Campus - 03.06.2024 - 09:17 

HSG startups focus on artificial intelligence

In the Entrepreneurial Talents Programme, HSG promotes entrepreneurial talent. At the end of the spring semester, the current teams presented their projects - the use of AI plays an important role for many young entrepreneurs. 

Software that independently checks building applications, AI-supported travel guides and nutritionists as well as the automated creation of patient records: These and other business ideas are currently being commercialised by young HSG student startups. Nine founders recently presented their startups at the conclusion of the Entrepreneurial Talents Programme (ETP).

In this programme, Startup@HSG (see text box below) supports up to ten entrepreneurs each semester. They receive a grant of up to CHF 4,000, office space and coaching on various topics such as financing, strategy or law. In addition, HSG connects the young entrepreneurs with successful founders and investors. 

Startups tackle social challenges

“Many of you are tackling important social challenges with your business ideas,” said Prof Dr Dietmar Grichnik, HSG professor of Entrepreneurship and Technology Management and vice-president for Innovation & Quality, to the ETP participants. He and his team launched the ETP programme 12 years ago.

For example, the startup Cleriq has set the goal of reducing costs in the healthcare sector thanks to automation: the startup is developing a practice information system for GPs that is supported by AI and automatically records and processes information. “This should reduce bureaucracy, relieve the workload of specialists and avoid duplication of diagnostics,” says Cleriq's co-founder Anna Haltiner, who is studying medicine at the HSG's School of Medicine. 

She met her co-founders Maximilia Arrich and Florian Benkhalifa - both HSG doctoral students - and Céline Kurt, a medical student in Basel, at the HSG School of Medicine's Ideation Week. 

The ETP programme was crucial for Cleriq, says Haltiner: “We gained valuable insights into the steps required to found a startup. The dialogue with the other participants, potential investors and our coach was particularly enriching.”

Excellent atmosphere for startups at HSG

The startup Gaudio has developed an app that uses AI to guide users through cultural spaces such as museums, historical buildings and galleries. The app is designed to appeal to a wide range of interests thanks to its individualised offering: “Imagine talking to Vincent van Gogh while looking at his paintings, or experienc-ing the history of Genghis Khan from his own perspective,” says co-founder Dominic Graber. Gaudio has just created his first prototype - a guided tour through the works of art on the HSG campus. “We are interested in receiving as much feedback as possible from users,” says Graber. Access to Gaudio can be applied for here.

The ETP programme has given Gaudio the opportunity to present their business idea to various entrepreneurs and investors. "Over-all, HSG offers an excellent atmosphere for startups", says Graber. The Gaudio team also includes Luisa Lager - like Graber, a student in the Master in Business Innovation programme - and ETH computer scientist Nicolas Hoferer. 

In addition to launching a prototype, Gaudio has been able to obtain initial funding in recent months: they received an ‘AI In-novation Booster’ package from Innosuisse totalling CHF 20,000 and the Startfeld funding package of CHF 18,000.

HSG students join forces with technicians

The startup Optiverse launched an AI that independently summarises longer videos, structures them according to the user's needs and also translates them - useful, for example, for evaluating longer online meetings or webinars. The startup is backed by HSG student Mario Assaf, ETH graduate Elio Assaf and EPFL graduate Raphael Ausilio. 

This was also a striking feature of the current ETP cohort: In many startups, HSG students join forces with colleagues from other Swiss universities, thus combining their knowledge from the business and tech worlds.

YumAI also relies on AI. The online platform creates nutrition plans, recipes and shopping lists for health-conscious people. But it can also be used in the medical field, says HSG student Samuel Walliser, who founded the startup with Pascal Lüthy. “For example, the platform can create specialised nutrition plans for diabetes patients.” In future, the platform could also be integrated into the services offered by healthcare providers such as health insurance companies or nutritionists. The ETP programme has brought her into contact with various experts.  

"Now it's time for implementation and detailed work"

Entrepreneurship expert Grichnik told the founders that “now it's time for implementation and detailed work.” And he pointed out to the startups that some of them could be eligible for the HSG START Accelerator.  This programme is a joint project of the HSG together with START Global and the Switzerland Innovation Park East. Starting in 2025, national and international startups are to be supported in their growth and professionalisation. 

The Entrepreneurial Talents Programme ETP is the scholarship programme of STARTUP@HSG, which supports 15-20 talents annually on their entrepreneurial path with workshops, coaching, networking and funding. Since its inception, the programme has supported more than 120 startups to prepare talents for the execution and build-up phase. STARTUP@HSG, as part of the Prorectorate for Innovation & Quality (PIQ) of the University of St.Gallen, serves as a central hub for entrepreneurial activities and innovation transfer at HSG. 

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