To become an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ one needs entrepreneurial spirit and leadership. Strong entrepreneurs have had the upper hand in the competition from the beginning.
Entrepreneurs are risk-takers. They weigh the options, invest in their vision and have an optimistic mindset. Of the average of 40 nominees per year, only four will become an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year. The following entrepreneurial leaders will have a shot at joining this exclusive circle.
Carlo R. Centonze, HeiQ Materials AG
Winner Industry, High-Tech & Life Sciences
Stefan Muff, Axon Active Holding AG
Winner Services & Commerce
Markus Gericke, Gericke Group
Winner Family Business
Lukas Böni & Pascal Bieri, Planted Foods AG
Winner Emerging Entrepreneur
Industry, High-Tech & Life Sciences
Brigitte Breisacher runs the business which was originally founded by her father in 1966 as a joiner’s workshop. Today, Alpnach Schränke + Küchen is Switzerland’s leading specialist for custom-made storage furniture and kitchens. The company builds some 40,000 cabinets and 2,000 kitchens and are 100 percent Swiss-made, from consultation through to production and assembly. Brigitte has been selected as a finalist because of her dedication as a fervent, passionate and authentic Swiss entrepreneur.
Christian Ammann and Stefan Geiger were flatmates in 2008, when they founded Giants Software with the aim of developing their own games. Their Farming Simulator was a huge success, listing among the top 50 games worldwide, and one of the few games not to feature violence. 25 million copies of the game are being played on PCs, mobile devices and consoles in more than 60 countries. The jury pays tribute to Chris’ eminently successful pioneering work in an industry which reaches and touches millions of people.
In 2005 Carlo Centonze and Murray Height founded HeiQ Materials as a spin-off of the ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Since then, the company has been an innovator in textiles, developing functional materials such as fabrics that kill viruses or filter oil from seawater. HeiQ made a strong debut on the London Stock Exchange in 2020. Carlo is named as a finalist because of his tenacious inventive spirit which has driven him from the early days as a startup to become an international innovator.
Services & Commerce
In 2008, Stefan Muff founded Axon Active as a developer and tester of software with a focus on the digital transformation. His first company was the geodata provider Endoxon, which he sold in 2006 and is now known as Google Maps. He always follows the same recipe for success: bringing together knowledge, technology and resources for the development of digital systems. The jury acknowledges Stefan as a rare and fine example of a visionary and designer of an ecosystem in the IT industry.
Karl Müller and Claudio Minder founded Joya Schuhe Holding as a specialist for fashionable yet comfortable shoes in 2007. Joya now makes the world’s softest shoe, an orthopedically approved innovation for soft and natural walking. 2 million pairs of Joya shoes have been sold to date, in 40 countries and by more than 1,600 dealers. Karl and Claudio have been selected as finalists because they have succeeded in making healthy shoes fashionable.
Restaurants in Paris which use delivery staff to deliver their meals to the home inspired Marc Aeschlimann to found Smood in 2012. Today, Smood is THE Swiss food delivery app, offering contact-free and hygienic delivery of food from your favorite restaurant to your home, office or elsewhere in less than 45 minutes. More than 1,800 restaurants have signed up to the delivery service, making Smood the number one in the Swiss market. The jury has chosen Marc as a finalist because he forges new paths in retail and food service which are immensely valuable in times like these.
Rudenz Egli was just 26 years old when he inherited his father’s business in the fourth generation. Egli AG has been in business since 1888, first producing butter-making components, and later entire systems. Egli is now the global market leader in butter machinery, exporting 99% of its output, right from the heart of the Toggenburg region. Rudenz has been selected as a finalist because he leads a Swiss mid-market company that has become a global market leader.
In 1894, Water H. Gericke founded a mill building company which Markus Gericke took over after four generations as a family business. Today, the company stands for bulk materials handling solutions for conveying, dosing, blending and monitoring powder and grain. Gericke has 12 locations worldwide and represents Swiss values in engineering. Markus has been chosen as a finalist because he is devoted to preserving a tradition for which Switzerland is valued and admired all over the world.
The Häring Group has been in family hands for 140 years and is now run by Christoph Häring in the fourth generation. The company stands for innovative construction structures in wood, a locally sourced sourced raw material that does not require energy for its production. Operating a production site in China and an office Singapore, the Häring Group exports its expertise in high-performance construction systems. The jury pays tribute to Christoph for his innovative ideas and his successful handling of complex family structures which he has expertly brought together.
Together with two colleagues, Lukas Böni and Pascal Bieri founded Planted Foods in 2019. The startup makes plant-based meat from peas, which are even more sustainable than alternative raw materials and methods. After just two years the startup is generating sizable revenue, has completed two rounds of financing and operates in three countries – an impressive start. The Planted team has made it to the finalist list on the back of its exceptionally agile, forward-looking and successful take on a trending topic.
Seedstars was founded by Alisée de Tonnac in 2012 with the aim of changing living conditions in emerging markets with technology and entrepreneurship. Alisée de Tonnac is still devoted to this goal today and has created an ecosystem for the transfer of knowledge, education and capital. At its heart is an international network which connects more than 90 ecosystems spanning the globe from Lagos and Bogotá to Karachi. Alisée has been chosen as a finalist because her dedication to entrepreneurship transcends boundaries and follows in a great Swiss tradition.
In 2015, a team of experts led by Simon Ittig founded T3 Pharmaceuticals in order to fight cancer. T3’s research is exploring completely new frontiers in cancer treatment with live bacteria which work directly in tumor cells. This self-regulating therapy with bacteria which colonize tumors is already undergoing clinical trials. The jury acknowledges Simon and the team for their seminal approach in a field of research which is garnering great acclaim from all around the globe.