People behind Swiss Innovation
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Swiss innovation and the people behind

  • Xsensio-crm.jpg
    Esmeralda Megally founded Xsensio at the EPFL Innovation Park in 2014

    Meet Esmeralda, founder of Xsensio and winner of venture kick stage two

    Di. 18.11.2014, 10:00

    Xsensio develops “intelligent stamps” the size of a credit card able to autonomously monitor our physical and physiological states as well as our direct environment. We grabbed the impressions of Esmeralda Megally, founder of Xsensio, before she goes to the big venture kick final. ...Read more

    Hello Esmeralda. Can you introduce Xsensio?
    Xsensio is a spin-off of the EPFL Nanolab. We develop a zero-power wearable platform of tiny intelligent stamps that accurately and robustly monitor our physical and physiological states and our direct environment.

    These tiny intelligent stamps are autonomous, harvesting their energy from their immediate surroundings. They can be used directly as ultra-thin patches on the skin, or integrated in a garment or into objects, to help people make smarter health and wellness decisions.

    Technology-wise, our intelligent stamp - the size of a credit card - integrates on a flexible substrate multiple sensors (physical but also physiological, including a unique sensor for sweat analysis), a local processor, a wireless antenna to transmit data to your phone or to your smart watch and an energy harvester to make the system autonomous.

    At what stage is Xsensio today?
    In the past months, we have worked on a proof-of-concept we showcased at the Swissnex Zero Power Smart Fashion exhibit in New York. We are now building a working prototype.

    When and why did you launch Xsensio?
    We created Xsensio because we knew that the cutting-edge zero-power technologies developed at the EPFL Nanolab could make uniquely smart and miniaturized systems that would improve our quality of life. We created the company at the EPFL Innovation Park in 2014, after I received an EPFL Innogrant to pursue the idea of a company, and we got support from SPECo.

    Prof. Adrian Ionescu from EPFL Nanolab, our main technical and scientific advisor, had been involved in developing technologies for ultra-low power miniaturized devices for many years. He has been collaborating with multiple research centers and industry partners in Europe to advance the science in this field. Together with our colleague Karin Jaymes (our adviser and support for financial planning), we saw not only the commercial value of this work but also the importance of combining technology with design to create products of high commercial value.

    How is your product positioned regards to your competitors on the market?
    Compared to products currently on the market, our product differs in two major ways. First, they will have more local “smartness” than any existing wearable sensing solutions and consume significantly less power than any product on the market. We will rely on ultra-low power sensors and communication technologies developed at the EPFL Nanolab and by other research partners. Second, our products will be truly non-intrusive and non-invasive: our philosophy and technology target is that once one wears the miniaturized, autonomous wearable module, he or she forgets about them. They work in the background for the user, monitoring his body and his immediate environment, and notifying him in time so he can make smarter decisions that improve his quality of life. We would like to build a pipeline of many applications, in the area of health and wellness.

    You are a founder of Xsensio. Can you introduce yourself?
    I come from a business background, and wanted to start a tech company. After a master degree in Economics in Belgium, and an MBA at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Sloan), I joined an investment firm in Boston to work on an innovative health technology project with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A great learning experience! I came back to Europe and enrolled in the Management of Technology program at EPFL in 2013 to be close to one of the greatest European technology hubs.

    What are the next steps for Xsensio?
    We need to finalize the beta version of our prototype. Then we will showcase it in the US and in Asia at the beginning of 2015, at industry events. And next on our agenda: the planning of our first round of financing!

    Why did you apply for venture kick?
    We wanted to participate in venture kick for two reasons: first, to test our ideas and second, to access a network of advisors with a wide range of expertise. We are very happy we have done it!

    In your opinion, how did you convince the jury on stage two?
    I believe that we were able to show the jury that we had carefully invested the money from round 1, and that investment was starting to bear fruits. Between round 1 and round 2, we built a proof-of-concept which we showed to many stakeholders in Switzerland and in the US, from individuals to large technology and consumer goods companies. We received very valuable feedback that we are now integrating into our beta prototype. And we have also started working with a development partner in the US on a very specific application.

    How will you convince the jury on stage three, in your opinion?
    We would like to show the jury that our business model is scalable and that it has potential at a global level. We are currently working on a pilot project in the US. In a few months, we would like to show three things: first, that this pilot has been successful. Second, that we could extract key learnings to improve our product and service. And third, that we have a clear roadmap to reproduce our pilot with other partners.

    “We all tend to delay the validation step, and remain in the lab until we are very satisfied with the technology or the product”

    What are the 1-2 most important benefits of the venture kick program for Xsensio?
    First, the validation. The program pushes you to go out of your comfort zone and quickly validates your assumptions with potential customers. We all tend to delay that step, and remain in the lab until we are very satisfied with the technology or the product. But with venture kick, you learn to move fast and continuously integrate the feedback into the successive versions of your prototype. Second, the jury expertise: Every time we pitch, we get tough questions and that makes us progress (laughs)!

    What do you think is the impact of the venture kick program on the Swiss startup industry?
    Venture kick plays a crucial role in the Swiss startup ecosystem, by giving a chance to many aspiring entrepreneurs to work on a very concrete solution to a problem they have identified. Compared to other entrepreneurship competitions, venture kick forces these aspiring entrepreneurs to deliver results.

    Would you recommend the venture kick program to other startups?
    Definitely: I would for the opportunity to learn and improve. I particularly recommend the kickers camps: one learns to articulate a vision and pitch more convincingly. Listening to the other teams pitch is very valuable as well!

    What kind of advice would you give to another young entrepreneur?
    Apply to venture kick: there is absolutely nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain. One’s initial idea will be challenged many times: venture kick is indeed a tough audience - but this is what will make one grow.

    Additional Links
    Learn more about Xsensio
    Get the kick for your startup!

  • MilKit3.jpg
    Sven Rizzotti and Pius Kobler the team from milKit

    The CellSpring Team: Kramer Schmidt and Chris Millan

    Here come the winners of venture case

    Di. 18.11.2014, 10:00

    Four projects were selected and had the opportunity to present their business ideas in front of a jury of successful entrepreneurs and investors. CellSpring and milKit got the second stage kick and won CHF 20’000 of pre-seed capital. In the final they have the chance to get CHF 100'000....Read more

    milKit is a new system for measuring and refilling sealant in tubeless-ready tire. The startup is a team of experienced engineers, designers and computer scientists that share one passion: mountain biking. They work together to develop solutions to everyday problems that they face as mountain bike enthusiasts. The idea for milKit originated from a personal need that those of you that ride tubeless will understand: the need to know how much sealant is in our tires. Because no one wants to deflate and dismount their tires before every ride a solution was needed. The solution to this is milKit, the simple and clean way to measure and refill tire sealant.

    Pharmaceutical companies normally use 2D cell culture to test new drugs. But 3D structures imitate organs and tumors much better. That`s why 3D cell culture offers many advantages over traditional 2D techniques. CellSpring has developed the 3D Bloom platform which enables creation of biomimetic microtissues independent of cell type in a matter of minutes. 3D Bloom improves upon existing 3D cell culture technologies with regard to speed of fabrication, reliability, versatility, and ease of use.

    Additional Links
    More about milKit
    More about CellSpring
    Want to get the kick? Apply now!

  • yeast_big2_IE_RGB_160914-crm.jpg
    Living yeast cells featured by Nanolive's 3D cell imaging technology

    Looking inside life with Nanolive's 3D Cell Explorer

    Nanolive closes its first financing round

    Di. 04.11.2014, 13:30

    EPFL spin-off Nanolive SA, venture kick and venture leader USA 2013 alumni, successfully closed its first financing round with accrued capitalisation of CHF 2.7 million. ...Read more

    Nanolive achieved its first funding round with more money than expected, thanks to twenty-five F&F investors and its initial funding (in addition to CHF 550’000 in grants and the support of two PhD theses, infrastructure and laboratory space and filing of IP). "We are extremely thankful to all our enthusiastic supporters and friends who have believed in us since the beginning", said Lisa Pollaro, Communications manager at Nanolive. The company was incorporated in November 2013 at the EPFL Innovation Park by Dr. Yann Cotte (CEO) and Dr. Fatih Toy, following the completion of their respective PhD thesis at the EPFL Microsystems laboratory of Prof. Christian Depeursinge (Head of Advisory Board).  

    Living cell 3D imaging
    Nanolive is active in the field of research and development of new techniques for cell imaging. Its heart consists of a disruptive proprietary technology, holographic tomography: a laser-based cell tomography system combined with a powerful algorithm that, for the first time ever, allows the exploration of the interior of a living cell in 3D without modifying and thus damaging it. This discovery has been published in Nature Photonics in January 2013 and the 3D Cell Explorer is now available for pre-order.

    Initiating the next leap in life science
    Nanolive’s goal is to bring advanced medical imaging technologies to the public, encouraging technological progress, promoting and supporting scientific research and contributing to human well-being by assisting the development of new medical treatment. This cutting-edge technology is in the process of initiating the next leap in life science by introducing the unique opportunity to learn, observe and interact with living cells using advanced technology (view examples of cell images and time-lapse movies on Nanolive’s new website). Several markets are targeted with this technology, including education, research, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, diagnostics and cosmetics.

    "This first financing round will enable us to secure our product's pre-series in order to bring an affordable device to our customers. Our goal is to give every biologist, physician, scholar and student in labs, schools and universities all over the world the chance to explore and interact directly with living cells. It has required a tremendous amount of energy, effort and creativity to invent all the necessary technologies to make this possible", commented Lisa Pollaro.

    Great momentum created in the public
    Nanolive won numerous startup competitions such as the EPFL Innovation grant, the EPFL Enable grant, venture kick and the Bioinnovation prize 2013. It has also been voted among the 20 most promising venture leaders startups in 2013: "We are grateful above all to venturelab and the venture leaders. It was a great occasion to get a kick start into the entrepreneurial world and to meet other young entrepreneurs in the same situation than us, with whom to exchange experience", explained Lisa Pollaro. Numerous newspaper articles have been published about Nanolive. The company has built a strong advisory board with experts in technology, business and entrepreneurship, and is supported by experienced patent agents and corporate lawyers.

    1st birthday event on November 25
    On November 25th, Nanolive is organizing a big event to celebrate its first Birthday in its headquarters (EPFL Innovation Park area). Don’t miss this exceptional occasion to meet the start-up's founders and to discover their smart 3D cell imaging technology: register here.

    Additional Links
    Get your kick here
    Become a venture leader USA
    More details & examples about Nanolive's technology
    Learn more about Nanolive

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    The team of Anemomind

    The two partners of ZuriMED



    Meet the latest venture pitch winners

    Di. 04.11.2014, 10:00

    "Why would someone buy this?" is a question that can stump startup founders as they try to explain their value proposition to a jury. Fortunately for four startups pitching in the first round of venture kick last week, the answers were both compelling and realistic. Congratulations to them!...Read more

    Bringing real-time performance analysis and auto calibrated true wind estimation to sailors
    Anemomind brings real-time performance analysis and auto calibrated true wind estimation to sailors, thereby enabling them to optimize boat trimmings and, ultimately, race results. Anemomind also proposes a platform for data visualization and sharing.

    On Nov 2 2014, Swiss skipper Alan Roura started the Route du Rhum sailing challenge with a device developed by the EPFL spin-off in order to evaluate his performance during racing: Watch the EPFL video.

    A revolutionary device for surgical knee ligament reconstruction
    The likelihood of severe post-operative pain that comes with the use of a highperformance “bone-tendon-bone” (BTB) autograft for knee ligament reconstruction leads many knee surgeons to elect for the less painful, but lower performance “hamstring” tendon autograft. ZuriMED’s device effectively “converts” the less painful tendon graft into a BTB-like autograft (“functional gain, without the pain”).

    Lifting 3D fused deposition modeling from simple display models to printed objects with full functionality
    SpectroPlast lifts 3D fused deposition modeling from simple display models to printed objects with full functionality.

    Online customized leather jackets
    LUNICO will offer leather jackets that customers can customize online through a product configurator. The handmade leather jackets are produced in Bolivia. LUNICO is the first provider worldwide offering online individual leather jackets for the mass market.

    Additional Links
    Do you want the kick?

  • Routerank-420x3151.jpg
    CEO Jochen Mundinger is making people's lives easier thanks to smart travel planning and mobility solutions.

    routeRANK is launching a new commuter solution for travel and mobility managers: commuteRANK.

    “We are filling a gap in the fast growing mobility management market.”

    Do. 23.10.2014, 09:00

    The idea behind routeRANK came to CEO Jochen Mundinger’s mind in 2006, after he had lost a whole afternoon on the Internet organizing a travel itinerary for a seminar in Poland. Today, the company counts numerous customers like the WWF, the TCS and the Swiss Confederation as well as worldwide leading travel management companies. All of them are using routeRANK’s smart multimodal solutions for travel planning. The EPFL spin-off recently announced the launch of a new commuter solution for travel and mobility managers, commuteRANK, in collaboration with the University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV). We met Jochen to talk about the exciting news....Read more

    Congratulations for the great news. Can you briefly explain what commuteRANK is?
    commuteRANK is an additional mobility interface to our multimodal routing engine allowing the analysis of large numbers of commuter trips in an automated manner. The system accurately calculates all relevant door-to-door route options by considering all means of transport such as rail, public transport, P+Rail and P+Ride, carpooling, private car, walking and biking, and their many combinations.

    Seven years ago, you launched routeRANK on the market. What value is added by commuteRANK today?
    Our multimodal route planner addresses the entire door-to-door route by considering rail, road and air connections as well as their many combinations. It ranks the best possible travel routes and allows users to sort them according to their priorities such as price, travel time and CO2 emissions. Users can compare and book their tickets directly with the travel providers, enabling them to save up to 35% in cost and 2½ hours in planning time. We cover Switzerland, Europe and North America, as well as much of the rest of the world. Our solution is used both in managed business travel, i.e. integrated with the relevant internal processes and tools, as well as in unmanaged business travel, i.e. typically by smaller companies or companies with less travel activity. With commuteRANK, we are adding a new tool for mobility departments and professionals for a new use case: commuters in addition to business travelers and visitors. Our existing travel offering is now part of a wider mobility offering.

    How did the collaboration with the University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV) start?
    CHUV’s mobility management department needed a powerful system to analyze the commute trips of its employees in order to attribute limited parking spaces around the hospital. Now, the system also analyses support measures, i.e. an employer’s contribution to an e-bike, a travelcard or a P+Rail pass. It can further help with strategic decisions such as the comparison of multiple sites for a new building premise according to their impact on commuter mobility.

    Mobility management is a growing trend in Switzerland…
    This industry is still relatively young and is mostly based on consulting activities. Companies’ and institutions’ mobility problems are becoming ever more important. However, mobility managers still lack IT solutions helping them with the different issues involved and the decisions to take. This is where routeRANK comes in. We are filling a gap in the fast growing mobility management market.

    Your mobility solutions offer other significant benefits to companies and organizations. What are they?
    We provide different solutions and the benefits depend on the products and their use cases. For example, the travel planning solutions help travelers and their company to save time and money, reduce their carbon footprint and gain productivity. The visitor solutions provide a similar service and similar benefits. The commuter solutions help with the attributions of parking spaces or with the identification and analysis of suitable support measures.

    You were recently granted a patent in the US.
    This patent concerns the personalized real-time location-based travel management method for multimodal travel. We are very pleased that our technology has now also been recognized in this way.

    Sustainability has been behind your philosophy for the past eight years. In your opinion, how big is it outside Switzerland today, i.e. in the US?
    It is increasingly relevant, directly and also indirectly. For example, if business travelers care about productivity and leisure travelers about time to read a book, they might end up on a train instead of driving for those reasons as well. Ultimately it is about multiple, different priorities and their trade-offs, which might even change between trips.

    You have received the support of venture kick from the start. What have been the benefits of the program for your company?
    A lot has happened in the Swiss startup scene over the last decade or so, not least thanks to venture kick and venturelab. I benefited from the venture leaders USA program in 2007 and routeRANK was a venture kick winner in 2007/2008. Both have proven extremely valuable in the development of the company.

    Additional Links
    More about routeRANK
    Company blog
    More about commuteRANK

  • bros.jpg
    Since 2010 Pirmin Giger (left) and Silvan Küng (right) have been developing their e-guitar "Jane"

    "Janes" sound is unique, due to the innovative construction, materials and design.

    A Blues session at the venture kick final

    Mi. 22.10.2014, 10:00

    Since 60 years, electric guitars have always been built the same way. Relish Guitars, a Lucerne-based startup founded in 2010, promises to revolutionize the market with their 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. Now they convinced the venture kick and TOP 100 Swiss Startup Jury. In our interview you hear more about the Rockstars of the Swiss startup scene....Read more

    Silvan, how and why did you launch relish guitars?
    We first just had our prototype “Jane”, which my colleague Pirmin did in his studies for industrial design. We showed it around in our music network and the feedback was fabulous. So we decided to develop the guitar construction concept and make it more serial like. More and more we realized “Jane” is getting more attention in the market. So we incorporated the company.

    What stage of its development is relish guitars today?
    The stage of proof of market has been successfully established - even with the prototypes we got up to 10 preorders. So until the end of this year we will have produced our first serial models, which will be an enormous improvement again compared to the prototype models. We are attending in November the Holy Grail Show in Berlin, where 120 producers will show their high-end guitars. Next year we will be at the NAMM Show in California and at the Musikmesse in Frankfurt. Our distributor in Japan showed our guitar already in Tokyo. After attending the Frankfurter Musikmesse last year we built up a distributor network for in Germany, Austria, Japan and France.

    How your product is positioned regards to your competitors?
    We have a complete new construction in building an e-guitar, which enhances the sound of an electric guitar to more sustain and richness of sound.

    Why did you apply for venture kick?
    To be able to finance the expensive production of our product. We needed new machines and many handcrafting tools.

    How did you convince the jury?
    “Jane” did (laughs). We helped just with a good thought-out business plan and that we do our business with a lot of passion. I don't think our Blues session in beginning of the pitches was the reason to win at all - there are other musicians as Philipp Fankhauser who do better Blues as we do.

    What are the most important benefits of the venture kick program?
    Beside the money they helped us very much in creating the right business case and also to have the right vision in a global business.

    What do you think is the impact of the venture kick program on the Swiss startup industry?
    They select with a good board of experts which product has a reasonable chance to be successful. Without venture kick there wouldn't be many opportunities to get kicked-money in an early stage. This is really important, because many ideas balk while not having the needed seed money to try out an idea into prototypes - I suppose.

    Why would you recommend the venture kick program to other startups?
    Due to learn how to pitch - it is just a great experience to stand in front of a jury, convince them about your product and show them a great business plan - it makes fun.
    What kind of advice would you give to another young entrepreneur?
    Be passionate about what you do - don't try to find a money business only - start the other way around - try to make the world better, but not too much - just as possible as you can do with your skills. With this way everybody else will believe in your product / service as you do.

    "Janes" sound is unique. Watch the video to hear it:

    Additional Links
    Is your business idea good enough? Get the kick
    More about the startup rockstars
    Everything about the TOP 100 winners 2014
    Relish Guitars live at venture ideas

  • CashSentinel1-600x4491.jpg
    The winners of the Swisscom StartUp Challenge all agree it was “a resounding success”.

    Swisscom invests in TOP 100 Startup

    Di. 21.10.2014, 14:00

    The five winners of the Swisscom StartUp Challenge all agree it was “a resounding success”. They have just returned from Silicon Valley, where they took part in a one-week mentoring programme. And they didn’t come back empty handed: they were able to establish valuable contacts with potential customers, partners and investors as well as gain experience and inspiration. In addition, the venture kick and TOP 100 startup Geosatis SA is receiving financial support from Swisscom Ventures....Read more

    The famous Silicon Valley is home to everybody who’s somebody in high-tech. Last week, the five winners of this year’s Swisscom StartUp Challenge ScanTrust, eSMART, Geosatis, Hoosh and CashSentinel got a chance to mingle with the big players. Swisscom sent them on a one-week trip to the Mecca of the high-tech industry to seek inspiration from the Valley’s innovative spirit and take part in a tailored mentoring programme. This was no walk in the park: their schedule included visits to global players such as PayPal, followed by meeting marathons, pitches and talks with investors as well as further developing their own business ideas. And they didn’t have to wait long for the first sense of achievement. “We have landed some extremely interesting customers,” says Nathan Anderson, founder of ScanTrust. The other start-ups, too, held promising talks with potential strategic partners and have come up with new ideas to further develop their business model for the global market.

    The power of networking
    Silicon Valley is a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. “In cafés, in restaurants – everywhere you go, people are casually talking business, networking and exchanging business cards,” says Sylvain Bertolus, CEO of CashSentinel. Small talk and networking are part and parcel of life here. However, not every contact is worth maintaining, as Beat Schillig, founder of IFJ and local mentor, knows only too well. He advised the Swiss start-ups to stay focused: “It’s easy to lose track in business, which can be hectic. It’s not the number of contacts that counts, but the quality.”

    Swisscom invests in Geosatis
    The five winners agree: the week of mentoring has given their businesses new impetus. The venture kick and TOP 100 startup Geosatis will also be receiving an injection of capital, as Swisscom Ventures will be supporting the start-up with financial resources from its Early Stage Fund. Geosatis develops solutions that allow criminals to be monitored electronically. Dominique Mégret, Head of Swisscom Ventures, is confident that this is the perfect time to invest in Geosatis: “The company’s technical concept has already proven successful, but in terms of commercial distribution, it’s still early days.” This is where Swisscom can contribute the leadership and financial power Geosatis needs to strengthen and grow. The two sides have agreed not to disclose the amount invested.

    Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler, initiator of the Swisscom StartUp Challenge and Head of Swisscom’s SME division, strikes a positive note: “This year’s challenge and business trip, the icing on the cake, were a complete success. We discovered innovative start-ups and opened many doors to motivated young entrepreneurs. We will follow their further development closely.”

    Additional Links
    More about Swisscom StartUp Challenge
    Explore the best Swiss Startups 2014
    Want to get the kick? Apply now!

  • polyneuron-crm1.jpg
    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!

  • insphero-pr-en.JPG
    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

  • Ursula_400.jpg
    Ursula Oesterle, Head of Swisscom Outpost

    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

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  • 60 venture kickers made it to the TOP 100 startups

    Each year, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.