Discover the 10 startups awarded by De Vigier Foundation

In Others by Sébastien FluryLeave a Comment

2012 is the 25th anniversary of the creation of De Vigier Foundation, which aims to foster entrepreneurship in Switzerland. Bill De Vigier was a successful swiss entrepreneur, who was the man who revolutionized the building industry worldwide.

The foundation created by Mr. De Vigier has one unique goal: foster entrepreneurship and bring a bit of friendly money to promising startups. Each year, 10 startups are selected for the award ceremony, and 5 receive a prize money of CHF 100’000.00.

I’ve written down 3 interesting quotes from Bill De Vigier that are displaid in the De Vigier residence (amazing building by the way!), like:

  • “Never spend seed money – spend income”
  • “It’s better to aim big and fail than stay in the shadow and neither experience success nor failure”
  • If you can dream it – you can do it”

For the 25th edition, De Vigier Foundation received 202 applications, mostly in Information and Communication Technologies (36%) and Life Sciences (32%). Again and again in hightech startup, 90% of founders were men! This year, the Foundation decided to award 5 startups (usual), give a special CHF 100’000.00 prize for the 25th anniversary and lastly, reward with an additional prize (same amount) a startup chosen by former winners.

Here are the Nominees:

  • Taboobreaker is building an offline (physical) game to break taboos like AIDS, depression, suicide, etc. Based at TheHub Zürich, the team is composed by 3 women (too rare!)
  • KB Medical, spin off from EPF Lausanne, is developing a robotic system for spine surgery, allowing real-time positioning for the screws. 
  • Bcomp is a Fribourg-based startup, spun off from EPFL, has found a new way to replace standard material by green material (natural fibers  extracted from flax). They focus first on outdoor sports (ski, bycycle) and transportation (car, train, etc).
  • Xovis is a Bern-based startup from ETH Zürich developing person tracking sensors to solve the waiting queue problem (you can monitor the behaviors and analyze the movements of people).

After the presentation of the 4 unfortunates which didn’t get a prize, that was time for the winners to pitch their company:

  • Proteomedix is an ETHZ spin off which aims to enable personalized medicine, firstly by drastrically reducing the need to process unnecessary biopsies (so called “false positive”).
  • Ueepa is building a mobile application to help victims of accidents in the mountains to transmit the alarm… and to be rescued quickly! Phone to phone signal transmission technology was developed at ETHZ.
  • is an online diary for people suffering from chronical diesease, allowing them to track the variation of the pain and better describing the intensity. The company is spin off from University Zürich.
  • Virometix is an ETHZ spin off producing a new generation of synthetic vaccines and drugs for the prevention of infectious and chronic human diseases.
  • QGel has won the jackpot at this year De Vigier award: one regular prize and the special prize for the 25th edition… and so bringing home CHF 200’000.00! But what do they do? This biotech company found a technology to grow 3D cell and turn it into living tissu (that is, cell is incubated in the gel). Company is already on the success path, as they already have a few hundreds customers (and big pharma companies among them!).

The last company to get a prize (from former laureates) was Climeworks, agian an ETHZ spin off, which aims to filter the air and separate the CO2 from it to transform it into renewal material.

Lastly, De Vigier Foundation has also decided to give a special and last prize to Thomas Knecht, initiator of the biennial Business Plan competition