Switzerland has in recent years cemented its reputation as a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship, something that is reflected in the fact that the European nation was recently ranked as the world’s most innovative country – for the ninth year in a row.

Already famous for its financial and tourism sectors, Switzerland is now also a world leader in fintech and blockchain, while the country is also at the forefront of other tech sectors, including biotech, medtech, virtual reality and a long list of other specialties.

Central to this technological prowess is Switzerland’s vibrant startup scene, which continues to go from strength-to-strength.

It is against this backdrop that IMD has announced the latest round of winners of the annual IMD Startup Competition, which supports burgeoning Swiss companies to take their businesses to the next level.

Every year the winners of the competition work alongside IMD’s MBAs and EMBAs, who help guide the companies through crucial business decisions. IMD participants, meanwhile, gain valuable hands-on exposure in the world of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Winners receive valuable inputs from IMD’s MBAs and EMBAs, with the latter also pitching the budding companies to investors in Silicon Valley.

“Though we’ve been doing this for more than two decades, I still continue to be amazed at the number, the diversity and the quality of the startups we build in Switzerland. For a country our size, with a reputation for being conservative, this is wonderful to see and be part of,” said Prof. Jim Pulcrano, EMBA faculty member and founder of the IMD Startup Competition.

In the list of the top 100 Swiss Startups, announced in September this year, 32 were companies that had worked with IMD, including four of the top ten. 

Since the launch of the competition in 1998, more than 400 Swiss companies have collaborated with IMD MBAs and EMBAs. It is one of the oldest awards for young companies in Switzerland. Former winners include Abionic, AC Immune, BestMile, Dacuda, Doodle, Endosense, Glycart, HPL, Flyability, Kooaba, Lemoptix, and picoDrill. 

Previous winners of the competition have had significant success, with many receiving significant funding or being acquired, including the Swiss unicorn MindMaze (valued at over USD $1 billion), NEXThink (USD $85 million), FaceShift (which was acquired by Apple), Aleva Neurotherapeutics that recently raised another $8mio, and many others.

The IMD participants did a great job of understanding our industry, the wool shoe or fashion business, but also in pulling together a great investor pitch to hopefully help Baabuk raise its first round,” said Galina and Dan Witting, Cofounders of Baabuk, a previous startup competition winner.

“The IMD team was dedicated to this project from day one and poured their hearts, souls and, importantly, their minds into SwissVault. They were organized, consistent and extremely hard working. They went above and beyond the assignment requirements and pushed us, and we are stronger for it,” said Peggy Bünzli, CFO of SwissVault, a previous participant in the competition.  

In 2018, MBAs and EMBAs contributed an estimated CHF 1.2 million of value in in-kind support to Vaud-based firms through startup and consulting projects.

As a significant new feature in this year’s competition, six of the companies will collaborate with the custom IMD Emerging Leaders program ‘Driving Functional Expertise’, a nine-month learning journey in collaboration with specialty chemicals company Evonik.

The companies chosen to receive support from IMD’s MBAs are:

Advanced Pumping Technology

Bringing pumping technology into the 21st century

Babylon Sciences

Enhancing people’s lives with CBD by focusing on research, innovative product development and branding


The #1 vertical marketplace for home cleaning in Switzerland


Improve faster. Learn faster. Grow faster.


An innovation from the Kudelski Group allowing concer attendees to share exclusive high-quality videos on social networks in real time

FLOWBONE (site under construction)

Fighting bone fragility with a new generation of injectable biomaterial            


Professional inspection drones that operate inside industrial assets, saving costs thanks to double flight time vs competition


Optimizing restaurants’ management and online visibility by centralizing all actions into one single tool


An app micro-businesses use to accept card payments, get access to financing and diversify their sales     

Nagi Bioscience         

Developing innovative laboratory equipment for pharmaceutical and chemical R&D, allowing automated safety/efficacy testing of substances (e.g. drugs, cosmetics, chemicals, etc.) using microscopic worms (C. elegans)         


Enabling better renewable energy sales with a suite of software tools and industry leading advisory staff

Ponera Group

Revolutionizing the goods’ shipping industry with an innovative modular pallet system which intensifies logistic efficiency and minimizes carbon footprints


Offering a revolutionary automatic transmission for eBikes that is also durable and lightweight


Swiss Social Stock Exchange (SwiSOX) is a one-stop shop for all matters impact           


The world’s first automated test user recruiting service for user research, with a pool of 400,000 test users, used by over 1000 customers like Swisscom, Zalando, UBS,  and more for user research and user testing studies

The companies chosen to receive support from the three cohorts of IMD EMBAs are:

Cellestia Biotech        

Cellestia’s patented drug, CB-103 along with its companion diagnostic, is a small molecule with an innovative mode of action targeting NOTCH-driven cancers, and providing hope for patients with no other treatment options

Comphya SA 

Developing the first implantable device to restore natural penile erection by neuromodulation

Dufour Aerospace      

Developing a new generation of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft that combine the ability of helicopters with the efficiency of airplanes

EraCal Therapeutics  

Developing a novel anti-obesity drug Era-107 with superior efficacy and safety compared to the standard of care


Offering services based on artificial intelligence for financing and marketing music


Developing, manufacturing and marketing miniaturized fuel cell systems that operate using readily-available and easily-accessible liquid fuels           

Logic Flow      

Helping companies migrate their legacy code within a fraction of the time and costs by using a unique AI technology – enabling companies to stay digital, agile and competitive

Loop Medical 

Making blood diagnosis painless and accessible to all

Menhir Photonics       

A Swiss laser manufacturer, offering laser based ultra-precise clocks for applications in aerospace, telecom and electronics sectors

MicroR Systems        

Making next-generation lasers with ultra-pure colors for precision measurement is MicroR’s passion


A leader in Optical sensors and Quantum optics

MyoSwiss AG

Aa medtech company developing technological solutions that help people with mobility impairments realize their potential


Building the data infrastructure for the 4th Industrial Revolution: the Mirror World platform, including the gateway to add more spatial data, and the tools to use all of this data to build Mirror World applications – from Autonomous Vehicle simulations, Smart City use cases, to outdoor Augmented Reality Applications

PXL Vision     

Providing a technology platform for fully automated, secure identity verification and the creation and management of trustable digital identities         


An integrated data analytics platform for the integration, analysis, and visualization of shared micro-mobility data


A Swiss start up developing safety & security solutions combining AI (deep learning) and acoustic detection to turn noise into information            


Developing prescription VR digital therapeutics for seniors with dementia and frailty


Enabling for the first time the direct fabrication of personalised life-enhancing and life-saving silicone products with a positive impact on society


Developing the next generation of energy storage device for a clean, sustainable future. Our Lithium and Cobalt free solution enables charging our devices ultra fast, extends the lifetime 30 times and is environmentally friendly and safe


Combining physical strength and conditioning training with online social gaming to provide their users with the most interactive and engaging fitness experience, at a time and place that suits them

This year’s winners working with the Evonik ‘Driving Functional Expertise’ custom executive program are:

Advancience AG        

Game-based psychometrics for medical applications and drug development/pharmaceutical R&D

Aero41 SA     

High precision crop protection UAV adapted to complex and steep parcels and integrating AI to drastically improve quality of deposit              


Blockchain/IoT/AI based solution that collect performance data of processes and good throughout the supply chain until the final customer,  reduce the costs,  maximize the proximity to the customers and create value across business functions


A digital smart assistant designed to help hospitality executives and managers analyze and run their operations more effectively

Exeon Analytics         

Detecting hidden cyber threats in IT log data using award-winning machine learning and big data analytics


An integrated data analytics platform for the integration, analysis, and visualization of shared micro-mobility data

The next call for candidates will be October 2020