The top 15 startups in de Vigier Award revealed

Out of the 15 finalists in the W.A de Vigier Award contest, the jury will select ten finalists that will pitch their solutions to the audience during the Award ceremony on 19 June. The five best companies will each take home a cash prize of CHF 100’000.

More than 200 candidates applied for the 2024 W.A de Vigier Award, one of the most important competitions in the Swiss startup ecosystem, and only 50 made it to the shortlist. During the selection Day on February 28, the jury nominated the Top 15 companies to proceed to the next level for further assessment. The companies are evaluated according to the criteria: entrepreneurial personality, the degree of innovation, the value for society as a whole, the technical and financial viability, market prospects and the potential for job creation. The 10 most outstanding companies after the next selection round will be invited to present their solutions to the audience at the award ceremony on June 19, 2024. Five winners will be crowned, with each receiving a CHF 100’000 cash prize.

The top 15 are:

apheros AG | Zurich – the ETH spinoff is developing energy efficient metal foams that offer an extremely high surface area with exceptional wetting properties and enhanced thermal exchange. These properties result in excellent cooling efficiency and liquid transport.

Ascento AG | Zurich – offers Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solution for autonomous outdoor security patrolling. The Ascento Web App analyzes video and images from the robotic guard with AI, it integrates with existing video management systems, to provide an end-to-end encrypted two-way communication, and insightful reports for security managers.

BTRY AG | Dübendorf (ZH) – the EMPA- and ETHZ- spinoff is developing a thin-film solid-state battery that can be charged and discharged in one minute, has a high energy density and delivers reliable energy even at extreme temperatures.

Eviive | Zurich – is developing a new cancer diagnostics solution that combines state-of-the-art extracellular vesicles (EVs) analysis with advanced machine learning to ensure rapid and accurate results. The UZH-spinoff can detect diseases very early and predict if a patient will respond to the standard treatment, leading to more effective and timely interventions.

Foldcast | Lugano (TI) – combines software and digital machines to design and produce paper moulds for concrete casting. Foldcast’s building elements use up to 50% less concrete, while offering the same or greater structural resistance. This translates to a 40% reduction of the carbon footprint, lower construction cost, shorter construction time, and less waste.

Grensol AG | Thalwil (ZH) –  uses high intensity light generated by renewable energy to recover emissions-free hydrogen and carbon black from mixed plastic waste in seconds. This solution can potentially convert 100 million tons of unrecyclable waste per year into a low-cost source of new materials.

KWiiD GmbH | Oberägeri (ZG) – is dedicated to eliminating single-use packaging with its innovative collapsible box. Besides beind sustainable and reusable, KWiiD boxes boast exceptional strength and an instant-opening system, saving companies time and money.

MYNERVA | Zurich – is devloping an innovative, non-invasive neuroprosthesis (resembles a sock) that gathers vital data on foot-ground interactions and converts it into AI-driven electrical impulses delivered to the skin. This approach diminishes neuropathic pain for paitents with diabetis and artificially restores the sense of touch, significantly lowering the risk of falls.

Neurosoft Bioelectronics SA | Chambésy (GE) –  EPFL-spinoff Neurosoft Bioelectronics builds minimally invasive brain interfaces using soft electrodes for precise neurostimulation and brain data recording. Their flagship product targets severe tinnitus, a condition that affects 120M people worldwide.

Neology Hydrogen SA | Lutry (VD) – the EPFL-spinoff is building minimally invasive brain interfaces using soft electrodes for precise neurostimulation and brain data recording. Their flagship product targets severe tinnitus, a condition that affects 120M people worldwide. The startup is also developing a family of subdural electrodes intended for short-term clinical monitoring during brain tumor and epilepsy surgery.

Optiml AG | Zurich (ZH) – the ETH Zurich Spin-off offers AI-powered software to provide cost and CO₂- conscious decision support for real estate owners, asset managers, and consultants. The startup aims to create data transparency on renovation needs and risks (status quo), to optimize asset and portfolio investment decisions, to derive actionable measures per asset, and to anticipate long-term regulatory compliance.

Perovskia Solar AG | Aubonne (VD)– develops digitally printed and highly customizable solar cells work under any light conditions and serve as a reliable, portable and eco-friendly energy source. The EMPA-spinoff’s vision is to make everyday devices energy self-sufficient, saving the world from a grotesque amount of battery waste.

Tandem Therapeutics AG | Schlieren (ZH) – By using evolutionarily optimized matrix targeting peptides, Tandem overcomes the extracellular matrix barrier to unlock the previously inaccessible multidimensional druggable space. The ETH-spinoff is currently developing a pipeline of conditionally targeted, efficacious and safer therapies to treat fibrotic diseases.

Tethys Robotics | Zurich (ZH) – devloped a compact underwater drone that can navigate autonomously in complex environments, supporting search and recovery missions, inspections, 3D modeling and surveillance in rivers and coastal areas with strong tidal currents.

Treeless Pack GmbH | Opfikon (ZH) – relies on specialized bacteria to produce nanocellulose in scalable and automated modular vertical farms. This approach shortens the supply chain, eliminates long-distance transportation, reduces deforestation, and valorizes organic waste to produce a unique and affordable biomaterial, which can be used across industries as a green alternative to fossil-based products.

(Press release/RAN)