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ZHAW Startup Challenge 2025

Would you like to put a start-up idea into practice? Then the annual ZHAW Startup Challenge is the right place for you. As a participant, you have the chance to develop your startup idea with the help of experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts and present it to a jury, while also receiving additional funding.

The ZHAW Startup Challenge offers you:

  • Individual coaching
  • 3 workshops
  • Helpful feedback from experienced jury members
  • A platform to expand your network and make contacts
  • Exchange with like-minded people

Diploma

Participants who reach the final of the startup challenge will receive a diploma from the ZHAW.

Register now for the Kickoff

WHEN?

WHO?

HOW?

Simply register for the kick-off event (Wednesday, 26 March) and find out everything else there.

 

Conditions of participation

By registering for the ZHAW Startup Challenge, you confirm your participation in the Kick-Off Event, where you will receive all further information. We also recommend that you take part in the three workshops, the individual coaching and the final pitch event, where prizes will be awarded for the best three ideas.

Participation in the ZHAW Startup Challenge and the startup visits (safaris), including all aperitifs, are free of charge. At the Kick-Off Event, you can present your ideas and form teams, or expand your existing teams. The condition for further participation after the Kick-Off is that at least one person per team must be a student at ZHAW.

Do you have any questions? Please contact entrepreneurship@zhaw.ch

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Past Challenges

Winners 2023 – KohlenKraft

KohlenKraft won the ZHAW Startup Challenge 2023 and presented its innovative building material technology. This is intended to help drive the transition to a carbon-neutral future.

The construction industry is currently facing a peak in CO2 emissions. Driven by a vision to save the environment, the company uses biomass waste to produce biochar, a key component of their product.

This process also generates electricity and heat, which benefits the local community. KohlenKraft took part in the challenge to not only test the marketability of their solution, but also to grow their team and improve their chances in their quest for a sustainable future.

Find out more about KohlenKraft here.

Winners 2022 – Hängry Foods

The winner of the ZHAW Startup Challenge 2022 is Hängry Foods, whose approach to combating food waste won out in front of the jury in the final of the challenge. Hängry Foods has set itself the task of making sustainability convenient.

The company produces ready-made products from surplus food, embodying its "from farm to fork" philosophy. By transforming surplus ingredients and waste products into delicious ready to eat meals, the company not only feeds the hungry but also saves an average of 1.4 kg CO2 eq per meal. Driven by their passion for reducing food waste, they took part in the challenge to test the feasibility of their innovative approach.

Find out more about Hängry Foods here.

Winners 2021 – Paton

Paton was able to convince the jury of its smart call system in this year's ZHAW Startup Challenge and was awarded first place. With its EC-Bell, Paton is developing a novel, software-supported patient call system that is intended to help nursing staff communicate more easily with their patients. This should save idle time and create room for better quality care. Full of zest for action, they entered the Challenge with the goal of finding out whether their idea has potential or not.

Find out more about Paton and how the team experienced the Startup Challenge in this short interview (German).

Winners 2020 – MyZivi

The MyZivi team won the Startup Challenge in 2020. Their offer is all about community service workers and companies that offer community service positions. MyZivi offers a solution for the recruitment and administration of civilians. Curious about whether their idea is marketable, they registered for the Startup Challenge. After proving their idea in the Challenge, they have now reached the point of growth after various further steps.

Find out more about MyZivi and how the team experienced the Startup Challenge in this short interview (German).

Winners 2019 – Fit Cap

Fit Cap - the winning team of the ZHAW Startup Challenge 2019 - is developing a capsule for protein powder that can be screwed onto any conventional PET bottle. With this product, Yannick Schmid and Mirco Muff want to impress the fitness industry and ensure variety in taste, variety in dietary supplements and the right dosage of protein powder.

Read more about FitCap in our blog!

Caressoma @ Virginia Tech Global Entrepreneur Challenge 2019

Since Team Fit Cap could not travel to the USA, the RUNWAY startup Caressoma represented Switzerland at the international competition in Virginia - with great success! Caressoma won the "Information Technology Award for the most outstanding service" and received $15.000 prize money. The two founders Dr. Sophia Borowka and Jana Maes develop a diagnostic device for the detection and monitoring of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

Read more about Caressoma in our blog!

Winners 2018 - Blockflyer

From 16 to 25 August, Steven Rüttimann represented ZHAW and Switzerland with his Blockflyer startup at the Virginia Tech Global Challenge. The finalist of this year’s ZHAW Startup Challenge did not win the US$ 30,000 cash prize with Blockflyer, he is that much wealthier with exciting, new impressions and many useful contacts.

Interview mit Steven Rüttimann(PDF 266,4 KB)

The next ZHAW Startup Challenge will take place in spring 2019. Follow us now on Facebook to keep up to date.

Winners 2017 - Nexenic

“Nexenic” (previously funicX) is the winner of the ZHAW Startup Challenge 2017. The three aspiring engineers (ZHAW School of Engineering) have developed a solution to a problem from their everyday student life: a thermoelectric lunch box. Their idea was inspired by the long queues at the microwaves with students waiting for heating up their lunches in the cafeteria.

In August 2017, the Nexenic team flew to our partner university in Virginia (USA) and represented Switzerland in the Virginia Tech Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge. They won the People's Chioce Award donated with US$ 5'000!

Winners 2016 - CoatChecker

In 2016, Alexander, Nusret and Joris, students from the ZHAW School of Engineering won the ZHAW Startup Challenge and represented Switzerland at Virginia Tech Global Challenge.

They developed a hand device to measure the thickness of materials without destroying the material itself. Not only an outstanding pitch convinced the jury, but also the technology and the huge market potential.

Based in the ZHAW RUNWAY Startup Incubator, CoatChecker is working on the prototype and their market-entry strategy.

Winners 2015 - EntoLog

The team from Wädenswil aims to help tackle the growing global challenge of producing nutritious protein-rich foods using a state of the art technology that enables the extraction of proteins and other valuable components from insects. Using its innovative technology, the entire insect can be processed into a variety of industrial grade food products in order to meet different customer needs at qualities that are comparable with existing protein-rich foods.

At the Virginia Tech Global Challenge, where EntoLog represented Switzerland in 2015, they were awarded The People’s Choice Award $5'000.

Impressions

Sponsorship

The ZHAW Startup Challenge is kindly supported by: