Living in Switzerland is wonderful. It’s clean, safe, well-developed, and it takes innovation seriously. In fact, it was recently named the World’s Most Innovative Country by the Global Innovation Index (GII) for a ninth consecutive year!
Undoubtedly, Switzerland is home to countless innovative corporations which are recognised for their commitment to sustainable development.
But do you ever wonder which Swiss startups are making the most significant impact for the environment, equal rights, gender equality and fair pay?
If yes, you’ve come to the right place to learn more.
In this article, we’ll explore 10 Swiss champions — incredible startups that share our passion for social impact and that are launching game-changing products or services.
What are the top 10 most impact-driven Swiss startups?
As you may know already, the companies that you can invest through Yova are all publicly traded and don’t fall into the typical ‘startup’ definition anymore.
But if you are interested in creating change at an earlier stage, these are our top ten handpicked impact-driven Swiss startups that you can support through purchasing their products and services or following on social media.
Important note: The order below isn’t a top-down ranking, nor is it an exhaustive list. Let us know if you have a suggestion for another company that is making valuable contributions to the sustainability space.
We hear it every day, especially with the most recent Climate Marches: we are facing an existential crisis. Oceans are rising. Weather is becoming unpredictable. Icebergs are melting. What if we could stop temperature increases by directly removing carbon dioxide from the air? Climeworks’ plants capture and filter carbon from the atmosphere. In fact, they’re the first company ever to commercialise carbon removal technology.
Good news: Climeworks, which was founded in 2011 and is based in Zurich, has just released its first subscription package available for individuals. Starting at CHF 8 per month, you can have your unavoidable travel emissions transformed into stone. Through this direct air capture technology, Climeworks takes carbon from the air, mixes it with water used by a geothermal plant, and stores it underground in your name, where it reacts with basaltic rock and turns permanently into stone. Their basic subscription package removes 15% (85 kg annually) of the global average travel footprint, and their Special Expedition Subscription can remove 100% (600 kg annually) for just CHF 55 per month.
Similarly to Climeworks, MyClimate provides a way to offset the CO2 emissions that happen while we’re engaging in everyday activities like flying, driving, living, and working. Through this Zurich-based non-profit organisation, you calculate the carbon emissions caused during your recent trips or activities, and offset these by donating to projects that fight climate change in developing countries.
MyClimate’s projects include restoring mangroves in Myanmar, subsidising the sale of energy-efficient cookstoves in Rwanda to preserve gorilla habitats, and helping indigenous communities in Fiji protect native rainforests.
You can use MyClimate’s online calculator to calculate the cost of offsetting your emissions and make a donation to a cause you care about. For example, a round trip flight from Zurich to London emits 0.362 tonnes of CO2 or a ride of 200km by car emits 0.077 tonnes of CO2. Using MyClimate, you can offset your emissions by contributing to carbon offset projects worldwide from as little as CHF 2.
What happens when restaurants or shops have leftover food at the end of the day? All too often, it ends up in the trash. In fact, if food waste were a country it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind only the USA and China.
Launched in Denmark and now active in Switzerland, the Too Good to Go app lets you buy this food, at a heavily discounted price, before it goes to waste at the end of a business’s open hours. It’s a win-win situation: App users save up to 70% of the original meal price, and shops and restaurants make money from excess inventory. To date, Too Good To Go has saved 21.3 million meals and over 51 tons of CO2 emissions.
This Geneva-based startup gives anyone the ability to analyse the performance of major companies according to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Impaakt provides a free platform that assigns real-time ratings and impact scores that reflect the company’s social and environmental footprint. The company has a method of aggregating impact analyses and using collective intelligence to make sure a company is not just listing practices and values on their website. Impaakt checks if a company actually addresses societal problems tangibly — through its products, services, and operations. As well as the free platform, clients can also subscribe to standardised impact reports on specific companies, sectors or SDGs and access Impaakt’s portfolio management tools. These paid options are designed to help professionals in the sustainable investing space make more informed decisions on what companies they invest in.
Founded in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2012, Electric Feel provides the technology that supports transport-sharing apps around Europe and beyond. This includes apps, data analytics and even automation and predictive technologies for the companies that let you use shared electric bikes, scooters, and cars.
The company, which counts ETH Zurich amongst its partners, is active in New York, Washington DC, Rome, Milan, Madrid, and many other cities. So far, it’s helped people travel more than 45 million kilometers using environmentally-friendly modes of transport.
Eaternity is another Zurich-based company that was officially founded in 2014, although its story goes back all the way to 2008.
Their mission is to accelerate the sustainable food future by providing solutions and services for the catering industry, restaurants and food producers.
One of its solutions, the Eaternity Score, helps food producers calculate environmental impact and CO2 emissions so they can label their food accordingly. They calculate the Score based on a 3-star rating system that incorporates Climate Score, Water Footprint, Rainforest Score and Animal Welfare Score. As a result, it allows more people to make sustainable choices when selecting their everyday food. You can learn more about it here.
7. Happy Genie
Happy Genie was founded in 2017 by Tanja Schenker who originally had a luxury leather handbag company, but was unable to come to terms with the animal cruelty she witnessed in the industry. She decided to re-launch her business with strictly vegan-only materials.
Happy Genie produces stylish and multifunctional bags made from apples fibres, designed in Switzerland and handcrafted in Italy. In addition to high-end fashion, Happy Genie provides fair working conditions throughout its supply chain and also gives back a portion of proceeds to impact-driven organisations.
Happy Genie’s clutches start at CHF 200, and bags cost around CHF 550. They have a showroom in Bäch, around 30 minutes from Zurich city.
WormUp is a Zurich-based company on a mission to ensure that no bio-waste ends up in a regular waste pile. That’s because when bio-waste is not processed properly, it creates methane gas – one of the worst of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
To tackle this problem, they develop practical worm composting systems for homes and communities that help to recycle bio-waste into a nutrient-rich organic and odorless biofertilizer.
The company’s staple product WormUp HOME is the first ceramic Worm Bin developed as an interior object (yes, it lives inside your home!). With a simple design and sustainable choice of materials, it was nominated for the Eco Design Prize in Germany in 2019.
You can get a complete set that includes a starting population of local compost worms from Wallis for CHF 340, and place it in your home, basement, or outside area.
Wildbiene + Partner is a company based and founded in Zurich that believes there would be no food without bees. It is on a mission to ensure that pollinators in Switzerland do not disappear in the future by offering their primary product called BeeHome.
A BeeHome unit (from CHF 120) enables you to host your own bee colony in your garden or balcony without any hassle. It comes with a population of bee cocoons that hatch in spring and pollinate local gardens and flowers. Once the winter comes, you return your bees to the company for protection during the cold period.
Half of all bees in Switzerland are endangered, therefore by using Wildbiene + Partner BeeHome, you can help grow the bee population sustainably while getting the new backyard friends too.
VegiPass was founded in late 2018 in Tentlingen (canton of Fribourg) by a team of vegan & vegetarian foodies. They are on a mission to create a better world for people and animals by supporting those who enjoy vegetarian-vegan food.
Using their main product VegiPass, you can make use of over 170 deals in cities throughout Switzerland, receiving discounts of up to 50% in partnering restaurants, shops, food trucks, yoga studios, and various workshops. All while taking a stand against animal cruelty and leading a healthier lifestyle.
The pass costs CHF 79 is valid for the calendar year. You can learn more about it here.
How can you invest in impact-driven Swiss startups?
Did you find any interesting businesses on this list?
These impact-driven startups are just a small sample of the incredible companies that are changing the world from Switzerland.
From learning more about how they create impact to purchasing their products — there are many ways you can get involved in the Swiss sustainable startup scene.
Investing in sustainable companies is another powerful action you can take to create a fairer, more sustainable world. At Yova, it’s easy to invest in sustainable, socially responsible companies that are solving the biggest problems of our time. Although our focus is on large, publicly-listed companies rather than start-ups, you can customise your portfolio so that it is completely aligned with your personal values.
Get started here, by creating your free investment strategy, and support sustainable investing in Switzerland – let’s change the future together!