7 questions to a start-up: Biowatch

by Amelie Janssens

Fusion – the first-ever FinTech business incubator in Switzerland – exists to shape innovation in financial services by combining up-and-coming tech talent with Swiss state-of-the-art financial know-how. As a Fusion member, Notz Stucki is actively involved in the incubation process.

Discover our series “7 questions to a start-up” to get a feeling of who are the participants of the incubator!


7 questions to Matthias Vanoni and Joe Rice, founders and managing partners of Biowatch

Biowatch SA is a Swiss startup incorporated on February 2015. It combines three very fast growing markets: Biometrics, Wearables and Internet of Things (IoT). What is the result? A wearable electronic biometric module that enables individuals and industries worldwide to connect securely, instantly, and seamlessly. Just add the Biowatch buckle to your existing watch, smartband or smartwatch, and it will identify you thanks to the uniqueness of your wrist vein pattern.

1/ Who are you?

Matthias Vanoni, 30 years old. I am the co-founder and CEO of Biowatch SA, and co-inventor of new patents protecting the Biowatch product. As a former PhD student on vein biometrics at Idiap Biometric Lab, at EPFL, I have a 10-year background in biometrics. If we look further back, I attended the Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, a French military academy, and then joined as a lieutenant the Gendarmerie Nationale during 6 years.
Joe Rice, 67 years old. I am the co-founder and chairman of Biowatch SA, and co-inventor of new patents protecting the Biowatch product. If we look back in the 80’s, I worked at Kodak during 30 years in the UK. In 1985, I invented the vein pattern biometric by patenting this technology, after my bank and credit cards were stolen and fraudulently used.

Joe Rice & Matthias Vanoni
Joe Rice & Matthias Vanoni

2/ What does your company do?

Biowatch SA transforms your watch into a secure source of identification using the unique pattern of your veins. It replaces your keys, cards, passwords and PIN numbers, without the need to acquire a new wearable. Once activated by the legitimate user, this smart module allows non-stop authentication as long as the device is on your wrist thanks to NFC / Bluetooth technology. On a typical day, you are able to unlock your car, to access to your office, or purchase goods and services online, by being connected securely, instantly, and seamlessly. This Swiss innovation mainly responds to big issues encountered by industries such as banking, access control and watches (security and luxury).

3/ What’s the founding story behind Biowatch?

Back in July 2014, when Matthias was still a PhD student working on vein biometrics, he came across with Joseph Rice’s research, and namely with a particular patent. It was actually about vein pattern and the capability of authenticating an individual thanks to this unique human feature. Convinced by this finding and its development and commercial potential, Matthias, located in Switzerland, decided to contact Joe directly who was living in the UK. He suggested him to collaborating together in order to move further along and eventually establish Biowatch SA. That was the beginning of a great adventure …

4/ What was your proudest moment in your company’s history so far?

Apart from having convinced major players in the automotive, banking or access control industries which we work with, we just reached a first financial closure on October. We were able to raise CHF 1.2 million for the development of our Biowatch module. That is a big success for the startup in order to go further.

5/ What’s the vision behind Biowatch?

Biowatch SA envisions a world where humans and technology interact without constraints and without fearing security issues: a once a day authentication process for accessing various use cases, all day long, without demanding any effort from the customer. Our mission is to provide the world’s first wearable wrist vein authentication solution to industries worldwide.

6/ What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Our biggest challenge right now is to find the right talents to grow our team of engineers.

7/ Is there any inspirational saying or words of encouragement you want to share with other creative/disruptive professionals?

You just need to be 100% convinced by your idea and believe in your revolutionary concept.


Twitter: @fintechfusion


Photos & Text: Matthias Vanoni and Joe Rice

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