Successful financing round for Empa spin-off BTRY

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The successful BTRY founders: Moritz Futscher, Abdessalem Aribia and Yaroslav Ro
The successful BTRY founders: Moritz Futscher, Abdessalem Aribia and Yaroslav Romanyuk (from left to right). Image: Empa
BTRY, a spin-off of Empa and ETH Zurich, has successfully completed its first round of financing; the young company has received 900,000 Swiss francs from the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB). The start-up develops safe, long-lasting thin-film solid-state batteries that can be charged and discharged in just one minute. BTRY is using the financing to manufacture a first generation of products on a pilot line.

The battery start-up BTRY receives 900,000 Swiss francs as part of a pre-seed financing round. The round is led by High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), with Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) also participating. The spin-off from Empa and ETH Zurich has developed a new type of lithium-ion thin-film battery that combines significant advantages for various commercial applications.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used, but are not ideal for all applications. They charge relatively slowly, are flammable and temperature-sensitive. researchers Moritz Futscher and Abdessalem Aribia are developing a new type of thin-film solid-state battery that enables a charging and discharging time of just one minute, has a high energy density and reliably supplies energy even at extreme temperatures. To bring this technology to market, they founded the spin-off BTRY in 2023 together with Yaroslav Romanyuk, head of Empa’s Thin Films and Photovoltaics lab.

Until now, thin-film batteries could only store very little energy. The BTRY founders have succeeded in stacking the thin-film cells, which are only a few micrometers thick, to create more powerful batteries. They have developed a new process in which high-precision vacuum coating and no toxic solvents are used. Production is also scalable and uses advanced but proven techniques to ensure efficiency and quality. The areas of application for the thin-film batteries are diverse. They could be used in consumer electronics such as smartphones or smartwatches, but also in sensors, robots, drones or even satellites.

The BTRY founders will use the new funds to produce the first battery cells on selected pilot lines. Customer feedback will then be gathered in order to iteratively improve the product and tailor it precisely to the needs of the target group. "This financing round, just eight months after the company was founded, is a significant milestone for us, and we are delighted to have such great partners at our side. We are highly motivated to take the next steps together to make our vision a reality - revolutionizing energy storage," says Moritz Futscher, CEO and co-founder of BTRY.

"We are convinced that innovative battery concepts will play a decisive role in future product developments. BTRY’s material and process innovations promise an all-solid-state battery solution with highly interesting unique technological features that open up a wide range of applications. I am very much looking forward to working with the BTRY team and supporting the company in its upcoming growth phase," says Timo Bertsch, Investment Manager at HTGF.

Florian Dünner, Investment Manager Zürcher Kantonalbank, adds: "Zürcher Kantonalbank provides innovative start-ups with venture capital. As one of the largest and most active investors in Switzerland, we have already supported over 280 start-ups with more than CHF 230 million in venture capital. With our investment in BTRY, we are investing in a well-established team with an innovative and promising battery technology. BTRY’s pitch also convinced the jury of the Büro Züri Innovationspark (made possible by Zürcher Kantonalbank) and provides the young start-up with attractive workplaces, a network of experts, free coaching from industry experts and access to potential investors."

Founded in April 2023, the company and its founders have already received several prestigious awards and grants, including a BRIDGE grant for Futscher, the Empa Entrepreneur Fellowship for Aribia, inclusion in the Swiss Business Incubator of the European Space Agency (ESA BIC), Initial and Core Coaching from Innosuisse and the first two stages of Venture Kick.

The High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF)

The seed investor High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) finances technology start-ups with growth potential and has supported more than 700 start-ups since 2005. With the launch of its fourth fund, HTGF has around 1.4 billion euros under management. The focus is on high-tech start-ups in the fields of digital tech, industrial tech, life sciences, chemicals and related business areas. To date, external investors have invested around five billion euros in the HTGF portfolio in more than 2,000 follow-up financing rounds. In addition, the fund has already successfully sold shares in more than 170 companies.  Fund investors in the public-private partnership include the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, KfW Capital and 45 companies from a wide range of sectors.