6 Swiss start-ups you don’t want to miss

12 Sep 2019

Zurich, Switzerland. Image: © rudi1976/Stock.adobe.com

The Swiss Startup Awards has ranked the best of Switzerland’s start-ups. Here are the ones at the top of the pack.

Each year, the Top 100 Swiss Startup Awards showcases the most promising Swiss start-ups. High-ranking start-ups on previous lists have achieved unicorn status and seen lucrative acquisitions, while this year’s cream of the crop have been making their own headlines.

“Many of the top 100 start-ups are already internationally sought-after technology and innovation partners, as well as attractive investment objects,” said Bastian Zarske Bueno, head of corporate ventures at Swiss Prime Site, about the 2019 ranking.

The Top 100 was selected by a jury of 100 investors and experts seeking Switzerland’s most impactful start-ups. Those at the very top highlight the attraction of health-focused innovators and disruptors, as well as a strong showing for drone and autonomous vehicle technology.


A spin-out of EPFL, a research institute and university in Lausanne, Flyability builds drones especially for safe indoor use. These drones can be used for the inspection and exploration of inaccessible or even hazardous spaces in nuclear, energy, chemical and mining industries. The company also works with search and rescue and security professionals, with more than 550 of its Elios drones deployed at more than 350 sites.

Founded in 2014, Switzerland’s top start-up has raised $16m to date, including an $11m Series B round last year co-led by ETF Partners and Swisscom Ventures. Flyability has also won a string of tech and business awards including a $1m Drones for Good Award in 2015. After being named number one among 100 Swiss start-ups, co-founder and CTO Dr Adrien Briod said its rise in the rankings has helped the company “build credibility with prospective investors and customers” over the years.

Lunaphore Technologies

Another Lausanne start-up based at EPFL, medtech Lunaphore Technologies builds lab automation systems for tissue diagnostics based on a unique microfluidic technology. Comparing its technology to the fast sequencing of genes that has been made possible through innovation, Lunaphore promises the fastest system for tissue diagnostics, transforming the time and resources required to identify cancer biomarkers.

Lunaphore’s microfluidic tissue processor is protected by a portfolio of four patents. Following a Series B financing round last August, which raised 5.3m Swiss francs from investors including Occident Group and Zürcher Kantonalbank, co-founder and CEO Dr Ata Tuna Ciftlik said the company’s standing had “been validated one more time with this oversubscribed financing round”. Co-founders Dr Diego G Dupouy and Déborah Heintze also lead the team as CTO and COO, respectively.


Headquartered in Zurich and with offices in San Francisco, Hong Kong and Makati, Ava was founded in 2014 by Pascal Koenig, Philipp Tholen, Peter Stein and Lea von Bidder. Another medtech venture, this company is focused on reproductive health and its first product, the Ava bracelet, uses sensors to pinpoint fertile days in a woman’s cycle.

A former start-up of the year for two years running, Ava also won the Swiss Medtech Award in 2018. To date, the company has raised $42.6m in funding and has seen its revenues exceed 10m Swiss francs as it kicks off its expansion into China.

Von Bidder, who is CEO of Ava, was the only Swiss person named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 last year and believes being from Switzerland is an asset, even in Silicon Valley.


Founded in 2016, Wingtra is the top Zug start-up in Switzerland and, perhaps surprisingly, it’s not involved in fintech. Similar to the number one on this list, Wingtra is a drone producer manufacturing VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drones for professional surveying and mapping. VTOL is suited to this task because it enables hands-free operation and a smooth ride for on-board sensors. The WingtraOne ‘all-in-one drone solution’ can be configured with different high-resolution and accurate cameras for applications in agriculture, environmental research and more.

Spun out of the university ETH Zurich, Wingtra was founded by Maximilian Boosfeld (CEO), Basil Weibel (CRO), Elias Kleimann (CFO). In May this year, the company announced $10m in Series A funding from Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital, Investiere, Zürcher Kantonalbank and others.


2014 was clearly a vintage year for Lausanne start-ups as another major player in the Swiss top 100 is Bestmile, which provides software solutions to manage both autonomous and human-operated fleets. Bestmile users can deploy, manage and optimise both autonomous and conventional vehicles using its cloud platform, managing fixed-route and on-demand services regardless of the vehicle brand or type. The platform – which uses algorithms, real-time automated dispatching, intelligent routing and electrical energy management – supports fleets on three continents worldwide.

Just last month, Bestmile announced a $16.5m Series B round led by Blue Lagoon Capital and TransLink Capital. “With these funds and leadership, we are ready to advance our leadership in fleet orchestration,” said co-founder and CEO Raphael Gindrat. “We are excited to have the financial and operational support we need to ramp up every function of the organisation.”


Completing the half-dozen best Swiss start-ups is biotech firm Cutiss, which is currently trialling its method of growing large grafts of human skin in the lab for patients suffering from defects such as burns and trauma. Cutiss bio-engineers skin from a small, healthy patient sample, extracting and expanding the cells to bio-engineer skin that closely resembles human skin.

Once again proving the pedigree of Switzerland’s university spin-outs, Cutiss comes from the University of Zurich. CEO and co-founder Daniela Marino said, “In 2012 we received 9m Swiss francs from the EU to run clinical trials and, when I saw that the first results were good, I decided to start a company to acquire more funds in order to take the project all the way to the market. I was on an academic path and gave myself three months to test my business idea, and here I am!”

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.