Switzerland's thriving life science industry
Innovate your products and services by collaborating with renowned Swiss institutes. Switzerland boasts an impressive investment in R&D, with pharmaceutical companies alone investing 9 billion Swiss francs in 2020—nearly double their sales in Switzerland.
Ranked among the top countries for R&D expenditure relative to GDP, Switzerland sees private enterprises contributing a substantial two-thirds of the investment. Additionally, 14 Swiss companies are ranked among the top 500 companies worldwide in terms of corporate research spending, with Roche ranked in 8th position and Novartis in 14th position.
With Switzerland as a location, you can leverage this expertise and capitalize on a thriving market as a valuable testing ground for your products and services.
Unique Swiss Approach: Emphasis on Applied Research and Collaboration
Swiss research institutes are often affiliated with universities or independent non-profit organizations. They have strong ties to industry and work closely with life science companies to develop new products.
Focus on applied research: In Switzerland, companies often turn to research institutes to help them solve practical problems and develop new products or processes. Research institutes benefit from access to the latest technologies and real-world challenges, which can help them to develop more relevant and impactful research programs.
Focus on collaboration: Swiss research institutes and life science companies often work together on research projects, with researchers from both sides contributing their expertise and resources. This collaboration helps to ensure that research is more relevant to industry needs and that new discoveries are applied in a practical way.
These aspects help to create a dynamic ecosystem for R&D in Switzerland, with a strong focus on innovation and practical applications.
At sitem-insel AG, where we have our R&D hub next to the Insel Hospital in Bern, we are very pleased to have scientific experts so close to our manufacturing site. Our team of around 70 researchers fosters the important dialogue between industry and academic research, and promotes technology transfer and operational cooperation, as well as our network of strategic alliances. - Martin Schären, Senior VP and General Manager of CSL Behring AG
Highlights of Switzerland’s Life Sciences Ecosystem
- Switzerland Innovation, a network of six innovation parks across Switzerland, is based on a joint initiative of public institutions, academia, and the private sector with a statutory mandate from the Swiss government. The six sites offer universities and companies the opportunity to network. This exchange between science and the economy allows ideas to be developed further – to create products and services that can be marketed successfully. Switzerland Innovation forms an ecosystem for companies, allowing them to expand their research activities in partnership with universities and higher-education institutions. The sharing of ideas between researchers, talented individuals, and innovative entrepreneurs creates breeding grounds for innovation.
- Switzerland’s innovation ecosystem supports the development of biotech start-ups. BaseLaunch, a healthcare acceleration program, aims to speed up the development of healthcare start-ups and strengthen Basel as a life-science hub. Supporters of BaseLaunch include Novartis Venture Fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Pfizer, Roche, and Roivant Sciences.
- The Schlieren-Zurich Bio-Technopark is an internationally important science park for the life sciences sector that employs over 1,000 people. It has received attention thanks to the successful sales of start-ups to large corporations and international companies such as Roche, Novartis, J&J, GSK, Pfizer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Cell Medica, Sunstar and Heptares.
- The two Swiss polytechnics ETH Zurich and EPFL and other first-class Swiss research facilities regularly rank among the best in the world (QS World University Ranking, Shanghai Jiao Tong Ranking, THE University Ranking).
- The presence of numerous life science companies, including financially sound and globally leading pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis and Roche, offers biotech companies a wide range of opportunities to enter strategic partnerships. Roche is currently establishing an Institute of Human Biology (IHB) in Basel, where scientists and bioengineers will be able to carry out research on living 2D or 3D miniature replicas of human tissue and organs. The number of employees is set to rise to around 250 over the next four years.
- The Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency Innosuisse makes significant financial contributions to R&D projects in which companies cooperate with non-profit research organizations.
- Switzerland's steady stream of highly qualified talent and scientists makes a significant contribution towards developing new medicines.
- The Swiss healthcare system supports the introduction of new medicines and offers companies access to a sophisticated test and sales market.
- For over a decade, the country has been topping the Global Innovation Index (WIPO), which compares 132 countries worldwide.