Laurent Balmelli

Co-founder at Sana Elias

business plan, market strategy, product development & DevOps pipeline, cyber security (information security, product security, mobile security, infrastructure security and privacy)


Laurent is a passionate entrepreneur who has advised many startups and mature companies, as well as created and sold his own to a major mobile internet player in 2016. His unusual life path has led him to live and work around the world in cities such as New York and Tokyo. His work experience spans from software product development to business and market strategy. In the last 5 years he has specialized on DevOps and several areas of cybersecurity, such as product, mobile, infrastructure security. He's a very hands-on person spending his week and weekends building PoC's in technology. He's also consulting for multiple universities in Switzerland in Japan, in particular with EPFL, where he received his PhD in 2000.

Barakat is a partner at Sana Elias Sarl, an advisory firm focused on technology, finance, strategy and innovation. Prior to that, she has extensive experience in the field of financial services working at world class firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank. She has worked in North America, Asia, Europe and sub Saharan Africa.

Barakat Balmelli

Partner at Sana|Elias

Accounting, taxation, auditing, financial planning, budgeting, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, international business

Eugene Blanchard

French and European patent attorney - BOVARD SA

Intellectual property, European patent attorney.

Eugène Blanchard is an industrial system engineering engineer, European Patent Attorney and Industrial Property Attorney in France.

He has been working in the field of intellectual property since 2002, both in consulting firms and in the patent departments of industrial groups in France, Germany and Switzerland.

As a general engineer with a focus on mechanics and physics, he currently works at Bovard SA and advises his clients on all aspects of intellectual property, from acquisition to defence, as well as the establishment of intellectual property strategy and training in companies and at universities of applied sciences, particularly in the context of the HES-SO Innokick Master.

Olivier Bloch is a founding partner of the law firm BLOCH AVOCAT. He mainly advises Swiss and foreign clients in corporate law and commercial matters. He advises companies on their corporate restructuring and contract law. He represents clients in financing transactions.

Olivier Bloch has published a thesis on shareholder agreements under Swiss law, as well as articles in the field of company law and financial market law. He regularly gives conferences in these fields. He teaches financial market law at EXPERT Suisse for expert accountant and is a mentor for start-ups and entrepreneurs at EPFL Alumni.

Olivier Bloch is also Chairman of the Board of several associations, respectively Secretary of several boards of pure public utility foundations.

Olivier Bloch

Lawyer at Bloch Avocat

Contract Law

Diego Braguglia

Managing Partner at VI Partners

Fundraising, investment

Diego joined VI Partners in January 2003 as Partner focusing on Healthcare investments.

He brings over 20 years of experience in life science, medical devices and pharmaceuticals in Europe and the US. Prior to his entry into the VC industry Diego has held various managerial positions in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices sectors, as well as in biotech start ups in Europe and the US.

Diego holds an M. Sc. in Microbiology from the Biocenter of the University of Basel and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Swiss Cancer Research Institute (ISREC) in Lausanne. He is fluent in English, French Italian and German.

Diego carries the prime responsibility for the following portfolio companies: Amal, Covalys, Edimer, Genkyotex, Merlion, Sequana and Xeltis.

Erick Caron, a Canadian and Swiss national, has held several senior management positions in various Swiss and international companies (Start-ups, SMEs, multinationals).

He initiated and led the execution of an IPO on the North American market on the Toronto Stock Exchange, was a finalist for the Mercuriades Award - "New Business of the Year Canada" and recipient of Swisscom Employee of the Year for "Outstanding Business Achievement".

He has lived and worked in Asia (Beijing), Switzerland (Geneva) and North America (Montreal).

He has experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, digital transformation, data, analysis, ICT portfolio, critical infrastructure, Healthcare & Finance services.

Finally, he has a solid knowledge of international business culture, government relations, partnership/M&A/merger/launch of new products, acquisition of new markets.

Erick Caron

Country Digitization Acceleration Leader
National Critical Infrastructure at Cisco

Business, Trade & Commerce - China/Asia, Swiss/EMEA and North American markets

Pierre Comte

Founder and President, Sigma Professional Sàrl

Marketing in Switzerland, sales cycle, valuation, industrialization, financial model

  • Dr es sciences, Harvard Business School AMP
  • President and CEO of Sigma Professional Sàrl
  • Chairman of the board of directors of several start-ups
  • Innosuisse coach
  • Lecturer at EPFL and Innosuisse Entrepreneurship
  • Jury member of VentureKick


“Our main objective is to make innovation-based startups attractive to customers and investors in a minimum amount of time.”

With more than 30 years' experience in the banking sector (Corporate Banking), Martial Décoppet has spent most of his career in two major groups (BCV and Crédit Suisse).

He is well informed about the local, regional and cantonal economic environment (large companies, SMEs & real estate professionals) and is an active member of several economic committees.

Martial Décoppet

Head of Crédit Suisse (Suisse) SA for the canton de Vaud

Vincent Dessenne

business development, corporation, mergers & acquisitions

  • Since 2017 : Co-founder Light4Safety SA
  • Since 2015 : Advisory Board, Swiss Integrative Center for Human Health (SICHH)
  • Since 2015 : Board Member, Y-PARC Swiss Technopole SA
  • Since 2011 : Delegate, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vaud
  • Since 2009 : General Manager, Heraeus Materials SA
  • 2008-2011 : Board Member, Müller Feindraht AG
  • 2006-2008 : CFO, Heraeus Materials SA
  • 2004-2005 : Business Development Manager, Heraeus Materials SA
  • 2004 : MBA
  • 1997-2003 : CTO, medical startup, Medivision AG
  • 1995-1996 : medical startup, Praxim SA
  • 1996 : PhD Biomedical Engineering

During his professional career of more than 25 years with technology companies in Switzerland and abroad, Jean de Wolff has held various positions, successively as a company founder, director and finally as a director of various companies.

He has extensive experience in the sales field and has developed his skills in organisation and crisis management, which enables him to support innovative companies in a very concrete way.

He is currently engaged as a director and consultant in various technology companies that he supports in their business development and organizational projects.

Jean De Wolff

Managing Partner, Human For Success Sàrl

Marketing Switzerland, board of directors, business plan/model, trade in the Middle East and Europe

Simon Faneco

Founder – ratioX Sàrl

Concept development, engineering design, product industrialization and corporate business development


Global experience in automotive, food and consumer product industries. Successful, positive and efficient engineer with strong presentation and relationship management skills. Wide range of experience including cost modeling and analysis, operations optimization and product development.

  • Founder of ratioX – Swiss based company developing automatic bicycle transmissions
  • Operations Strategies consultant at Nestlé S.A.
  • Senior Engineer on Tesla seating program for Model S & X
  • Project Manager and Logistics Business Specialist at Toyota Motor Europe
  • Award winning Product Design Engineer for Häfele “Ellipta” monitor arm
  • Patented mechanism design for the Philips Senseo coffee machine


Nanci Govinder is an astute, influential and highly motivated Senior Executive, Startup Coach, Business Angel and Board Member with a wealth of international business, R&D and marketing expertise. She has more than twenty years’ executive experience in the medtech sector working for corporates such as Medtronic and Johnson&Johnson and held executive positions in startup companies such as head of business development of a medtech startup and most recently, as CEO and Board member of a digital health company.

As a CTI coach, she coached many companies in life sciences, engineering and cleantech. In her current role as Startup Advisor for Innosuisse, she supports a team of business coaches and about a hundred high tech startup companies in the French speaking region to bring their ideas to commercialization.

She is also the Deal Leader Switzerland for Rising Tide Europe, an angel investment group of women investors in Europe.  She also founded the Suisse Romande branch of the Healthcare Business Women’s Association, an international organization promoting the success and leadership of women in healthcare, was on the Board and a mentor. She is passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship and generates high energy, motivation and enthusiasm in teams. Nanci holds a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry and Applied Chemistry; an MBA; an Executive Coaching diploma and a B.Sc. degree in Holistic Counselling.

Nanci Govinder

Startup Advisor for Coaching Impact, Strategic Advisor at Y-Parc SA

B2C strategy, digital health, mobile healthcare, medtech, start-ups, business strategy, branding and brand positioning, marketing pitch

Katia Gutknecht

Founder and Director, KG Consulting Sàrl

Supply chain, purchasing, negotiation, project management

Katia Gutknecht is a tangible and sustainable value agitator in Supply Chain and Purchasing who puts her expertise and passion at the service of French-speaking companies, after having worked for 15 years in the industry as a Strategic Purchasing Project Manager.

In parallel, she is responsible for training in Supply Chain, Purchasing, Negotiation & Project Management in several entities.

Ru Hoang-Li studied international relations at Nanjing International College and also business administration in Switzerland. She than finished her MBA and started to work in a Swiss enterprise. During 10 years of working, she has accumulated a great deal of experience in working with Chinese companies and factories, mainly in tools and construction industries.

Ru started her business of trading i 2008, mainly exporting Swiss health products to China. Beside her company, she also helped other European and US companies to develop their project in China.

Ru (Michelle) Hoang-Li

Founder of Swiss H&T S.à.r.l.

Commercialization in China

Soufian Mahlouly

CEO & Founder, Furinkazan


Soufian Mahlouly is the creator of Opticale, a mobile game whose goal is to explore a parallel universe to ours and discover the extraordinary creatures that hide there. After studying communication and marketing in Lausanne, he worked on the strategic planning of an advertising agency in Paris and then became manager of digital marketing for a hotel group.

Passionate about the possibilities offered by new technologies, he started his entrepreneurial adventure in 2014 by founding the Furinkazan studio. Sufian is also a Ju Jitsu qualified instructor and Swiss karate champion.

Bill Muirhead has an Electrical & Electronic Engineering degree and is a UK chartered accountant.

He has worked for over 30 years to help the development and improvement of both small companies and major international groups. Bill has extensive experience as a CFO, CEO and entrepreneur, particularly with companies in the watchmaking and medtech sectors.

Together with his in-depth corporate finance experience, Bill has the ability to work with teams to make critical strategic decisions whilst also improving the operational excellence of an organisation. His real strength is his capacity to ask the difficult questions.

Bill Muirhead

Co-founder à VFM Conseil

Investment, audit, fiduciary

Victor Pantet

Web & mobile app design, UX/UI design, interaction design, art direction, graphic design, illustration

Raised in Yverdon-les-Bains, Victor Pantet lived in Seattle (WA, USA) between 1997 et 2013, where after receiving a Bachelor in visual communication he worked in the tech industry for companies and on projects for well known names such as : Amazon, Microsoft (at GreenRubino), Ford Motor Vehicles (at Airbiquity Inc.) to name a few. Victor joined Wavemind Sàrl in 2018 as their creative director, he oversees the quality of all visual products that come out of this digital creative tech agency.

Since 2011, Sylvain Pasini is Professor at the HEIG-VD (University of Applied Sciences - Western Switzerland). His main activities are applied research and teaching, both in computer security. He is leading the information security group and is responsible of the information security education.

Previously, he was working as cryptography expert and security architect for Nagravision (Kudelski Group), world leader in digital pay-TV industry. He holds a Ph.D. in cryptography from EPFL, a Master's degree in Communication Systems from EPFL, and a Bachelor degree in Electronics from the Engineering school of Geneva (University of Applied Sciences - Western Switzerland).

Sylvain Pasini

Professeur à la HEIG-VD

Cryptography, both academic and industrial aspects, Security architecture, Information / Computer / Software / Hardware security

Christophe Pian

Co-fondateur et Designer UX

Entreprise : The Colony

Design thinking

Expert in human-centred design, agile practices and lean management. He has been working with start-ups on a daily basis for more than 6 years, both in their management and in their support as a service provider.

He helps entrepreneurs on a daily basis to accelerate the launch of brands, products or services and reduce the risks associated with them, whether through consulting mandates, private worshops or coaching in business competitions.

Frédéric is an HR expert and has founded or co-founded 3 start-ups since 2008, which all are still running. Frédéric has a strong track record in managing HR Strategy and Operation for both startups and international group. As an HR Business Partner with a demonstrated history of developing solutions linking HR outcomes to business strategy, he has successfully supported some of well known startups players in Romandie such as Netguardians & BestMile among others. Frédéric speaks French, English and Portuguese.

He holds a HR Specialist Federal Diploma of Higher Education with option in International HR Management and completed a Master in Advanced Studies in « Human System engineering » from the HEIG-VD (not graduate yet as the thesis still need to be submitted). Frédéric is also certified in ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), in Neuro Linguistic Programming and transactional Analysis.

Frédéric Roger

CEO & Founder at AIR HR Global Solution


Recruitment and Staffing, Organisational Development, HR projects standardisation and implementation of HR processes and HR operation such payroll, employee and off-boarding, work permit and Relocation.

Irina Sakharova-Quitt

Company Advisor, Euresearch Region Vaud and SME Advisor, EPFL Vice Presidency for Innovation

Financement, Horizon 2020

Irina Sakharova Quitt is the Company Advisor for Euresearch Vaud Region. In this role she is responsible for informing and advising enterprises (SMEs, as well as big corporates and start-ups) on the best R&D and innovation mechanisms and financing tools available through Horizon 2020 European framework program. This framework allows companies to benefit from direct non-dilutive financing supporting their direct internal R&D innovative projects, recruitment of experienced researchers as well as work in collaborative projects at the international level. These services are public and free of charge, provided through the Euresearch association.

As an advisor for SMEs at EPFL, Irina also supports companies in discovering collaboration opportunities available with EPFL and in establishing links with appropriate EPFL services.

Irina has a background in strategy & management consulting and worked many years in economic development in Romandie. Her professional interests cover mostly business innovation. Married and mother of 2 boys, Irina is a mushing and ice hockey fan and loves dancing and swimming.

Penny Schiffer is a business angel with strong network into Swiss and Silicon Valley investor scene. She has a passion for deep tech and B2B startups and serves as board member and advisor for several start-ups. Penny has been on the buyer side in a corporate (M&A unit), contributed in a corporate venture capital arm and built bridges between startups and corporates. She has been with Swisscom for over a decade and has now started her own career as startup founder after being infected by the entrepreneurial virus.

Penny Schiffer

Business Angel

Investment, fund raising

Jean-Michel Stauffer

Innovation adviser at Innovaud, economic promotion of canton of Vaud, Switzerland


Innovation, public financial support, microtechnology

Swiss EPFL Master of Sciences in Microtechnologies in 1988

Numerous activities in Photomask manufacturing (R&D manager, Sales and Marketing, Site director) during more than 10 years at CSEM (Swiss center for electronic and micro technologies) and Photronics Inc.

VP Sales and Marketing during 13 years at Colibrys, one of the largest spin off of CSEM, active in MEMS / Microsystems design and manufacturing

Currently and since more than five years, Innovation adviser at Innovaud, dedicated to the support of Precision Industry

Pierre VENTURA was born in 1982 in Lausanne.

He obtained a law degree from the University of Lausanne in 2006 and a Master's degree in criminal sciences in 2008.

In this context, he spent a year in the United States at Arizona State University, notably to write his thesis on comparative law.

He obtained his law degree in 2013 and became a partner in the law firm Chaulmontet & Associés in the same year.

In addition to his activity as a lawyer, he is also a military investigating judge.

Pierre Ventura

Associate Lawyer, Chaulmontet & Associés

Corporate and labour law, administrative law, including tax law and aliens law, tenancy law

Pascal Zomer

Company Sales Manager, Vaudoise Assurances

As a native of Yverdon-les-Bains and a long-time resident of the region, Pascal Zomer is married and the father of two daughters and recently grandfather of a little boy.

He has been an associate with The Vaudoise Insurance for more than 25 years, including ten years as head of personal insurance underwriting and nine years as Commercial Manager for the regions of Nord Vaudois, Jura, Neuchâtel and La Chaux-de-Fonds and, incidentally, in Ticino.

He holds a federal certificate in private insurance and is also a lecturer at the CVFA (Commission vaudoise de formation en assurances) for apprentices and at the IRFA (Institut romand de formation en assurances) for the brevet.


Oliver Chmiel, received his MSc (Dilpoma) from the ETH Zurich in Biochemistry. Later on did his PhD in Food Technology at the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart on Lipases. He joined Nestlé in 1991 at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne. Over the years, he has been based in several different countries including the US, Ivory Coast and India. Within Nestlé he has confirmed capability of leveraging innovation to execute strategies, particularly R&D product and process development. Successfully leading the translation of Consumer Insights into delivering on competitive products. Leading of “Creating Shared Value” activities in Africa and India. Ingredient knowledge in chicory and cocoa. Leadership experience and effective project management in various working cultures (Europe, US, India and Africa).


His hobbies are family (married + 3 adult children), sports and food.


Oliver Chmiel

Senior Manager Open Innovation and Venturing at Société des Produits Nestlé SA


Agronomy, Food technologies, Product Development (food), Interactions of Start-ups with Multinational companies

Stéfanie Brun Poggi

Lawyer at the Bar
Co-founder, G-BP avocates 


Labour law (private and public) and social insurance law, contract law, criminal law including economic law, judicial activity and advising companies in the region in this field.





Stéfanie has been a lawyer at the bar since 2009, after having worked for 10 years in the banking sector in Geneva in the field of Compliance. Recently she has developed her skills and experience in labour and insurance law by following a training course in 2016, provided by the Swiss Bar Association, and acquired the title of Specialist FSA Labour Law. She advises employers and employees in the Northern Vaud region, both in judicial and advisory matters. In particular, she has drafted employment contracts and company regulations. She also negotiates, on behalf of her clients, insurance contracts (loss of earnings, illness, accident) with service providers in the region, according to their needs.


She recently joined the Board of the Repuis Foundation, a long-established institution in Grandson, active in the training of young people receiving disability insurance benefits. She has also recently been appointed Vice-President of the Labour Court of the Broye and Nord Vaudois district, which judges labour law cases with a maximum litigious value of CHF 30,000.00.