Ten Nominees Contending for up to Five Coveted Prizes

Solothurn, May 22, 2024. At this year’s Award Ceremony on June 19, the invited guests and the ten nominated startups will be greeted by de Vigier alum Simon Ittig, who very successfully sold his company last year. After his keynote, the jury will announce up to five W. A. de Vigier Award recipients. Each of the coveted prizes is endowed with CHF 100,000.00.

„This year, we’ve had the privilege of meeting a group of extra captivating personalities. It’s been an inspiring journey to witness their dedication and energy in shaping a better future“, says Carmen Lamparter, COO of the W.A. de Vigier Foundation.

From over 200 submitted projects, the jury picked their Top 15 in February. The 15 CEOs went through an interview process and presented their ideas to the Foundation Board, who now chose the final ten nominees. On June 19, up to five of those young leaders will receive a W. A. de Vigier Award, each endowed with CHF 100,000.00. The 2024 award ceremony will be opened by André Hoffmann, President of the Foundation, this year’s keynote speaker is the de Vigier alum Simon Ittig, whose company T3 Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Boehringer Ingelheim for up to CHF 450 million in November 2023.

These are the Top 10 (in alphabetical order)

Apheros AG from Zurich, ZH
High Surface Area Metal Foams
Current designs for liquid cooling systems are bulky and energy consuming. Apheros’ metal foams offer an extremely high surface area with exceptional wetting properties and enhanced thermal exchange. These unique properties result in excellent cooling efficiency and liquid transport, which is key to improving the efficiency of climate relevant technologies such as electrification of transport and development of green hydrogen. The ETH-spinoff’s foams are customizable in shape and can be scaled to fully automated production.

Ascento AG from Zurich (ZH)
Secure Assets With Robotics and AI
The security sector is dealing with labor shortages, high staff turnover and low profit margins. This pain is so acute that incumbent Security Providers are not able to serve all their customers. Ascento provides robotic guards that can be hired by the hour. The service includes deployment, 24/7 support, service and repairs. The Ascento Web App analyzes video and images with AI, it integrates with existing video management systems, provides end-to-end encrypted two-way communication, and offers powerful reports that security managers want to see.

Eviive from Zurich (ZH)
Biomarker Discovery for Early Disease Detection & Treatment Guidance
Existing cancer diagnostics often result in delays and misdiagnoses. Eviive’s innovative solution combines state-of-the-art extracellular vesicles (EVs) analysis with advanced machine learning to ensure rapid and accurate results. The UZH-spinoff can detect diseases very early and predict if a patient will respond to the standard treatment, leading to more effective and timely interventions. This pioneering approach is set to transform patient outcomes, expedite the advancement of precision medicine, and enhance global patient access to next-generation diagnostics.

Grensol AG from Thalwil (ZH)
Using Light to Recycle Mixed Plastic Waste
Mixed plastic waste is considered unrecyclable. Contained resources are lost and have to be produced from virgin sources, at massive ecological costs. Grensol uses high intensity light generated by renewable energy to recover emissions-free hydrogen and carbon black from mixed plastic waste – all in a matter of seconds. This solution can potentially convert 100 million tons of unrecyclable waste per year into a low-cost source of new materials that are critical for our society’s clean energy transition and also avoid over 500 million tons of carbon emissions per year.

Neology Hydrogen SA from Lutry (VD)
Revolutionizing Hydrogen Supply
Hydrogen energy is as an enabler toward a net-zero economy, but comes with challenges in production, storage, and distribution. Presently, Hydrogen cannot be efficiently transported over long-distance as a gas or a liquid. Neology offers an innovative solution of ammonia cracking to produce high purity hydrogen for stationary and mobile application, utilizing liquid ammonia as hydrogen carrier. This innovative solution, characterized by its compact design and energy efficiency, offers consumers affordable hydrogen directly at the point of use, eliminating emissions in the process.

Optiml AG from Zurich (ZH)
Net Zero Real Estate Investment and Renovation Planning
Real estate is under pressure to re-strategize towards efficient, renewable, and affordable building renovations. The ETH Zurich Spin-off Optiml offers AI-powered software to provide cost and CO₂-conscious decision support for real estate owners, asset managers, and consultants. The startup aims to create data transparency on renovation needs and risks (status quo), to optimize asset and portfolio investment decisions, to derive actionable measures per asset, and to anticipate long-term regulatory compliance.

Perovskia Solar AG from Aubonne (VD)
Highly Efficient Solar Cells for Eco-Friendly Devices
Traditional batteries in our electronic devices require frequent charging or replacement, at a high environmental cost. Perovskia’s digitally printed and highly customizable solar cells work under any light conditions and serve as a reliable, portable and eco-friendly energy source. The EMPA-spinoff’s vision is to make everyday devices energy self-sufficient, saving the world from a grotesque amount of battery waste. Perovskia cells’ carbon footprint is 95% lower than that of batteries.

Tandem Therapeutics AG from Schlieren (ZH)
Transforming Fibrosis Treatment With Precision Matrix Targeting
Fibrosis contributes to over 45% of deaths in the developed world. By using evolutionarily optimized matrix targeting peptides, Tandem Tx overcomes the extracellular matrix barrier to unlock the previously inaccessible multidimensional druggable space. Using a deep understanding of matrix mechanobiology and its relation to disease progression, the ETH-spinoff is developing a pipeline of conditionally targeted, efficacious and safer therapies to treat fibrotic diseases.

Tethys Robotics from Zurich (ZH)
Underwater Drones for Rough Waters
Deploying human divers to rough bodies of water is risky, costly and comes with many limitations. The compact underwater drone by Tethys Robotics can navigate autonomously in complex environments with zero visibility. This robot can tackle search and recovery, inspections, 3D modeling and surveillance in rivers and coastal areas with strong tidal currents. This solution is relevant for a wide range of industries, be it hydroplant operators, shipping companies, marine researchers or agencies aiming to remove unexploded ordnance.

Treeless Pack GmbH from Opfikon (ZH)
Cellulose Materials Without Cutting Down Trees
Traditional nanocellulose production entails a complex production sequence that relies heavily on environmentally impactful methods and uses wood as its primary raw material. Instead of chopping down forests, Treeless Pack lets specialized bacteria produce nanocellulose in scalable and automated modular vertical farms. This approach shortens the supply chain, eliminates long-distance transportation, reduces deforestation, and valorizes organic waste to produce a unique and affordable biomaterial, which can be used across industries as a green alternative to fossil-based products.

About the W.A. de Vigier Awards

The W.A. de Vigier Award is the oldest award for young entrepreneurs in Switzerland and, with annual prize money of up to CHF 500,000 (five times CHF 100,000), is one of the most highly endowed startup prizes in Switzerland. Over the past 35 years, the foundation has distributed over CHF 14 million of seed money. The results are over 100 flourishing startups, successful IPOs, multiple company exits and above all, many newly created jobs.

The following aspects are relevant for the evaluation of the projects: The entrepreneurial personality, the degree of innovation, the value for society as a whole, the technical and financial viability, market prospects and the potential for job creation.

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Please contact

Hanna Byland and Carmen Lamparter
CEO and COO W.A. de Vigier Foundation
+41 (0)79 799 55 28