Borobotics comes out on top at >>venture>>

Borobotics' drilling robot has the potential to massively accelerate the breakthrough of geothermal energy. The team won the Grand Prize worth CHF 150,000 at yesterday's award ceremony. A total of around CHF 600,000 was distributed to 19 start-ups.

The Audimax in the main building of ETH Zurich was packed as the awards of the >>venture>> competition were presented yesterday evening. 18 finalists were nominated in six verticals. In addition, six start-ups competed for the Audience Award.

The big winner of the evening was Borobotics. The company develops an innovative drilling robot for geothermal energy drilling in tight spaces such as city centres. Borobotics' robot is designed completely differently to conventional drilling machines, which require bulky equipment to operate. This not only takes up a lot of space, but also weighs ten tonnes. Borobotics' robot, Grabowski, only requires an area of 6-8 square metres, allowing it to drill holes in small gardens, underground car parks or even cellars. Grabowski can play an important role in increasing the use of geothermal energy. So far, only 1% of Swiss households heat with this CO2-neutral heat source.

The prize was presented by Thomas Knecht, founder and honorary president of >>venture>>. "Borobotics has developed a tangible, pragmatic solution to a relevant problem. The solution not only requires less space and is therefore also suitable for city centres, it is also cost-effective," he said. The team's proximity to the market was also emphasised.

Borobotics will use the prize money for further tests. The team is currently developing a prototype that will be able to drill to a depth of 50 metres. Tests will begin in August. The aim is to reach the required depth of 200 metres for commercial drilling before the end of this year. The team expects to generate initial revenue in 2025.

Before the Grand Prize was awarded, the winners in the verticals were determined. Three start-ups were nominated per vertical. The first-placed startup per vertical received CHF 50,000, with CHF 20,000 going to the runner-up and CHF 10,000 to the third-placed startup.

The rankings in the verticals

Health and Nutrition

Winner: Eviive – develops new cancer biomarkers with the goal to enable early diagnosis, effective personalized treatment selection, and continuous monitoring of treatment response.

Runner-up: Procavea Biotech - drug delivery platform for RNA therapeutics.

Third place: Cultivated Biosciences - vegan cream made from yeast)


Winner: Rapidata – provides massive amounts of scalable human feedback quickly and at low cost to improve AI models.

Runner-up: Optiml  AI-driven software solution platform for the real estate industry to optimise investments and renovations

Third place: Planeto – software to digitalise the design of district heating networks.

Retail and Consumer services

Winner: Brian – is an AI-powered learning platform, supporting teachers by converting their existing teaching materials into engaging and social learning environments on students’ smartphones. Over 25 schools and universities are already using Brian.

Runner-up: Wepot – manufactures clay pots that efficiently deliver water to plant roots, conserving water and fostering healthier plants.

Third place: Bergmobil – electric trailer for taking children, pets or luggage on bike tours, walks and hikes

Finance and Insurance

Winner: CLIMADA Technologies – is a climate risk analytics company offering a scalable software solution to asses climate risks down to the level of individual buildings

Runner-up: Crowdtransfer – provides a crowdfunding platform on which fans of football clubs can participate in the purchase of players and benefit from their success.

Third place: MC² Finance – blends blockchain and regulatory compliance, offering an automated platform for digital asset portfolios.

Social and Environmental impact

Winner: ALIEN Limited – provides an end-to-end solution to collect invasive Quagga mussels and to recycle 100% of the mussel into eco-materials and bio-sourced materials.

Runner-up: Malaica – supports pregnant women in Sub-Saharan Africa with remote midwives who ensure care according to WHO recommendations.

Third place: InvestConservation – enables investment in conservation areas that protect at-risk tropical forests and provides carbon offsets in return.

Industrials and Engineering

Winner: Borobotics 

Runner-up: RTDT Laboratories AG – hardware / software solution for structural health monitoring and power performance optimization of wind turbines.

Third place: qCella –-customisable, flexible, paper-thin heating mats.

Audience award for Genius Loci

The audience award worth CHF 10k went to Genius Loci. For cities, tourist offices and communities, Genius Loci offers an alternative to tourist signs adapted to today's world: digital, economical, collaborative and sustainable. Genius Loci is both a physical medal to be fixed as close as possible to the place of interest, and a digital space entirely dedicated to the place. Thanks to the medals Genius loci, visitors can scan a simple QR code to discover the stories hidden behind the places. Each medal Genius loci tells a unique story, created by the locals who know their region best.