an EPFL innovation grant and two years later we started Lemoptix. It was a rather bold move. How so? There were still many other companies carrying out research and development on various laser projects. MicroVision is one example. It is listed on NASDAQ. Samsung is another. The South Koreans had around 200 engineers working on this technology.

You also started at the peak of the financial crisis. How did you ensure liquidity? In the early stage, we received a lot of support from the startup sponsor ecosystem. For example, we completed two rounds at Venture Kick and ultimately received CHF 30,000.

majorimpact. We considered the prospects for four of these markets: mobile communications, 3D sensor technology, virtual display systems – head-up displays – and smart glasses.

What specific prospects have you outlined for potential buyers? Could you give us an Who provided you with financial backing example? later on? In the field of virtual display systems, we We completed four financing rounds in total. demonstrated, for example, that our techThe first three consisted nology can be used to build exclusively of business ancar headlights that project gels. In 2014, private investhe navigation system’s “We said to investors tors and Swisscom took that an exit was planned data onto the road. Just part for the first time. directional arin three to four years.” imagine: rows appear on asphalt beWhen you look back at fore the driver’s eyes. They no longer have to look at the navigational dewhat you have achieved, when would you vice’s screen. say you were certain that you would be successful with your optical microsystems? How many interested parties did you neThe breakthrough came with the licensing gotiate with? agreement concluded with the Japanese Informal talks took place with around 30 company Hamamatsu three years ago. companies, including, I’m proud to say, virtually all of the major movers and shakers in Hamamatsu is an unknown the digital sector, such as Google, Microsoft quantity in Switzerland... and Facebook. Not in the photonics industry. The company is one of the leading producers of sensors, Americans are reputed to be tough negolight sources and other optoelectronic com- tiators and extremely meticulous when it ponents. It meant a lot to us that a company comes to legal matters. Is that correct? of this caliber believed in our technology. It was proof that the system was fit for realworld use on an industrial scale.

I can confirm that. This is why we organized an exit committee with external experts to advise us throughout the process. Today, you and your employees are part of the New Devices Group by Intel. What has changed for you? (laughs) A lot has happened: the administration and the entire – highly complex – patent management process, for example. We can now concentrate on what we love: the development of new technologies and products. You and your co-founders are now active as business angels, including with L.E.S.S., which is ranked number one in the TOP 100 startups. What advice would you give to company founders? Do you want an honest answer? Please! Then I’ll tell you: spin a good yarn! A company acquires value when it succeeds in placing its technology in the right environment. Is it really that simple? Absolutely. I mean exactly what I say. With one very important prerequisite. You always have to reach the commercial goals that you set yourself. We managed it – well, most of the time anyway.

List of sold startups

Hamamatsu is an industrial supplier. Have some end products based on your technology already been developed? The fact is that there is huge interest surrounding our technology at Hamamatsu. They even built a new factory for it. Samples are currently being sent to potential customers. When did you begin to seriously think about selling your company? Right back when we were completing the first financing round in 2009. At the time, we said to investors that an exit was planned within three or four years. In 2014, we made a plan that gave us a two-year time window. What was the first step? First you need a good story. We identified around 100 markets and product categories in which our microprojectors could have a

Lemoptix was not the only Swiss hightech startup acquired by Intel this year: back in January, the American chip giant purchased the shares in Composyt Light Labs, an EPFL spin-off only formed in July 2014; nothing has been revealed about the purchase price. Other details on the major biotech deals in the past 12 months: in December, the Lausannebased Oncoethix was sold to Merck for an upfront payment of USD 110 million. In January, Christian Schaub sold the company Redvax – an offshoot of Redbiotec – to Pfizer for a figure in the double-digit millions, and in February the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline made inroads into the Swiss market: it purchased the Zurichbased ETH spin-off Glycovaxyn for approximately USD 200 million. But it is

not just foreign companies that are interested in Swiss startups. Domestic corporations are gradually realizing the opportunities in front of their noses: Logitech acquired the world’s first software for the analysis of image content in the form of Upicto in Zurich; and the electricity company Alpiq reinforced its commitment to clean technology with the purchase of the Solothurn-based Helion Solar. In addition to these trade sales, the year has also seen the listing of three companies on the stock exchange: Molecular Partners has been listed in Zurich since last November, Auris Medical is now a fixture on the NASDAQ, and shares in the Basel-based Biocartis have been traded on the Euronext stock exchange in Brussels since April. 2015 . handelszeitung

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