Enerdrape wins the Grand Prize at the 25th >>venture>> edition

Five vertical winners and one Grand Prize winner were honoured at yesterday's >>venture>> awards ceremony. The companies received a total of 510,000 Swiss francs. Starting next year, not-for-profit start-ups will also be able to compete in their own vertical.

The Audimax at ETH Zurich was well-filled yesterday evening at the award ceremony of the >>venture>> competition. In addition to start-ups and supporters, numerous top-level representatives of corporations, who are valuable contacts for the finalists and winners, were also present.

The Grand Prize was awarded to the EPFL spin-off Enerdrape. Enerdrape's geothermal panels use the heat in underground infrastructures such as underground parking facilities as a source of energy to heat or cool the buildings above. The solution is based on the world-first modular, scalable, and easy-to-install, prefabricated geothermal panel technology. Some installations of the panels have already been made. The start-up is now working on launching the product on the market.

The prize was presented to Enerdrape CEO Margaux Peltier by former Energy Minister Doris Leuthard. In her short laudation, she emphasised that Enerdrape's technology contributes to urgently needed savings in resource consumption and that the panels are easy to install. They do not require any costly construction and do not need any permits.

“It’s exciting to get a front-row seat to the future of Switzerland,” said Ulrich Looser, chairman of the >>venture>> foundation. “We’re very proud of Enerdrape and we’re looking forward to seeing their success unfold.”

The winner of the Grand Prize is chosen from the five Vertical winners of the award. Enerdrape had won in the Vertical Industrials & Engineering. The other four Vertical winners are:

Finance & Insurance
Veritic (ZG): The start-up develops user-friendly, multi-chain NFT platforms in collaboration with leading institutions, and it is based on highly secure minting and custody infrastructure. Leading art museums and cultural institutions will launch their first NFTs on Veritic’s platform Patron of art soon. According to the jury Veritic has the potential to set a standard in the booming NFT field.

Health & Nutrition
Bionter (BS): The company revolutionizes analytical testing of subvisible particles in the biopharmaceutical industry in respect to economy, process time and safety. Bionter`s first product is a particle counter that is not only fully automated but also allows non-destructive sample testing. The jury liked about the start-up that everything is rock-solid, from the problem to the technology to the customers.

ReFfit (GE): RefFIT delivers disruptive software for the material industry to efficiently analyze spectroscopy data. The large, attractive market of new materials as well as the business model, which includes a SaaS offering, were key factors for the selection as winner.

Retail & Consumer Services
Bravo (ZH): bravo is a simple app, allowing restaurants to order from all their suppliers from one place. Today most of the restaurants order via phone, excel sheets or even fax. The bootstrapped start-up was successful although it started during the Covid-crisis. 400 restaurants are already using the solution. According to the jury bravo has the potential to contribute to the digitisation of a large industry. In addition the start-up could add additional revenue streams in the future.

The audience award went to Big Wave VR. The start-up developed a VR body and mind training tool. To ride big waves surfers must be trained very well and they have to be calm too. The start-up uses VR to bring the experience of riding big waves and the benefits of that to people in stressful situations.

The evening of the award ceremony was peppered with anecdotes and accomplishments of the past 25 years. It included a congratulatory video message from special guest, Swiss Federal Councilor, Guy Parmelin, who warmly applauded the boldness of the entrepreneurs and the efforts of the >>venture>> competition.

Since its inception, >>venture>> has helped over 1,500 startups that have gone on to create over 15,000 jobs. Their alumni roster boasts familiar success stories some of which have IPO’d including: Sophia Genetics, Sensirion, Molecular Partners Onward, and HEIQ. Others tout impressive corporate exits such as ESBA Tech to Novartis, Glycart to Roche, Covagen to Johnson & Johnson, Zattoo to TX Media, and Lemoptix to Intel.

“What I’ve learned over the years is that in order to be a successful company or foundation, it’s important to keep one’s finger on the pulse of the ever-changing shifts in society and the economy.” said Thomas Knecht, founder and honorary chairman of the >>venture>> foundation. “This keeps you evolving in a timely manner and allows you to create more relevant impact.”

The next evolution of the competition was formally announced by Dr. Knecht at the 25th anniversary celebration. Starting in 2023, the competition will open its doors to nonprofit startups. Awarding startups that aim for societal and environmental benefit, basing themselves on a financially sustainable business model is the next step in the foundation’s quest to address the challenges of the Swiss economy.

"When I founded >>venture>> in the 90s, the Swiss economy lacked jobs and innovation. Today, other issues have come into focus that we need to tackle and that cannot all be realized with a "for profit" model. >>venture>> itself is "not for profit". It is very important to me that we institutionalize the considerations that have led to the functioning of >>venture>>. With an extended >>venture>>, we can make an additional contribution to a flourishing Switzerland by promoting innovative approaches, including "not for profit" approaches, which create additional benefits for society and the environment," says Dr. Knecht.

Thomas Knecht stepped down as president of the foundation. We have published a comprehensive interview with him in February. 

A replay of the whole ceremony was published on Youtube.

(Stefan Kyora)