Success stories

Take a look at the hall of fame: Follow the footprints of former »venture» winners


Since starting up in 1998, the »venture» competition has seen various exciting and promising business projects. In every edition of the competition, it was very hard to find a winner among many great proposals. Not only the winners but also many of the other participating ventures reached impressive achievements in subsequent years. Although some of the new ventures went through a challenging time in the early stages, many startups developed into important drivers in several respects, which include: the creation of new jobs, the bridging of innovation to marketable products or services, and strengthening the economic development in Switzerland.   

Let us take a look at the development of some former »venture» winners:

Sensirion, the first winner of the competition in 1998 has become one of the world's leading manufacturers of humidity sensors and other sensor solutions. The company currently has about 550 employees in Switzerland (a total of about 600 worldwide) and generated revenues of CHF 150 million in 2013. Founded in 1998 as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich, the company is based in Stäfa near Zurich, Switzerland. Whereas research, development, and production is mainly conducted at its headquarters in Switzerland, the company also has employees in various other countries such as the USA, South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, the UK, Ireland, and Germany.


Glycart, one of our winners in 2000, was acquired by Roche for USD 235 million in 2005. Glycart earned numerous business venture awards, including the Wall Street Journal Europe Innovation Award in 2001. The European Venture Capital magazine distinguished the acquisition by Roche as the "Venture Deal of the Year" (2005) in the healthcare category. In November 2013, Roche announced that they received FDA approval for a new drug against chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The drug is based on discoveries by Roche Glycart AG, now known as Roche Innovation Center Zurich, a part of Roche's Pharma Research and Early Development organization.


Molecular Partners, a »venture» winner in 2004, entered 2013 into a USD one billion research collaboration and licensing agreement with Roche to discover, develop and commercialize several proprietary therapeutics for the treatment of cancer. Today, Molecular Partners has about 80 employees in Schlieren. Since the IPO in November 2014, the company is listed at the SIX Swiss Exchange.


Endosense, a winner in 2004, was acquired by St. Jude Medical for up to CHF 309 million in August 2013. Endosense developed the TactiCath irrigated ablation catheter to give physicians a real-time, objective measure of the force they apply to the heart wall during a catheter ablation procedure. Today, the TactiCath device awaits approval by the USA FDA.


Covagen, a winner in 2006, is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company with currently about 30 employees. The company develops protein therapeutics/drugs for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancer. In August 2014, Covagen announced that it has been acquired by Cilag, an affiliate of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson. The purchase price was not communicated but is estimated to be well over CHF 200 million.


Kooaba, a »venture» winner in 2008, announced in early 2014 that it had been acquired by Qualcomm Connected Experiences, one of the largest semiconductor companies in the world with headquarters in the USA. The ETH Zürich spin-off Kooaba was founded in 2007 and focused on image recognition technologies. These technologies can be used on mobile devices. They enable identification of objects in images and can link them to interactive data. Thanks to Kooaba Paperboy, you simply take a photo of a newspaper article, an advertisement, or a poster with your mobile phone, and in a moment you get related content or even access to an exclusive contest. Numerous publishing companies, both domestic and abroad, are already using Paperboy. With the second Kooaba product, called ‘Déjà-Vu’, a mobile phone user who wants to remember a special CD, DVD or even a bottle of wine simply takes a snapshot of it. The tool automatically assigns keywords to these photos and automatically archives them.


Celeroton, a winner in 2008, has won multiple business venture competitions and has grown to more than 20 employees in 2014. Founded in 2008 as a spinoff from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich, the high-tech company, with headquarters in Zurich, is a leading manufacturer of ultra-high-speed electrical drive systems. Celeroton’s electric drive system with a world-record speed of 1 million revolutions per minute offers distinctive advantages for various applications, such as in turbo compressors for air supply of fuel cells as well as for heat pumps. Over the last five years, the company’s product portfolio has constantly grown. Celeroton sells its products in the USA, Europe, and Asia.


ProteoMediX, a winner in 2010, picked up CHF 3.2 million in a Series B financing round in 2014, after having raised CHF 2.6 million in a Series A financing round in 2012. Besides the »venture» competition, ProteoMediX won numerous other business venture awards. ProteoMediX is developing non-invasive diagnostic tests for the accurate detection, prognosis and therapy-selection of cancer.


Sophia Genetics, a venture winner in 2012 attracted funding from various business prizes and seed financing. In 2012, the company picked up CHF 2.8 million in Series A funding. Sophia Genetics’s Data-Driven Medicine Platform is being used in SaaS by over forty institutions (hospitals and private laboratories) across 11 European countries. The technology has enabled the adoption of clinical genomics for routine diagnostics in areas such as oncology or cardiology. In 2014, Sophia Genetics became the European leader in the field and raised USD 13.75 million in a Series B round of financing. Swisscom, Endeavour Vision, and Dr. Mike Lynch’s Invoke Capital led the financing round. The capital investment aims to accelerate the adoption of clinical analytics for genetic diseases in Europe.


Alerion Technologies, one of our most recent winners in 2014, develops and commercializes advanced, modular and small unmanned aircraft systems. The business is based on recent advancements and the miniaturization of technology that have opened the doors to unmanned aircraft solutions for earth observation, making applications that are effective and affordable. The startup is currently in the business incubation program of the European Space Agency (ESA). Founded in August 2014, the company is currently in the very early stage and today has four employees.


The »venture» team wishes all the best to the companies that have participated and we hope the success of these companies inspires you to realize your business ideas in your own venturing project.