Press release

29 Oct 2021 Zurich, CH

EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ 2021: Award for five innovative Swiss entrepreneurs

Zurich, 29 October 2021. With the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award 2021, the auditing and consulting firm EY in Switzerland has honored innovative and committed Swiss entrepreneurs for the 24th time.

  • „„  The 2021 winners in the four categories are: Carlo Centonze (HeiQ Materials), Stefan Muff (Axon Active) and Markus Gericke (Gericke Group), as well as Lukas Böni and Pascal Bieri (Planted Foods).
  • „  The award ceremony, with around 250 invited guests, took place tonight as part of a hybrid gala event in Zurich.
  • „  The comprehensive support program for entrepreneurs is being run in Switzerland for the 24th time.

    With the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award 2021, the auditing and consulting firm EY in Switzerland has honored innovative and committed Swiss entrepreneurs for the 24th time. A ten-member jury was responsible for the judging of the finalists and the presentation of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2021 Award; it examined the candidates on its own and independently of EY. This year’s five prize-winners are:

  • Carlo Centonze (HeiQ, Schlieren ZH) in the category "Industry, High-Tech & Life Sciences"
    In 2005 Carlo Centonze and Murray Height founded HeiQ Materials as an ETH spin-off. Since then, the company has been an innovator in the textile sector and has developed what are known as "functional materials", such as textiles that kill viruses or filter oil from seawater. In 2020 HeiQ made its initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange. Carlo Centonze is being honored by the jury with the prize in the category "Industry, High-Tech & Life Sciences" for his persistent inventive spirit, which has brought him from a startup to an international innovator: "We all know how the Swiss textile industry was faring 50 years ago," says Sascha Stahl, Program Partner of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Switzerland: "We need the sort of reformers who rethink and reinvent the traditional."

  •  Stefan Muff (Axon Active, Lucerne) in the category "Services & Trade"
    Stefan founded Axon Active in 2008 as a developer and tester of software with a focus on digital transformation. His first company was the geospatial data provider Endoxon, which he sold in 2006 – now known as Google Maps. Muff remains true to his business principle: He uses bundled knowledge, technology and resources for the development of digital systems. The jury nominated him as the winner in the "Service & Trade" category because he is a visionary and designer of an ecosystem in the IT industry that is rarely found in this country: "Stefan shows what Switzerland is admired for in the world – great inventiveness and the ability to put it into practice."

  • Markus Gericke (Gericke Group, Regensdorf ZH) in the "Family Business" category
    In 1894 Walter H. Gericke founded a mill construction company that Markus Gericke successfully took over after four generations in family hands. Today the company stands for total solutions for the processing of bulk goods, i.e. the conveying, dosing, mixing and control of powders and grains. Gericke is active in twelve locations worldwide and stands for Swiss values in engineering and machine construction. Markus Gericke is being honored by the jury as the winner of the "Family Business" category, "because with his commitment he is maintaining a tradition for which Switzerland is valued and admired throughout the world."

  • Lukas Böni and Pascal Bieri (Planted Foods, Kemptthal ZH) in the "Emerging Entrepreneurs" category
    Lukas Böni and Pascal Bieri founded Planted Foods together with two other colleagues in 2019. The start-up company creates plant-based meat from peas, the sustainability of which is even higher than that of alternative raw materials and methods. After two years, the startup is already generating strong sales, has two financing rounds behind it and operates in three countries; an impressive start. The Planted Foods team is being honored by the jury as the winner of the "Emerging Entrepreneurs" category because it knows how to implement a hot topic in an extremely agile, forward-looking and successful way: "What this team has achieved in two years since its foundation really serves as a role model for the Swiss startup scene."

Stefan Rösch-Rütsche, Country Managing Partner of EY in Switzerland, comments: "Once again, we had the privilege of selecting the winners in the four categories of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ from a large number of top-class finalists. We are impressed by the breadth and diversity of the different entrepreneurial personalities that we have with us. Accordingly, we are already looking forward to the next run of this program to promote entrepreneurship in Switzerland, which will take place for the 25th time in 2022."


This year's award ceremony took place tonight as part of a hybrid gala. Around 250 invited guests attended the festive gala in Zurich. In addition, a large number of participants were connected to the virtual live stream around the globe.

EY in Switzerland was supported in the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program in 2021 by Credit Suisse as a program partner and AMAG, Bucherer and SWISS as sponsors.

- ends -

About the global EY organization

The global EY organization is a leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. We leverage our experience, knowledge and services to help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies all over the world. We are ideally equipped for this task — with well trained employees, strong teams, excellent services and outstanding client relations. Our global purpose is to drive progress and make a difference by building a better working world — for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

The global EY organization refers to all member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG). Each EYG member firm is a separate legal entity and has no liability for another such entity’s acts or omissions. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via For more information about our organization, please visit

EY’s organization is represented in Switzerland by Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, with 10 offices across Switzerland, and in Liechtenstein by Ernst & Young AG, Vaduz. In this publication, “EY” and “we” refer to Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.