17 deep-dech start-ups shortlisted for the W.A. de Vigier Award

6 female and 11 male entrepreneurs are still in the race for the W. A. de Vigier Award. Over the next weeks, the jury will assess the teams to nominate 10 start-ups that will compete in the finale. Up to five Swiss entrepreneurs will receive CHF 100,000 each at the award ceremony on June 16, 2021.

A total of 217 applications were submitted for the W. A de Vigier Award 2021. Out of the 60 startups that presented their ideas to the foundation board, 17 made it to the shortlist. The Top 17 will undergo a leadership assessment, have an in-depth interview with the foundation board and prepare expert reports. Aspects such as leadership, team leadership and entrepreneurship will also be evaluated as selection criteria to nominate the Top 10. In mid-April, the ten finalists will be chosen to present their solutions at the Award Ceremony on June 16, 2021.

The top 17 startups are:

cellvie AG from Matzingen (TG) - transplants viable mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouse, into cells damaged by an interruption of the blood flow. It’s like jump- starting a car, allowing the cells to re-establish their energy metabolism and survive. The Harvard spin-off’s mitochondria therapy will first be applied in organ transplant patients.

Cowa Thermal Solutions AG from Root (LU) – increases the storage capacity of conventional water-based heat storage systems by up to a factor of 4, typically increasing the heating autarky level of common systems from around 30% to 70%.

dimpora AG from Zurich (ZH) – the ETH spinoff dimpora provides outdoor brands with a biobased material that is as waterproof and breathable as its non-natural alternatives. This material allows the industry to pivot from old, resource intense and chemically harmful processes and products to a sustainable, healthy solution.

Dotphoton AG from Zug (ZG) – offers a solution for professional imaging, allowing up to 10 times the amount of data compression with guaranteed quality preservation. It allows saving a factor of 5–10 in storage space and network bandwidth, as well as the associated time, power, and pain.

flowbone SA from Renens (VD) – the EPFL spinoff developed a new generation of biomaterial that can be injected into the hips in a simple ambulatory procedure to locally restore bone strength in hips before they break.

HemostOD SA from Preverenges (VD) – On-Demand Platelets Instead of Depending on Blood Donors
HemostOD manufactures platelets on-demand from engineered stem cells. The startup’s technology allows all patients to receive platelet therapy at a much lower risk, leading to faster recovery and better clinical outcomes at a greatly reduced cost. 

Infrascreen AG from Neuchâtel (NE) – develops a nano-coated filtering material that provides growers with drastically improved climate management in the greenhouse at zero energy input. This leads to up to 80% greater yield, over 20% less energy consumption and reduced CO2 emissions. 

kaiosID SA from Villars-le-Terroir (VD) – fights counterfeiting and illicit trade by covering the product’s packaging with invisible patterns that can be easily identified by an intuitive smartphone app. Once printed on the packaging, the random patterns become the fingerprint of the product and allow for product authentication (genuine/fake) and identification (traceability), thus restoring trust in brands and logistics.

LEDCity AG from Zurich (ZH) – equips light sources with sensors and AI-optimized algorithms to regulate lighting automatically. The startup’s plug and play system runs on a decentralized control and drastically lowers energy use, cuts operating costs by up to 90% and reduce environmental impact.

Lumiphase AG from Zurich (ZH) – develops novel optical communication chips that are very inexpensive, super compact and highly efficient. They allow the industry to replace today’s costly and power-hungry connections with a new generation of electro-optical links, enabling a new paradigm in datacenters‘ architecture and leading to the more flexible, efficient and sustainable use of computing resources. 

MIRAI FOODS AG from Wädenswil (ZH) – cultivates real meat from animal stem cells without genetically or otherwise modifying the cells. The startup does what animals do – only outside the body. This approach can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from meat consumption by 80 to 90% and no animal has to suffer and die to produce the meat. 

Nagi Bioscience SA from Ecublens (VD) – the EPFL spin-off Nagi Bioscience developed the first device that allows fully automated and standardized substance testing on the micro-organism C. elegans as a sustainable, ethical and cost-effective alternative to animal testing, while still providing whole-organism results. 

Oxyle AG from Zurich (ZH) – the ETH spinoff Oxyle has developed novel wastewater treatment reactors capable of destroying over 90% of a wide variety of toxic micropollutants from wastewater, including highly persistent compounds that are resistant to existing treatments.

Testmate Health (ribolifeDx SA) from Chavannes-de-Bogis (VD) – will be the first rapid at home self-test that provides results in minutes (as opposed to three to seven days), in an anonymous, convenient and easy manner. Results are scanned and uploaded to a paired app that guides patients towards appropriate follow-up if necessary.

Terapet SA from Geneva (GE) – develops a novel medical device that enables medical doctors for the first time to monitor the delivered proton dose inside the patients during cancer treatment: in-vivo, non-invasive, in 3D and real-time. This solution ensures that every patient receives the right dose, every time. 

Volumina Medical SA from Epalinges (VD) – the EPFL spin-off created AdiPearl, an injectable implant with the capacity to regenerate damaged tissues for breast reconstruction in a single minimally invasive procedure. AdiPearl will improve the quality of life by bringing breast cancer survivors a safe, effective, quality, and cost-efficient breast reconstruction solution. 

XRnanotech GmbH from Untersiggenthal (AG) – by applying groundbreaking innovations in the field of nanotechnology, XRnanotech offers ten times better resolution, twice the photon efficiency and the best stability of state-of-the-art X-ray optics. The startup’s products allow investigating the smallest ever structures with unprecedented image quality.

Top 17 instead of 16 startups on the shortlist
Commenting on the decision to add one additional company to the shortlist, Regula Buob, Managing Director of the W.A. de Vigier Foundation says: “We had such a hard time picking 16 startups that we ended up selecting 17 this year.” 

(Press release/RAN)