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Winner of the Innovation Challenge 2023: A portable fluorescence microscope to facilitate diagnosis

13 Jun 2023

For its fourth edition, the Innovation Challenge launched by the HEG-FR and UBS rewarded a portable fluorescence microscope project. Designed by a student from the University of Fribourg, it facilitates the detection of a single fluorescent molecule and therefore quickly identifies the presence of any infectious diseases. The Sustainable Innovation Award of the City of Fribourg goes to BiomShield for its project of biostimulants and phytosanitary products for agriculture.

Launched by the School of Management Fribourg (HEG-FR) and by UBS, the Innovation Challenge is open to the entire student community of Fribourg. Designed to promote multidisciplinary creation, the competition aims to stimulate social, financial and even medical innovation, but also creativity in foodtech and smart living.

A jury of professionals deliberated over the three projects selected for the final and the winner was a portable fluorescence microscope intended to facilitate diagnoses. The project will be able to continue its development thanks to the 10,000 Swiss francs of funding allocated to the winner who will also benefit from support for a year in the form of coaching with the team of Fri Up.

Simple and efficient

Morgane Loretan, doctoral student at the University of Fribourg, is the winner of this 2023 edition thanks to her microscope equipped with an extremely sensitive smartphone camera. Indeed, such a camera can detect the light of a single molecule. The advantage: a fast and reliable diagnosis in all circumstances.

Due to its portable format, this microscope can easily be used outdoors, when, for example, access to a laboratory is cumbersome or when an urgent response is required. Morgane is already proposing certain relevant uses of her project, such as the detection of bovine diseases or the establishment of diagnoses in medical-social establishments (EMS).

State-of-the-art innovations

“The winning project fits perfectly with our objective of developing and supporting innovation in different fields,” states Rico Baldegger, director of the HEG Fribourg. “The portable fluorescence microscope is the perfect example of creativity. And above all, it materializes into a useful and efficient project that can have a significant impact on the rapid detection of certain diseases!” rejoices the director who also teaches innovation at the HEG-FR.

“As a bank, we are particularly sensitive to the theme of innovation. Especially when the aim of innovative projects is to make life easier, particularly in the crucial area of health,” points out Marco Crotti. “In this context, we are very happy that the winning student has chosen this direction,” adds the cantonal delegate of UBS Fribourg.

City of Fribourg’s Award for BiomShield

Laurent Dietrich, municipal councilor in charge of finance, culture, and IT, presented the Sustainable Innovation Award of the City of Fribourg (5,000 Swiss francs and promotional support) to Lara Rufo and Patricio Espinoza from Biomshield.

This award is in recognition of the multidisciplinary project of this law student at the University of Fribourg and this student at the HEG-FR. “The biostimulants and phytosanitary products developed by BiomShield allow the production of healthy crops, while respecting the environment,” stated Laurent Dietrich.

The BiomShield project is a sustainable and innovative response to soil pollution caused by the use of phytosanitary products. This project further strengthens the dominant position of the city of Fribourg at the center of research and development in the fields of nutrition and agrifood.

Furthermore, with its treatment via formulated combined natural protective microorganisms, BiomShield has already won the award for the best start-up in Fribourg and a pitch competition at the University of Oxford (England), organized by Science2Market – Innosuisse.


The other finalists

ATAWA Project by Julie Gaudin / HEG-FR

The sportswear brand ATAWA Project aims to impact the sports and entrepreneurial environment. Designed in Switzerland and manufactured in Europe, the garments are eco-responsible, designed for performance and to last a long time. ATAWA Project collaborates with various entities (universities, social institutions, etc.) to create a social and collaborative environment, as well as added value throughout the production chain.