Female Founders News #9 – January 2024

Text: Ritah Ayebare Nyakato

Female Founders News #9 – January 2024
Remarkably, most of the announcements made in the past weeks have been mainly about life sciences companies, with a few in cleantech, Fintech and other sectors. There are new insights from the latest Swiss Venture Capital Report.

The year has started off well with big rounds announced. Lea Magiore, the co-founder of Carvolution, transformed car dealerships by offering a subscription model with an all-inclusive bundle for users not to worry about anything – except fueling. Unlike leasing, Carvolution promises simplicity. The startup has secured CHF 200 million in an asset-backed financing deal with Barclays Bank. The funds will further propel the company’s growth.

Also exciting was the CHF 17.4 million financing round for Stalicla, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company at the forefront of precision medicine pipelines for neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. From its offices in Geneva under the leadership of Lynn Durham (CEO), the startup developed the first neurodevelopmental disorder-specific precision medicine platform with an initial application in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Two assets, STP1 and STP2, are in clinical development. It also holds global rights for Novartis’ drug candidate, mavoglurant, a treatment for substance-use disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) – now labelled STP7.

Margaux Peltier and her cofounders, Dr. Alessandro Rotta Loria and Prof. Lyesse Laloui, secured CHF 1.3 million for their startup, Enerdrape. Addressing the current climate and energy challenges, the startup introduced the world’s first modular prefabricated geothermal panel technology that allows for installing panels without drilling, hence making it possible to turn underground structures, such as car parking or tunnels, into sources of renewable thermal energy for the heating and cooling of buildings. This technology is poised to play a vital role in achieving CO2 emissions targets in the construction industry. The fresh capital will thus propel the company’s growth.

Fatemeh Nikayin is the co-founder of the fintech startup Rivero. Together with her team, they simplify payment operations for the highly regulated payments industry by offering them SaaS products designed to make costly and manual payment operations seamless. Rivero has been growing fast since its founding and in just three years, it has attracted over 20 well-established financial institutions as customers. Investors have also recognised its potential and injected 7 million in its series A round. The new startup on the block, Enantios, is starting off strong. Founded at the end of 2022, measurement technology designed to enable users to determine the structure of complex chiral molecules and biologics has garnered the attention of customers and investors. This early traction strengthens the startup’s position and gives it a motivational push to advance its solution further. Rea Diagnostics, which is revolutionizing the detection of preterm birth risks in pregnant women with its unique, non-invasive testing technology also secured a seed loan to facilitate clinical trials. 

The journey for life sciences companies is typically longer than that of low-tech companies, which is why any clinical milestones are celebrated. Onward Therapeutics, a Lausanne-based startup, has kicked off the phase 1 clinical trial of OT-A201, a first-in-class bispecific antibody targeting two immune checkpoints. b-rayZ received the CE Mark for its custom AI technology for efficient, accurate, and sustainable mammography screening and diagnostics. The CE-marked platform DINIA integrates seamlessly into the comprehensive breast diagnostic suites (b-box plus) and adheres to the needs of breast imaging institutions and their professional staff.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) meets food and these startups demonstrate how. Vivent, which has been recognised with the Innosuisse certificate, uses AI to decode plant biosignals captured by electrophysiology sensors. This not only helps farmers, breeders, and crop protection producers, as well as plant scientists and agronomists, to address their plants’ needs, but it also helps them to minimise water, fertiliser, energy, and pesticide usage. Nuuro has launched its AI-powered meal recommendation app aimed at simplifying nutritional choices. Users will be able, for instance, to scan the menu in the restaurant or online to get relevant information on the items to support their choice. The company is still in its early stages, but it is building up its traction.

A noteworthy mention is the presence and participation of female founders in different awards and events. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas gave many startups an international platform to showcase their innovations. Among those who attended the event were the founders of Swisstor, Nutrix and Avatronics. The recently held annual World Economic Forum was a highlight towards the end of January, and as always, the program was rich. Among the activities were the startup awards: Smartpurse took home a prize bestowed by the World Innovation Forum, a three-day event held within the framework of WEF. The coveted ZKP Pionierpreis revealed the startups on the shortlist – Avelo, DeepJudge, and Stimit- which are all led by women and are among the contestants eyeing the CHF 100k award prize. Ellexx became the first company from Switzerland to receive the „People and Planet First“ label from the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), a globally active initiative that recognises social enterprises worldwide.

Finally, the ETH has published the number of spinoffs that were established last year. Of the 43 newly founded companies, 11 companies were founded by women, demonstrating a significant increase compared to the previous years.

Veröffentlicht am Februar 03, 2024

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