An armband that lets women know when they are most likely to conceive, software for autonomously driven cars and laboratory manufactured human skin: these are a few examples of technological innovation showcased by the TOP100 Swiss Startup Awards on Wednesday.
Start-up companies are a litmus test for the innovation strength of the Swiss economy. These young firms exploit the latest technology and commercial ideas with the best growth opportunities. Their activities are particularly important for a country that has occupied top spot in the Global Innovation Indexexternal link for the last eight years.
The index is published annually by the World Intellectual Property Organizationexternal link, a United Nations agency.
The annual TOP100 Swiss Startup Awardexternal link is an excellent opportunity to identify innovation trends in Switzerland. This year, almost half of the start-ups were based in canton Zurich and another 25% in French-speaking Vaud. Nine out of the ten finalists came from these two cantons.
This reflects both the dynamic innovation strength in these cantons and the importance of the two federal institutes of technology based in Zurich city and Lausanne – both of which regularly feature among the top universities worldwide.
In recent years, both universities have intensified efforts to link research with the real economy. A variety of programmes have been launched to support young companies, entrepreneurs and students.
The 100 best start-ups were dominated this year by the fields of information technology, biotechnology and medical technology – which are also strengths of the universities. The list also features medical and pharmaceutical innovation, also a traditional strength of Switzerland. But there is so far little sign of the growing blockchain sector despite dozens of fintech start-ups popping up recently.
The TOP100 Startup Awards were presented this year by Venturelab, a programme launched in cooperation with the Swiss Innovation Agency, the federal institutes of technology and other higher education establishments.
Here are the five top-placed start-ups for 2018:
The Zurich company, which also achieved top place last year, has developed its Ovulation Tracking Bracelet which has a 90% chance of picking the best time window for women to conceive within their menstrual cycle.
The device uses its patented multi-sensor technology to measures nine physiological parameters during sleep, including temperature, resting pulse, respiratory rate and sleep phases. Ava has already tasted success in the US and is now expanding into Europe and China.
Founded in Lausanne in 2014, the start-up offers a cloud service to manage fleets of autonomous vehicles. The self-driving vehicles can be monitored and controlled in real time while the system optimizes routes and detects technical failures. Bestmile's technology is already used in the self-driven buses in several French-speaking Swiss cities.
The EPFL medtech spin-off, founded in April 2014, developed an innovative tissue diagnostic platform primarily for the analysis and classification of tumors. The platform is based on microfluidic chip technology, which increases the speed and accuracy of analyses.
This start-up has developed a drone that can fly through inaccessible and confined spaces without being damaged or harming the environment. The unmanned aerial vehicles have numerous applications in the oil, gas, energy, mining and public utility sectors.
The Zurich start-up bioengineers human skin from small samples of tissue. This is especially useful for patients suffering from burns. Thanks to this personalised method, burn victims have much smaller scars and feel less pain after treatment.
(Übertragung aus dem Italienischen: Gerhard Lob), swissinfo.ch