Three EPFL spin-offs among Europe's top 50 “super scale-ups”

© Alain Herzog

© Alain Herzog

Four Swiss companies, including three EPFL spin-offs – Flyability, Kandou and Nexthink – will be featured among Europe’s top 50 high-tech scale-ups at this year’s Tech Tour Growth Summit. The Summit is an annual event where a panel of international investors selects the most promising young European businesses with the potential to become tomorrow’s unicorns.

The 50 winning firms are chosen out of a pool of over 400 and given center stage every year at the Tech Tour Growth Summit, an international conference bringing together fast-growing tech firms and their investors. These “super scale-ups” – which now include Flyability, Kandou and Nexthink – could one day generate millions of dollars in revenues and even become unicorns, that exclusive group of privately-held startups valued at over one billion dollars.

Ambitious international expansion plans

The 2020 Tech Tour Growth Summit will be held in Lausanne and Geneva on 26–27 March. At the event, Flyability, Kandou and Nexthink will be in the running for a Growth and Innovation Award – which another EPFL spin-off, Sophia Genetics, won in 2019. According to Patrick Barbey, the director of Innovaud, the Vaud innovation agency that spearheads the Scale Up Vaud program: “Having Vaud scale-ups in the Tech Tour Growth 50 reflects the strength of our innovation ecosystem here in Vaud, as well as in Switzerland as a whole. These companies have reached a point where they can start achieving their ambitious business development goals on the international stage.” With four companies in this year’s Tech Tour Growth 50, Switzerland comes in third place, behind the UK and Germany.

Flyability, Kandou and Nexthink

Flyability supplies high-performance inspection drones for industrial applications. The drones are equipped with a cage system that lets them bounce off obstacles rather than having to fly around them. The company now has over 350 customers worldwide and is the leader in hazardous-site inspection drones for the nuclear, power-generation, chemistry and mining industries. Its founders have already raised over 15 million francs for their business.

Kandou Bus, based at EPFL’s Innovation Park, has developed technology that addresses one of the biggest challenges in the electronics industry. Its sophisticated chip-to-chip communication systems boost the reliability and efficiency of data transfer – while minimizing the amount of power required. The company was founded in 2011 and has set new standards for the industry, with no less than 300 patents under its belt. It completed a third fundraising round in late 2019, for 56 million dollars, bringing its total equity to nearly 100 million dollars. The firm generally sells its systems under license agreements but has just rolled out a series of products for consumer applications.

Nexthink, founded in 2004, provides software that enables IT managers at large companies to view their entire application portfolios in real time. That helps them rapidly identify possible incidents and security breaches. The software also includes a machine-learning feature that keeps track of the solutions used to resolve various problems, so that it can propose solutions when similar problems occur. Nexthink’s software now runs on over seven million workstations at 900 companies including multinationals like Adobe, Commerzbank and Western Union. Clearly positioned as a leader in its industry, the firm has raised over 150 million francs.