- IMD Business School
News Stories · Entrepreneurship

Creating something from nothing: 27 new winners

Today IMD is announcing the winners of the 21st annual IMD Startup Competition, 27 young companies that will collaborate with IMD’s MBA and EMBA classes in 2019
December 2018

Every year since 1998, IMD has searched for a group of promising early-stage ventures to work with the experienced managers in our fulltime MBA, and EMBA cohorts. The idea for the competition was sparked by a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist. IMD’s Dr. Jim Pulcrano, who helped create the EMBA, had explained to the high-powered VC, the school’s plans to enhance the students’ understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation by visiting the San Francisco Bay area. When Jim asked if he’d be willing to speak to the class, he responded that he’d prefer to have them speak to him, and that he’d like to hear their business ideas, and, even better, he’d like them to pitch real startups to him…. Thus, was born the IMD Startup Competition, and 20 years later, more than 400 Swiss startups have collaborated with IMD.

Many of these startups have done well. AC Immune went public two years ago. Dacuda was acquired by Magic Leap. Doodle was bought by Tamedia, Endosense by St.Jude, FaceShift by Apple, GlycArt by Roche, picoDrill by Asahi Glass, HPL by Dow, Kooaba acquired by Qualcomm, Lemoptix by Intel. And then we have MindMaze that has landed over USD $100 million in funding, and has done several acquisitions itself. QGel is now at over 20 employees. Flyability is moving into bigger facilities. SONECT is now collaborating with Loomis, and NEXThink just closed an $85 million funding round. Not only did NexThink work with the MBAs in 2005, but they also collaborated in the inaugural IMD/EPFL TransformTECH program. In addition, founder Pedro Bados brought his insights on AI into a custom executive program with Lenovo in 2018.

Notwithstanding our past success, every year IMD starts from scratch, looking for the next cohort of great Swiss startups who will learn from our students, and that our students can learn from and add value to. This year brought 142 candidates to IMD. Prof. Benoit Leleux remarked, “This was one of the best vintages we’ve ever had. Choosing the ones that would work with us in 2019 was very difficult.” Dr. Pulcrano added, “Selecting 27 winners from such a great group of promising ventures was hard, probably one of the toughest tasks we undertake each year. I wish we could somehow work with 100 of them!

And the winners are….. The 15 Swiss ventures that IMD’s MBAs will have the privilege of working with in 2019 will be:


AgroSustain develops and brings to market novel, efficient, plant-inspired solutions against molds, aiming to reduce alimentary waste and to promote healthy food.


Aspivix, a smart new generation of surgical instruments, based on vacuum technology, replaces traumatic cervical forceps and turns very common gynecological practices (i.e.: IUD insertion) into safe & gentle ones for more than 75 million women every year in the world.


BAABUK creates the most authentic wool footwear for responsible people.


Bloom is the first chemical company able to selectively convert the most abundant biopolymers on Earth into a handful of building blocks, largely used in the production of fragrances, flavors, adhesives, textiles, plastics or marine fuels. Bloom thereby thrives on an ineluctable but challenging trend in the chemical industry, which is increasingly looking for cost-competitive solutions to replace petroleum-based carbons.


dimpora provides the next generation functional membranes with the highest functionality for your outdoor adventures. The high-tech membrane process combines high performance with sustainability.

FreeSuns (trading as 3Suns Sarl)

Freesuns is a Swiss-based company that designs, manufactures and installs affordable and beautiful integrated residential solar roof tiles.

Little Green House

An innovative, fast-growing group of multilingual childcare centers, partnering with modern families and family-friendly companies and providing the best starting conditions for tomorrow’s citizen.


MOBBOT offers unique 3D concrete printing technology for the construction sector, cutting installation costs of custom-made products by a factor of 4.


Waoow Comics disrupts the rules of the comics editing business in providing a digital-first comics marketplace, offering direct revenue generation for authors thanks to self-publishing and selling services, while sustaining a revolutionary, unique and tailored-for-mobile reading experience.


Locate, prebook and park your car close to your destination in an easy and efficient manner.


Privately provides technology for the online safety and wellbeing of children through in apps, in games and in devices.


Industry 4.0 Expertise Automation and Augmentation Software.

Swiss Motion Technologies

MotionTech is changing the face of the orthopedic world from mass production to mass customization, through its novel additive manufacturing solutions of silicone.


Tracelabel® is a blockchain-based software platform designed to build a community of engaged consumers in the best interests of independent winemakers.


xFarm is a Cloud and IoT platform which takes farms into the digital age, by simplifying data collection and management, thus reducing paperwork, improving efficiency and sustainability and allowing the traceability of agricultural products.


Working with IMD’s Executive MBA class in 2019, accompanying them to Silicon Valley in September, and observing as the students pitch them to Silicon Valley VCs will be:

Annaida Technologies

Annaida Technologies makes magnetic resonance possible at the embryo scale.

Aurora’s Grid

Making battery storage profitable.


Chip-ing disrupts the world of golf by digitalizing the golf ball and making it the smartest IoT sporting good.


Dronistics develops safe foldable drones and software for person-to-person, last-centimeter aerial delivery.


element36 has created a bridge between Blockchain and the banking world, enabling Smart Contracts to be used by non-technical people with real money.

Enterprise Bot

Headquartered in Switzerland, Enterprise Bot is a rapidly growing AI startup providing leading financial institutions and insurances with white-labeled cognitive solutions tailored to their specific needs.

Futurae Technologies

Futurae, with its cybersecurity products, is very excited to work with IMD EMBA students on a strategic assignment in the area of user-centric authentication.


Largo is developing new models for the movie industry with Sofy.tv and its cutting-edge technologies enabling data-driven moviemaking.


We are looking forward to getting the best EMBA students in the world to challenge our business idea and help us build the quantum industry 1.0.

Swiss Vault

Swiss Vault helps organizations save all their data forever by building long-lasting, energy and space efficient data storage systems.

Tinamu Labs

Tinamu Labs enables using drones to replace heavy camera equipment – such as camera cranes – to cut down production costs and to create completely new visual content.


Vima, a spinoff of the Idiap, provides solutions based on advanced Artificial Intelligence, that understand human behavior in different contexts, resulting in better processes and interaction with customers.

IMD is thankful to Innosuisse, VentureKick, investiere and MassChallenge Switzerland for their support in finding and choosing this year’s winners.

IMD will start the next search for promising Swiss startups in October 2019. Information can be found at wwwtest.imd.org/startups and here.