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We are proud to present the first female entrepreneurship award in the Basel region


The POWHER Award has been created to foster and celebrate outstanding female entrepreneurship and advocates recognizing and shining a spotlight on Basel’s most innovative women-led* startups as well advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Date and info for the 2023 edition will follow

* Women is defined as any person who identifies as a woman

The POWHER winners of 2022

From left to right: Béatrice Speiser (Crescenda), Marija Plodinec (Artidis), Catherine Meuter (VYN), Isabelle Gröli (Crescenda)
Picture: David Walter

📌 In the "Hi-Tech of the Year" category, the prize goes to Marija Plodinec, co-founder of ARTIDIS. The Basel-based biotech company, which emerged in 2017 from the Biozentrum spin-off, has developed a nanomechanical biomarker for cancer that diagnoses the disease in less than three hours, detects its aggressiveness and predicts the likelihood that a patient will develop metastases. The award recognizes "the degree of innovation/novelty, the potential to scale on a globally, and the value creation / added value for the Basel region.


📌 In the "Lo-Tech of the Year" category, the prize goes to Catherine Meuter, co-founder of VYN Sneakers. The Basel-based startup, founded in 2020, has re-designed and re-engineered the most vulnerable parts of the sneaker so that they can be replaced by the wearers* themselves. The eco-innovation is made of high-quality materials of Italian craftsmanship. With the "world's first repairable and durable sneaker," Vyn now aims to revolutionize the footwear industry and put a stop to material waste". The two startups will each receive a cash prize of 2500 Swiss francs as well as coaching support worth 2500 Swiss francs.


📌 The "Advocate of the Year" category recognizes those individuals or organizations who passionately and enthusiastically support and promote women entrepreneurs and bring about systemic change through programs, investments, consulting, etc. The winners of this award are Béatrice Speiser initiator and founding president, and Isabelle Gröli, managing director of Crescenda. For 18 years, this pioneering institution has been helping women with migration and refugee backgrounds from all over the world to achieve sustainable independence through empowerment, coaching and a comprehensive range of training programs. Time and again, Crescenda sets milestones with innovative projects, most recently with the launch of the cooperative for cleaning and everyday help "Flexifeen", and is committed to the importance of female entrepreneurship with numerous public appearances and publications.

Sibylle Fischer, baloise

It was a super nice evening with many great women and happy winners! Great job team and I look forward to next year!

Catherine Meuter, VYN

WOW! What an empowering moment to be the winner of the female entrepreneur of the year 2022! It was a fantastic night to celebrate so many outstanding women!

Martina Koch, UBS

Thank you so much to the team for this incredible effort. It gives me goose bumps: The first POWHER Award in Basel. The beginning of something great! It fills me with pride to have made a small contribution!


Why we exist

Why do we think this is important?

Women* remain largely underrepresented in entrepreneurship with only 15.5% of startups having female co-/founders. Systemic change is therefore necessary to empower female entrepreneurs. 


How will we achieve that?

We create public awareness and visibility through celebrating entrepreneurs and advocates who help to make the societal changes necessary to unleash the power of female entrepreneurship.

How we started

2022 was the launch year of the POWHER award, which was for the first time presented at the Basel Entrepreneurship Gala on November 18th, 2022. 

The POWHER Award will be given out annually to women* who best demonstrate success with their innovative approach thereby deserving recognition for their work.


How nomination works

2022 award categories were:

For outstanding female founders in the region: 

  • “Hi-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year”

  • “Lo/No-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year”

For an exceptional personality or organization dedicated to promoting female entrepreneurship in the area.

  • “Advocate of the Year”

Who could be nominated?

  • Female founders of  hi-tech or lo/no-tech startups, who are based in the Basel Region.

  • Advocates (either a person or initiative) facilitating a more diverse and equal entrepreneurial landscape.

The prize!

What were the prizes for the female entrepreneurs?

  • Monetary prize to celebrate their teams (2'500 CHF)

  • Vouchers to continue, scale, or grow their work with coaching from selected organizations

What are the prizes for the advocate?

The POWHER Award is presented by the newly founded non-profit association "Female Entrepeneurs Basel" with support from the Innovation Office Universität Basel: FEMtrepreneurs, Impact Hub Basel, Basel Area Business & Innovation and Startup Academy (Schweiz), as well as the sponsors SFL Regulatory Services, UBS, Baloise Group and supporters. 


Board: Karin Sartorius, Douglas Haggstrom, Daniela Prado Zumthor, Leonie Kellner, Stephanie Greiner, Maurus Basler


Jury: Shayesteh Fuerst-Ladani, Dr. iur. Sibylle von Heydebrand, Marilen Schwald, Martina Koch, Markus Kindle & Sibylle Fischer




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