W.A de Vigier award winner: Microcaps


Microcaps developed a patented technology that enables the size control of the microcapsules with Swiss precision such to ensure that they all behave exactly the same. Besides the pharma industry, the solution is also relevant for fragrances, flavours and probiotics.


Microcapsules protect active ingredients, for example in drugs, and transport them to their intended destination. As it currently stands, the mechanism lets medication flow through the entire body without knowing when and where the drug will be released. Healthy body parts are unnecessarily affected by this faulty design of medication delivery, resulting in side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, or even organ failure. Besides being uncontrolled, the Microcapsules have different sizes and have different release profiles, which is particularly problematic when administering drugs.

Founded in 2019, Microcaps developed a special device and technology to produce microparticles and microcapsules used to protect active materials. The startup’s technology makes it possible to set release profiles with size-controlled microcapsules, which allows for precise dosing, controlled release properties, and increased stability. The patented technology is 1000x faster than the current industrial microencapsulation techniques which do not allow any control over the capsule size, leading to uncontrolled release profiles. For example, the customer will be able to extend the release time from three to six months in cancer medications.

Microcaps evolved from the PhD research of Alessandro Ofner at ETH Zurich in the group of Complex Materials. His research resulted in a disruptive microfluidic technology that offers specific encapsulation solutions used by the startup. The Zurich-based startup with a team of twelve addresses a microencapsulation market that is estimated at 13 billion focusing on the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals industry with an estimated market of 8-10 billion. 

The company’s breakthrough approach and technology has awarded it several prizes. This year the startup has already received two national awards; the ZKB Pionierpreis Technopark and recently the W.A de Vigier award