- IMD Business School
News Stories · Entrepreneurship

Where startups and investors come together

Promising medtech and philanthropy entrepreneurs meet with Swiss investors at IMD
November 2019

One company aims to improve the lives of healthcare patients and the work of physicians. The other is already connecting companies and employees with small and medium size charities to make the world a better place and improve engagement at work.

Both are at a critical stage in their growth and need funds to move on to the next step. This week they came together at IMD to pitch to investors and educate the IMD community about their initiatives.

Through its regular meet-ups, IMD’s Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) provides an important platform for the Swiss startup ecosystem to thrive and learn about entrepreneurship.

Venture capital growth

“Success breeds success,” said David Sidler, Head of Investor Relations and Communications at the Swiss startup venture capital initiative Investiere, speaking at the event.

The Swiss startup scene is experiencing exponential growth. Investiere estimates that the European VC market has grown four-fold since 2013 and grows 27% per year in Switzerland alone. Interest is growing because it is cheaper than ever to start a company and access global markets. Factoring in venture capital investments is now a normal step in a company’s investment strategy.

But don’t invest in just any startup, Sidler warned.

“No matter what they tell you, most startups fail. Even if they don’t, their chance of success is small.”

Investiere carries out thorough due diligence on startups before including them in an online platform where its members can invest and track their performance.

And even though the word “startup” implies a company is in its early stages, most entrepreneurial endeavors face a long road to success.

Improving health care

Attendees at the IMD event learned about how Vipun medical has worked tirelessly to get its device where it is today, going through over 500 tests on patients, clinical trials and more. But it is still three years away from launch.

Nico van Tichelen, CEO, and Pieter Janssen, CTO, explained how if their bet pays off, patients in Intensive Care Units around the world will be better nourished, giving them a higher chance of getting back to full health. Physicians will be better informed about the state of their patients’ stomachs, something that they are currently unable to measure. ICU patients currently have a 50% rate of feeding intolerance, but doctors have no way to know this before they feed them.

The tube that Nico and Pieter have patented is a contractable bubble and electronic monitoring device, which works by checking the stomach’s contractions – allowing doctors to know if the patients can be fed or not. The Belgian company is close to raising the 3.5 million Euros it needs to move onto the next stage in its development.

Creating purpose

The other startup of the evening, Alaya, is already established but needs funds to grow and branch out beyond Switzerland. In its first year, the company raised CHF 1 million and its members volunteered 100,000 hours of their time.

Alaya aims to improve employees’ engagement at work by providing companies a digital platform where their staff can donate funds and volunteer to charities.

The company’s co-founder and CEO André Abreu told the IMD community that Alaya’s focus in mainly on small- and medium-sized charities. Currently 70% of funds go to 1% of charitable organizations, and these are typically the largest ones such as the Red Cross.

For Abreu, among Alaya’s strengths are that it encourages local action that is useful and it allows people to support the cause of their choice, whether it be cancer research, education, refugees or others.

Want to learn more about startups, pitch your startup, or invest? Join us at the next IMD Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) event, in Lausanne or near you in in Geneva, Zurich, the UK, Denmark, Italy, Singapore, Nairobi, and soon China.

IMD ACE’s mission is to promote the development and consolidation of business ventures/startups, proposed and launched by IMD participants, to make entrepreneurship accessible to Alumni and to foster an ecosystem aimed at facilitating mentoring and the funding of business projects as an engine for innovation and growth.

In addition to ACE, IMD has been supporting startups for over 20 years.

Since 1998, more than 400 Swiss startups have worked with IMD’s MBAs and EMBAs. In 2018, MBAs and EMBAs have contributed to an estimated CHF 1.2 million of value in in-kind support to Vaud-based firms through startup and consulting projects.