Scale Up Vaud marked its fifth anniversary in 2021 and has already helped scores of local startups grow their business. The initiative is run by Innovaud, the innovation and investment promotion agency for Vaud Canton, and now counts 43 scale-ups. Its community of over 130 members meets regularly at events that were initially designed for CEOs but have since expanded to include specific gatherings for HR managers, CFOs, CMOs and CTOs.
Finding skilled workers a key challenge
To be eligible for the Scale Up Vaud program, a company must meet various criteria including 20% annual growth in headcount or revenue over the past three years. Meeting the criteria was particularly difficult in 2020 due to the pandemic-related restrictions and uncertainty; many businesses had to put a freeze on hiring, for instance. However, job offers flourished once again in 2021, and today the challenge lies in finding the right people – and that’s where Vaud’s pool of skilled graduates is a real advantage. Adrien Trecanni, the CEO of METACO, says: “We’re constantly looking for talented individuals with a background in engineering, blockchain, cryptocurrency, banking or finance. Vaud has a unique capacity to nurture skills in all these areas, which will be an important driver for our business expansion both in Switzerland and abroad.” Scale-ups are often attractive places to work: the ones in Vaud created 800 jobs in Switzerland in 2021 and nearly 6,000 jobs globally since the firms were first established.
A record in investment in 2021
Fundraising by scale-ups picked up in 2021 after slowing down the prior year. Eleven scale-ups brought in more than CHF 850 million in capital (including from IPOs): Abionic (CHF 12.5 million), Astrocast (CHF 45 million), Batmaid (CHF 25 million), bNovate Technologies (CHF 5 million), Ecorobotix (CHF 13.2 million), Kandou (CHF 69.2 million), MedAlliance (CHF 46.3 million), Mindmaze (CHF 116 million), Nexthink (CHF 161.7 million), Onward Medical (CHF 122.3 million) and Sophia Genetics (CHF 234 million).
Other highlights from 2021 include Eaton’s acquisition of the scale-up Green Motion in March, giving Green Motion’s founders an excellent exit opportunity, as well as the IPOs of Astrocast (Euronext Growth Oslo), Sophia Genetics (Nasdaq) and Onward Medical (Euronext Brussels and Amsterdam).
“It's a privilege to be part of Vaud's vibrant innovation ecosystem,” says Dave Marver, the CEO of ONWARD Medical. “Following our successful IPO in 2021, we now plan to scale our operations and bring our therapies to market, improving the lives of people with spinal cord injury.”
These achievements reflect the versatile nature of Vaud’s innovation ecosystem as it supports businesses in their strategies to disrupt, pivot and go global. The region’s high density of universities and R&D centers along with their effectiveness in joining forces on cross-disciplinary initiatives provides a fount of skills and resources for the scale-ups that Innovaud supports.
About the 11 new scale-ups
Akenes (Exoscale) (ICT) – Provides cloud-hosting services with an emphasis on simplicity, scalability and safety for SaaS companies and web applications. With a simple, intuitive web-admin interface and a no-surprises pricing plan, Exoscale makes complex infrastructure concepts easy to understand.
CleanGreens Solutions (agritech) – Supplies farmers and the farm industry with innovative mobile aeroponic solutions for growing environmentally friendly, nutrient-rich vegetables.
Distalmotion (medtech) – Distalmotion is a medical device company founded and based in Lausanne, on a mission to establish a new standard of care, where all patients in general surgery, gynecology and urology have access to best-in-class minimally invasive surgery.
Ligentec (engineering) – Manufactures photonic integrated circuits for high-tech applications such as ground and space communications, quantum technology, LiDAR systems and biosensors.
MedAlliance (medtech) – Develops innovative drug-eluting balloons for patients suffering from life-threatening coronary and peripheral arterial disease. Its Selution SLR™ system draws on breakthrough proprietary technology and provides a unique response to the challenge of controlled and sustained sirolimus release.
Metaco (fintech) – Helps financial institutions capitalize on the burgeoning digital asset economy in a secure manner. From cryptocurrency custody and trading to tokenization, staking and lending, Metaco’s platform seamlessly connects institutions to the new world of DeFi.
ONWARD Medical (medtech) – Develops innovative therapies to restore movement, independence and health in people with spinal cord injury. Onward was founded by neuroscience researchers at EPFL and CHUV and expects to market its first therapy in 2023.
Technis (engineering) – Supplies non-intrusive systems for measuring foot traffic in public and private areas, monitoring air quality and evaluating patient comfort and safety. Technis is a rapidly growing provider of decision-support systems incorporating real-time, on-site data extraction and analysis.
Unit8 (engineering) – Helps non-digital-native companies turn data into value with a mix of data science, analytics and AI, operating at the crossroads of business and technology to assist customers at every step of their data and AI journey.
Batgroup SA (Batmaid) (ICT) – Delivers hotel-class cleaning services while combating illegal employment practices across Europe.
Revizto (ICT) – Provides the Revizto building information modeling (BIM) collaboration platform for 3D and 2D workflows, which enables users to work and communicate with all project stakeholders in a unified software environment.
Scale Up Vaud in figures