This piece is an accompaniment to our newly launched ranking of Swiss and Austrian startups to watch in 2023. Check out who made the cut here.
While some of Europe’s biggest ecosystems felt the chill of the tech slowdown in 2022, both Switzerland and Austria had strong years. These ecosystems boast unicorns like GoStudent and region-leading spinout centres like ETH Zurich.
Sifted has put together a ranking of the 50 hottest startups to watch — from seed right up to growth stage — based on funding momentum (how quickly a company has raised at each stage), market opportunity, competitive advantage and investor strength. But before we dig into this year’s cohort, let’s take a look at the state of play in Swiss and Austrian tech.
The status quo in Switzerland and Austria
2022 was a record funding year for Switzerland and Austria combined. Swiss startups raised $5.1bn — their best year ever — while Austria followed up its breakout 2021 with its second best year to date, collecting $1.3bn. The two ecosystems raised a total $6.4bn in 2022, up from $5.3bn in 2021 (a 21% increase), according to Dealroom data.
2023 has also started strong; total funding in Q1 2023 was higher than Q4 2022. However the number of deals signed was the lowest since Q3 2019. The biggest drop was at pre-seed, possibly explained by a flatlining in startup creation.
Domestic capital accounted for just 16% of investment in 2022, down from 26% two years ago. US investment in the two countries has grown (accounting for 32% of funding last year), while few new local funds have been raised. Established local funds — like Speedinvest — are now increasingly investing elsewhere.
2023 has only seen two new VC funds launched so far in Switzerland and Austria: Momenta Ventures' fifth vehicle of $100m and Tenity's undisclosed early-stage fintech fund. That compares to 15 in 2022 and 11 in 2021.
The exit outlook for startups in Europe has also darkened amid the tech slowdown, but both Switzerland and Austria had record levels of exits in Q1 2023, and are well on their way to a record H1. Swiss healthtech — predominantly trade sales — tops the list for the most exits.
Our ranking is dominated by Switzerland, which accounts for 38 of the 50 companies — not surprising given Switzerland’s venture ecosystem is roughly four times larger than that of Austria’s. Sixteen of those Swiss companies are in healthtech — the region's biggest export.
Venture Kick — a philanthropic initiative in Switzerland — has backed 10 startups in our ranking, university ETH Zurich has backed nine and Speedinvest, the EIC and b2venture have all invested in six.
This piece is an accompaniment to our newly launched ranking of Swiss and Austrian startups to watch in 2023, produced by startup analyst Daria Dmytrenko and intelligence analyst Federico Scolari, and charted by Ruggero Di Spigna. Check it out in full here.