People behind Swiss Innovation
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Swiss innovation and the people behind

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    Polyneuron's co-founder Ruben Herrendorff (middle) found his idea in the Lab.

    Interview with venture case winner Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals: "More efficient and safer medicine for antibody-mediated autoimmune disorders"

    Mi. 15.10.2014, 12:00

    Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals is still at an early stage of development but the results of their drug discovery research are already very promising. The spin-off from the University of Basel has developed the “Antibody-catch” platform for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Co-founder Ruben Herrendorff tells us why their first drug candidate has the potential to pave the way for a paradigm shift in the treatment of such illnesses, before bringing his startup to the venture kick final....Read more

    Hello Ruben. Tell us how the idea of Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals was born
    The idea came up in 2011 when I was a Master student in the laboratory of Prof. Beat Ernst. I was working on potential therapeutic molecules for the treatment of an autoimmune disorder of the nervous system (called anti-MAG neuropathy). At the end of this work, we had an interesting molecule but more investigation needed to be carried out. After a few additional months of hard work, I jumped for joy in the lab: We had a very strong molecule that had the potential to treat this autoimmune disorder. My professor and I knew that it was an important discovery. In fact, the same approach of designing therapeutic molecules can be applied to other autoimmune disorders of the nervous system and eventually also to many other autoimmune diseases. This is what we mean by platform.

    Polyneuron was basically born then…
    Yes. We have a promising new therapeutic approach for autoimmune diseases and a potent first drug candidate.

    You just made it to the second round of venture kick. What are your achieved milestones and the coming ones?
    We are in an early stage of development. We already have an in-vitro proof of concept showing that our drug blocks the disease-causing antibodies in patient’s blood. From an earlier project of Prof. Beat Ernst with a comparable compound, we also have promising in vivo data. In a next step, our first drug candidate will undergo pre-clinical studies. We are preparing for that and also for seed financing. We’ll incorporate our company at the end of this year.

    How is your drug positioned with regards to your competitors? 
    Our drug targets the disease-causing antibodies in anti-MAG neuropathy in a very selective way. Antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases are caused by harmful antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues. Generally, patients are treated with so called immunosuppressive drugs, but those treatments are a heavy burden for them. They are responsible for many side effects that can sometimes be life-threatening. Compounds derived from our “Antibody-catch” platform specifically interact with the harmful antibodies without suppressing the immune system: They have the potential to selectively “catch” disease-causing antibodies and suppress their production in patients. Our first drug candidate has the potential for a major breakthrough in the development of targeted immunotherapies.

    What is your vision?
    Our vision is to enter the market with more efficient and safer medicine for antibody-mediated autoimmune disorders within ten years’ time.

    In your opinion, how did you convince the jury on stage 2?
    I think that our concept is promising. We are a great team, including renowned experts with many years of experience in drug development. Besides, we have established a partnership with a diagnostics company active in the field of autoimmune disorders. We also raised the interest of a Basel-based pharmaceutical company for a potential strategic partnership.

    What about patenting?
    We have patented our first drug candidate and are currently negotiating with the University of Basel for a license.

    Tell us about your team.
    We are currently 5 people in our team. I am part of the founding team with two Uni Basel professors, Prof. Beat Ernst, a chemist and drug discovery expert, and Prof. Andreas J. Steck, a neurologist who contributes to Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals on the clinical side. My 2 other partners, Pascal and Dominik, have studied Pharmaceutical Sciences like me. We are currently performing our PhD studies in various fields of Life Sciences. Two of us are going to finish this year.

    Why did you apply for venture kick and what are the benefits of such a program for your startup?
    Venture kick was strongly recommended to us in the venture challenge course. Applying for venture kick was an important step for us. We like the opportunity to challenge our idea, business model and plans with the coaches and the experts whom we meet at the program. The feedback received so far is very valuable. It is very useful for improving the way we present our young company.

    Still in your opinion, what will be the key elements with which you will be able to convince the jury on stage 3 of venture kick?
    We would like to show the jury that we have achieved significant progress in several business aspects. This is in team building, product development, strategic partnership and seed capital acquisition.

    Additional Links
    Get the kick as well!

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    Melanie Aregger (2nd left) of InSphero AG accepted the 2014 ACES Life Sciences Award in Berlin.

    InSphero Wins ACES Award as Top European Academic Enterprise in Life Sciences

    Mi. 15.10.2014, 09:00

    Second honor in three weeks continues momentum for leading supplier of 3D microtissues for in vitro toxicity and efficacy testing....Read more

    InSphero AG, the leading provider of 3D cell culturetechnology, assay-ready 3D microtissues and 3D-focused contract research services, was recognized on October 7, 2014 as winner of the 2014 ACES Life Sciences Award. The pan-European award recognizing enterprise in university and public research institutes was announced October 7th in Berlin, Germany. The award marks the second such honor in three weeks for venture leader and venture kick InSphero, after having been named the #1 Swiss Startup in the Top 100 Swiss Startup Rankings on September 18th.

    Founded in 2009 in Zurich, Switzerland as a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich and the University Zurich, InSphero now also operates commercial offices in Germany and the United States. InSphero’s 3D InSight™ human and rat liver microtissues are used for in vitro toxicity and safety testing, and the company recently added novel 3D pancreatic microislets, a spheroid imager, and an optimized cytotoxicity assay kit to its portfolio of 3D-focused products and services.

    Dr. Jan Lichtenberg, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of InSphero states the company’s success reflects the market‘s need for more biologically relevant models for drug safety testing, and InSphero’s ability to deliver state-of-the-art 3D solutions: “With this second award within just three weeks, we have been recognized as the leading startup not only in Switzerland but also across European Life Sciences startups. Over the past five years, we have managed to win all of the top 15 largest pharmaceutical and the number 1 cosmetics companies as customers. This shows how seamlessly our 3D technology can be integrated, and how quickly it improves compound testing for our customers.“

    Melanie Aregger, Head of InSphero‘s Diagnostics Business Unit, was present to accept the award in Berlin, saying the award “is a tremendous honor which, along with our excellent market traction, has built positive momentum for our current Series C investment round to support the global roll-out of our validated technology."

    The ACES awards program was created in 2008 by Science|Business, a Brussels- and London-based media company and innovation network set up to recognize entrepreneurship at academic institutions. The ACES 2014 winner’s conference was held in Germany at the Technical University Berlin. The winners were chosen by the Science|Business Innovation Board from a shortlist drawn up by a jury drawn from academia, industry and venture capital.

    Additional Links
    More about InShpero
    The ACES Award
    InSphero's press release on the web

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    Ursula Oesterle, Head of Swisscom Outpost

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    Stefan Kuentz, Investment Director of Swisscom Ventures

    Bridging innovation between Silicon Valley and Switzerland

    Mo. 13.10.2014, 10:00

    ScanTrust, eSMART, Geosatis, Hoosh and CashSentinel are the winners of the second Swisscom StartUp Challenge. The five startups travel this week to California's Silicon Valley, where they will attend a Swisscom-tailored mentoring programme. Silicon Valley is the undisputed centre of the digital economy. What goals is Swisscom pursuing here? Ursula Oesterle, Head of Swisscom Outpost, and Stefan Kuentz, Investment Director of Swisscom Ventures, explain....Read more

    Ursula, what is Swisscom Outpost actually doing in the Valley?
    Ursula Oesterle: Swisscom has been in the Valley since 1998– back then with the goal of understanding the  Internet wave  in terms of the telephony business, as well as detecting trends and technologies. And then the Internet bubble burst and the question arose: Should we stay in the Valley or leave?  And Swisscom was one of the few carriers that stayed. The times changed again, and around 2003 the targeted exchange between Swisscom’s business units and the Valley became even closer.  It became important to understand such topics as marketing and business models “made in the USA”. We’re now a mixed team, consisting of employees from departments of Swisscom Switzerland who rotate every three or four years.  In the meantime, Swisscom Outpost is well known in Switzerland, too, because we also support other Swiss companies locally. We receive business delegations on a regular basis and organise road shows for Swiss companies in the Valley.

    Stefan, what is the role of Swisscom Ventures in the Valley?
    Stefan Kuentz: Fifty percent of the investment activity of Swisscom Ventures takes place in Switzerland and the remaining fifty percent internationally, primarily in Silicon Valley. After all, that’s where the greatest disruptions occur that have an impact on our core business. For example, new infrastructure software, the optimisation of bandwidth services – or, most recently, cloud technologies. So we also try to make our investments directly in line with cooperation. Swisscom Ventures has been active in Silicon Valley for seven years, and during this time we’ve been able to develop a sound network with California financial investors, such as Sequoia and Greylock. Of course, we draw on our experiences and network in order to support our Swiss portfolio companies as well.

    Ursula, how does Swisscom cooperate with start-ups?
    Ursula: We have four ways in which we cooperate with start-ups: connect, co-create, incubate and invest. Connect means that the start-up is already mature and can be linked to Swisscom without any significant time and effort. Co-create means that the start-up has brought its product to up to 90% completion, and we develop the end phase together so that the product solution can be applicable to Swisscom as well. For us, incubate means a collaborative development with start-ups on a larger scale. Invest is a strategic partnership or a participation by Swisscom Ventures, or, depending on the situation, both of these.

    The Valley is still clearly the hotspot for start-ups – why is that?
    Stefan: The Valley is simply a functioning marketplace that brings together the best talents, capital, large corporations and universities.  And at the centre of that is the entire topic surrounding the Internet, which moves from one wave to the next. Innovation occurs in the Valley at enormous speed because everything required to grow start-ups is finely tuned. This speed also applies to how financing rounds are handled. And that makes it even more attractive for us to invest there.

    Ursula: The Valley is the place where disruptive innovation is developed. Because we have here a large mass of innovation-addicted entrepreneurs and  investors prepared to take  risks, who are prepared to invest in a multitude of game-changing ideas that in many cases are premature. Silicon Valley develops new markets and products, whereas London and Berlin are more likely to introduce new products in existing markets. The Valley lives off its own success – every IPO and major exit generates wealth, and more new investors and entrepreneurs who, in turn, generate new ideas and go in search of new success. This evolution dates back to the 1970s, when the chip industry created a large number of new companies and the first venture capitalists.

    What opportunities do Swiss entrepreneurs have in the Valley?
    Stefan: A Swiss start-up should carefully consider an expansion in the Valley. The Valley is a very competitive environment. But generally speaking, I think it makes sense for every entrepreneur who wants to enter a global market to check things out here locally and find out what the drivers of the ecosystem are for his or her business. But that doesn’t mean that one has to open an office here right away. With the Swisscom Startup Challenge we’re trying to do exactly that: to offer specific insight into the ecosystem in Silicon Valley. And otherwise, I truly believe that only Swiss entrepreneurs who are really mature, i.e. who have developed a product that permits something unique with major global growth potential, controlled via the U.S. market, should go to the Valley.

    What are the opportunities that the Valley offers to Swiss start-ups looking to gain a foothold in the Valley?
    Ursula: Silicon Valley offers various “soft-landing zones”. Different incubators offer a workplace and a network. The KTI provides support with the Swiss “Landing zone SwissNex“. With our office in Menlo Park, we are naturally happy to help out with temporary workplaces, to a limited extent, of course – at the  moment we’re working here for one week with the five winners of the  2014 Swisscom StartUp Challenge.

    About the Swisscom StartUp Challenge
    As part of the Early Stage Fund, Swisscom and venturelab are looking every year for five high-flyers from the ICT, media and cleantech sectors to attend a mentoring programme in Silicon Valley, where an investment by and partnership with Swisscom will be evaluated. The young entrepreneurs will have a unique opportunity to have their project thoroughly scrutinised by qualified industry experts and venture capitalists. They will also gain access to know-how and benefit from the network of the Swisscom’s outpost in Silicon Valley.

    Additional Links
    More information about the second Swisscom StartUp Challenge

  • IFjQualySense_PAOLO D'ALCINI _Francesco Dell’Endice_Olga Mykhailova.jpg
    The Team from QualySense

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    The Urban Farmers Team

    Qualysense and Urban Farmers on top of this year's European Food Venture Forum

    Do. 09.10.2014, 10:00

    29 emerging entrepreneurs coming from all around Europe – selected from a pool of more than 50 companies – presented their innovations, developments and needs in front of an investor jury of about 40 business angels, venture capitalists, corporate investors and other industry experts. The TOP 100 2014 and venture kick winner Qualysense and Urban Farmers were chosen as innovation leaders in Europe and received the award of the European Food Venture Forum. ...Read more

    Food technologies play an increasingly important role in Europe’s commercial and healthcare systems, as population demographics change and political focus shifts to disease prevention and healthy lifestyle. The role of entrepreneurs, industry and investors is essential to successful creation of a knowledge driven economy within the European food sector.

    The European Food Venture Forum offers a unique platform for food high-growth companies, technology corporations, and international investors to exchange knowledge and build lasting business co-operations. 29 early stage companies from across Europe were selected to present at the Forum by members of the Selection Committee who will asses them on the basis of their business potential, technology merit, competitive position, investment interest and team experience. Two Swiss startups and latest TOP 100 Swiss Startups are under the winners: QualySense and Urban Farmers.

    QualySense are pioneers for high-end solutions for grains, seeds and beans sorting aiming to improve quality and reduce waste of food, that will change the quality paradigms of the agricultural commodities worldwide.

    Urban Farmers is the leading urban agriculture company with the ability and solutions to develop & finance commercial food production systems in cities, the operational know-how to operate & maintain highly efficient large-scale farm systems and  a leading brand that provides a price umbrella to warrant premium prices for fresh and local products.

    Additional Links
    More about the TOP 100 winners
    Information about QualySense
    Information about Urban Farmers
    Want to kick your startup?

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    The team of Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals

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    Christian and Marc from Insightness

    Discover the new venture case winners: A novel drug class for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and eye-inspired visual tracking systems for smart glasses and micro aerial vehicles

    Mi. 08.10.2014, 09:30

    Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals and Insightness are the winners of the second stage of venture kick. They obtained CHF 20’000 of pre-seed capital last week and are now qualified for the next stage to win: The venture kick final. They may obtain CHF 100’000 more if they are successful. ...Read more

    A new drug class for the treatment of autoimmune disorders
    Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals is an early-stage biotech which develops a novel drug class for effective and safe treatment of autoimmune diseases, in particular autoimmune diseases of the nervous system. The spin-off from the University of Basel meets an urgent medical need in this area, and their technology platform "Antibody-catch" paves the way for a paradigm shift in treatment. Today, most of the existing immunosuppressive treatments (also used to fight cancer) are a heavy burden for patients due to treatment' side effects. Polyneuron Pharmaceutical’s compounds have the potential to selectively “catch” disease-causing antibodies and suppress their production in patients with autoimmune disorders. Polyneuron's first drug candidate has the potential for a major breakthrough in the development of targeted treatments for antibody-mediated autoimmune disorders. The startup also came in 4th position of the venture startup competition this year together with other venture kick and venturelab talented young companies such as L.E.S.S., Saman Tree Technologies, Flyability and rqmicro.

    Insightess: Eye-inspired sight for smart devices
    ETH and University of Zurich-based startup Insightess develops eye-inspired visual tracking systems for smart glasses and micro aerial vehicles such as drones. These systems allow smart glasses to display smooth augmented reality on a low power bugdet. Their technology, called the Silicon Eye, is inspired by the way our eyes process visual information and allows fast and efficient visual perception of the environment. The vision system detects characteristic landmarks (keypoints) and tracks their position within a few milliseconds. Each system consists of a specialized vision chip (similar to the cameras in a cell phone) and software to process the information. These fast and low-power vision systems can be employed in many different areas such as mobile robotics, augmented reality glasses or virtual reality glasses. The team of Insightness already protected their Silicon Eye Technology with one patent, and two are underway. Here is what Christian Brändli and Marc Osswald told us as we met them after the jury’s verdict last week: "We are very happy to have succeeded in the second stage of venture kick and also excited as we now obtained the possibility to showcase our technology in the Silicon Valley. We profited a lot from the venture kick program so far, especially from the honest feedback received at the kickers camp: We are looking forward to participating to the next one.”

    Additional Links
    Want to get the kick?
    Want to be a venture leader 2015? Apply here
    Read our interview with Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals

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    The team of comfy (Electronics & Mechanics)

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    Martin Davtyan from MechanicalCrowd (Internet & Mobile)

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    The team of InsideDNA (Biotech)

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    The two partners of Di55erent (Internet & Mobile)

    Who are the last venture pitch winners?

    Fr. 03.10.2014, 09:00

    "Why are you better?" is a question that can stump startups as they try to explain their value proposition to a jury. Fortunately for four startups pitching in the first round of venture kick, the answers were both compelling and realistic. Congratulations to the venture pitch winner!...Read more

    Breaking the walls of deficient home security
    comfy develops an effective and affordable home security solution. The St. Gallen-based startup empowers people to jointly build safer neighborhoods by leveraging the Internet of Things, existing infrastructure and social capital.

    Combine work of humans and algorithms to make crowdsourcing cheaper and faster
    MechanicalCrowd is a B2B platform built on top of Mechanical Turk that combines the work of humans and algorithms to make crowdsourcing cheaper and faster. A lot of companies use Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing and micro tasking platform for solving image categorization or data cleaning problems, i.e.

    An online platform for bioinformatics tools back ended with a cloud technology
    InsideDNA is an online platform to publish, share and execute bioinformatics tools back ended with a cloud technology. It is user-friendly, social and cost-effective and helps reseachers in biology and medicine streamline analysis for next-generation sequencing data.

    User-friendly solution for end-to-end encryption and online collaboration
    Di55erent's technology is based on a novel data structure enabling distributed storage, end-to-end encryption and fast synchronization. Files can then be stored on the cloud with the best privacy protection, without compromising on ease of use or online collaboration.

    Additional Links
    Get your kick here

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    Expert sessions in Beijing

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    The team jumping at the Great Wall

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    The team infront of the skyline from Beijing

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    Shanghai: the next New York?

    What’s on in China? Ten Swiss startups explore the Middle Kingdom with the venture leaders program.

    Mo. 29.09.2014, 11:00

    For Swiss startups, China is a key market to explore, with growing opportunities and exciting market prospects. Inspired by 13 years of success with the venture leaders USA program, venturelab decided to expand its offer and give new market opportunities to the most innovative Swiss startups, from September 2 to 12, 2014. Check out the adventures of the venture leaders China during their 10-days market exploration and business development journey in Beijing and Shanghai....Read more

    The ten-days program brought our Swiss national startup team to Beijing and Shanghai for a variety of activities including coaching, networking, pitching and business development. For most of them, it was their first time in China.

    After a great welcome from swissnex China in Beijing with special venture leaders’ cupcakes and the first Chinese business cards ever for our participants, the startup team had an early start on the second day of their Chinese journey. On their agenda: TusPark (Beijing) the largest university science park in the world with more than 600 startups. TusPark is an important platform for promoting innovation in this part of the world. It has an excellent reputation in China as well as in the global science park industry. There, the Swiss team dived into market perspectives and entry strategies, with great insights from Cyrill Eltschinger, a multi-cultural entrepreneur educated in Switzerland and in the United States. Cyrill Eltschinger has an experience of over 20 years working in the Chinese market. At lunch, the venture leaders China had the opportunity to network with TuSPark-based entrepreneurs. After an open afternoon dedicated to individual business development, everyone joined together at Tech Temple. Formerly an old factory, Tech Temple is now Beijing's largest co-working space. The welcome for the venture leaders couldn’t be better there: a poster with the Swiss startup team covered the full entry wall. Pitching, networking and a lot of fun during dinner, with many more insights about the Chinese market, made the evening program quite a successful one.

    The 3rd day in Beijing was fully dedicated to experts’ sessions and one-to-one discussions. The first workshop was held by Nicolas Musy, who has 20 years’ experience in trade, investment, management, strategy and living in China. He has an in-depth understanding of China’s market, culture, development and economic strategies in the global economy. He came back on several aspects of understanding and penetrating the Chinese market. It took place at the Binggo café, an extraordinary place at the Zhong Guan Cun technology hub, the first and largest techno hub in China (over 20’000 tech companies). It was followed by a full afternoon with David Kay in the amazing setup of Yuanfen Flow. David is a 20 years' resident of Beijing. After his tenure as Microsoft's Anti-piracy Czar, he decided to create a space where art and technology could come together: Yuanfen Flow. The day was concluded by a fantastic reception at the Swiss Embassy, with a very appreciated and spirited introduction by the Ambassador Jean-Jacques de Dardel, followed by the Swiss startup team pitching in front of an audience of more than 100 VIP’s. On Saturday, the crew visited the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, before moving to Shanghai on Sunday, for another exciting and intense week.

    Good morning, Shanghai
    Some say it will be the next New York: Shanghai. For the venture leaders, the next step of the journey was a full day on business in China held at swissnex Shanghai, often described as the “Chinese New York”. There, the Swiss startup team had the opportunity to focus on business at several meetings with industry and business representatives and at workshops about the multiple perspectives of developing business, fund-raising, company incorporation, culture, macro-economy and market opportunities in China. The continuous flow of information was a great source of expertise and experience for the participants. They learned about the right attitude to have towards this highly competitive and quickly changing market.

    The experts’ session at the HERO Center, the location of the Chinaccelerator, the first mentorship-driven seed-funding program in China, provided them with the opportunity to work in industry specific groups and interact with ten coaches from corresponding sectors. These sessions took them to the next level of business acceleration as they triggered several follow-up meetings. Every evening in Shanghai was the opportunity for a pitching session starting at the Hero Center with Chinese startups. The pitching sessions represented great opportunities to exchange with local up-and-coming companies. They were followed by a great reception at the Swiss consulate with VIP guests. Finally, the Global Pitchfest Championship was held after the first Lift conference in China on September 10th. There, our Swiss entrepreneurs competed with their Chinese counterparts in front of a friendly audience of more than 250 people. The finale was followed by a great networking reception, where the venture leaders China could create and strengthen numerous business ties.

    "First Swiss-class experience in China"
    On September 13th, all our venture leaders safely landed from their Chinese trip. They all had exciting news and stories to share with their respective teams and the overall startup community in Switzerland. “The venture leaders program in China is a real eye-opener. First Swiss-class experience in China", commented Salvador, CEO of Irewind: A good summary of the general impression of the participants. Looking forward, Pascal Marmier, swissnex Shanghai Director, also commented the "Chinese adventure”: “We’re looking forward to welcoming more startup entrepreneurs with risk tolerance, quick-learning capability and an open-minded vision, and having them learn and leverage how to make the best of this fast growing region in 2015”. Jordi Montserrat, venturelab managing Director, gave the final word: “We are very proud to have given our venture leaders the opportunity to dive into the Chinese market and to better understand its potential - and rules. We are very much looking forward to following them as they continue to develop their products and services internationally. Thanks to swissnex China for their warm welcome: we’re looking forward to hitting the Chinese ground for the second time next year!”.

    Additional Links
    Ready to take over China?
    Meet the venture leaders China
    Venture leaders USA

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    A first place in 3D: InSphero (photo: Tina Sturzenegger)

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    Second place goes to the Lausanne-based startup L.E.S.S. (photo: Tina Sturzenegger)

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    The Lausanne-based medtech company Abionic comes in 3rd place (photo: Tina Sturzenegger)

    TOP 100 2014: the best Swiss startups

    Mo. 29.09.2014, 08:00

    The ranking of the 100 best Swiss startups was revealed on 17 September in Zurich. The list was compiled by 100 renowned experts from the Swiss entrepreneurial scene who identify and help develop the most promising Swiss startups on a daily basis. Take a look at the 2014 ranking now....Read more

    First place in 3D: InSphero
    This year’s first place goes to the Zurich-based startup InSphero, created by graduates from the ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. Founded in 2009, it owes its success to the production of 3D tissues that accelerate the development of new medicine, for example in cancer research. Its clients are internationally recognised companies in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and chemical sectors. This up-and-coming company benefited early on from support from the venture kick, venture lab and venture leaders USA programs. Second place has been given to L.E.S.S, a Lausanne-based company whose light-producing nanostructured fibres are transforming the LED sector. The medical technology startup Abionic, also based in Lausanne, claims third place thanks to the first allergy diagnosis tool for use in doctors’ practices.

    Venture Kick: 59% of the TOP 100
    A total of 59 startups, including 8 in the TOP 10, were launched with the help from venture kick. These include L.E.S.S, Abionic, Housetrip, QualySense, Bcomp, Climeworks and Dacuda. The initial capital of 130,000CHF combined with the support network and expert assistance has helped these entrepreneurs, graduates from top Swiss universities, to lay solid foundations and accelerate their development. Amongst the 100 startups in the ranking, 39 are from the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

    Switzerland, a place for innovative ideas
    Despite its small size, Switzerland is still an important place for innovative ideas which high market potential. The TOP 100 is a perfect example of the strong innovative capabilities of our country. It shows that Switzerland often meets, and even exceeds, global standards of technology and competitiveness: A key factor to enable new companies to see the light of day, generate new jobs and survive in the long term.

    Media partnership with PME Magazine and Handelszeitung
    Our media partners, PME Magazine and Handelszeitung, have paid tribute to the TOP 100 ranking again this year. A special edition focusing on this year’s best startups hit the newsstands recently. Download these special issues now, exclusively on our site www.startup.ch, where you will also be able to see the full TOP 100 2014 table and learn more about the experts behind the ranking.

    Additional Links
    Learn more about InSphero
    Learn more about L.E.S.S.
    Learn more about Abionic
    Discover this year's TOP 100
    Learn more about the experts behind the ranking
    Download PME Magazine's and Handelszeitung' special editions about the TOP 100 2014

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    Ioannis Tarnanas from Alterniity

    Interview with venture case winner Alterniity: "We didn’t fly too high or too low”

    Do. 25.09.2014, 09:00

    Alterniity a University of Bern spin-off, develops software designed to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and to retard the onset and progression of the disease. Now they obtained CHF 20’000 of pre-seed capital and are qualified for the next stage to win CHF 100’000 more. Check out their success story in our interview....Read more

    Dear Ioannis, how and why did you launch Alterniity?
    Alterniity GmbH is a University of Bern spin-off. The Serious Game project started at the University of Berne 2013, but also has a long history behind it. The research and clinical trials shaping the Serious Game project strategy at the University of Bern started 12 years ago and was awarded at prestigious events, e.g. EU Archimedes award 2001, European Open Science Forum 2006, TedX academy, Call to Innovation 2013, iENA international trade fair 2013, Novartis fellowship on healthy aging 2014 etc. That along with the scientific data to date gave us the confidence and validation to launch Alterniity GmbH at March 2014.

    What stage of its development is Alterniity today?
    We have developed a prototype, we have tested the prototype in a clinical trial for the early screening of Alzheimer Disease (AD), we have filed for IP protection and we are now preparing the next clinical trial, which will evaluate the next version of the prototype for cognitive reserve exercising.

    How is your product/service positioned regards to your competitors (on the market)?
    Our product/service for early screening is well positioned at a niche market because of our clinical trial data to date. This has been the core of our project from the start, since we are a data-driven startup. The market in general is quite promising but still untapped. It is not common knowledge yet that a software solution can offer early screening for AD comparable to some biomarkers. We will continue expanding on our dataset and clinical trials and that collection of data, which is difficult to be collected in an accelerated mode by a big corporation (because of the nature of the disease) is what will keep us ahead of the competition for the future. 
     
    Why did you apply for venture kick?
    venture kick is the lead startup “kick” instrument at Switzerland. We believe in the power of networking and since Switzerland is a Med-Tech HUB, we had really no choice but to apply for venture kick.

    How did you convince the jury?
    We said things as they are. We didn’t “fly too high or too low”. I believe that our research history, expertise on the subject matter and clinical data collection so far gave us the confidence to appear in-front of the jury with simple slides and look them at the eyes. Of course we still have weaknesses at our business model that we need to work on but we also have some strengths and one of the biggest ones is our motivation to be the first and best team to tackle such an important problem like the “early screening” and “potential slowdown” of Alzheimer’s disease type of dementia and other dementias.
     
    What are the 1-2 most important benefits of the venture kick program?
    The kickers camp is by far the most important benefit, apart from the money. You can consider the kickers camp as a “wake up call” to all wannabe entrepreneurs! The experience and lessons learned are just invaluable and you would have to spend many years and burn money at the field before you can get the same experience on your own.
     
    What do you think is the impact of the venture kick program on the Swiss startup industry?
    venture kick is an excellent filter and pre-selection mechanism for promising startups. We believe that the benefit for the Swiss industry is twofold: a) It completely registers and ranks the R&D done at the top academic institutions and give a very good overview of the trends and b) It filters and boosts the selected few that can actually generate revenue and thus bring money back to the Swiss society.
     
    Why would you recommend the program to other startups?
    venture kick is a simple and straight forward approach. If you have a good idea, team and business model, you just pitch it in front of the right people, looking them at the eyes. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. A CEO will always pitch at his life, however it is the feedback you get here that makes the program so valuable, because even if you fail, your next pitch is going to be much more effective than your first one.
     
    What kind of advice would you give to another young entrepreneur?
    Keep chasing your dreams. The route to success is tough and you make a lot of sacrifices along the way. There are no recipes and nobody knows what the “next big thing” is. However, your passion, motivation and knowledge are your tools that will give you the edge and as we say here at Alterniity GmbH: “Your time is important, but so is your knowledge”!!

    Additional Links
    Want to get the kick? Apply here

  • fastree3D-2-web-1.JPG
    The team of Fastree3D

    relish-guitars-2-web1.jpg
    The team of Relish Guitars Switzerland

    Fastree3D SA and Relish Guitars Switzerland kicked by CHF 130’000 to reinforce and develop their innovative businesses

    Mi. 24.09.2014, 10:00

    And the winners of the third and last round of venture kick are: Fastree3D, a spin-off from EPFL that develops 3D vision systems for the cars of the future, and Relish Guitars, a Lucern-based company that hit the market with “Jane”, a revolutionary electric guitar by its design and sound. Each startup wins CHF 130'000, the maximum funding capital given to startups by our program. ...Read more

    Intelligent and automated objects are booming, and we will increasingly rely on them for our security. In the automotive sector for example, most of today’s cars enable us to avoid damages thanks to sound or video assistance. Fastree3D, a spin-off from Prof. Edoardo Charbon’s laboratory of quantum architecture, intends to revolutionize the market of automotive and robotics safety. Founded in 2013, Fastree3D develops 3D imaging treatment systems based on a sensor technology (CMOS). Their 3D vision cameras enable vehicles to detect fast moving objects, even at a long distance, in a fast and real-time way. The car’s driving aids are then able to react to danger on time, by breaking or by avoiding an obstacle. The state-of-the-art technology, working at night time as well as in blazing sunlight, promises to considerably reduce accidents. Industrial vision, metrology and medicine are the other possible applications for Fastree3D’s technology.

    Establishing business ties with the industry for the venture kick’s final stage
    In a near future, 3D vision will become a standard in our cars and will drastically reduce accidents by identifying obstacles on the road. Today already, in the United States, all vehicles coming out of factory are obliged to be equipped with cameras. For Prof. Edoardo Charbon, co-founder of Fastree3D and architect of Canestra, a company bought by Microsoft to develop the Kinect, “the venture kick challenge has given a vote of confidence to Fastree3D, a company that intends to revolutionize the automotive safety market with the next generation in 3D vision technology”.This market is expected to exceed one billion dollars in 2018. Many players, active in the automotive integration business, have already indicated their interest for the innovative systems of the Lausanne-based startup. Those industry ties have been a priority task for Fastree3D in order to win the final stage of venture kick. Its innovative technology, its many patents and a successful technology transfer at EPFL enable Fastree3D to be part of the TOP 100 ranking of the best swiss startups for the first time this year, at the 72th position.   
         
    1954 Fender, 2014 Relish Guitars: the swiss startup enters the global guitar market
    Since 60 years, electric guitars have always been built the same way. Relish Guitar, a Lucern-based startup founded in 2010, promises to revolutionize the market with its e-guitar called “Jane”. Jane’s innovative manufacturing technique (no tropical wood is used), as well as her sound and design, have already impressed many musicians and key industry players in Switzerland and abroad. “Jane” distinguishes herself from competition thanks to a high-tech construction mode: an aluminum frame encircled with two veneered wood bodies produce a unique, warm and lasting sound. The two founders of Relish Guitars, Pirmin Giger et Silvan Küng, have benefited from the help of venture kick to develop their “swiss made” company: “Beat Schilling, Director of venture kick, told us one day: ‘If your product can play in Champions League, then go ahead and play in Champions League!’ This advice, as well as many more which we received during the program, has been crucial to develop our product and our company vision”. This success enables Relish Guitars to reach the 62th position of the TOP 100 best swiss startups for the first time this year.

    Additional Links
    More information on Fastree3D
    More information on Relish Guitars
    Discover "Jane" from Relish Guitars on video
    Listen to what Fastree3D says about their technology in video
    Discover all TOP 100 startups of 2014
    Set your startup on the track to success thanks to venture kick

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TOP 100 Startups

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60 venture kickers made it to the TOP 100 startups

Each year, startup.ch launches the TOP 100 STARTUP AWARD in cooperation with the Handelszeitung. From over 100,000 young companies, the 100 most innovative and promising Swiss startups are picked by top startup experts.

Check out the TOP 100

venture leaders

venture leaders program – ten intense days in USA or China

Swiss startups ready to take over the World.

The venture leaders - the members of the Swiss national startup team- have a clear-cut goal. They envision themselves as global players and want to take the first step to their global expansion. The ten-day business development program is specifically structured to help them achieve this goal.

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venture kick

Kick your startup idea to success with venture kick

venture kick helps potential entrepreneurs by giving them the opportunity to win up to CHF 130,000. Moreover, startups can also use the know-how of experienced experts and entrepreneurs and be granted access to a national network of investors.

Apply

venturelab workshops

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Learn from entrepreneurs and industry leaders

In the last 10 years venturelab alumni have raised several 100 millions from investors and built successful businesses. Now they are ready to share with the next generation of talented hightech startups.

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Directory of active investors

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The investors in early stage Swiss startups

In the last 5 years the venture kick startups raised more than 365 millions. Following all these transactions we compiled and update the list of active startup investors in different fields and stages.

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Institut für Jungunternehmen

The first address for Startups in Switzerland

More than 50.000 startups were accompanied by the IFJ. A little more then 25 years ago, we have made it our mission to guide these entrepreneurs on their way to successful businesses. So they can develop their role as a part of the Swiss economy.

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  • 60 venture kickers made it to the TOP 100 startups

    Each year, startup.ch launches the TOP 100 STARTUP AWARD in cooperation with the Handelszeitung. From over 100,000 young companies, the 100 most innovative and promising Swiss startups are picked by top startup experts.

    Check out the TOP 100
  • Kick your startup idea to success with venture kick

    venture kick helps potential entrepreneurs by giving them the opportunity to win up to CHF 130,000. Moreover, startups can use the know-how of experienced experts and entrepreneurs and be granted access to a network of investors.

    More
  • Swiss startups ready to take over the World.

    The venture leaders have a clear-cut goal. They envision themselves as global players and want to take the first step to their global expansion. The ten-day business development program is specifically structured to help them achieve this goal.

    More
  • The first address for Startups in Switzerland

    More than 50.000 startups were accompanied by the IFJ. A little more then 25 years ago, we have made it our mission to guide these entrepreneurs on their way to successful businesses. So they can develop their role as a part of the Swiss economy.

    More