swiss environment & energy Swiss

2020 Monitor Factsheet

Christina Marchand

Exploring the 673 startups of the energy and environment landscape in Switzerland

In this monitor extract you will find the development of 673 Swiss Environment and Energy Startups in the last ten years from 2011-2020.

Number of founded startups stable

Since 2011, between 40 - 92 companies have been founded each year in the energy and environment sectors, with peaks in 2013 and 2017. The overall upward trend of founded startups is a positive sign signalling potentially both an improvement in startup conditions in Switzerland for these sectors, as well as an improved visibility overall of these companies. For 2020, the lower count is due to low visibility of newly founded companies on the market.

ETHZ and EPFL are still drivers of innovation

The Lake of Geneva and Canton of Zürich regions, with the EPFL and ETHZ respectively, prove to be strong drivers of innovation, as the majority of startups are founded here not only in absolute number, but also relative to the regional population. However in the last years Zürich shows the strongest growth with the highest founding rate overall. While the number of founded companies differs strongly between regions, especilly the canton Tessin is effective in fostering entrepreneurship.

Founders are overwhelmingly male

Since a while now we have collected data on the gender of the startup founders. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority (79%) of founders are male in these business areas. However, astonishingly there are very few women involved, only 15% of startups are founded by mixed teams and as few as 6% are founded by one or more women. We see a slight increase for female founders, compared to the last extract, but more work is needed to support more gender diverse teams to engage in these promising areas.

Size, offer and customer

The size of most startups is small .About 45% are 1-5 and 5-19 employees respectively and only 11% are more than 20 employees. 54% startups offer a tangible product, about 1/3 offer services and 15% software solutions. Often the software or hardware also comes with additional service, this is not counted in the service numbers. These results show that the energy and environment area is still very much a production sector where innovation comes with new technology or hardware. Most of the startups sell their products to companies. about half of them also target authorities and another 50% sell to private households, too. Only 12% only target private households.


The Swiss Environment & Energy Innovation Monitor provides information on innovative Swiss startups in the environment and energy business sectors for decision makers, investors and public authorities. At the beginning of each year, a yearly monitor is produced to show key information about startups founded in the last ten years. The monitor database was started in 2014 covering mainly energy startups and was expanded in 2018 to include all environment-related startups. Data collection is done yearly through extensive internet research and an online survey, and is supplemented by data directly received from startups on our website. Please participate with your data, if you are a startup or innovative SME and stay up-to-date on startup opportunities in Switzerland through our newsletter (sent 5x per year).

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