«To be accepted is a huge vote of confidence from the EU»
Exciting news from the startup world: Swiss agri-tech startup Vatorex AG has received funds to the amount of 1.6 million euros from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program. We had a chat with Vatorex founder Pascal Brunner about getting the grant, what it will be used for and how the team celebrates success.
How did you get the grant?
Pascal Brunner: Horizon 2020 was launched in 2014 as an initiative to drive sustainable and economic research and development in the EU. It is the largest initiative of its type in the world, with 80 billion euros in designated funds. There is a lot of interest from the startup community, and as available spaces are limited, the competition is fierce. The application process is lengthy, with thorough due diligence being performed at each stage. There are several rounds of submissions, pitches and interviews that get examined and scored by a team of scientific experts and business leaders. They look not only at the innovation and impact of the project, but also the feasibility of the business model. To be accepted after this level of scrutiny is a huge vote of confidence from the EU.
Did you expect to receive the grant or was it a surprise?
Our team had been involved in the process for over a year, refining the pitch and submissions at each stage. As such, receiving the grant was not so much a shock as it was a relief that our hard work had paid off. None the less, it has been incredibly exciting, and we are very grateful.
What will you use the grant for?
The grant will be used in the development and implementation of our beekeeping platform and chemical-free varroa treatment technology. As innovation is a key focus for Vatorex, we will use the funds to enhance our product road map, conduct research into new technologies, and drive the go-to-market strategy for the commercial beekeeping sector. In addition, the grant allows us to expand our team. The accelerated development road map will be led by the newly created Chief Technology Officer position. Software development, sales and marketing teams will also be expanded.
How did you celebrate your success?
We haven’t actually celebrated this win in a huge way yet. Perhaps in the coming weeks we will plan something, but as the team has been so focused on what we are doing, no one has stopped to organize anything. However, we do have a small ritual in our office. Whenever someone has a success, could be anything from a sale, or a new product launch, the person rings a special bell we keep in the office. It is safe to say that the bell was rung on this occasion.
What does receiving this grant mean to you?
This is an amazing opportunity for the Vatorex team and a huge vote of confidence from the EU commission. At a time where many of society’s structures are being severely tested, the world’s honey bee populations, and the food systems that rely on them, are at there most vulnerable. It is a privilege to be at the forefront of the fight to save the honey bees, while also providing an ecological and commercially exciting solution for our partners and clients.
About Vatorex AGVatorex AG was founded in 2016, with the objective of developing a chemical-free solution to the varroa mite – a primary cause of global honey bee losses. Vatorex’s patented varroa solution consists of an automated heat treatment technology, which destroys mite infestations without harming bees or contaminating bee products. Building upon the success of the varroa treatment, Vatorex has expanded its technology suite to include temperature and weight sensors, and a complete colony management app. The company’s mission is to be at the forefront of movement to save the bees, by becoming the world leader in eco-positive apiculture technology.
About the Horizon 2020 programHorizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly 80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries, and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.