Healthy workers and long-lasting flavors: Two startups win CHF150’000


Auxivo and microPow reached the highest level of the Venture Kick support program with their solutions developed to protect workers, and enhance natural aromas and flavours in food. Each startup received CHF 150’000 to support their progress.


While the two winners of the final round of the venture kick competition have developed technologies that build on biomechanics research, each company takes different approaches. Auxivo: wearable support systemWork-related injuries cost employers in Europe €30 billion every year yet there is still an efficient solution to protect heavy workers. In the past, people tried to make ‘Iron Man suits’ for every type of work, which resulted in heavy devices that were too expensive to sell. Auxivo, the Zurich based startup co-founded by Volker Bartenbach who has a PhD in exoskeleton robotics from ETH Zurich, together with the co-founder Michael Stucky and Oliver Steffen is developing a light exoskeleton (a wearable support system) for workers who regularly lift and carry loads of as much as 30 kg. Auxivo’s exoskeleton is a stripped-down, passive device – without any addition to being light, it is practical and comfortable for workers to wear all day and cheap enough for companies to equip each employee. By reducing the load on backs and joints, the company aims to reduce the risk of exhaustion, accidents, chronic injuries, and early retirements. Auxivo used Venture Kick’s support to conduct field tests with industry partners in the logistics and construction industries. The final tranche of pre-seed funding will help the startup to hire more team members and refine its first product before launch in early 2020. Auxivo is currently raising a seed round to fund industrialization, certification and sales. MicroPow: enhancing natural aromas and flavoursConsumers today demand food that is natural, additive-free, and convenient. That is often a contradiction, as the aromas and flavours used in convenience products are especially sensitive and volatile, which means chemicals are added to preserve their quality during food processing, storage and distribution. MicroPow is developing micro-structured powders that enhance the perception and stability of food’s natural aromas and flavours. The Zurich based startup produces natural, encapsulated ingredients for customers from the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries. The technology, developed by ETH Zurich researchers Pascal Guillet and Lea Pokorny, may allow the cosmetics industry to reduce additives too. Two patents are pending, and a third will be filed later this year to strengthen the startup’s intellectual property. MicroPow will use Venture Kick’s pre-seed funding to launch the first microPow powders and scale production for larger volumes next year. The startup already has multiple projects with major food companies such as Mondelez and Coop and plans further strategic partnerships, seed funding and non-food projects for 2020. (Press release)Photo: Auxivo team (left) and Pascal Guillet, MicroPow (right)