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Connect with ventures that shape the future
The annual Private Innovation Circle offers a valuable point of contact between successful entrepreneurs and private investors with an eye for innovation.
Private Innovation Circle.
Connecting private investors and entrepreneurs.
About the Private Innovation Circle (PIC)
Credit Suisse launched the PIC in 2014 as an initiative to connect successful entrepreneurs with private investors looking for interesting opportunities. Since then, we have matched 67 cutting-edge innovators with some 1,200 of our potential investors; within the past seven years, half of those introductions led to strategic partnerships.
The sectors showcased at this annual event reflect how sustainability is increasingly front and center in the minds not only of entrepreneurs but also of investors. They have included foodtech, logistics, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, the shared economy, fintech, healthtech and the Internet of Things.
Our senior Credit Suisse experts, with skills in investment banking advisory, private asset and capital markets, and asset management, make up the PIC committee. Every year, they pick 8–10 of the most exciting ventures from more than 500 applicants.
Company evaluation criteria
- Game-changing, pioneering and unique
- Strong management track record
- Proof of concept
- Potential for revenue generation
This rigorous screening process ensures that the companies invited to join the PIC are defined as much by their vision as their commercial viability.
What also sets the PIC apart is its distinguished global network of investors, leaders and like-minded peers. As an invitation-only platform, the PIC creates exclusive opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors not only to raise capital and pursue strategic partnerships, but also to make vital, enduring connections.
Meet the entrepreneurs who most impressed the PIC judges in 2021
Nine companies made a big impression on our illustrious judges with their vision, strategy, drive and accomplishments. Once again, sustainability was a prominent motivation for all nine ventures, which operate across foodtech, healthtech, logistics, virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR), automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and mobility, reinforcing a trend that has only been strengthening since PIC’s launch in 2014.
PIC 2021 highlights1
Investors’ choice: winner
Mosa Meat. The burger that doesn’t cost the earth.
Mosa Meat has a beef with unsustainable food production and in response developed the world’s first cultured burger. Founder and CEO Maarten Bosch told us how from a sample of just 0.5 grams of a prime cow, the company can grow enough cells to make 80,000 patties. Using less water, land and other inputs than traditionally reared beef, Mosa Meat has a far lower carbon footprint and harms no animals. It is sustainable, scalable and successful, in recognition of which investors including Leonardo DiCaprio have put in $85 million of funding in the last round. Mosa Meat won the Private Innovation Circle Award 2021, voted by the investors.
Ynsect. Producing more food from less.
Ynsect’s vertical farms produce protein from mealworms (beetle larvae) using 98% less land and 50% fewer resources. Founder Antoine Hubert explained how the high-quality protein, which is converted into flour, contains nutrients essential to human, animal and plant health, including omega 6, polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamins. It can be used in fertilizer, animal and pet food. Since its foundation in 2011, Ynsect has raised more than $425 million and grown organically and by acquisition.
Phytech. Helping growers control every BEAT of their farm.
Phytech is helping more than 600 of the world’s largest growers optimize their production by enabling them to monitor, plan and control their operations. By being connected directly to their plants and their irrigation infrastructure via a Plant-artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) digital platform, farmers can optimize their irrigation, nutrition, and pest and disease management. Phytech is a subscription-based service which doesn’t require investment in hardware or maintenance by the customer. Phytech currently covers 29 million trees, 10% of the global almond industry and has over 100,000 in-field Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It delivers returns in the region of 10 times original investment and helps growers save an average of 25% of their yearly water usage, compared to industry standards.
Sennder. Delivering fulfilling logistics.
Founder David Nothacker pointed out that congestion, pollution, carbon emissions, time and money all add up unnecessarily when lorries run without a full load. Sennder addresses this with its proprietary technology, directly connecting shippers with local carriers to offer a transparent, flexible freight logistics service. It’s about sustainability – using advanced fuels and full truck loads to cut carbon emissions – and helping everyone from the consumer to the producer to save money. Fundraising to date has netted $320 million, bringing in Baillie Gifford and Accel, with the next round scheduled for 2023-25.
Varjo. Developing a reality-based metaverse.
With Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Volvo, as well as leading players in healthcare, research, engineering and training among its clients, Varjo is revolutionizing virtual reality. Founder Urho Konttori told us its technology delivers lifelike immersive virtual and mixed reality environments that save users time and money. Working on the premise that the biggest thing holding back computing is not speed, access or mobility, but how we interact with computers, Varjo’s headsets were described by Boeing as giving “the same level of realism and interactions as if the astronauts were sitting in the physical simulators.” A Series C round last year brought the company’s total funding to more than $110 million.
Optibus. The ticket to sustainable public transport.
Optibus CEO and co-founder Amos Haggiag told us that the company is already helping more than 500 cities across 25 countries to make their public transport systems smarter and more efficient. A cloud-based SaaS platform that leverages AI to plan bus routes and timetables, schedule crews and predict demand, Optibus cuts CO2 emissions and reduces costs while increasing driver and passenger satisfaction. Currently powering 2.5 billion annual passenger journeys, Optibus is recognized as a technology pioneer by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for its role in transforming the transportation industry and promoting equity, sustainability and smart cities. Since its foundation in 2014, Optibus has raised $160 million from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners and Insight Partners.
Healx: A prescription for effective drug discovery and development.
Healx provides a faster, smarter and more scalable way of find new therapeutics for rare diseases – 95% of which don’t have an approved treatment today. Founder and CEO Dr Tim Guilliams explained how the team were applying their tech-driven approach to a range of rare conditions in order to reduce costs, shorten timelines and improve the probability of success of treatment development. At the heart of their approach is their artificial intelligence (AI) platform, Healnet, which analyzes millions of drug and disease data points to find novel connections that could be turned into new treatments. Healx received IND (Investigational New Drug) approval for its first clinical program for Fragile X Syndrome in 2021.
Planted. Meat the next generation.
Meat made entirely from plants – clean, natural and tasty – using biotechnology rather than dyes, gums, fillers and preservatives. As co-founders Pascal Bieri and Christoph Jenny told us: “Food has such a high impact on our planet, and the future for all of us – yet, for change to happen, we need to create sustainable and tasty protein solutions for customers to drive the change with us.” Founded in 2019, it already operates its own production in Switzerland, and partners with customers in Germany, Austria, Italy, France and the UK. Planted has raised CHF 43 million, also catching the eye of end-to-end plant-food fund Blue Horizon.
Prophesee. Humanizing computer vision.
Prophesee’s founders Ryad Benosman, Bernard Gilly, Christoph Posch and Luca Verre told us that its first sensor was an artificial human retina that allowed blind people to see. Today, Prophesee collaborates with the likes of Sony on neuromorphic machine-vision sensors that are among the most advanced in the world. Mimicking the human eye and brain, Prophesee’s patented sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms perceive only the most relevant motion information thanks to intelligent and independent pixels. This new class of vision allows it to drastically reduce the power, latency and data generated for greater safety, productivity and next-generation human-machine interactions. Key markets include industrial automation, automotive, mobile virtual reality / augmented reality (VR/AR) and the Internet of Things.
1 All numbers and content on the PIC ventures were provided and approved by the respective venture companies; figures as of November 2021
Source: Credit Suisse, unless otherwise noted.