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Swiss-based start-ups join European elite

Basel-based Speedel won a place in Tornado's top 100 (Speedel) speedel

Tornado Insider, an Amsterdam-based finance database publisher, has identified seven start-up companies in Switzerland as belonging to Europe’s technology elite.

This content was published on February 2, 2005 - 11:39

The annual selection of the 100 best performing and innovative high-tech private companies is compiled from mainly venture-backed European and Israel-based start-ups.

Three of the technology ventures in the rankings are in the life-science sector.

Basel-based 4-Antibody – set up one year ago - is clearly the youngest company to be selected. Founded as a Basel University spinoff last year, 4-Antibody aims to develop and optimize potential antibody drugs.

A little bit older is Geneva-based Addex Pharmaceuticals SA. Founded in 2002, the startup company is working to develop drugs that can better treat central nervous system diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's.

Basel-based Speedel is the oldest of the life science ventures. The biotechnology firm was founded in 1998 and has set itself up to outsource drug development processes for big pharma.

Cell phone industry

Two other firms have carved niches for themselves in the booming cellular phone industry.

Zurich-based Esmertec makes a tiny piece of software that enables Java applications to run on standard phones, while Starhome, another winner, makes software for mobile network operators that enables users to roam between networks. Starhome was founded originally in Israel.

The other two elite firms are semiconductor startups: Zurich-based Bridgeco AG, developing home entertainment networking chips, and Innovative Silicon ISi SA, based in Ecublens, whose silicon know-how is being used to make cheaper memory chips.

"Switzerland seems to be able to develop and spawn capital intensive startups," commented Niels Valkenring, head of research at Tornado Insider, adding that it is an indication of a strong R&D element to the companies.

Top six

There are fewer deals in Switzerland than other countries, but the amounts raised by firms pushes Switzerland into the top six countries in Europe in terms of volume of capital raised.

"That was the case for Switzerland the last time we compiled the Tornado100 list and it is also the case this year," said Valkenring.

"This year's Tornado100 was particularly tough to compile," said Jerome Mol, founder and CEO of Tornado Insider in a statement.

The Dutch entrepreneur-turned-publisher feels that the level of innovation and entrepreneurial excellence in Europe has increased "big time" in the past couple of years.

"The 100 winners truly managed to surprise us with outstanding product offerings, superior customer wins and impressive funding rounds," said Mol.

by Valerie Thompson

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