Judith Eberley and Robert Ruttmann, co-founders of Urban Connect, were awarded the EY Startup of the Year Award in the “Emerging Entrepreneur” category. Their startup, Urban Connect, is Zurich’s first truly CO2-neutral mobility platform. It offers an ecosystem of low-emission shared vehicles like e-scooters, e-bikes, and e-cars, along with access to public transport. The startup handles the procurement and management of the vehicles, and employees of connected companies can book and unlock them via a dedicated app. Several large Swiss companies such as Bühler, Lonza, and Roche utilise this solution.
Two startups stood out on global stages last month: Spring Acts won the “Europe’s best social innovation” at the Social Innovation Tournament with its solution Sophia Chatbot, a 24/7 digital companion for survivors of domestic violence that offers anonymous support in 12 languages. Matis’ CEO Marie Eve Didier won the Female Founder award at the Supernova Pitch Competition held in Dubai at Expand North Star. Her startup, Matis, provides an optical imaging solution for art professionals that uses machine learning to reveal the essence of artworks by extracting their chemical and digital fingerprints and producing quantifiable expertise with end-to-end encryption and a secure, unique database.
Earkick’s AI-powered mental health companion gained international exposure when it was featured in Times. Journalist Jamie Ducharme delved into the topic of AI-supported mental health care, featuring Swiss startup Earkick by Karin Stephan.
Still on mental health, Klenico, led by Laura Henrich, developed a novel diagnostic tool called the Klenico system to capture the complexity and diversity of mental disorders. Recent clinical study results show that Klenico is a valid digital tool capable of providing targeted and efficient support to professionals in diagnosing mental illnesses, thus contributing to evidence-based diagnoses and therapies.
Funding from different sources
Several startups received funding in different forms, enabling them to advance their development. ETH Zurich spin-off Citus secured funding in the form of a convertible loan to accelerate its skin health solution, NIMBLE. The product has already been used in several clinical trials to characterise changes in the mechanics of skin. Venture Capital (VC) firms are also pushing Eat by Alex forward with an investment of CHF 850’000. Beyond Scroll, the startup led by Marianna Fighera got FIT Boost while AgroSustain and Terapet won EU-funded projects, in which their technologies will be deployed to develop solutions that help plants adapt to changing climatic conditions and in the creation of Carbon ion therapy. HeroSupport was granted CHF 150’000 after winning the Venture Kick finale.
The VC landscape is being shaken up by the newly launched firm emma Ventures, which has emerged in times where talks on diversity are getting louder. With diversity at its core, the firm aims to support underrepresented entrepreneurs with different cultural and educational backgrounds, genders, races and beyond.
The recent appointments in startup teams and the Board of Directors also showcased diversity in practice. Nanci Govinder was appointed chairperson at Lymphatica, Asceneuron welcomed Barbara Angehrn as its Chief Executive Officer and Oculis appointed Rebecca Weil to the position of Chief Operation Officer. The new edition of the Swiss version of the shark Tank program “Die Schweizer Höhle der Löwen” features three women in the Lion’s den. The program broadcasts every Tuesday at 20:15 on 3Plus.