Berne, 16 August 2016
Participation in this year’s StartUp Challenge reached an all-time high, attracting more than 200 applications. The applicants came from the worlds of IT, the web, software, FinTech, e-commerce, AdTech, big data, e-health, smart homes and security. The ten best pitched their ideas to a specialist jury today, Tuesday, 16 August 2016. This jury included Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler (Swisscom Chief Digital Officer), Adrienne Corboud (EPFL Vice-President), Dave Brown (Business Angel of the Year) and Beat Schillig (Managing Director of programme partner venturelab). For the very first time, the pitches were delivered at EPFL, where Swisscom is in the process of building a competence centre for digitalisation (Digital Lab) as part of its strategic partnership with EPFL.
To score points with the jury, the start-ups had to not only present clever ideas and a convincing business model, but also demonstrate team spirit and determination. The jury was particularly enthusiastic about Advanon, Fashwell, Nanolive, Qumram and Xsensio. Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler: “I was impressed yet again by the creativity and drive of these start-up companies. I’m pleased that our programme can support young entrepreneurs in making a start and promoting innovative strength in Switzerland.”
The five winners ensured a place for themselves on a business acceleration program in Silicon Valley. This tailored mentoring programme enables start-ups to have their entire business model thoroughly checked and establish valuable contacts with international partners and mentors. The start-ups will head off on their journey on 26 September 2016.
Founded by three former Google employees, Advanon enables SMEs to prefinance their outstanding invoices easily, quickly and transparently. SMEs can have their customer invoices prefinanced by investors on the Advanon online platform and receive their cash within 24 hours. Companies can therefore customize their short-term financing according to their business needs and avoid long waiting times, while investors receive access to a new asset class.
Every day, Instagram users click on thousands of images of models wearing clothes that they would love to wear themselves. With the ambition of making fashion products accessible to users on the Internet and offering them the opportunity to buy them, three ETH graduates developed Fashwell, an app that enables users to find and buy their favourite fashion products online thanks to an image analysis algorithm based on machine learning.
Scientists working for scientists – the start-up Nanolive was founded under this motto at the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne. Nanolive is a new type of technology that enables scientists to conduct 3D microscope-based exploration of living cells without damaging them. In particular, it supports breakthroughs in medical research, such as by making it possible to test the effects of medicines on living cells.
Zurich-based start-up Qumram is dedicated to a market with a very bright future – big data. Qumram is a big data platform on which any online data can be entirely and lawfully captured and subsequently retrieved at any moment. It enables companies to meet their record-keeping obligations, identify fraud through analysis of customer interactions and optimise customer experience.
The start-up Xsensio, founded at the EPFL in Lausanne, has developed a wearable that uses biochemical information on the surface of our skin to provide real-time information about our state of health and well-being in a non-invasive way. Unlike traditional wearables, Xsensio is based on nanotechnology that exploits information from proteins, molecules and electrolytes on the skin surface.