This year the Startup DAYs once again enjoyed a record number of visitors. Around 850 people attended, most of them on both days. Already on the first day, the halls in the Stade de Suisse were very well filled. Many well-known people from the Swiss startup scene were on site, so that numerous important discussions took place on the very first day.
Another important element of the first day were the pitches of the almost 200 companies from over 20 countries. The quality of the presentations was very high, although the start-ups had not gone through pitch training. At the end of the day, 30 semi-finalists were announced, carefully selected by the Jury members.
The second day took place for the first time in the Kursaal Bern, an indicator for the growing importance and professionalization of the startup event. The agenda was again packed with keynotes, panels, workshops, 1:1 meetings and pitches. Christian Wenger, Chairman Startup Invest, was the first speaker. He mentioned several challenges for the Swiss ecosystem for example that US tech giants acquire too many Swiss start-ups with ground-breaking technologies very early which leads to a lack of strong growing Swiss companies. In addition, he mentioned the Swiss Entrepreneurs Fund, which shall start in 2019, and aims to change the venture capital landscape in Switzerland fundamentally.
For the third time Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann was at the event talking about recent political challenges such as the tax reform and the EU negotiations. Schneider-Ammann also stressed that Switzerland needs start-ups and unconventional thinkers and mavericks such as start-up entrepreneurs. In addition, he revealed that following his resignation he will spend some time in California and maybe will again get involved in the biotech startup scene.
Johann Schneider-Ammann’s appearance was followed by a video keynote from Peter Diamandis, Founder of Singularity University and X PRIZE and a panel discussion with Detlef Günther, Vice President Research ETHZ, Marc Gruber, Vice President Innovation EPFL, Alessandro Curioni, IBM Fellow VP Europe Research, Roland Siegwart, ETHZ, Chairman Gebert Rüf Foundation and Christian Nagel, Earlybird VC. The panellists agreed that Europe has to change dramatically to keep up with the US and Asia, and that the speed of change in Europe might be too slow. However, Roland Siegwart and Marc Gruber saw both clear indications of changing mindsets among their young researchers as well as among students planning to start a company. In addition Gruber and Siegwart saw some good opportunities for European and Swiss companies in particular thanks to the strengths in deep technologies at the interface of the physical and the digital world such as robotics.
Pitching Battle Winner: Swiss Vault Systems
On the second day, the attending investors and corporate representatives determined the five finalists of the pitching battle. The five finalists, including three female founders, had one minute each to convince the audience on the big stage. The battle was finally won by Bhupinder Bhullar from Swiss Vault Systems. He was awarded 50,000 francs in cash.
Swiss Vault Systems based in Basel addresses the challenge of data storage. Data is the new gold and growing exponentially, but managing this data incurs high capex and opex costs. 5% of the world's energy production (equal to 50 modern nuclear power plants) are used to run data centers. Swiss Vault makes data management system that are 200 times more space and 100 times more energy efficient, compared to conventional systems, and decreases the data-carbon footprint..
The other finalists:
AgroSustain (Sustainable Tech, Lausanne): AgroSustain aims to reduce food wastage by developing and bringing to market efficient organic treatments against molds. The start-up has developed a method to detect plant-based toxins against some of the most common agronomical fungi. The first product from the University of Lausanne spin-off is based on two natural plant extracts and extends the shelf life of vegetables, berries, fruit and cut flowers by at least a week.
Legartis (Fintech, Zurich) Legartis is a legal tech startup developing a contract intelligence software. Trained by legal experts and using the latest technologies of Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence, it automates the analysis of contracts. The product is a lifecycle solution for legal documents, that simplifies the work for everyone handling contracts. Whether used for contract review, due diligence or legal document management, legartis enables lawyers to focus on what really matters.
Luckabox (Autonomous Systems, Zurich): LuckaBox has established a platform that brings together the express delivery capacity available in a city at any given time and makes it available to retailers in real time. The underlying algorithm assesses the reliability, pricing and performance of each courier and on request calculates the best combination for a job. LuckaBox’s market launch has been successful: among its first customers are well-known companies
Tensive (Healthtech, Italy): TENSIVE has the mission to help cancer survivors to restore a natural breast and to offer a better aesthetic outcome to breast augmentation patients, thanks to innovative bio-absorbable materials (REGENERA) inducing tissue regeneration. REGENERA aims to substitute silicone implants, reducing costs and surgeries and improving the patients’ quality of life. During the regenerative process, Tensive’s prosthesis is designed to be gradually degraded and replaced by adipose tissue.