Teams 2008 – Winners Phase 2

In the second phase of »venture» 2008, 101 business plans were submitted. 10 teams were awarded a prize money totaling CHF 137’500. 1 team was awarded a special prize of CHF 3’500.

Main prize winners

1. rank: Optotune (ETH Zurich)

Optotune’s goal is to revolutionize the market for optical systems by providing the next generation of adaptive optical elements.

Imagine, for instance, equipping an endoscope with a miniaturized optical zoom or reducing the number of objectives needed in microscopy down to only one. Or how about an ultra-thin mobile phone with a light-weight and power-efficient 5x optical zoom?

Optotune can make this vision a reality! Our patented technology based on electroactive polymers enables the implementation of a revolutionary lens with tunable focal length. Its principle is similar to that of the human eye: instead of moving lenses back and forth, we bend them by applying a voltage. This additional degree of freedom simplifies the design of focus and zoom systems in many applications, outperforming existing solutions in size, cost, power consumption and robustness.

2. rank: NeMoDevice (ETH Zurich, University of Zurich)

Brain blood flow (cerebral blood flow; CBF) and oxygen supply are the most important parameters for detecting secondary brain injuries and to guide treatment of patients with stroke and head trauma. CBF is a key parameter to improve therapy and outcome of these patients. NeMoDevices provides new disposable NeuroMonitoring systems, based on near infrared spectroscopy extended with a light-absorbing dye dilution mode for CBF monitoring. NeMoCBFsystems are unique, delivering absolute CBF values together with other parameters (intracranial pressure, temperature and oxygen). There is no device in the market that is able to deliver all the parameters that are crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment, at the bedside and in a user-friendly manner. Based on 12 years of development at the University Hospital and the ETH Zurich, the new method has been invented, validated, and scientifically published. In 2007, NeMoDevices GmbH was founded.

3. rank: Celeroton (ETH Zurich)

Electrical dental handpieces, drilling spindles for micro-electronics, ultra-compact compressors for heat pumps, renewable energy generation and next-generation cars all need miniaturized ultra-high-speed electrical drive systems that are not available on the market today. Celeroton develops and manufactures such miniaturized ultra-high-speed electrical drives and sells them to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The innovation lies in the interdisciplinary design, developed at the ETH Zurich, including mechanics, electromagnetics, electronics and software. This design enables high rotational speeds – up to 1 million revolutions per minute (rpm) – not achievable by standard drive systems. Miniaturized ultra-high-speed electrical drives resolve several industry needs such as lightweight and highly compact systems, increased productivity and high efficiency. Our drives replace volume and weight with speed across all industries!

4. rank: Aleva Neurotherapeutics (EPF Lausanne)

Aleva Neurotherapeutics has developed a proprietary technology that enables significantly better therapies for a broad range of neurological diseases. The treatment of Parkinson’s Disease through Deep Brain Stimulation is an existing USD 600 million market and is Aleva’s first target market. Using Aleva’s microDBS™ electrodes, neurosurgeons and neurologists will see reduced surgical and follow-up times, reimbursers will see a substantial reduction in costs, and patients will benefit from a decrease in debilitating side effects.

5. rank: kringlan composites, Zurich

kringlan develops process technologies for high-performance fibre- reinforced thermoplastic materials, with a particular focus on ring-shaped structures. Based on our proprietary platform technologies, we are developing carbon fibre reinforced automotive wheels that will weigh 50% less than a normal light alloy wheel. kringlan wheels will ensure considerable reduction in both fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, while at the same time improving car performance. Our technologies were developed with regard to high-volume production, so that we will be able to offer our products at competitive prices.

Our platform technologies enable us to manufacture more than just wheels: every highly sollicitated, ring-shaped structure is for us a future application!

Winners ranked on the 6th place (in alphabetical order)

Advanced Metal Technology (ETH Zurich)

Advanced Metal Technology (AMT) realizes industrial applications for metallic glasses. Due to its exceptional mechanical properties and forming ability this novel material holds significant potential for many structural applications in small dimensions (e.g., micro gears, sensor substrates, watch components). AMT is a collaboration of the Laboratory of Metal Physics and Technology at the ETH Zurich and awtec AG. The company is applying a new technology-transfer model in which customers who invest in early-stage application development are granted an exclusivity for their market segment. AMT is currently running development projects with 10 world market leaders, all operating in different markets. Based on these projects a turnover of CHF 20 million is expected by 2014. AMT is currently searching for investors in order to build up a large scale production.

Biodiagnostik (University of Bern)

BioDiagnostik is positioned as an innovative niche player in the area of “Personalized Medicine”. The company has developed a unique technology which permits molecular detection of gene activities in routinely fixed tissue. BioDiagnostik has built two complementary business units (BUs) on this platform:

1. The Diagnostics BU represents the low-risk, “bread and butter” business. The already validated lead product (molecular risk assessment of breast cancer) guarantees profitable growth right from the beginning. The test allows assessment, ahead of the therapy, of the individual risk of a patient to produce metastases. Thus, the result can be included in deciding on the right therapy.

2. The promising Theragnostics BU develops predictive molecular gene signatures to identify patients who respond best to a specific drug. This allows developing highly effective drugs with fewer side effects while shortening development time and reducing costs.

HelvaLab (EPF Lausanne)

HelvaLab proposes innovative solutions for cell culture. In particular, HelvaLab provides culture dishes with surfaces that imitate the viscoelastic properties present in the human body. These culture substrates range from the stiffness of bone to virtually the softness of brain. HelvaLab’s novel culture dishes contribute to the maintenance of appropriate cell phenotypes throughout the culture process by making them ‘feel at home’. This provides more homogeneous cell populations and a higher yield in cell production compared with standard culture. Moreover, specific cell types that do not survive and grow on conventional culture dishes can now be observed in culture using the HelvaLab technology.

Preclin Ventures (ETH Zurich)

PRECLIN Ventures (PV) has developed an integrated approach for the in vivo generation and pre-clinical validation of therapeutics destined for treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. PV utilizes two core technology platforms in its approach: (1) novel humanized knock-in mice where the target mouse gene has been replaced by its human counterpart; and (2) an unparalleled panel of mouse models of human disease. Combined, these tools provide a powerful platform for the rapid generation and preclinical validation of therapeutics. To offset the burn rate of the in-house research and development, PV offers its ‘systems biology’ style approach for the testing of external lead candidate drugs in mouse models of inflammatory disease as a fee-for-service. This approach can provide an overall drug efficacy snapshot within 2 months, a strategy that can speed up the preclinical phase of drug development up to 10 times, leading to a faster time to market.

Siltectra (University of Zurich, Harvard University)

Siltectra has developed proprietary technology that significantly eliminates material losses when cutting crystalline silicon into thin wafers. Silicon wafers are the basis of most solar cells as well as electronic ICs. Current cutting methods such as wire-sawing waste almost 50% of the precious silicon raw material, corresponding to a loss of over USD 2.1 billion per year just for solar cells. Siltectra’s breakthrough technology avoids these losses altogether. Siltectra will manufacture silicon wafers and first target the USD 18 billion market for silicon solar cells. Using Siltectra’s wafers the costs for silicon solar cells can be reduced by over 40%, allowing them to become cost-competitive with fossil energy sources.


Special prize


DJOM KOSSAM is a dairy store in Bamako (Mali). It is expanding into a dairy company that does not import any milk powder. In order to provide costumers with healthy dairy produce, we invest in the dairy value chain. We ensure a regular income for farmers, associated jobs for locals, and finally reach consumers known to support the Malian economy. To achieve high milk quality, employees and farmers will be educated and supervised by local and international experts. Market access for farmers, who can’t afford

their own cows, is facilitated by donations from the project “buy your own cow in Mali”, initiated by the association Pro Milk Mali. Increasing food prices worldwide lead to a strong demand for local food in developing countries. DJOM KOSSAM aims to provide many people in Mali with healthy and microbiological safe dairy products.