By Quentin Gigon, Junior Project Leader Innovation & Entrepreneurship
To say Swiss Startups made a strong impression during the three days at CES Asia 2018 would undeniably constitute an understatement. For the 2018 edition of the premier event for the consumer technology industry in China and Asia, 3 out of the 7 startups of the swissnex China Swiss Startup Pavilion exceeded all expectations by walking away with 4 prizes, including Best Health Startup (Kenzen), Best Vehicle Technology Startup (SoFlow), as well as 2 innovation awards (Biowatch in Wearables Category, Kenzen in Sports and Fitness Category). Not only are these distinctions a testament to the quality of Switzerland’s strong startup ecosystem, but also a reminder of Switzerland’s ranking as the most innovative country in the world for the last six consecutive years. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg of what took place in the last few days both during and before CES Asia.
The startups came to CES Asia as part of a selection and invitation process organized and coordinated by swissnex China. The aim was to host a Swiss Startups Pavilion at CES Asia in Shanghai, in order to not only showcase the disruptive technologies being developed by top Swiss Startups in Asia but also, and especially, to provide this selection of startups with the unique opportunity to gain visibility and connect with a network of potential local partners to facilitate market entry ambitions. To achieve this last point, swissnex China additionally organized a pre-CES exclusive pitching event, to which over 30 key players of the startup ecosystem in Shanghai were invited. This event allowed the seven startups to pitch to a targeted Chinese audience, as well as establish informal ties with a local network of potential partners.
Beyond the awards and the pitching event, CES Asia enabled the delegation of Swiss Startups to benefit from the attention of an audience of over 40,000 attendees and over 1,200 media present at the event. For some of the startup representatives, it was their first time to come to China, and they were excited to meet and talk with investors and potential customers alike, with one of the companies even discussing a multi-million CHF VC investment within its booth! Many startups pointed to the fact that if it were not for swissnex China’s help, they would never have come to China in the first place. These empowering testimonials provide ever more justification for swissnex China to pursue its mission of connecting the dots between Switzerland and China. While the immediate repercussions of such a sudden surge in visibility for swiss startups in China is not directly visible shortly after the event, it is certain that these 7 startups have gained valuable knowledge of the Chinese market, unparalleled exposure, as well as strong local ties to support their future market entry ambitions, which is a substantial added value not just for the startups and for swissnex, but also for Switzerland both at home and abroad. Swissnex China looks forward to an even more successful CES Asia 2019… stay tuned!
Matthias Vanoni, Co-founder and CEO of Biowatch: “We are happy to see big traction of the Chinese market for our technology and these 2 days at CES Asia have exceeded our expectations as we have secured very strong relationships that hopefully will result in further investment. A big thanks to swissnex for this opportunity.”
Edith Schmid, COO of Kenzen: “We had no idea what would await us here at CES Asia. It’s actually our first time in China and we won 2 awards. We are absolutely overwhelmed and we’re definitely coming back.”
Stephan Slunitschek, VP, Sales & Business Development of Myotest: “We’re really happy to be here at CES. We have had very good meetings here with various companies like pharmaceuticals, sports and wearables companies. We are very grateful for the exposure this event has provided us with and we are now looking forward to discussing future partnerships in China.”
Andrea Beck, In charge of operations, on-boarding, customer support, and customer success at Scantrust: “Our expectations for CES Asia have been surpassed. We had quite a few promising discussions with potential clients, so we look forward to seeing what will happen next. The coordination and the support of swissnex was very helpful.“
Zif Giang, Co-Founder & VP of Production of SoFlow: “CES Asia was a great opportunity for us to represent our product. We can interact with our customers, so they really can try and feel the product and see how it works. We met a lot of potential buyers and customers and, surprisingly, we won an award for top startup in vehicle technology!”
Gauthier Dubruel, Co-Founder & Business Director of Ubisim: “CES has been very good for us because we have been working on our China strategy and we have been able to put the product in the hands of a lot of potential partners and, surprisingly, investors. So far, the feedback has been very good, so for us it’s a great way to get tangible feedback about what we do from a China perspective. We are grateful not only for the invitation of swissnex to join CES, but also for the activities on the side which have allowed us to connect with others from the startup ecosystem, such as investors and other startups.”
Roman Gaus, Founder & CEO of Urbanfarmers: “CES was an opportunity for us to interact with existing targets, so it acted as a follow up with what we’ve already done in China in the past. However, we also connected with a number of new visitors and new leads from a variety of IT industries, as it’s always good to connect with new potential suppliers and partners.”