Building a sustainable future

Gaining a foothold in the construction industry is not easy. Sustainability start-ups show how it’s done.

Dear reader

The most spectacular headline this week was made by a biotech spin-off. Addex Therapeutics is handing over preclinical drug projects and a technology platform to the newly founded Neurosterix. And backers are investing USD 63 million in the new company, which, like Addex, is based in Geneva.

However, in terms of the number of posts this week, a completely different sector is leading the way. Numerous start-ups that want to make the built environment more sustainable have reported successes; for example, Swisspod has secured a strategic investment from Its vision is to build a high-speed hyperloop transport network, where magnetic levitation trains travel at airline speeds in a low-pressure tube.

Freesuns develops solar tiles that integrate renewable energy technology seamlessly into the architecture of buildings and has now secured an investment of CHF 1 million.

VAULTED's sustainable concrete floors are being used in a 10-storey building in Zug. Compared with conventional floors, its prefabricated products have an impressive 80% reduction in embodied carbon, enabled by a combination of the skill of Gothic master builders with contemporary methodology.

Optiml’s recently launched software also intends to improve the carbon footprint of buildings. Use of its software can reduce the effort required for renovation planning by up to 90% and the investment costs for renovations by up to 30%. Investors include the fund of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Now Optiml has made it into the top 15 of the WA de Vigier Foundation Awards and is not the only start-up in the line-up that wants to make the built environment more sustainable. Ticino-based Foldcast combines software and digital machinery to design and produce paper moulds for concrete casting.

The first nine winners of Zurich’s KlimUp funding programme showcase the full range of climate-friendly innovations from Swiss start-ups today and include Rematter and Borobotics, two start-ups working to make construction more sustainable.

Boom Summit will take place in Basel next week. I would also like to draw your attention to a webinar on the Technology Fund, which includes Freesuns in its portfolio companies. The next Venture Challenge workshop series at ETH Zurich starts at the end of April. Registration is now open.

The application deadline for both Baselaunch, which is focusing on ideas for new biopharma ventures, and the Digital Health Incubator is at the end of next week.

Startup Days has published its schedule; participants can put together their own programme from more than 40 sessions with more than 125 speakers.

Have a good weekend
Stefan Kyora 

Editor in Chief,