Annual Report UZH Innovation Hub 2022

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2022 UZH Innovation Hub
Annual Report UZH Innovation Hub


The activities of the UZH Innovation Hub are initiated, lead and supported by a vast number of dedicated people including innovation ambassadors, entrepreneurship program managers, jury members and coaches.

Jessica Anderen, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships

Onur Boyman, Cluster Lead Life Sciences Innovation

Liliane Brunner-Halbach, Therapy Development Accelerator

Andreea-Loredana Cretu, BioEntrepreneurship & Innovation Program

Clarence Dale, Pajarillaga Innovathon

Louise Dhavernas, UZH Innovation Office

Urs Domann, Unitectra

Kynan Eng, Coach

Stephanie Engels, Coach

Dominik Escher, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships

Andreia Fernandes, Coach

Calista Fischer, UZH Space Hub

Jan Fülscher, Coach

Harald Gall, Cluster Lead Digital Innovation

Marc Grosjean, UZH Healthy Longevity Center

Isabella Gyr, UZH Innovation Office

Eva Maria Håkanson, UZH Innovation Office

Wolfgang Henggeler, Unitectra

Simon Hoerstup, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships

Lauren Howe, Innovation Ambassador (Digital)

Bea Knecht, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships

Melanie Kovacs, Coach

Michael Krauthammer, Innovation Ambassador (Digital)

Chantal Landis, Associated Content Producer

Perrine Lhuillier, Innovathon

Jan Lichtenberg, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships

Beatrice Malova, Coach

Mike Martin, Cluster Lead Healthy Longevity Innovation

Maya Melles, UZH Innovation Office

Manuel Merki, UZH Innovation Office

Martin Murmann, Digital Ventures Seminar

Sandra Neumann, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships

Sebastian Niederberger, Innovathon

Maria Olivares, UZH Innovation Office

Michio Painter, Therapy Development Accelerator

Patrycja Pielaszek, UZH Innovation Office

Jessica Plucain, Minor BioMed Entrepreneurship

Claudia Röösli, UZH Space Hub

Christina Röcke, UZH Healthy Longevity Center

Davide Scaramuzza, Innovation Ambassador (UZH Space Hub)

Chantal Schmelz, Coach

Benedikt Schmidt, UZH Innovation Office

Aileen Schröter, Cluster for Life Sciences Innovation

Anja Schulze, Innovation Ambassador (Digital)

Gerhard Schwabe, Innovation Ambassador (Digital)

Adrian Sigrist, Unitectra

Anne-Sophie Skarabis, UZH Innovation Office

Jess Snedeker, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships

Patrick Sticher Unitectra

Valentina Tamburello, UZH Space Hub

Svantje Tauber, UZH Space Hub

Claudio Tessone, Innovation Ambassador (Digital)

Oliver Ullrich, Cluster Lead Space and Aviation (UZH Space Hub)

Patrick Utz, Coach

Kerstin Vokinger, Innovation Ambassador (Digital)

Martin Volk, Innovation Ambassador (Digital)

Julien Weissenberg, Coach

Katrin Winiarski, UZH Innovation Office

Claudia Witt, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships

Myrto Zehnder, Coach

Tobias Zehnder, Jury Entrepreneur Fellowships




YouTube – UZH Innovation Hub Playlist

Welcome words

Most grand challenges our society faces today are complex and call for solutions that are entangled in a manifold of social and technological processes. More than ever, universities are asked to move innovative ideas into society to create impact and find new ways of collaboration with their stakeholders. As Switzerland’s largest comprehensive university, UZH offers the creative and interdisciplinary environment for open innovation.

Open innovation - a practice of collaboration involving different partners in the innovation process – can be a powerful way not only for companies to drive innovation but also for universities. It allows researchers and students to work on novel solutions to real-world problems, be it new technologies, products or services. Integrating expertise, diverse perspectives, creativity, out-of-thebox thinking, and market knowledge can accelerate innovation processes substantially and contribute to more holistic and socially relevant solutions.

Courses like the “UZH Innovathon”, “Wholesome Living” or the “Innovators Camp” are examples of new teaching formats at UZH that focus on problem-based and interdisciplinary approaches involving practice partners. Representatives from business, public

sector and non-for-profit organisations provide insights into how these challenges manifest in their organisations. While addressing such real-world challenges, the course participants gain valuable experience in applying problem-solving tools like design thinking and learn about team collaboration as well as project management. Students and young researchers that engage in these courses develop a mindset and the skills needed to succeed in today’s dynamic and rapidly changing work environment.

We would like to express our gratitude to all collaborators who have contributed to the open innovation formats over the last year. We thank our external partners for their support, their willingness to engage with researchers and students, and commitment to drive innovative ideas forward. We thank the innovators and ambassadors at UZH for their inspiration, energy, and passion to strengthen an environment that fosters experimentation, innovative thinking, and entrepreneurship at UZH.

We are delighted to see how the UZH Innovation Hub is evolving and look forward to continuing our work. Let’s bring innovation to life!

Elisabeth Stark, Research UZH Innovation Office, University of Zurich Maria Olivares, Head Innovation UZH Innovation Office, University of Zurich

Innovation in numbers

provide a snapshot of what we have accomplished. They help us track our progress, where we are thriving and where we need to grow. Spin-offs incorporated 4 market experts and entrepreneurs involved in the courses 45 patents filed 33


8 Mio CHF awarded for innovation projects

challenge partners in open innovation programs companies awarded the UZH startup label

9 students in entrepreneurship education


6 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub #spaceinnovation #digitalinnovation #lifesciencesinnovation #healthylongevityinnovation

Strategic innovation clusters

The university currently supports four strategic innovation clusters in the areas Life Sciences, Space and Aviation, Digital and Healthy Longevity Innovation. The innovation clusters operate university-wide and are strongly oriented towards interdisciplinary collaboration.



In recent years access to space has changed dramatically: Whereas in the past all access had to go through governmental space agencies, today the main drivers of innovation are private companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. Their transport systems, designed for scalability and reusability, and the resulting massive drop in the cost of transporting a kilogram of payload, form the very foundation for the fulminant growth of the New Space Economy and boost further developments.

The University of Zurich is a renowned player in the field of space and aviation research. At the University, Space research spans many disciplines including Earth observation/remote sensing, global biodiversity and climate change, biotechnology/ space medicine, astrophysics, supercomputing, autonomous flying, and aerospace.

UZH researchers have made great progress. In the area of biotechnology proof-of-principle experiments have shown that it is possible to grow human tissues in microgravity, opening up for mind-blowing applications in medicine. In the field of earth observation, many new satellites in orbit enable the special and temporally continuous monitoring of earth. This provides the basis for commercial and non-commercial applications e.g., in forest management, precision farming, and biodiversity or glacier monitoring.

The ecosystem of innovative research projects, world-class experimental platform and involved stakeholders from the university and beyond holds a great innovation potential, this is why the UZH Space Hub was launched in 2018.

UZH Space Hub

participants joined the Space Café events

The UZH Space Hub is a space and aviation ecosystem, connecting and supporting researchers, students, companies, and start-ups. At the moment, the Space Hub network consists of 34 research groups and more than 25 cooperating institutions in Switzerland and abroad. The UZH Space Hub promotes innovation, among other things, by providing easy access to the Swiss Parabolic Flights. The flights are conducted by the Swiss Sky Lab Foundation and offer tailor-made experimental conditions to test new procedures and technologies in weightlessness. In addition, the UZH Space Hub can provide access to e.g., Zeppelin, suborbital rockets, and the International Space Station. The Space Hub acts as a node for space research, innovation, and outreach. It’s activities reach beyond the natural sciences and involve interdisciplinary questions such as ethics and sustainability.

In 2022 the UZH Space Hub again engaged strongly in outreach and educational activities. Funded by the UZH Graduate Campus it continued the event series Space Café attracting more than 250 participants from research and industry. A career event

8 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub
We are at the dawn of a new age - the Space Age. For a high-tech country like Switzerland, which has been leading the global innovation rankings for years, great opportunities are directly ahead. The UZH Space Hub is the platform to enable academic research and industry to use space for research, development, testing and production. We help to go beyond.”
Oliver Ullrich, Director UZH Space Hub
Providing health from space for Earth for millions of people by harnessing the space environment and space technologies for developing better therapies and to take biotech to new heights
- this is the aim of Prometheus Life Technologies.”
Raphael Roettgen, Co-founder and CEO of Prometheus Life Technologies

organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) attracted 140 students from a broad range of disciplines. Three members of the UZH Space Hub gave lectures at the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “New Space Economy” organized by Space4impact, E2MC and space groups at EPFL. The course is directed at students and entrepreneurs who are interested in space. Furthermore, the UZH space Hub participated in the ”Dübi-mäss” and the Innovatica organized at the Innovation Park Zurich, and the Robotics and Perception Group conducted the Swiss Drone Days. In October 2022 the UZH Space Hub and the Swiss Sky Lab Foundation run the 6th Swiss Parabolic Flight campaign, bringing four experiments from various fields – among others a space life science experiment from the National University of Singapore – into weightlessness.


Venturing the production of human-tissue in microgravity

Prometheus Life Technologies Prometheus Life Technologies is a spin-off company based on the expertise and idea of UZH Space Hub members Prof. Oliver Ullrich and Dr. Cora Thiel. The company emerged out of the “3D Organoids from Space” project, which was initially proposed by University of Zurich and Airbus at an innovation competition in 2018. After winning the competition, the team continued with an extensive R&D phase including both ground-based experiments and two production tests on the International Space Station (ISS) on board SpX-20 and SpX-23. On the ISS cartilage, bone, liver, and neuronal tissue were successfully produced. Prometheus Life Technologies was founded in 2022 with venture capital and is located at the Innovation Park Zurich.

The company will offer large-scale production of organoids in microgravity. Organoids are 3D in vitro culture systems derived from self-organizing stem cells, recapitulating the in vivo architecture, functionality, and genetic signature of original tissues.

The New Space Economy is based on three pillars: technological innovations for use in space, the adaptation of space technologies for use on Earth and space manufacturing in low Earth orbit.

Innovation Park Zurich

The Innovation Park Zurich as part of the national “Switzerland Innovation” network, provides an environment that encourages innovation and promotes networking between industry and science, thereby strengthening Zurich as an attractive area for innovation. The University of Zurich is an active member of the park. With the UZH Space Hub researchers and start-ups have access to runways, hangars, on-site labs, and workspace as well as indoor drone flight test facilities.

Human tissue organoids have great potential in pharmaceutical research and testing, precision medicine and transplantationbased therapies. Producing these tissues in space makes it possible to overcome the characteristic Earth bound under normal gravitational forces Under Earth condition the production requires complex production processes with additives or supportive structures, making standardization and constant quality difficult to achieve.

Prometheus Life Technologies was recently chosen as the overall winner of the inaugural Reef Starter Innovation Challenge among 200 competitors, organized by the Orbital Reef consortium, which is developing a commercial space station to be built in low Earth orbit. Furthermore, Prometheus Life Technologies was accepted into ESA-BIC Switzerland (the European Space Agency Business Incubation Center site in Switzerland), as part of the cohort of start-ups starting in January 2023.



2021-2030 has been declared the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing by the World Health Organization. Research into healthy longevity and the development of innovative approaches to aging have been a strategic priority at UZH for several years now. With the recently established UZH Healthy Longevity Center (HLC), UZH has a unique position to identify current and future societal challenges and help set the international research and innovation agenda in the field of healthy longevity for years to come.

UZH Healthy Longevity Center

Thanks to a grant awarded by the Velux Stiftung, the University of Zurich established the UZH Healthy Longevity Center (HLC) in 2022. The HLC is a research and innovation center that builds on the Healthy Longevity cluster. In its research activities it promotes and fosters the acquisition and use of data on the heterogeneity, complexity, and context-dependency of functional ability in healthy aging to create paradigm-changing research for healthy longevity. The Center currently includes 6 research and innovation groups spanning topics such as complexity medicine for healthy longevity to digital mental health management. The center has an innovative approach, where sciencebased innovation with societal impact involves the design and implementation of new solutions (e.g., concepts, processes, products, or organizational changes) that aim to improve the wellbeing and welfare of individuals and communities as they age. The Center is housed at a strategically central location near UZH's main buildings and Zurich's main station and will soon open an innovation space.


participants at the Healthy Longevity Innovation Days

UZH Healthy Longevity Innovation Days

Healthy Longevity Innovation spans wider than the scope of the new HLC. To gather the stakeholders for healthy longevity innovation across disciplines on a regional, national and international level, the Cluster for Healthy Longevity organizes the Healthy Longevity Innovation Days.

In 2022, the 2nd UZH Healthy Longevity Innovation Days were organized on the theme of “Global Perspectives on Healthy Longevity Innovation” as a two-day online event. The first day focused on “Learning from Each Other” with the aim to provide an overview of global perspectives on healthy longevity innovation and a particular emphasis on what works and what is needed in different contexts. The second day, "From Research to Innovation" offered a series of presentations from international experts on how the transition from healthy longevity research to innovation can be structurally promoted, supported, and funded by academia, non-profit organizations, and the private sector alike. Next to speakers from academia, the event also had speakers from foundations, such as the Associate Director of the Velux Stiftung, and industry, such as the Head of Data Sciences and Precision Nutrition at Nestlé Research and the VP Audiology and Health Innovation at Sonova AG. In total the event attracted over 120 participants.

10 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub
Through close cooperation between universities and private partners, as well as the application of the latest technologies, we want to enable research findings to be translated as quickly as possible into implementable and innovative measures that support healthy aging.”
Mike Martin, co-director of the HLC
The 2nd Healthy Longevity Innovation Days were held as a two-day online event in June 2022.


Are our eyes windows into our souls? Solutions to support stress resilience

Marcus Grüschow, Neuroscientist, Entrepreneur and UZH Entrepreneur Fellow, is on a mission to improve individual mental health and combat the devastating effects of stress on our lives.

Marcus and his team have developed a neuroscience-based biomarker that identifies an individual’s stress resilience capacity based on pupil dilation. In addition, pupil dilation was also used to predict and quantify an individual’s emotion regulation success. The team is now developing a preventive pupil-based feedback training regime called Brain Boost that enhances stress resilience and prevents individuals from being affected by stress-related disorders.

Pupil dilation feedback is used because the pupil directly reflects the activity of the stress system. An in-depth knowledge of the function of the arousal system has been developed in the UZH research groups of Prof. Birgit Kleim and Prof. Christian Ruff.

The new technology will equip individuals, companies, and other organizations with an effective tool to prepare for stress exposure. It has the potential to dampen the impact of stress and thereby reduce the psychological and economic burden associated with stress-related productivity decrease and psychopathology.

Marcus Grüschow and his team has developed a cheap and portable method to predict stress resilience by simply looking into the eyes.

With Brain Boost we have combined our two major research insights to create a neuroscience-based stress-resilience training available for everyone.”
Marcus Grüschow, Neuroscientist and UZH Entrepreneur Fellow


Digitalization research spans disciplines. The interdisciplinary perspective on change with digitalization is important to understand and foresee the effects of digitalization on society as a whole. Since 2016 the University of Zurich has been developing its interdisciplinary digitalization research under the umbrella of the Digital Society Initiative. In different initiatives at the University of Zurich spanning areas such as the Digitalization of Mobility, Blockchain, FinTech and more, researchers from across the university come together. It is a challenging but necessary undertaking that also lays the seed for many innovations. New ideas typically emerge when conventional ideas are challenged by a different perspective. On this background, the University of Zurich is turning into a contributor for digital innovation of national importance to the stakeholders beyond the university.

Cluster for Digital Innovation

As part of the UZH Innovation Hub, the Digital Innovation Cluster fosters innovation related to the digitalization of our society. The Digital Innovation Cluster positions itself as an accelerator for visions and prototypes in all kinds of digital innovations with a multi-discipline perspective. Over the years, the Cluster has spearheaded the development of a number of skill- and ecosystem-building formats such as the Digital Entrepreneurship Program and the Innovathon. A pool of around ten entrepreneurship experts and coaches has been set up. This pool has shown enormously valuable to provide qualified and inspiring speakers and coaches to work with the students and researchers in

the different programs. Together with the Digital Innovation Ambassadors, and researchers at the University of Zurich, the Cluster supported the launch of two new project-supporting programs such as the Digital Entrepreneur Fellowships and a pilot for Digital Innovation Grants.

In the next years, the Cluster will launch further formats and products that focus on visions and prototypes, in particular for grand societal challenges. It will also put a stronger focus on the continued development of a community and partnerships with the private and public sector.

"The Digital Innovation Cluster breaks boundaries, thinks anew and lives innovation. It sees itself as an accelerator for visions and prototypes that bring about radical change with digital innovations."

Digital Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

How do you turn your entrepreneurial vision into reality and bring your idea to life? The University of Zurich has been offering the Digital Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for entrepreneurial students and researchers across all faculties for several years. Students can get their digital business idea off the ground with the help of experienced tech founders, business coaches, and start-up or entrepreneurial experts. In 2022, students and researchers from different faculties participated in the course. Six coaches with numerous years of experience and know-how accompanied the students and helped them sharpen their entrepreneurial ideas into five business cases.

12 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub
The winner team SignMax of the Digital Entrepreneurship Bootcamp 2022 proposed a new tool to break down the barrier between sign language speakers and non-sign language speakers.
I think digital innovations are the path forward to alter many things that go wrong at the moment, and I am still very optimistic that combining different research fields together with the potential that digital solutions bring we will be able to solve problems much faster. That’s why I am very excited to be part of the Digital Entrepreneurship Bootcamp!”
Chantal Schmelz, Facilitator, Coach and Entrepreneur

Digital Ventures Seminar

In the Digital Ventures Seminar, students learn firsthand from successful entrepreneurs and industry experts about the basics for founding and running a digital business. The course is designed to facilitate a conversation between lecturers and participants. Participants gain a detailed understanding of how entrepreneurs build and run their startups. Industry experts will advise on the legal and financial aspects of founding a venture in Switzerland. In 2022 31 students joined the course to learn from seven lecturers.

Digital Innovation Grants

What can you do with 10’000 CHF? In an initial pilot Digital Innovation Grants were introduced with the purpose to bring ideas with strong innovation potential off the ground and make such projects fit for further funding and implementation. In three calls addressing students, researchers and staff at UZH, 55 applications including a short project proposal and a pitch video were handed in. 10 projects were selected by the Digital Innovation Ambassadors and supported by entrepreneurship coaches. The project proposal related to a wide range of applications from health to logistics and marketing. Thanks to the successful pilot, the UZH Innovation Office plans to build on this experience to launch a similar program in 2023.


A young law PhD develops a marketplace for startup financing based on blockchain

Startup investing was previously available to only the wealthiest 3% of the population – Merens Derungs and his team want to change this. With Arcton Merens and his co-founders founded a company with the goal to enable anyone to invest in private startups for a chance to earn a return. The company is based on Merens doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Law and work done during his Digital Entrepreneur Fellowship 2021-2022.

“It was purely by chance that I heard about the call for the Digital Entrepreneur Fellowship in an email from the university,” recalls Merens Derungs. At the time, he was in the process of writing his thesis on the topic of digital stocks and thought the project could be a good match for the program. He should not be mistaken.

With the aim of democratizing start-up investments, Arcton is building the first crowd-investing platform with a liquid secondary market. This marketplace for startups and crowd investors leverages blockchain technology for asset tokenization. It quickly got recognized. Arcton was among the illustrious circle of 6 startups that were allowed to present themselves at the Startup Nights in Winterthur. In 2022, Arcton was among 14 startups joining the 8th cohort of the F10 Switzerland Incubation program.

Merens Derungs, Co-Founder of Arcton and UZH Entrepreneur Fellowship Alumnus
for the
and industry experts shared their knowhow 7
Digital Innovation grants


The innovation potential of UZH research activities in the Life Sciences domain is huge. With more than 350 professors and researchers at four university hospitals, UZH has a unique opportunity to drive innovation along the entire translational chain, from laboratory to clinic. This potential is reflected, among others, in the number of UZH spin-offs founded in recent years. In the last two years, the majority of all spin-offs founded had their origin in this field.

To keep up UZH’s distinct performance, various programs and initiatives support researchers and students actively participate in the translation of research findings into better therapies and methods for healthcare and medicine. Those range from excellent research infrastructure, training programs for BioEntrepreneurs, funding by the UZH Entrepreneur Fellowships as well as project support by the Therapy Development Accelerator. Wyss Zurich and the UZH Life Sciences Fund complement the support for UZH spin-offs in the Life Sciences domain.

Therapy Development Accelerator

The TDA supports idea development, company formation, preparation, and launch of life science projects from within UZH. The team work alongside founders to “stress-test” all aspects of the idea, gather key feedback, and ultimately facilitate invest ment and partnering discussions. Since 2017 the team has been supporting the Entrepreneur Fellowship program by offering regular coaching to fellows along with preparation for SPARK nights.

In 2022 the TDA was thrilled to see a diverse range of both entrepreneurs and ideas moving forward at UZH. Seven teams were invited to present to outside advisers for intensive feed back through the SPARK night program, supported the appli cations of many grant, award, and accelerator winners, and helped to launch Navignostics with 1M CHF in UZH Life Sciences Fund funding.

SPARK Zurich

The TDA organizes quarterly SPARK nights for early project teams to get a first contact with industry advisors and investors with the objective to help them shape their ideas into investable solutions for patients, while offering attending entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn. SPARK advisors bring expertise in


regulatory affairs, legal aspects, and preclinical and clinical development. The feedback and individual follow-up meetings with advisors offer the presenters the chance to work on important aspects of their product development plan and proof of concept strategy. SPARK has been developed at Stanford University and

UZH Life Sciences Fund

The UZH Life Sciences Fund (LSF), founded in 2016, provides early financing for UZH spin-offs in life sciences, biotech and medtech with business ideas based on intellectual property resulting from research done at UZH.

The UZH Life Sciences Fund involves two equal partners: the UZH (raising funds via its UZH Foundation) and the Novartis Venture Fund. The LSF is financed by equal contributions from donators of the UZH and the Novartis Venture Fund, the latter matching the contributions raised by UZH. Since 2016 the LSF has financed seven companies.

Amount of follow-on funding generated > 300M CHF

Number of active clinical trials 7

14 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub
teams presented at the Spark Nights

Minor in BioMed Entrepreneurship

The Minor in BioMed Entrepreneurship is a joint program of the Faculty of Science and the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IREM) from the Faculty of Medicine. The Minor in BioMed Entrepreneurship brings industry experts and successful entrepreneurs to teach essential entrepreneurial tools, skills and know-how to translate research results into marketable products. Students of the Minor learn from the mindset of successful entrepreneurs how they built their businesses; and gain insights about innovation, applied R&D, marketing, regulations, intellectual property, budgeting, corporate management, funding, negotiation, team building, leadership. In addition to lectures and workshops, students gain insights into the professional world by completing a hands-on internship in a life science startup company.

In June 2022, the first cohort of students officially graduated the program by completing their internships in different companies at the BioTechnopark Schlieren-Zurich.

The second cohort started in September 2022. 44 speakers coming from the university, startups, and industry ecosystem are involved in the Minor, supporting the students to learn entrepreneurial skills and build their biotech, medtech, and digital health project ideas.

The Minor in BioMed Entrepreneurship participants visit Roche innovation center.

business ideas developed

BioEntrepreneurship & Innovation (BEI) Program

The BioEntrepreneurship & Innovation (BEI) program at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine (IREM) offers hands-on education and training for researchers in the field of Life Science, MedTech, and Pharma who aspire to become successful BioEntrepreneurs. Guided by experienced and successful Entrepreneurs and Experts in Residence, BEI program participants learn how to bring ideas and research results to the market and how to overcome classic founders’ pitfalls. The BEI program addresses essential skills and know-how for the creation of a spin-off company, e.g., intellectual property, development of a business plan, basics in legal, finances and regulatory affairs, and negotiation strategies as well as sales pitch training.

In 2022, the program had a record number of 80 participants. More than 60% of participants were PhD students from the different life science institutes while the rest were a mix of postDocs, MDs, project leaders and senior researchers. The etablished community of participants and speakers is nurtured beyond the course sessions by the active BEI LinkedIn page.

UZH Incubator Lab

The UZH IncubatorLab, offers a state-of-the-art infrastructure for innovative MedTech projects led by young researchers who aim to establish a UZH spin-off company. The lab has been mainly set up to support UZH MedTech Entrepreneur Fellows during their 18 months fellowship. Next to the lab infrastructure the Incubator lab also offers fellows expert support with e.g. design and regulatory issues. Over the years, a supportive community of current and alumni fellows has been established. The exchange between project teams on common issues that the teams encounter during the development of their projects is perceived as very valuable. In 2022 three current and three alumni fellows were regularly using the lab with the most commonly used equipmment being the 3D printer, the next-generation sequencer and the tensile testing machine.

In 2022, the UZH IncubatorLab fellows benefited from 27 hours of expert business regulatory advice, had access to professional design services and received additional pitch training to improve their storytelling skills. They also had a chance to showcase their innovations to members of international delegations (for example from Singapore and Sweden). Furthermore, they were supported in building their network in Switzerland and beyond, through visiting strategic events and via access to an online community for early-stage life science innovators in Europe.

16 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub


With a mission to improve personalized cancer diagnostics

Navignostics AG was founded in 2022 as a spin-off of the Bodenmiller lab (University of Zürich) with a clear mission: To leverage their unique tumor analysis approaches to guide personalized treatment selection for cancer patients and accelerate oncology drug development. They aim to revolutionize personalized cancer care based on their spatial single-cell proteomics analysis of tumors coupled to AI-driven software.

In fall 2022, Navignostics closed its seed financing round with a total of CHF 8.5 M including funding from the UZH Life Science Fund. With these proceeds, they are currently developing diagnostic tests for selected tumor indications with an unmet need and building partnerships with industry and clinical partners to identify novel biomarkers. In one such project, they teamed up with clinicians from the University Hospital Zurich to develop novel spatial biomarker signatures to determine the best individual first-line therapy for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

Learn more about the strategy behind Navignostics in this podcast interview with Prof. Bernd Bodenmiller.

During our research in the Bodenmiller Lab, we repeatedly found that our spatial single-cell proteomic approaches were extremely powerful at characterizing tumors in depth, identifying subgroups of patients with different molecular properties that were associated with certain clinical outcomes and even providing personalized treatment decision support for clinicians. Therefore, we decided to found Navignostics in order to bring these approaches more broadly into the clinics and to benefit cancer patients.”
Jana Fischer, Co-Founder and CEO Navignostics

Entrepreneurship education

Good ideas and breakthrough research results are only one ingredient for innovation. New products and services are a result of hard work by motivated and talented people. Therefore, part of the university‘s innovation strategy is the fostering of entrepreneurial skills among its talents.

In 2022, six different hands-on entrepreneurship courses and a Minor in BioMed Entrepreneurship were attended by more than 260 participants. Some of the courses are offered by university entities, such as the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IREM) or the Department of Economics. Others are offered in partner-

ship with external partners, such as the Innosuisse Business Concept Course run by Startup Campus. Moreover, several courses have been initiated in a joint effort with the UZH Innovation Office, for example, the Digital Ventures Seminar, which is offered together with the Chair for Entrepreneurship or the UZH Innovathon, a collaboration with the Digital Society Initiative. The courses convey know-how around business idea validation, market studies, IP protection and competences such as team building, ideation, prototyping and pitching.

18 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub

Coaches supporting the teams to get to the next level

“I just enjoy seeing the creative directions that people have and how they think”

Rolemodels that inspire

“I am glad that I could support the student teams by sharing my experience from working with a wide range of innovation and startup teams at Swissnex in San Francisco. The best teams all share the same key ingredients: Intellectual diversity, psychological safety and a joint purpose worth fighting for.”

Talents with a passion to become changemakers

“I was really happy to find out about the Bootcamp since I had a startup idea but needed some guidance. During the course I met a lot of like-minded people and gained valuable insights into the startup world. I could improve the value proposition of my product and got challenged on the product-market fit. I encourage anyone interested in creating something on their own to join this course”

Community that extends beyond the course

“Working with various teams and their innovative ideas provided me with an invaluable experience. Thanks to my participation in the BioEntrepreneurship & Innovation (BEI) Program I have become part of a larger community of bioentrepreneurs and experts. This has fired my motivation to pursue my own business idea.”

Input by

entrepreneurs and market experts

Entrepreneurship courses

BioEntrepreneurship & Innovation (BEI) Program

Minor in BioMed Entrepreneurship

Digital Ventures Seminar

Digital Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

Innosuisse Business Concept Course

Innovators Camp

UZH Innovathon

Dr. Julien Weissenberg Computer vision expert and the founder of Deep Tech experts, Founder of Visual Sense AI coached a team at the Digital Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Quirin Hasler CEO Refluenced, Digital entrepreneurship bootcamp particiant Antonios Katsoulas is a PhD student at the Institute of Laboratory Animal Science and participant in the BioEntrepreneurship & Innovation (BEI) Program Franziska Steiner Senior Opportunity Architect, VNTR Innovtion & Venturing, gave an Input at the Innovathon on what makes great innovation teams.

UZH Entrepreneur Fellowships

The UZH Entrepreneur Fellowships provide funding, coaching, training and lab facilities to young researchers who intend to start up a company based on UZH research. Projects are supported in three tracks covering innovations in Bio & MedTech and Digital respectively. In 2022 seven new projects were supported.

Preclinical investigation of next-generation drug candidates against lead poisoning

askEarth - democratizing access to earth observation Digital Fellowships

Developing a ROS-inducer into a therapeutic molecule BioTech Fellowships

20 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub
Marta Marciniak mHealth mental well-being app for women Digital Fellowships Michal Shoshan BioTech Fellowships Andreas Dzung Simon Grüning


Since the launch of the UZH Entrepreneur Fellowships in 2017, 35 researchers have been supported and 20 have already successfully completed their fellowships. So far, 13 of them have founded companies based on their projects. Around 25 million Swiss francs in financial resources have been acquired by the fellows during and after their fellowships. In 2022 three new startups were founded.

Andreas Reichmuth RNA-based therapeutics BioTech Fellowships Jelena Skorucak Intelligent system for epilepsy and sleep diagnostics MedTech Fellowships Pietro Oldrati Personalized multidimensional fatigue management platform MedTech Fellowships

Funding for science-based innovation

For researchers motivated to translate their research results into innovative products and services, there are different funding schemes available at a university, regional and national level. On the university level, formats such as the UZH Entrepreneur Fellowships have played an important role in supporting young researchers to translate research results through the foundation of a startup. On a regional and national level, the funding schemes provided by DIZH (Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions) and Innosuisse support the development of innovative solutions and translation through inter-institutional collaboration and implementation with partners in industry.

In 2022, seven researchers received an Entrepreneur Fellowships and three projects were supported by a Digital Innovation Grant. UZH researchers were involved in four projects within the DIZH innovation funding program, addressing topics such as Cyber resilience in the canton of Zurich and Digital Health. A total amount of 15 UZH innovation projects were granted support by Innosuisse, including both projects in the range of CHF 100’000 – 500’000 and innovation checks of CHF 15’000. Of the supported projects, eight projects were in the area of life sciences, three in the area of ICT, two in the area of business management and one respectively in agrotech and education. In total, innovation funding makes up only a small part of the funding at UZH with around 3% of total project funding.

22 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub
Number of projects granted Funding allocated [kCHF] UZH Entrepreneur Fellowship Digital Innovation Grants Innosuisse SNF Bridge DIZH Innovation program 4504 3095 950 7 3 15 3 5 386 30


In recent years, interest in insect breeding has increased to supply the production of raw materials, food, or as biological/environmental control. The pollination by managed mason bees will play a key role in future agriculture if anthropogenic global change continues. In a warming climate with an earlier flowering period, using mason bees is an advantage, compared to honeybees, as they are active earlier in the season.

One issue of large mason bee rearings is their susceptibility to pathogens, pests and parasitoids which can spread rapidly within the wild bee population. Thus, it is important to monitor the spread of such manifestations. The research group around Dr. Henning Richter and Bart Thomson introduced the use of computed tomography, a medical imaging technique, to enable imaging of cocoons for a collaboration with the Zurich-based company Wildbiene & Partner AG. Tedious, manual quality control of cocoons motivated the group to use machine learning for optimization and standardization to guarantee high-quality readouts. In a proof-of-concept study in 2020, they were able to reduce the sample analysis time from 90 minutes to 10 seconds using the new methodology. Link to publication. In a project supported by Innosuisse, the team is further improving the methodology by adding machine-learning based evaluation of the images for larger sample sizes, that are relevant to industry.

Dr. Henning Richter is heading the “DIRU” (Diagnostic Imaging Research Unit) at the Vetsuisse-Faculty of Zurich. The unit is focused on clinically applied imaging studies collaborating with internal research groups as well as with external partners, resulting in several interdisciplinary and translational research projects.

For us it is incredibly valuable to tap into the knowhow of the University of Zurich. The big difference and advantage is that our collaborators at the Diagnostic Imaging Research Unit are not only imaging experts but also have a sound knowledge about agriculture and biodiversity.”
Statement Robert Aellen, COO bei Wildbiene + Partner
When machine learning support farmers – increasing quality for mason bee rearings –solutions for an agriculture in change

UZH Startups

Every year, entrepreneurial students, researchers and alumni launch new innovative companies. Since 1999, more than 150 spin-offs have been founded, bringing innovative products and services based on UZH technologies to the market. Startup companies have the capacity to make a positive impact on society and the economy.

UZH Startup Label

The UZH Startup Label is an opportunity for dedicated entrepreneurs to gain visibility for their venture. It is awarded to companies built by UZH researchers, students, university members and alumni who achieved the first founding round, has a complete team and a business model to scale. The label confirms the link to UZH as a widely recognized university. The companies that are awarded the label become part of the UZH startup community and profit from an increased credibility for their activities. Last year, the UZH Innovation Office awarded four new university-based startups joining the UZH Startup label.

Kove & Oxyprem

Kove and Oxyprem are among 24 ground-breaking Swiss start-up innovations to be selected for the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator.

UZH Spin-off milestones 2022


EraCal Therapeutics Ltd enters into a collaboration with Novo Nordisk A/S to find novel drug targets relevant for food intake regulation and additional metabolic phenotypes.


UZH Spin-off milestones

UZH Spin-offs are startup companies that bring products and services to the market which are based on technology developed at the University of Zurich. These companies show a very high survival rate. More than 95 % of the companies are still operating 5 years after incorporation. In 2022, the University set up license agreements with four new spin-off companies, all in the life science domain. The timeline below show some of the milestones achieved by UZH spin-offs last year.


Oncobit has CE marked its first product to enable personalized cancer care. This product allows the sensitive and specific detection of mutations in the patient’s blood over time and can be used for the monitoring of treatment response, minimal residual disease, and disease recurrence of melanoma.


ImmunOs Therapeutics AG, a biopharmaceutical spin-off leveraging its HLA-based technology platform to develop first-in-class therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases, announced the closing of an oversubscribed Series B financing round totaling $74 million.

The European Patent Office has granted a patent for the tissue graft developed by Cutiss. Cutiss’ first product for skin tissue therapy is currently in Phase IIb clinical trials.

24 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub



Wattz’s focus is on the market integration of solar overshoot energy. This market grows yearly with double digit CAGR figures, since demand for retail rooftop solar is soaring. Currently, retail prosumers (both consuming and producing entities) do not get the correct market value for their overshoot energy. Wattz closes the gap and ensures full reward to prosumers.

Wattz connects the data from energy producers with the energy markets 24/7 in a simple and effortless way, ensuring lowest transactional costs. The size of the EU-27 market is significant: in 2030 more than 600 GWp solar residential power shall be installed. Go-to-market is provided through solar installer companies and real estate owners.

The company was founded in 2020 by two engineers, a political scientist and an economist. Their vision was to connect the European energy industry via a digital energy market system.


Clemedi AG releases Tuberculini, its first molecular test for drug-resistant tuberculosis. Tuberculini can recognise resistance to all major therapeutic agents used to treat tuberculosis.

Kuros Bioscience

Kuros Biosciences AG, a leading spin-off in next generation bone graft technologies, completed a CHF 6.0 million capital increase through a private placement of 3,750,000 new shares of Kuros.


Aionite Capital

Aionite Capital is an alternative investment brand that follows the approach of Evolutionary Investing. Aionite was founded by the two economists. Their approach is based on the findings of “Evolutionary Finance”, where financial markets are seen as the struggle of different market participants and investment strategies.

The importance of the individual investment strategies changes dynamically over time. Using artificial intelligence, Aionite Capital tries to find out which investment strategies are evolutionarily superior in the current market environment. With this approach, Aionite Capital has a broad portfolio that should be more successful than traditional investment solutions over the long term.

Recolony, a biotech spin-off with the goal of developing a bacteriabased oral therapy to treat and prevent cancer, won CHF 150’000 from InnoBooster by the Gebert Rüf Foundation.

Muvon Therapeutics AG, an innovative clinical-stage biotechnology company, announced that the first patient with Stress Urinary Incontinence has been enrolled as part of the planned Phase II clinical trial (SUISSE MPC 2-Study).


Navignostics announced the closing of their seed financing round with an investment of CHF 7.5M. Bruker Invest AG led the oversubscribed round, joined by Think. Health Ventures, Ventura Biomed Investors, and the Zürcher Kantonalbank.


Open innovation

For many of the grand challenges facing our society and economy, an open innovation approach spanning disciplines and industries is necessary for the development of solutions with real impact. Open Innovation refers to the opening up of the innovation process of organizations and thus the strategic use of external actors in order to exploit the innovation potential to an even greater extent. The co-creation process, the joint development process of several persons or stakeholders is a central part of open innovation. The UZH Innovation Hub has set a strategic goal to create opportunities for researchers and students to engage in open innovation programs, to learn the methods and contribute to new solutions with their unique perspectives.

The UZH Innovathon and the Wholesome living project are two initiatives within the Innovation Hub that aims to create new ideas at the interface of research and practice. While both formats are centered around student creativity and a guided innovation process, the uniqueness and relevance is set by the real-world perspective and challenges brought in by the partners. The Innovathon is a short course format centered around a hackathon in which students develop creative solutions to digitalization challenges proposed by partners. In the Wholesome living project students work over 10 months in a co-creation process with partners and researchers to develop innovative solutions to broad challenges.

Wholesome Living project

The wholesome living project is based on an interactive partnership with practice partners. The 2022-2023 project focuses on managing and exploring life-long data around physical and mental health, personal finances and retirement planning. Over the course of 10 months, students from the University of Zurich, and the IAD Interaction Design (ZHdK) are working in teams in a co-creation process centered around a rethinking of growing old. The students are guided through an innovation process and have regular touchpoints with both UZH researchers, coaches and representatives from the partner companies. Each team will create an actionable solution to help people achieve their long-term goals and live happier, healthier lives.

26 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub

“The Digitalization has a lot of potential to really improve different aspects of mobility. But to really transform the digital technologies into new services or products a lot of challenges need to be tackled. This is where we think and hope that the innovathon contributes!” Anja Schulze, Prof for Innovation and Technology Management, UZH

“It is really important for us to be part of the UZH Wholesome Living Project. We need different views and especially when it comes to pension planning, financial planning, and long-term planning we realize ever more that it is actually the perspective of young people we need.”

Jackie Bauer, Economist, UBS, Partner Wholesome living projet 2022-2023

“AXA lives Open Innovation and develops solutions in partnership in various areas. This is also the case with the UZH Innovation Hub. We are interested in access to the most diverse ways of thinking and the interdisciplinary approach.”

Daniel Temperli, AXA, Partner Wholesome living projet 2022-2023

“What the teams managed to do in such a short time and how they presented it, well based on figures, well thought through and brave innovative ideas. That was really amazing!”

Christof Hauser, Consumer & Customer Insights Manager, IKEA, Partner Innovathon 2022

“With the Innovathon we have managed to create a unique course here at the university of Zurich, where we bring together the contributors for innovation We have the researchers with their knowhow in their field, the challenge partners who know very well about how these challenges manifest in their organizations and the students that bring in the creativity!” Eva Maria Håkanson, Deputy Head Innovation, UZH


During the UZH Innovathon Master and PhD students take a deep dive into relevant digitalization challenges and develop innovative concepts facilitated by a hackathon-style idea development phase. Partners from industry, governmental organizations, private research institutes and NGOs provide insights on how the challenges manifest in their organizations. The UZH Innovathon was launched in 2021 in a collaboration between the UZH Innovation Hub and researchers from the Digital Society Initiative Community Mobility. In fall 2022, students developed solutions within the topics “Digitalization of Mobility” and “Building a human-oriented future of Work”.




The UZH Innovation Hub co-organizes several events to talk about innovation and entrepreneurship and showcase success stories. Role models of UZH innovation projects and startups are invited to talk about their work, making the translation of research into the market more tangible.

As collaboration and community building becomes blended between the physical and digital space, the UZH Innovation Office continues its focus to establish the Hub’s digital communication channels. In 2022, the website visitors increased by 18 % and the UZH Innovation Hub’s social media channels continued to increase its reach, with over 5’500 followers on LinkedIn at the end of 2022, corresponding to an increase by 30 % in one year.

April: Female founder’s event co-organized with Startup Campus Switzerland. Four female entrepreneurs talked to interested students and researchers about their experience with starting up a company in Switzerland.

28 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub


The Falling Walls Lab Switzerland co-organized with ETH Zurich, ZHdk, ZHAW and Hirslanden Clinic. Two of the finalists came from the UZH and are (former) UZH Entrepreneur fellows.


Maria Olivares met other academic leaders and discussed Innovation & Entrepreneurship topics at the LERU Ente Group meeting in Barcelona.


At the Long Night of Career, UZH Innovation Hub set up a panel discussion with three UZH Entrepreneur Fellowship Alumni to talk to students about entrepreneurship as career path.


The UZH Innovation Hub was present at the Startup Nights Winterthur. The UZH Startup Arcton was one of six startups that were selected to present on the big stage.


Donors and Sponsors

The innovation and entrepreneurship activities at UZH depend largely on the commitment from foundations and corporations that support the mission of the UZH Innovation Hub. We are grateful to have been able to work with motivated partners in 2022. Without their engagement, several activities and new initiatives of the UZH Innovation Hub would not have been possible. We thank all partners and look forward to future collaboration!

30 University of Zurich | UZH Innovation Hub

Space for your ideas



Universität Zürich

Innovation Office

Hirschengraben 48

CH-8001 Zürich



UZH Innovation Hub
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