Good things come in threes

This week there was positive news about exits, a new fund and a record number of spin-offs at ETH Zurich. The timing is no coincidence, but shows how the various elements of the Swiss start-up ecosystem now interconnect.

Dear reader

This week one piece of news clearly received the most attention from us: the takeover of Sevensense by ABB. The Swiss technology group is very familiar with the ETH Zurich spin-off: they have been working together since 2021. ABB is now rapidly rolling out autonomous mobile robots with Sevensense’s vision navigation technology. The first customers include Ford and Michelin.

There were also two further takeovers. L’Oréal has acquired Gjosa: the Biel-based start-up has developed a water-saving technology that is used, inter alia, in a professional showerhead. And Novartis has bought Calypso Biotech, a spin-off of the former Merck Serono, for up to USD 425 million.

Good news also on the funding side. Kickfund has become operational, with CHF 70 million raised for the first fund – CHF 10 million more than originally targeted. The fund is still open to qualified investors. Kickfund invests exclusively in start-ups that have been through all three stages of Venture Kick.

ETH Zurich provided the third positive surprise, with 43 spin-offs created in 2023. This is well above the level of the previous 10 years.

These three news items illustrate the dynamics of the ecosystem and how the individual gears now intermesh. The number and quality of start-ups is high, which attracts investors and ultimately buyers.

Of course, not every plan works out. Koch & Gsell, best known for its hemp cigarettes with the brand name Heimat, had to file for insolvency this week. But the openness with which the founders communicated the end of the company, and the reasons, represents the increasing maturity of the ecosystem. The Farmy founders have always provided transparency: this week the online supermarket reported that it had reached operational break-even, with a simultaneous decline in sales.

The new year means several deadlines are approaching. Registration is open for Venture Leaders Technology until Monday. The application deadline for Startfeld Diamant is 21 January, the SEF Award on 26 January and the Future of Health Grant on 31 January. Four start-ups have already been awarded the Innosuisse certificate; we present the companies in our article.

We will present the new Swiss Venture Capital Report in Zurich and Lausanne on 30 January. News about this week’s financing rounds can be found under our ‘Investment’ tag.

Have a good weekend.
Stefan Kyora

Editor in Chief,