Some 700 people attended the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Awards ceremony in Zurich on September 4, including numerous Swiss and foreign investors. Four EPFL spin-offs made it into the top ten: Bestmile, Lunaphore, Flyability and Gamaya. This marks the eighth year of the Awards, which are organized by startup.ch in order to highlight the country’s most promising young tech companies. The winners receive no monetary reward but get a considerable boost to their reputation and visibility.
Bestmile (#7 last year) developed a platform that lets transportation operators manage autonomous vehicles alongside conventional ones, while ensuring pedestrian safety. Its cloud-based platform uses a series of smart algorithms that allow users to manage car fleets, optimize vehicle use, provide fixed-route and on-demand services, and even monitor power consumption.
The company was established in 2014, and this year raised €10 million in funding that will be used to roll out its platform in dense urban areas in Japan, Dubai and Singapore. Bestmile was also named one of the 2018 Technology Pioneers at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Faster and more reliable tumor diagnoses
Lunaphore, also founded in 2014, provides a microfluidic system that enables fast, reliable diagnoses of tumor cells. The company hopes to drastically increase the number of biomarker tests that can be carried out for each type of tumor. In August it completed a CHF 5.3 million fundraising round, on the heels of a CHF 6 million round in 2017; the proceeds will be used to help launch its first product on the market.
Two other EPFL spin-offs were in the top ten: Gamaya and Flyability. The former makes a hyperspectral camera that can be used with a drone and special software to detect the condition of farmers’ crops and suggest targeted treatments. The latter has developed a drone with a unique lightweight cage around it that lets it bounce off obstacles rather than avoiding them. That means Flyability’s drones can explore areas that are dangerous or impossible for humans to reach. Both startups have carried out several successful fundraising rounds.
More women in the C-Suite
As mentioned in the official press release, this year more women appear in the winning startups’ management teams. In fact, every one of the top three startups – including Bestmile and Lunaphore – was co-founded by a woman.
The winning startups – which must be less than five years old – were chosen by a panel of 100 investors and startup experts. Each panel member drew up a list of his or her ten favorite firms based on their market potential, and gave ten points to the top firm on the list, nine points to the second firm on the list, and so on. The points assigned by all the panel members were added up to come up with the final ranking. The TOP 100 Swiss Startup Awards were created by Jordi Montserrat and Beat Schillig, the founders of Venturelab, to help the country’s talented entrepreneurs gain greater visibility among investors. The winners receive no cash prize.