The first film about the Swiss deep tech startup scene


Outsider know little about the daily business, the troubles, sorrows and challenges of the young founders on their quest to build innovative business models that reach global success. The world of deep tech startups is the central theme of the documentary miniseries “Start-up” by director Manuel Stagars. It premieres on July 16 2020 at 4 PM.


“Start-up” is an observational documentary miniseries with three episodes of 30 minutes length. It follows young entrepreneurs who work on future technologies, such as artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing, Cleantech and biotech. Much is written about startups, mostly about the glamor of those that have become unicorns and succeed with world changing innovations, and unless they are famous, scientists and entrepreneurs are often invisible to the public eye. But what does it take to make it as a startup entrepreneur? “Start-up” is the first film that focuses on the real life of startup founders and also looks behind the scenes of the startup life, warts and all. This independent miniseries gives a broad audience access to entrepreneurship and future technologies that often emerge out of startups in Switzerland with teams from all around the world, far from Silicon Valley.

For half a year, former entrepreneur, researcher and now film director Manuel Stagars followed six Swiss startups on their journey. The founders and their teams gave him access to their private labs and workshops, some of them in universities, where they toil on commercializing ideas that change the world. “This film took me on a fascinating journey. The garage was yesterday. Today, some of the best startups come directly out of universities,” says Stagars. He selected founders working in the field of deep tech, which includes artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing, biotech, Cleantech. Next to insights into their technologies and working alone and in teams, presenting to investors, or participating in trade shows, the audience gets to observe the small wins, challenges, and emotional setbacks that entrepreneurs deal with on a daily basis. The approach of “Start-up” is unique for a film on startups in the deep tech space, in Switzerland and beyond.

Detlef Günther, Vice President for Research, ETH Zurich adds the following: “According to data from the Federal Council, Switzerland spends close to 3% of its GDP on research and development. Knowledge transfer represents an important element of a university’s role in society, but the journey from the lab to the market is certainly not an easy one. This documentary reveals the challenges, the successes, and provides insights into Swiss startups.”

Virtual premiere

The director and his team needed to improvise a great deal while making this film, as one might expect dealing with fast-moving startups. The same applies to the premiere: It takes place online in a virtual setting, according to the spirit of the times. On July 16, 2020 at 4 PM CET, all three episodes of the miniseries go live on the film website and on YouTube. The miniseries is accessible for free with English and German subtitles.

The Gebert Rüf Stiftung is the main supporter of this film project, which also includes eleven interviews with the startup founders in the film. These interviews are accessible on the film website and as a podcast. Pascale Vonmont, CEO/Director of the Gebert Rüf Stiftung, says about the project: „Swiss deep tech startups are still little known to the wider public. This documentary by Manuel Stagars, the first of its kind, will change that: 'Start-up' gives unique insights into the fascinating but widely unknown startup scene in Switzerland.“

(Press release / SK)