Funding for Swiss startups so far this year stands at $1.9bn, a fair amount lower than last year's record of $5.1bn, according to Dealroom.
However, the number of exits for Swiss startups did reach record heights in the first quarter of 2023. The majority of those were in the healthtech sector — Switzerland's biggest export.
The country also boasts Europe’s leading spinout centre (by spinouts produced) ETH Zurich. It has produced startups like ANYbotics — which raised $50m this year — and direct air capture scaleup Climeworks.
But which startups will be next to drive up the value of the Swiss tech ecosystem? We asked four Swiss VCs which startups they’re most excited about, with one rule: they couldn’t name portfolio companies.
Myoung-Ok Kwon, PhD, investment partner at Swisscom Ventures
Swisscom Ventures is the venture capital arm of Swisscom AG, a Swiss telecom and ICT provider. It has invested in more than 80 technology companies from offices in Switzerland and the USA.
QUMEA is a digital health startup that uses 3D sensors to monitor patients — it can detect falls, trembling, sleep quality and whether a patient leaves their bed. It aims to simplify the monitoring of patients in hospitals and care institutions without cameras or wearables.
SNAQ is an app designed to help people manage diabetes through food tracking and blood sugar monitoring. All users have to do is upload a picture of their meal and the app will provide insights into its carb, protein and fat contents. It shows users how their meals impact their blood sugar levels and identifies patterns over time by integrating with glucose sensors and other diabetes apps.
Healios is the developer of a smartphone-based app for patients with multiple sclerosis. Its app uses 10 tests to monitor movement, balance, dexterity and vision in patients and it can be scheduled to be performed regularly. The results are algorithmically processed into digital biomarkers, which provide data and insights on patients' neurological functions to their doctors.
Samir Jola, senior investment associate at Verve Ventures
Verve Ventures is a VC firm that invests in science and technology-driven startups across Europe, from seed stage onward.
Avelo is developing a breath aerosol collector that detects respiratory tract infections causing pneumonia. The product works with existing respiratory tests, which differentiate between viral and bacterial infections, helping reduce the amount of unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics. By enabling doctors to collect a breath sample at the point of care, the company aims to reduce healthcare costs, as only severe cases need a referral to the hospital.
Dotphoton has developed an image compression software called Jetraw. It makes images up to 10 times smaller with stringent control of compression error and it reduces data storage costs significantly. Research labs, biomedical facilities, pharma, automotive and space companies generate a huge amount of raw image data per year, causing high cloud storage costs, difficulties in data sharing and slow image processing. Jetraw helps reduce file size to reduce these costs.
Saeki is a spinout from ETH Zurich automating large-scale component manufacturing. It combines robotics, 3D printing and novel materials to produce moulds that industrial and construction firms use to build large parts. Compared to traditional manufacturing, Saeki’s moulds have shorter lead times, which allows for cost savings. They are also reusable and recyclable.
Aleksandra Laska, partner at Redalpine
Redalpine is a Swiss VC firm investing in European early-stage companies across science and software.
Oxyle has developed a wastewater treatment technology which removes and monitors micropollutants from the ocean. Unlike traditional filtration and absorption methods, which merely transfer pollutants to another location, Oxyle’s technology destroys the pollutants by mineralising them.
Nexoya is an AI-driven marketing analytics tool. Its platform gathers, monitors and analyses metrics from Google Ads, Instagram and Facebook to help optimise the advertising budgets and strategies of medium-sized and large companies.
Antonia Albert, principal at Wingman Ventures
Wingman Ventures is a Swiss pre-seed fund which backs Switzerland-based founder teams.
Lakera is an AI security company that provides developers with tools to reduce the risk of data leaks and harmful language in AI models. It developed an online game to test if people could make a ChatGPT-powered chatbot reveal a confidential password. This allowed the company to obtain a large dataset of ways people try to use English to trick AI into revealing confidential data, improving its AI-security insights.
Faive, based out of ETH Zurich, has developed humanoid robotic hands to help with industrial tasks that involve grasping and reorientation motions.
Norm is a software platform focused on energy efficiency in the building sector. Its algorithm processes data on energy use and CO2 emissions in buildings to generate energy efficiency certifications and identify areas for renovation potential.