Hidden champions come out of hiding

Switzerland owes its wealth to globally successful technology companies. This week has shown how start-ups are developing into such ‘hidden champions’ and also increasing the number of sectors from which they come.

Dear reader

Switzerland owes an important part of its wealth to its ‘hidden champions’: globally successful, very profitable suppliers of high-tech B2B products. The start-up scene has the potential to enlarge this group of companies and expand the sectors from which the companies originate; for example, to include the software sector. Scandit is well on the way to doing so: the start-up has raised USD 150 million, becoming a unicorn with a valuation of over USD 1 billion. The company’s software enables smart devices to capture data from barcodes, text, IDs and objects through computer vision. The company has more than 1,700 customers worldwide, including three of the top five global courier companies and eight of the top 10 US grocers.

South Pole is also very successful: it develops emission reduction projects globally and implements comprehensive climate solutions and strategies for its customers. The Zurich-based company has now been able to attract two more well-known investors – Salesforce Ventures and Temasek from Singapore. Temasek will also support South Pole in its expansion into the Asian region. South Pole does not disclose any figures, but given the size of the company it can be assumed that the valuation here is well into the three-digit million range.

Destinus is developing a hybrid rocket-plane that will be powered by hydrogen. Investors have been persuaded by the visionary project and are investing almost CHF 27 million in a seed round.

Until now, such high sums for seed rounds in Switzerland were seen only for biotech start-ups. Haya Therapeutics provided an example this week: after an expansion, it closed a seed round of CHF 23 million.

Smart Valor went public in Stockholm: the Crypto Valley company had previously secured more than CHF 9 million from investors. And there was a first this week on the stock exchange in Zurich, with Xlife Sciences listed on the new Sparks segment.

In total, we reported on four exits and nine financing rounds this week. The young start-ups that were able to attract investors are, like Scandit, active mainly in the field of digitalisation; these include Industry 4.0 start-up EthonAI and young proptech company Kaqtu.

The large number of attractive start-ups in this sector is also reflected in Venture Leaders Mobile. In addition to the 10 start-ups already known, Venturelab has selected nine more companies to travel to the Mobile World Congress. The strength of the Swiss start-up scene will also be demonstrated by the top 50 start-ups’ pitches as part of the competition for the WA de Vigier Foundation Award. Participation is open online.

I would like to point out the following deadlines for accelerator programmes and awards: MassChallenge Switzerland on 28 February, Tech4Eva on 1 March and >>venture>> on 3 March.

Have a good weekend.
Stefan Kyora

Editor in Chief, Startupticker.ch