People behind Swiss Innovation
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  • 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

    Cellspring.png
    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

    nanolive-crm.JPG
    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.

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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