Five deep tech startups complete ETH Pioneer Fellowships successfully


Last week, five entrepreneurial teams graduated from the ETH Pioneer Fellowship program. They received certificates at the Pioneer Fellowship Certificate Ceremony. The teams develop ground breaking products in areas such as life sciences, Nano technology and exoskeletons.


Over 120 entrepreneurs joined the ETH spin-off dinner last week on the rooftop of the ETH Zurich building. Six ETH Pioneer Fellows graduated from the programme. A Pioneer Fellowship is awarded to one or two individuals intending to independently develop a highly innovative product or service to be exploited commercially and/or for the benefit of society on the basis of ETH Technology. Pioneer Fellows receive CHF 150K over 12-18 months, along with an extensive mentoring and training programme. Pioneer Fellows are hosted in the ieLab for the duration of the programme. The six new graduates include: Steven Schmitt and Irene Wüthrich, SpheroBiotics: Re-inventing antibiotic discovery from nature SpheroBiotics devised a technology platform based on small hydrogel microspheres, essentially reinventing classical antibiotic discovery. First, it allows for the cultivation of microbes directly in their natural environment, providing SpheroBiotics with access to microbial strains and their antibiotics that were so far out of reach in classical, laboratory-based antibiotic discovery. Second, the technology enables the analysis of millions of microbes for their antibiotic production within a day, enabling it to detect even rare microbial producers. Smart, microsphere-embedded biosensors also enable the rapid identification of promising molecules. Ali Altun, UNISERS AG: A new technology to detect trace impurities in liquids UNISERS is based on nanotechnology and Raman spectroscopy; it is the abbreviation for “Universal Surface-Enhanced-Raman-Spectroscopy”. The patented technology is the only known surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy method able to detect all non-volatile impurities, regardless of their chemical properties. UNISERS can therefore analyse multiple different impurities in liquids in the same test.  The technology is based on sample preparation and Raman scanning. The sample preparation is non-chemical and amplifies the Raman signal of impurities by a factor of ~1,000,000, which in turn makes trace impurities detectable.  This is relevant for many industries, such as the semiconductor industry. Volker Bartenbach, Auxivo AG: Exoskeletons that support workers during physically demanding labour Auxivo develops wearable assistive exoskeletons for industrial workers executing physically-demanding tasks. The exoskeletons provide support during critical movements, reducing fatigue by making tasks such as lifting heavy objects easier and less harmful. As a result, companies will benefit from increased employee satisfaction, higher productivity, lower health- and injury- related costs, and higher retention of skilled workers. The system is already tested around the world. Xavier Garrabou Pi, Lock & Key Biosciences GmbH: New generation of artificial enzymes for creating more potent and selective pharmaceuticals Enzymes empower new prospects in drug discovery. Indeed, the pharma industry today is using these much more to optimize drug production. Most drugs are formulated by combining chemical building blocks. Enzymes are essential to preparing a particular class of building blocks - so-called “chiral compounds” - which are increasingly being used to create more potent and specific pharmaceuticals. Lock & Key Biosciences creates artificial enzymes that can be extended to all the benefits of biocatalysis, and to reactions that are poorly represented (if not non-existent) in life. In this way, chiral building blocks with innovative structures and functionalities can be prepared with high selectivity and efficiency. Mark Bispinghoff, Lumendo AG: Photopolymerised implants Lumendo has developed the next generation of injectable surgical fillers. These glues, cements, and filler materials are solidified inside the body using light illumination. This enables new types of surgical procedures, as it allows for the controlled placement and solidification of implants. The technology is based on a state-of-the-art photochemistry, biomaterials, and optical devices. (Press release / SK)Picture top L to R: Detlef Günther (VP Research and Corporate Relations, ETH Zurich); Steven Schmitt and Irene Wüthrich (Founders, SpheroBiotics), and Tomas Brenner (Head, ETH ieLab)