ETH Spin-offs - Record Number Created in One Year

Last year, a record-breaking 43 spin-offs were established at ETH Zurich. Particularly, a significant number of startups emerged in the fields of artificial intelligence and biotechnology. Furthermore, an increasing number of ETH spin-offs are being founded by women.

The establishment of 43 new ventures marks an exceptionally high figure, showcasing ETH Zurich's outstanding performance in the European comparison. One research domain that ETH is actively expanding, reflected in these startup initiatives, is artificial intelligence (AI). Among the 43 spin-offs, twelve have a clear connection to AI. For instance, Quazel, an app leveraging AI for language learning. With the assistance of an AI agent, learners can engage in conversations on various topics while the AI dynamically responds to everything that is said. Another example is the young team at BreezeLabs, utilizing AI software. This software measures respiratory rate through the built-in microphone in standard headphones, enabling personalized and targeted training recommendations during physical activity. In addition to AI, ETH has a strong tradition in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, which represents the largest proportion of newly established spin-offs in 2023. An example is the biotech spin-off ATLyphe. Their goal is to replace chemotherapy with antibody-based therapies to potentially make hematopoietic stem cell transplantation safer and more effective.

Increasing Number of Female Founders

The proportion of female founders among ETH spin-offs has increased compared to the previous year. In concrete terms, this means that in 2023, eleven companies were co-founded by women at ETH. Vanessa Wood, Vice President for Knowledge Transfer and Corporate Relations at ETH Zurich, is pleased with this development: "The fact that we can increasingly inspire women to become entrepreneurs not only personally fills me with joy but is also important for the Swiss economy and society." A concrete example of this is the spin-off apheros. CEO Julia Carpenter and her team have invented novel metal foams with cooling properties. Since cooling electronic devices often consumes a lot of energy, apheros' foams offer an efficient cooling solution with their large surface area and high conductivity.

Substantial Investments

It was also a remarkable year in terms of grants received by ETH spin-offs. In 2023, a total of 47 million Swiss Francs flowed into ETH spin-offs without diluting the existing stakes of current owners. Additionally, several significant investment rounds took place. For instance, the spin-off GetYourGuide, an online platform for travel activities, concluded a new financing round of over 70 million Swiss Francs. The spin-off ANYbotics, which offers autonomous robots for inspections, received 50 million Swiss Francs. Similarly, two drone technology companies, Verity and Wingtra, benefited from funding. Verity secured 40 million Swiss Francs for their self-flying inventory drones, while Wingtra received 20 million Swiss Francs for their drones used in cartographic and geodetic applications. Memo Therapeutics, a biotechnology company, successfully completed a financing round of 25 million Swiss Francs for research on therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of infectious diseases.

Evolution of ETH Spin-offs Over the Years

Since 1973, 583 spin-offs have been established at ETH Zurich. A list of all spin-offs can be found here; information on acquisitions and IPOs of ETH spin-offs can be found here. Recognized ETH spin-offs are supported by the ETH Office of Knowledge Transfer and Corporate Relations at their inception and in the often crucial subsequent years through consultation, licensing of ETH technologies, and networking.

A comprehensive analysis by the University of St. Gallen in 2020 found that ETH spin-offs are more efficient, create more jobs, and are more frequently acquired than the average Swiss startup.

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