14 super Zurich start-ups to watch in 2018

16 Nov 2017

Image: RossHelen/Shutterstock

Zurich is at the nexus of important innovations in digital, medical and financial technologies. It is also a thriving proving ground for start-ups.

Zurich is one of the leading global financial centres and home to the head offices of 10 of the world’s largest financial firms, including: ABB, UBS, Credit Suisse, Swiss Re and Zurich Financial Services. It is also the world’s largest gold trading centre.

The city is one of the top educational hubs in Europe, with more than 20 universities serving 60,000 students, including the renowned University of Zurich and ETH.

Nestled in the heart of Europe with rail access to cities such as Geneva, Paris, Milan and Frankfurt, Zurich is also home to the engineering hubs of tech giants Google, IBM and Disney.

Situated close to the town of Zug, dubbed ‘Crypto Valley’, Zurich boasts a giant data centre industry, and the Swiss army has been selling old bunkers that can be used as server farms.

The city’s bustling local start-up scene is beginning to bear the same hallmarks of its financial and technological prowess.

Monthly meet-ups include Startup Grind Zurich, Impact Hub Zurich and Zurich Entrepreneur Meetup.

Every year, Zurich is host to one of the biggest hackathons in Europe, HackZurich, as well as fintech conference Finance 2.0 and the Investor Summit.

Local accelerators and incubators include Kickstart, CTI Start-up, Startups.ch Academy, Technopark Zurich, Swiss Startup Factory, Venturelab, Venture Kick and Saft 2050.

Here are the local Zurich start-ups set for growth in 2018.


Advanon is an online platform for invoice-financing SMEs. The platform enables SMEs to better manage their cash flows and focus on their core business. Founded in 2015 by Philip Kornmann, Phil Lojacono and Stijn Pieper, Advanon has raised $3.9m in funding so far, including a $3.5m Series A round from Btov Partners, VI Partners and Swisscom Ventures.


Ava is a medtech company that specialises in innovations in women’s health. It is the creator of the Ava bracelet, which uses a patented big-data approach to detect a woman’s fertility window. Ava is also conducting clinical research into enabling the bracelet for pregnancy recognition and potentially for use as a non-hormonal contraceptive device. Founded in 2014 by Philipp Tholen, Peter Stein, Pascal Koenig and Lea von Bidder, Ava last year raised $9.7m in a Series A round led by Polytech Ecosystem Ventures.


Beekeeper is an employee communications app that is designed especially for employees who work shifts and who don’t rely on email or corporate work desks. This includes workers in hospitality, retail, manufacturing, construction and logistics. Beekeeper, which was founded in 2012 by Christian Grossman and Flavio Pfaffhauser, has raised $13m to date, including an $8m Series A round led by Keen Venture Partners.


ComfyLight has created a home security solution in the form of an LED lamp that protects your home from burglary. Equipped with a motion sensor and Wi-Fi module, its first product is a self-learning lightbulb that understands motion patterns and can detect intruders. The company was founded in 2015 by Marcus Köhler and Stefanie Turber.


Crowd services platform Mila enables users to find, book and pay for local services online. Founded in 2013 by Manuel Grenacher and Chris Viatte, Mila has raised $3.2m in funding so far. Customers include Swisscom and Vodafone Germany. Swisscom acquired 51pc of Mila but the latter still operates independently. In 2016, Mila changed its business model to B2B2C and relaunched, with Viatte taking the CEO role.


A spin-off from ETH Zurich, Nexiot helps industrial businesses to unleash the power of the internet of things (IoT), connecting up components such as sensors, wireless networks, control systems and enterprise software. Its core product, Globehopper, merges non-powered mobile assets with IoT.

Nezasa Travel

Nezasa Travel has developed a novel booking platform that enables travel agents to efficiently tailor and book package holidays and sell them online. Founded in 2012 by Patrick Hammer, Andreas Fürer and Manuel Hilty, Nezasa recently raised $2m in a Series A round led by Verve Capital Partners.


Nomoko is developing a digital copy of the physical world using volumetric, city-based, 3D data. Its 3D environments will be photorealistic and create a new market for products built on real-world 3D data. Its founder, Nilson Kufos, wants to build a whole world in artificial reality.


14 super Zurich start-ups to keep an eye on in 2018

From left: Andreas Guggenbühl, Michael Berli and Sandra Guggenbühl. Image: Selfnation

Fashion start-up Selfnation wants to combine fashion design with modern engineering to come up with the perfectly fitting pair of jeans. Selfnation was founded in 2013 in Zurich and Berlin by Michael Berli, Andreas Guggenbühl and Sandra Guggenbühl.


Squirro delivers real-time context intelligence by combining structure and unstructured data – or, in other words, cognitive intelligence. Founded by Felix Hürlimann, Patrice Neff, Dorian Selz and Toni Birrer, Squirro helps businesses in insurance, manufacturing and finance to better manage data around customers and services. Squirro recently raised $10m in a Series B financing round led by Orange Growth Capital and Salesforce Ventures.


Versantis is a pharma player that has developed a new generation of liver disease therapeutics and diagnostics. Founded in 2015 and led by Dr Vincent Foster and Dr Meriam Kabbaj, Versantis recently closed a $4.4m Series A round led by Redalpine Venture Partners.


Wefox, also known as FinanceFox, is a next-generation insurance app built entirely on the Salesforce platform. It helps to connect insurance companies to their customers by combining traditional insurance business methods with cutting-edge technology. Founded in 2014, Wefox last year raised $5.5m in a round led by Salesforce Ventures, with participation from AngelList, Idinvest, Seedcamp and Speedinvest.


Wingtra has developed an unmanned aerial robot that flies like a plane, but takes off and lands vertically. It can be used in professional industries to gather aerial data of physical assets. Founded by Elias Kleimann, Maximilian Boosfeld and Basil Weibel in 2014, Wingtra has raised $3.1m in funding to date.


Medical device company Xeltis has just closed the largest funding round for a European private medical device company in 2017, after raising $45m in Series C funding from investors including Ysios, VI Partners, Life Sciences Partners and Kurma Partners. Xeltis develops cardiovascular implants to restore heart valve functions. The latest funding round brings the total raised by the company so far to $119m.

Updated, 9.53am, 22 November 2017: This article was updated to note that Swisscom acquired a 51pc stake in Mila, and that the latter relaunched in 2016 with Chris Viatte as CEO.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years