Five new firms join the Scale Up Vaud community

13.10.2017 09:45

Five companies have just been labeled SCALE UP VAUD, bringing the total number of such firms in the canton to 21. The new members are: QGel and MindMaze (life sciences); Gait Up (motion sensing); SWISSto12 (3D printing); and Flyability (drones). In total the five new scale-ups have more than 150 employees. 

“Scale-ups” boast annual job growth of at least 20% and have been around for at least three years, making them eligible for the SCALE UP VAUD label – an initiative designed to boost high-growth firms’ visibility and expansion. Here’s a rundown of the companies.

QGel: leveraging innovation to discover next-generation drugs
QGel’s technology gives scientists greater visibility into drug efficacy before the clinical trial phase by enabling them to carry out in vitro tests on cell cultures under in vivo conditions (i.e., conditions within the human body). With this better understanding of the potential of each new drug under development, they can focus their efforts on the most promising ones and get them in the hands of patients faster. QGel currently employs 14 people in Switzerland.

The company’s technology also has encouraging applications in diagnostics, where it can be used to test drug efficacy directly on patients’ cancer cells after a biopsy – thus shortening the time it takes to find the right treatment for a given disease. Thanks to QGel, patients will eventually be able to get more personalized therapies sooner. Colin Sanctuary, QGel co-founder and CEO, says, “Being based in Vaud means we have EPFL right on our doorstep, which gives us access to not only its students but also its research infrastructure. That frees us from having to build our own laboratory. The Scale Up Vaud label should help us attract more of those students, build awareness about our company and persuade investors to support our development.”

Gait Up: making sense of motion
Gait Up combines smart sensors with biomechanics to create objective motion-analysis systems for sports and healthcare applications. Its wearable devices rival the accuracy of conventional motion labs. The firm, which has 16 employees in Switzerland, was spun off four years ago from joint research carried out by EPFL and the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV). Today it aims to develop accurate, reliable and easy-to-use devices for professionals in the fields of sports, healthcare and research.

Gait Up’s CEO Benoît Mariani decided to set up his business in Vaud for two reasons: “We wanted to keep in close contact and continue working with EPFL, and we wanted to be somewhere that offers an attractive quality of life for our employees.” In terms of his expectations for being part of Scale Up Vaud, he adds, “We hope that being a part of a community of successful scale-ups will boost our credibility and brand image and give us an opportunity to network with other business leaders who face the same growth challenges we do.”

MindMaze: developing technology for healthcare – and entertainment, too
MindMaze’s virtual reality technology has firmly established the company as a leader in the field of neurosciences. This Swiss unicorn, which employs 73 people in the country, has developed a unique neurorehabilitation system for stroke victims. In June it acquired a strategic stake in Gait Up, a fellow Scale Up Vaud, to expand its skills in motion measurement and analysis. MindMaze’s MindMotion Pro system and innovative technology for gaming and entertainment applications has won over numerous investors, including Leonardo Di Caprio.

Jean-Marc Wismer, the COO of MindMaze, says, “We have gotten excellent support from the Canton of Vaud, and the local innovation ecosystem has been instrumental to our success. That includes schools such as EPFL and IMD, as well as local expertise in the neurosciences, highly-skilled engineers and support for entrepreneurs.”

Flyability: exploring inaccessible areas with go-anywhere drones
Flyability’s advanced drones can fly indoors and in areas difficult to reach by humans, effectively navigating through complicated spaces and eliminating the need to send operators out in dangerous areas. Their carbon frames are shock-resistant and modeled after insects’ ability to remain stable after in-flight collisions. Flyability’s drones are used in a wide range of applications ranging from site inspections to public safety, all with the same goal – to cut operating costs and risks. The company, founded in 2014, employs 47 people in Switzerland.

Flyability’s CEO Patrick Thévoz explains why he chose Vaud for his business: “The main reason was EPFL. Our firm was spun off from the school and we wanted to use it to recruit highly qualified junior engineers. Since then we have been targeting more senior people, and the quality of life in Vaud is a big plus for attracting foreigners. We have also benefited from the pool of experts at nearby high-tech firms such as Logitech and Kudelski.” When it comes to being a Vaud Scale-up, he adds, “That will give us access to a network of entrepreneurs whose companies are in a similar growth stage as ours, and who we can talk to about our concerns and challenges – which are different from the ones we faced as a start-up. We won’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.”

SWISSto12: leading the way in 3D printing for aerospace antennas
SWISSto12 designs radio-frequency components that are produced using additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3D printing. Its products are made from high-performance polymers and metals, and then they are metal-plated using a patent-pending proprietary process. This innovative approach to manufacturing replaces traditional machining processes for metallic materials. It results in components that are lighter and cheaper to produce and that offer extended design flexibility.

SWISSto12’s products are used in telecommunication satellites, ground, maritime and aerospace systems, and radar applications. The company was founded in 2011 and has 17 employees in Switzerland. It has just reached a major milestone in its business development by being named a regular supplier for commercial programs.

About Scale-Up Vaud
Resources dedicated to entrepreneurship are concentrated on the early phases of development of companies (the first few years). Companies that are beyond this phase are facing other challenges in their development and growth. Scale-Up Vaud has been created to offer specific support to these high-growth companies. The Scale-Up Vaud initiative spearheded by Innovaud targets both young companies and established SMEs, if they meet the growth criteria. The objective of Scale-Up Vaud is to make Vaud scale-ups more visible and support their growth. 

(Press release)

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