swiss environment & energy Swiss

Yearly Monitor Analysis 2018

Christina Marchand

In the YEARLY MONITOR 2018 we show trends in the Swiss startup ecosystem, focussing on startups that have developed over the last ten years.

The Swiss Environment & Energy Innovation Monitor is a project to provide information on innovative Swiss startups in the environment and energy business sectors. One of the products of this work, the yearly Innovation Monitor, provides a summary of the startups founded in the last ten years (421 startups that have been founded since 2008, whereof 352 are still in operation) and where they are today.

The database started in 2014 with energy startups and was expanded in 2018 to cover environment-related startups. Data collection is done yearly through extensive internet research and is supplemented by data directly received from startups on our website or from online surveys.

Number of founded startups remains stable

Since 2008, around 40 companies have been founded per year in the energy and environment sectors, with high numbers 2011 and 2013. This may have been in reaction to the political climate after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident wherein the need for more renewable energy led to new business opportunities. Lower numbers before 2010 are due to difficulty in finding companies that were founded during that time. The lower count in the last two years is due to low visibility of newly founded companies on the market.

ETHZ and EPFL are strong 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. The number of founded companies per 1 million residents shows significant differences between the regions, highlighting that also small regions like Tessin and central Switzerland are effective in fostering entrepreneurship.

Trending business ideas
Almost 200 startups are clustered around three hot topics:

  • Smart technologies offering intelligent or more efficient devices, as well as more intelligent management of the electricity grid.

  • Solar energy technologies using the sun to produce electricity, heat or other forms of energy, or service providers providing better material, financing, installation or management of solar systems.

  • Waste management technologies including waste reduction, recycling or reusing material with numerous technologies, like new filter systems.

  • Energy & natural resources take top focus
    The largest share of the startups (36%) are active in the energy sector, covering production of energy to efficient electricity use. In second place, 18% of the startups are making better use of natural resources, as well as providing solutions for improved waste management. 14% of the startups are active in the mobility sector, mainly pushing electric vehicle transport forward and 10% deal with sustainability topics related to food, farming, forests and recreation.

    Most startups are in the pipeline
    The majority of the startups are still in the development or market entry phase, which is not surprising, as some are very new. However, the five year success rate (the number of startups founded in the last five years that have reached either “growing”, “established” or “sold” phase) is 29%. Looking further back 39% of the startups have successfully reached these phases in the past 10 years.

    Looking towards 2019
    Watch out for new insights into the startup scene through our regular publications on our website or in collaboration with our partners. With continuous data collection throughout the year, we will continue to produce the Innovation Monitor each year and further extensive analysis will be made available online.

    If you are an active Swiss startup or a promising innovative project in the environment or energy sector, please join the Innovation Monitor and enter your data. If you find your company already in the database, please register to complete your profile. Thank you very much.

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