The winners of the StartUp Challenge 2023
2 min

StartUp Challenge 2023: an in-depth look at deep tech

A total of 240 applications, cutting-edge technology from promising sectors and committed young entrepreneurs – the Swisscom StartUp Challenge 2023. But in the end, only three could win.

The Swiss deep tech scene is thriving, as was demonstrated at this year’s Swisscom StartUp Challenge. From the 240 applications received, 10 finalists represented many important and promising topics at the event: sustainability, data protection, energy storage, robotics, IoT and quantum computing. Very few of the startups went without the use of artificial intelligence in their solutions.

In the end, though, only three of the candidates could win:

  • The Zurich-based ETH spin-off Irmos Technologies using simple sensors and an AI-supported monitoring platform to monitor the structural condition of bridges, thereby reducing maintenance costs and environmental impact while also improving safety. 
  • The Lausanne-based EPFL spin-off Swistor developing energy storage systems that combine a high storage capacity with an equally high power output and short charging times. In the future, it will be possible to use this next generation of durable and environmentally friendly energy storage systems for portable consumer electronics, autonomous IoT sensor nodes or even in the power grid.
  • The Zug-based startup Synthara with its patented solution, enabling chip manufacturers to revolutionise their microchips and make them an astonishing 50 times more efficient.

The audience award went to the Zurich-based company HOPR, which is developing highly secure digital forms of communication.

Deep tech in and for Switzerland

All of the ten finalists triumphed, which was evident at the award ceremony – and not only because the jury found it very difficult to choose the winners after the final pitches. The startups present were almost unanimous in emphasising the importance of the networking, contact with committed companies and visibility provided by the StartUp Challenge.

The deep tech startups are also important for Switzerland as a business location. While Switzerland has excellent research locations with its universities – as demonstrated by two successful spin-offs from EPFL and ETHZ – the innovations also need to be financed and marketed in order to strengthen the economy. Deep tech startups are one way to achieve this.

Caption for cover image (from left): Isa Müller-Wegner and Marcus Dahlén (both Swisscom), Anup Kini (Synthara), Christos Lataniotis and Cyprien Hoelzl (both Irmos Technologies), Clara Moldovan and Victoria Manzi Orezzoli (both Swistor)

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