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The most promising start-ups

For investors, the award ceremony of the venture business plan competition has to be a bit like an early Christmas: This is where the spearhead of the Swiss start-up companies present their ideas, many with the potential to change our world - or at least parts of it - forever. SwissLeg, for example, wants to enable disabled and disabled people to have a better life. To this end, it develops high-quality lower limb prostheses that are tailored to the respective body and that can be produced cheaply and quickly. Gimball developed a drone for complex environments that remains stable in the air even in the event of a collision. And Lunaphore is working on the next generation of tumor analysis and classification.

The jury, made up of experienced entrepreneurs and investors, had the difficult task of selecting the ten most promising out of 141 submitted business plans. Two aspects were obvious: Six start-ups came from the life sciences - the current research boom in biotechnology and medical technology also seems to be reflected in innovative start-ups. And eight come from the environment of the two federal technical universities in Zurich and Lausanne.

The first prize of the venture competition, endowed with 60,000 francs, was not won by a company from the life sciences, but by L.E.S.S. (Light Efficient SystemS), which emerged from a doctoral thesis at EPFL. The two-man company has developed an ultra-thin light source that will soon be the LEDs; in our smartphone and tablet displays. It's thin as a hair, uses less electricity and could pave the way for commercial flexible displays.

Rapid detection and universal means

ETH Zurich was represented by two start-ups among the ten finalists. Rqmicro (ETH News reported) reached fifth place and received a check for 5000 francs. Rqmicro has developed a method with which pathogens, such as Legionella, in water or food can be detected at record speed. What used to take up to three weeks now only takes an hour with the new method. Hospital wards, for example, no longer have to be evacuated if Legionella is suspected and must be closed until the analysis result is available.

The ETH colleagues from Versantis did not make it into the top five with their universal anti-poisoning agent, but were nevertheless satisfied with what they had achieved. «Before the venture competition, we had a good idea. Now we have a solid business plan, ”said Vincent Forster, the founder of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences. "The past three months have been intense and we have learned a lot about strategy, planning and organization." Thanks to the versatile effectiveness of Versanti's novel treatment, the doctor no longer necessarily has to know the causative substance in the event of drug poisoning or drug overdose. The time saved can save lives.

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