November was a busy, fruitful month for many female founders – the magnitude of achievements and funding rounds at some companies made waves, demystifying some currently depicted notions around female entrepreneurship.
Nouscom, a Basel-based clinical-stage immuno-oncology company led by Marina Udier as CEO, is developing off-the-shelf and personalised viral vector-based cancer vaccines targeting neoantigens. The startup completed its Series C round, raising €67.5 million (CHF65 million) from a syndicate of renowned international healthcare investors. This is one of the largest financing rounds by a female-led team.
Several other female founders received funding: Pregnolia, which is currently conducting clinical studies for its diagnostic system to assess the risk of preterm birth, secured CHF 2.2 million. Anna Rosenkranz, co-founder of St. Gallen-based startup Health Yourself, received an undisclosed amount in its seed round. Aiming to reduce unnecessary doctor visits while making healthcare more accessible and efficient, the startup provides a digital healthcare solution offering routine healthcare services from testing to treatments in the comfort of users’ homes. Moya Kola got crowdfunding investors on oomnium excited about their sustainable Body Basics and Loungewear. The co-founders Claudine Tanner and Sabina Gasser collected CHF 315’000, reaching 126% of their funding goal. Melanie Aregger, CEO and co-founder of Schlieren-based startup Avelo, is participating in an EU-funded project to develop a disposable breath collection device to tackle lower respiratory tract infections.
Customers and partnerships are crucial to validate startup solutions and help them accelerate their growth. ETH-Spin-off Dimpora, co-founded by Anna Beltzung (CTO), is collaborating with fashion brand Snowlife to develop a leather glove for snow sports containing the startup’s ECO Pur technology – a pollutant-free, breathable and waterproof membrane. Lugano-based biotech company Healiva, led by Priyanka Dutta Passecker, joined forces with Japanese Biotech C4U Corporation to develop new therapeutic solutions for rare and debilitating genetic skin disorders, such as the “butterfly children” disease.
There was impressive growth at two companies. Service Hunter (quitt), the ETH spinoff, which has established itself as a digital solution provider for hiring and billing domestic helpers, acquired the B2C service solution familizy from the «pop e poppa» group to l further boost its growth and expansion. For sustainable traveltech startup Travelis, growth has remained stable before and after the pandemic. The Sion-based startup led by Morgane Pfefferlé ( Co-founder & CEO) has already served over 10,000 Swiss private clients and 100+ companies, generating around CHF 2 million in annual revenues without any equity funding.
Clinical advancements for new therapies
Tolremo, co-founded by Stefanie Flückiger, winner of the Female Innovator of the Year Award in 2022, has reached an important step on its journey. The company has dosed the first patient in its first-in-human clinical trial of its lead candidate, TT125-802, an orally available small molecule CBP/p300 bromodomain inhibitor designed to prevent non-genetic cancer drug resistance. Cutis, the developer of lab-engineered regenerative skin treatment for burns, has finalised the recruitment process for its denovoSkin phase II clinical trial in reconstructive surgery for children and adults. Far ahead in development is Spirecut, the medtech startup that develops and commercialises non-invasive, ultrasound-guided instruments designed to address carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger – afflictions. The company has obtained a CE mark for its patented Sono instruments and secured partnerships to fuel its market entry in Europe and the US.
Juries in several award competitions were impressed with the solutions from female-led startups. The following awards and prizes were prizes bestowed on the startups.
- Venture Kick awarded ETH spinoff Sallea and RefFit, each CHF 150’000.
- Genilem supports four startups, including HoliYou, MyHandyPlus and Oba!
- The Kickstart cohort in 2023 saw NALU and Health Yourself participate and win partnership deals.
- Forbes’ 30 under 30 list is broad, with founders such as Laura Stocco, CMO and co-founder of Openversum, and Jessica Farda, co-founder and CEO of Noriware.
- Startup Nights winners are, among others, KUORI and S.Lab.
- The Diabetes Innovation Challenge, offering a CHF 100,000 prize, went to Greta Preatoni of Minerva.
- Fabas on the Grand Prix Bio Suisse award
- SEF.Women Award revealed the six finalists: Stefanie Flückiger-Mangual, CEO of TOLREMO therapeutics AG, Patrizia Laeri, Nadine Jürgensen, Simone Züger, co-founders of ellexx and Alessia Schrepfer | WeNurse AG qualified for the categories «Young Entrepreneur of the Year». In the category «Entrepreneur/CEO of the Year» are the women leaders: Sandra Banholzer |RAUSCH AG KREUZLINGEN, Nicola Thibaudeau | MPS Micro Precision Systems AG and Aniela Unguresan | EDGE Strategy.
- Multiple women received prizes at the POWHER award ceremony.
The following startups were able to showcase their innovations at various global trade fairs: Founders of Avelo, Oxyle, patchXR, REA and Xilva travelled to Helsinki to attend the Slush conference. Nutrix, Neur.on, Perivision (Serife Kucur Ergunay, CTO and co-founder) joined different accelerators in different parts of the world. In other updates, we spoke with Chiara Decaroli, physicist and former Quantum Innovation Lead at the UK National Quantum Computing Centre and currently investment Manager at Redstone VC, to enlighten us on quantum technology. Read our interview in which she provides a deeper insight into the topic and the potential of quantum computing in different applications. Two key players in the French-speaking Switzerland innovation space have taken on new roles. As of 1 January 2024, Gladys Winkler Docourt will lead Creapole, a major player in the field of business creation and the development of innovation projects. In the Canton of Vaud, Karen Undritz will take over the reins of Y-PARC Swiss Technopole SA from 1 February.