Business & finance Pharma & drug development

From start-ups to the SIX Swiss Exchange – a Swiss success story

Switzerland is consistently ranked the most innovative country in the world, especially when it comes to life sciences. Abi Millar looks at how the country promotes the creation of new biotech companies and supports them as they grow.

he Swiss life sciences industry is an obvious success story. Boasting a number of heavy-hitters, including Novartis and Roche, along with a broad range of start-ups, the sector is known for its vibrancy and commercial clout. This year, Switzerland ranked number one on the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) global innovation index for the ninth year in a row.

According to the latest WIPO report, which focuses specifically on medical innovation, Switzerland is a world leader in ‘several key innovation indicators’. To give just one example, between 2010 and 2017, the country published 33,694 pharmaceutical patents. This is the fifth highest total in the world, a staggering figure for a country with a similar population to London.

As Stephan Emmerth, director of BaseLaunch, explains, Switzerland’s strengths lie both in academic research and industry activity.

“Switzerland is Europe’s life sciences powerhouse,” he says. “In 2017, more than 45% of all venture capital investments as well as IPO money raised by European biotechs went into Swiss companies, and the country hosts six out of the top 25 universities in biological sciences in continental Europe. And in Switzerland, Basel is by a large margin the life sciences hotspot.”

As the accelerator programme of, BaseLaunch aims to fast track the development of healthcare start-ups in the Basel region. Almost two thirds of Switzerland’s pharmaceutical employees work in this region, and the majority of value added in the industry is generated here.

In total, the area plays host to some 700 life sciences companies with a combined 30,000+ employees, 350+ drugs in clinical development and CHF 21bn spent on research & development. This gives Switzerland the world’s highest per capita density of biotech and med-tech companies.

Read the rest of this article in the September 2019 edition of Pharma Technology Focus

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