At the end of August 2020 Swisscom (together with its partners Ericsson and Qualcomm) launched the inaugural Swisscom 5G StartUp Challenge. While the previous Swisscom StartUp Challenges were aimed exclusively at young companies only from Switzerland, this year’s startups were invited to participate from all over the world.
A total of 125 startups from 30 countries applied and last week the top 10 have been identified. They are each working hard towards a final stage of competition on 17 December 2020, where presentations to a jury will take place online. The top five startups will get to test their 5G use cases and prototypes during a week in the Swisscom 5G Lab in Switzerland and also test the live network at various locations and regions. They will be mentored and supported by the experts from Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Swisscom.
Almost half of the finalists are working on applications that rely on autonomous drones and robots. The areas of application are wide: from protection and rescue to tourism and agriculture. The other area of startup development lies in applications and prototypes in relation to artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the Internet of Things. Around 80% of the original applications came from Switzerland while the remaining 20% were spread all over the world, from China to Argentina. Correspondingly, 8 of the selected top 10 startups ended up coming from Switzerland, plus one each from Germany and the USA. Similarly to previous years, early-stage 5G companies having roots from Swiss universities of applied sciences in Zurich (ETH) and Lausanne (EPFL) show a strong presence in the top 10.
The internal jury selected 10 finalists
A selection committee consisting of 5G experts, innovation and product managers and top management representatives from partner companies selected the top 10 startups. The selection committee examined the general potential of the startups and checked whether the use cases are actually based on 5G technology. They also evaluated the chance of working with the organizers of the Swisscom 5G StartUp Challenge or implementing the relevant technologies.
The selection committee was particularly impressed by the entries from the following 10 startups: Aero41, Fotokite (Perspective Robotics), Hegias, Morphean, qiio, Rigi Technologies, Robotic Systems, Smart Mobile Labs, Somniacs, ZaiNar (more information on the startups can be found here).
Public voting and final stage of competition on 17 December 2020
Starting 26 November, the general public can vote for their favorite startup via public voting. The startup or research team that secures most votes will travel to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona together with the program partners – if the situation allows it in summer 2021.
On 17 December, the top 10 startups will participate in the final stage of competition in the Swisscom 5G StartUp Challenge. They will compete in short pitch presentations before the highly experienced jury, including Martin Bürki (Managing Director, Ericsson Switzerland), Enrico Salvatori (Senior Vice President & President, Qualcomm EMEA), Christoph Aeschlimann (Chief Technology Officer, Swisscom) and Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler (Chief Digital Officer, Swisscom).