Winners of the W.A. de Vigier Award: Groundbreaking Technologies – Made in Switzerland

19.05.2016 12:30

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Nanolive Team

Today five Swiss start-ups received the W.A. de Vigier Award, each endowed with CHF 100‘000. The sought-after prize was awarded in Solothurn for the 27th time in the presence of approximately 200 guests from the fields of economy, politics and science. The technology behind the winning projects can increase crop yields, put thieves out of business and even save lives.

Roughly 200 Swiss start-ups submitted their projects for the awards of 2016. „This year the candidates were even better than usual“, says Sven Hoffmann, member of the board and the jury. Regula Buob, Managing Director of the W.A. de Vigier Foundation agrees: „On presentation day the young leaders astonished me with their disruptive ideas“. As a matter of fact this year all ten nominees received a recommendation for the W.A. de Vigier Award in their expert evaluation, which is very unusual, says Regula Buob.

After long discussions, Alan Nicod and his board-colleagues, who at the same time form the jury, had to choose five winners. He is confident of their choice and says: „Our mission is to support winning entrepreneurs. This year’s vintage should prove the case!” The projects were evaluated according to the following criteria: The entrepreneurial spirit of the CEO, the degree of innovation, the value for society as a whole, the technical and financial viability, market prospects and the potential for job creation.

The Five Winners

Nanolive AG from Ecublens (VD) – 3D research on living cells
Nanolive developed a revolutionary tomographic microscope to look instantly inside living cells in 3D without damaging them. The 3D Cell Explorer is a high speed, high resolution and non-invasive microscope that can look deep inside biological systems. This allows you to record stunning 3D images of entire cells and tissue slices in just seconds and with a higher resolution than any conventional microscope on the market. Recently Nanolive won the First Lab Innovation Award at the Lab Innovation Lausanne.

Pregnolia AG from Zurich (ZH) – Identifying the risk of preterm birth
Preterm births are on the rise. Pregnolia developed a diagnostic tool that measures cervical stiffness in pregnant women. Monitoring cervical stiffness allows for the reliable identification of women at risk of preterm birth, thus solving the long standing problem of preterm birth risk  assessment and management in pregnancy. Thanks to Pregnolia 80% of women at risk of preterm birth can be detected. Currently, the detection rate lies at only 40%

Peripal AG from Zurich (ZH) – Simplifying home dialysis
When performing dialysis at home, the most sensitive step is the manual connection of a catheter to the dialysis product. Tremor or insufficient dexterity of the hands impair the safety of such a connection and can expose the patient to the risk of infection. Peripal developed a patient aid device that simplifies the therapy and thus shortens training time. With every dialysis patient treated at home, the healthcare system saves 10 to 20'000 USD per year. Peripal has closed a Series A financing round and was awarded with the Idee Suisse Award 2016.

Gamaya AG from Ecublens (VD) – 30% increase in agricultural yield
Gamaya delivers large-scale analytics of farmland. Proprietary hyperspectral imaging cameras mounted on drones or manned aircrafts measure the reflectance of the crop, which allows an analysis of crop and soil characteristics. Farmers are provided with actionable information about their land and crops, which can increase profit margins by at least 30% while raising the quality of produce and making farming more sustainable.

UrbanAlps AG from Zurich (ZH) – Protection against 3D copying
Today anybody can copy your house key. UrbanAlps brings the Stealth Key: an inexpensive mechanical key that is safe against 3D duplication. The solution is plain and simple: a key which hides most of its mechanical security features internally – rendering the key unscannable.

Nominee and winner of the audience award

ecoRobotix GmbH from Yverdon-les-Bains (VD) – Robots for weeding crops
ecoRobotix developed a solar-powered robot for weeding row crops. Equipped with artificial vision it detects and destroys weeds, either mechanically or by accurate herbicide dispensing, resulting in herbicide savings of over 95 %.


InoSitec AG from Zurich (ZH) New therapies via natural molecules
Inositec is developing novel therapeutics from its proprietary platform of small molecules. The lead product is a novel treatment for a widespread colon infection and the second is an inhibitor of vascular calcifications.

ViDi Systems AG from Villaz-St-Pierre (FR) – New vision software for image analysis
ViDi enables computers, machines and cars to understand images so they can interact with the real world. Our Deep Learning Software autonomously learns from images, leading to decisions with superhuman performances, without any programming.

PiaVita from Zurich (ZH) – Touch-free measurement of animal's vital data
PiaVita provides vets and pet-owners with small med tech devices to measure vital signs of animals. Thanks to its small size, the device doesn’t bother the animal while providing precise data supporting an accurate diagnosis.

FEMTOprint AG from Muzzano (TI) – 3D printing for glass microsystems
FEMTOprint produces 3D microdevices out of glass; integrating optical, fluidic, mechanical features down to the nano-scale in a monolith. This technology can revolutionize a wide range of markets and applications.


About the W.A. de Vigier Award
The Vigier Award is giving away 5 times 100‘000 Fr. to startups each year. In 27 years the foundation has distributed over CHF10 million of seed money. This has resulted in approximately 80 flourishing startups, successful IPOs, multiple company exits and most importantly, many newly created jobs.

Application for the W.A. de Vigier Award 2017
From October 1st 2016 to January 6th 2017, startups can apply for the W.A. de Vigier Award 2017. The intended audience are young entrepreneurs domiciled in Switzerland, who are usually younger than 45 and whose role in their company is the realization and marketing of an innovative, future-oriented product or service.

Refer to the attachment below for the press release in French and German

(Press release)

(Picture: Nanolive Team)

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