Zurich – The latest Venture Kick final awarded 130,000 francs to entrepreneurs developing a device that may help millions of people have children, and software that can analyze the aerodynamics of car and airplane designs 1,000 times more quickly than the current state-of-the-art.
Marco Grisi and Gaurasundar Conley of Annaida Technologies and Pierre Baqué, Timur Bagautdinov, Francois Fleuret and Pascal Fua from Neural Concept have won 130,000 Swiss francs startup capital from the Venture Kick national support program.
“Venture Kick has already helped us, giving us the kick we needed to wake our entrepreneurial spirit, now it will give us an even bigger kick, giving us the means to execute our plans.” Said Gaurasundar Marc Conley, PhD, CEO co-founder of Annaida Technologies. „The trainer’s feedback is very critical, but always in a positive manner.” Said Pierre Baqué co-founder of Neural Concept.
Annaida Technologies Sàrl: Improved IVF Screening (Lausanne, EPF spin-off):
About 1 in 10 couples in developed countries use in-vitro fertilization when trying to conceive and Europe’s clinics perform 660,000 IVF cycles every year. Globally IVF will be a $20 billion industry by 2020, with patients spending over $1 billion on screening embryos to identify which may be most viable. Current methods, by examination under microscope or by taking a biopsy of as much as 15 percent of the embryos cells, are slow and result in successful pregnancies 35 percent of the time on average.
Annaida’s CTO Marco Grisi, who studied microengineering and magnetic resonance at Lausanne’s Institute of Microengineering EPFL, developed a faster, more-accurate technology that’s delicate enough to use on a human embryo. The startup’s device — like an MRI scanner shrunk to suit embryos about one-fifth of a millimeter in size — will allow IVF clinics to perform their analysis on-site and within an hour.
Grisi and co-founder and CEO, used Venture Kick’s support to meet industry players and opinion leaders at conferences and institutes worSldwide, and develop their expertise in embryology.
„It’s thanks to those opportunities that we’re now collaborating with our partner for the next medical studies, so Venture Kick was crucial for the development of our spin-off,“ says Grisi.
2019 should see the startup (named after the founders‘ grandmothers) close a seed round and start a human embryo study with an IVF clinic in canton Vaud. „Kickers Camp are essential to help you focus your priorities on key business elements. You put technology aside and make customer need and willingness-to-pay central,“ says Conley.
Neural Concept Sàrl (Lausanne, EPF spin-off):
Carmakers each spend about $10 million annually on software to digitally simulate the aerodynamic performance of their designs. Overall about $3 billion is spent on digital simulation by all industrial R&D companies especially global car and plane-makers. The current technology is slow, taking between 6 and 24 hours to analyze a design, which limits the number of designs engineers can test.
Neural Concept’s co-founders Pierre Baqué, Timur Bagautdinov, Francois Fleuret and Pascal Fua, apply deep learning technology developed for 3D models at EPF Lausanne’s Computer Vision Lab. Their simulations can be performed in 100 milliseconds, allowing engineers to speed-up their R&D cycles, and make better products more cheaply. The spin-off’s technology will also accelerate aircraft designers‘ work.
Since passing the previous Venture Kick jury and training, the startup has won Bridge and Innogrant grants. „The Kickers Camp was really a key element for us, in terms of how we structure our message and talk about our company. Now we pitch to focus more on the benefits we bring, not the technology and how we bring it“ said Pierre Baqué.
The startup already has on-going product validation with six customers in Europe and the U.S., and currently closing a seed round. (Venture Kick/mc/ps)
About Venture Kick
The philanthropic initiative Venture Kick provides up to CHF 150,000 in seed funding to Swiss startups. In addition, it offers a well-structured entrepreneurial path towards building a winning business. Startups pitch to expert juries at three stages to obtain funding, gaining direct feedback and access to an international network of successful entrepreneurs and investors.
Since its launch in 2007, Venture Kick has supported 620 Swiss startup projects with 26 million francs. The program of financial support, training and network, has led to the creation of 454 companies and 6,033 jobs. Venture Kick alumni companies have attracted a total of 2.5 billion francs, and represent 55 companies ranked in the TOP 100 Swiss Startups 2018.
In 2019, Venture Kick will pay out 4.35 million francs to idea-stage startup projects to bring Swiss science to global markets. More information in the Venture Kick annual report.
The Venture Kick Foundation is supported by Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Ernst Göhner Stiftung, Hauser-Stiftung, André Hoffmann, Hansjörg Wyss, Martin Haefner, Igor Fisch, Fondation Pro Techno, Rising Tide Foundation, ESA BIC Switzerland, Engagement Migros and Swisscom.