Since the first systematic survey in 2012, venture capital investment in Swiss start-ups has risen from about CHF 300 million to more than CHF 2 billion. Last year brought a slight decrease, with donors putting the brakes on, particularly during the first lockdown.
From the summer, the number of engagements increased again and also in volume. In the second half of 2020, even more, was invested than in the same period of 2019, which was a record year, and thus there was only a comparatively moderate annual decline of about 7%.
The year with no mega-deals
Although the cumulative volume of venture capital investment decreased, the number of financing rounds rose by 14% to 304. The pandemic meant that donors were concerned primarily with making companies crisis-proof beyond the start-up phase. Less money flowed into completely new projects, but there was significantly more investment in the range of CHF 10 million to CHF 100 million. However, expansion financing of more than CHF 200 million did not take place at all.
Strong growth in biotech
Investment in ICT start-ups fell from about CHF 1.2 billion to CHF 720 million, but start-ups from the life sciences sector were able to increase their equity inflow. Swiss biotech start-ups alone collected more than CHF 800 million in 2020, corresponding to an increase of 31%. This is due partly to the long-term nature of innovation in drug development and also to the global trend of steadily growing biotech investment.
Basel, the big winner of the cantons
As, for the first time since 2017, more money was invested in biotech than in ICT start-ups, there were also changes in the cantonal rankings. After years in which the first two places were occupied by the two ETH location cantons of Zurich and Vaud, second place is now taken by the pharmaceutical location of Basel, behind Zurich.
Figures in detail
Investment in CHF m Number of financing rounds
Swiss Venture Capital Report 2021 can be downloaded as a PDF at https://www.startupticker.ch/en/swiss-venture-capital-report.