2021 was a year of change. A COVID-19 vaccine was developed at unprecedented speed. A boat in the Suez Canal threatened world trade. The 2020 Olympics happened a year late.
At the same time, 2021 was a year where things stayed the same. Many of us were still working from home, tackling climate change led the political headlines, and Switzerland was ranked the most innovative country in the world for the 11th year in a row.
It’s also the year where 32 startups graduated EPFL and became fully-fledged companies.
In fact, 2021 was a record year for EPFL startups – with 3 IPOs, 17 seed-funding rounds, CHF779m in funds raised, and one unicorn. It’s clear that the EPFL startup ecosystem is thriving and set for even more growth in 2022. So, what’s next for technology at EPFL?
Let’s meet the EPFL startup class of 2021.
Technology, products or services which have been developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives – through diagnosis, patient care, or treatment. Medtech could be anything from dentures to artificial organs.
Fusion Lab Technologies have created biped.ai – the world’s first AI copilot for blind and visually impaired people. Used as a complement to a traditional white cane, the wearable tech analyses surroundings and then gives audio cues to help the user navigate the world around them.
A lower-limb exoskeleton which allows people with muscular and neurological deficiencies to walk again.
Parithera improves the efficacy of cancer treatment through an advanced method of treatment monitoring. Through nano- and micro-fludic technology, the team have created a process which can analyse very small samples of cells, allowing for quicker and earlier cancer diagnosis.
ArcoScreen’s technology helps predict and prevent drug failures through an automated assay which allows early-stage testing against patient cells. The technology combines four tests into one and is the first assay to allow GPCR targeting drugs to be tested directly on patient cells at this early stage.
Bearmind uses in-built helmet sensors to help control the risk of concussion in sport. The technology allows for real-time impact data which is translated into a personalised risk assessment, supporting medical staff in head injury diagnosis.
The infrastructure and component which allow modern computing. Put simply, ICT refers to all the technologies which help communications – be it audio-visual, telephonic, or computer networks.
A Swiss-based data science company which offers a variety of data analysis covering everything from RNA sequencing to genotyping. The team uses experts in bioinformatics, biostatistics, and AI to help their clients connect the dots and turn data into meaningful insights and predictions.
SwissInspect’s technology uses AI and imagery to detect potential structural defects and allow companies to come up with a quick and scaled response.
The team at tracy.ai have developed an AI-based technology which helps users and owners of electric bikes get the best out of their machines. On an individual levels, the technology can predict battery range. At a commercial level, it can support with the fleet management, predicting when batteries need to be swapped or the bicycle needs maintenance repairs.
Tune Insight helps businesses make better decisions thanks to secure data collaboration. Their technology allows organisations to securely share data, allowing them to unlock new insights and intelligence to grow their business.
At its base, biotech is technology based on biology – using living systems and organisms to develop or make products. The resulting product doesn’t necessarily need to be applied to medicine (although it can be) and examples of biotech include genetically modified plants to the production of concrete.
SwissThera concentrates their work in the realm of infectious diseases. Through their therapeutic agents and diagnostic tools, they want to be a key player in pandemic readiness, ensuring any future global health threats are addressed effectively and quickly.
This biotech has created a chemical agent which can destroy or inactivate a virus before they bind to healthy cells. They’ve had positive results against a number of viruses including influenza and Zikavirus. The antiviral technology can help prevent any infection from spreading further.
A new technology which allows for fast and cost-effective screening of potential antibodies – a crucial component of drug development.
Orbis have developed a new platform which allows for the discovery, development, and delivery of drug candidates for challenging diseases.
Developer of in-vitro screening platform for drug discovery and development
Tiberius Therapeutics (USA)
Tiberius Therapeutics aims to exploit mitochondrial stress response (MSR) – a response used by cancer cells to prolong survival. Tiberius is developing a series of new chemical entities which activate MSR and testing how they can be used to treat other diseases.
Leman Biotech (China)
Leman Biotech focuses on the discovery and development of tumor immunotherapy drugs. The technology allows for the reprogramming of cancer cells through artificial intelligence.
Engineers work on everything from cell membranes to construction. Engineering is the use of science and mathematics to design and build machines, structures or systems.
Experts in algae production, the team have developed a method for mass algae production – something that may tackle climate change, offer a new source of nutritious food, or be used as biopackaging.
MinWave produces customised, miniaturized microwave devices up to 10 times smaller than traditional components. These smaller, lighter, and customisable microwaves can be used in both space and terrestrial communication infrastructure.
Deeplight is developing the next generation of lasers which can be used for a variety of applications – from communications, to medical procedures to emerging quantum technologies.
The BTL group have developed a new method of 3D printing, which reduces allows people to create stress-resistant and durable metal parts for manufacture.
This startup has created technology which allowed for smart blinds and shading for commercial buildings. The blinds have sensors inside to ensure offices are kept bright, cool, and energy efficient.
Cleantech is short for Clean Technology and it refers to companies and technologies which look to reduce our impact on the world around us. Cleantech is technology that can be used across range of applications including renewable energy, electric motors, or recycling.
Green Future has built an eco-friendly and small-scale logistic company to serve local producers & distributors – helping customers and businesses be more green.
Space4Impact’s mission is to harness the power of space technologies and put them to work here on earth to ensure a sustainable and positive future. Space4Impact links New Space startups with non-space companies and investors to help them scaleup and accelerate their technology’s potential impact on society.
Enerdrape’s technology allows any new or existing underground infrastructure to be turned into renewable heat sources. Their modular geothermal panelling allows heat capture and recycles it into heating and cooling in buildings.
Qaptis is a startup whose technology reduces C02 emissions from trucks and ships. Vehicles and engines are retrofitted with a CO2 capture kit which collects emissions released at source, storing it to be either removed from the atmosphere or put on the C02 market to be re-used.
Evoly offers smart electricity meters which can be fitted to any generation of electricity meter in a few minutes – allowing better monitoring of usage, prediction of potential power cuts, and protection from power surges.
The team at Ponera have developed bio-polymer, recyclable and IOT compatible modular crates for shipping and transporting. The pallets are lighter, reduce wood waste, and have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional wooden pallets.
Fibreglass is a difficult material to recycle, as well as expensive and time-consuming. The team at Composite Recycling have developed a technology which allows fibreglass to be cleaning without damaging its structural and functional integrity – meaning it can be reused.
Remretech is a recycling technology which enables the recovery of rare metals from electronic waste.
The team’s mission is to change the way construction works through a module building system which allows buildings to be reconfigured over time for different uses and new needs.
Companies who use Edtech bring IT tools to the classroom to help and enhance learning. Edtech technology could include mobile apps for learning languages to interactive projection screens or personalised curriculums.
SchoolRebound is using AI to create a range of digital tools which help children having problems at school. Their key application is Dynamilis – a tablet-based programme which helps children improve their handwriting.
Any new technology which helps improve and automate financial services falls under the Fintech umbrella. Its foundational aim is to support companies and consumers better manage their finances. Applications can range from cryptocurrencies to a way to streamline the mortgage process.
A company opening up the world of cryptocurrency to everyone. Through dedicated physical kiosks, anyone can buy cryptocurrency credits as easily as they might buy phone credit. This is then converted into the chosen cryptocurrency through the Crypties app.
Foodtech uses cutting-edge technology (such as the Internet of Things or AI) to develop, manufacture, and distribute food. The sector is broad ranging from ingredient sourcing and traceability, to new ways to create food (such as lab-grown meat).
Limoo connects professional chefs from a range of backgrounds to local communities. The web site offers healthy, sustainable, and affordable food for professionals and families.