Welcome to BaselArea.swiss

Fostering innovation & accelerating business in Switzerland’s most dynamic economic region >>>>

No. 1 in Swissness

Swissness means business-friendly, reliable and productive. As an economic powerhouse and with decidedly pro-business core values, ... >>>> Swissness means business-friendly, reliable and productive. As an economic powerhouse and with decidedly pro-business core values, the Basel region is a shining example for these Swiss virtues.

No. 1 in Life Sciences and Healthcare

The entire life sciences value chain in one place and easily accessible? That’s what makes the Basel region unique and a preferred ... >>>> The entire life sciences value chain in one place and easily accessible? That’s what makes the Basel region unique and a preferred location for research, development, production and headquarters functions - for 600 companies and counting.

No. 1 in Innovation Industries

Switzerland is considered the most innovative country in the world, according to various studies. Access to knowledge, highly quali... >>>> Switzerland is considered the most innovative country in the world, according to various studies. Access to knowledge, highly qualified and international talent and a strong industrial backbone have turned the Basel region into the leading innovation hub of Switzerland.

No. 1 in Access from and to Europe

Via container ship or by plane: Outstanding connectivity and transportation, bordering Germany and France, and a central location i... >>>> Via container ship or by plane: Outstanding connectivity and transportation, bordering Germany and France, and a central location in the middle of Europe have established the Basel region as a preferred logistics hub and metropolitan platform for international trade.

No. 1 in Culture and Leisure

World-class art treasures, culture and sports events, an international, urban ambience nestled in a healthy natural landscape for r... >>>> World-class art treasures, culture and sports events, an international, urban ambience nestled in a healthy natural landscape for recreation, all of this combined establishes the Basel region as one of the most livable and lively spots to dwell and work in the world.

BaselArea.swiss is a joint initiative for innovation and economic promotion by the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft and Jura in Northwestern Switzerland. BaselArea.swiss supports entrepreneurs and companies from abroad with the successful implementation of innovation and business ventures in the Basel region.

Through an extensive network of 15'000 decision-makers, innovators, experts, influencers and multipliers, BaselArea.swiss provides its clients direct access to relevant expertise and specialized know-how.

BaselArea.swiss offers its clients customized services in four main areas:

Invest in the Basel Region

Invest in the Basel Region helps clients with personalized support in deciding where to locate their business activities in the Basel region. Companies can expect competent advice during the entire site selection and settlement process.

Connecting Innovators

Connecting Innovators helps connecting companies and researchers in technology, R&D and innovation matters, and within the tech industry sectors Life Sciences, Medical Technologies, ICT, Micro, Nano & Materials, and Production Technologies.

Supporting Entrepreneurs

Supporting Entrepreneurs offers entrepreneurs, who plan to start a company in the Basel region, overall help and support during the operational implementation of their business plans. Furthermore, start-ups and SME in expansion mode from the technology sectors mentioned above can benefit from strategic networking services to connect with industry experts and investors.

Accessing China

Accessing China provides companies in Northwestern Switzerland, which are looking to expand to China with a competent partnering network for a smooth market entry and implementation of their expansion project in China.

BaselArea.swiss also manages a comprehensive information platform, which showcases the competencies and specializations in the Basel business region, and further advances the integration of the region’s innovative players:

Innovation Reports

Covering the latest stories and reports on innovation in the Basel region and featuring a monthly newsletter with interviews, background stories and news about company settlements in the Basel region.

Innovation Events

BaselArea.swiss organizes and co-hosts more than 50 events annually dedicated to knowledge transfer and entrepreneurial culture. “Innovation Events” is where innovators and entrepreneurs share their thoughts and experiences about the latest in innovation.

When it comes to competitiveness and the ability to innovate, Switzerland has been one of the world’s top business locations for years. Several factors are responsible for Switzerland’s leading position: In addition to its excellency in education and a state-of-the-art infrastructure, one prominent reason for equating Swissness with business-friendliness, reliability, and productivity certainly is the efficiency of Swiss government authorities. For decades, companies and their investments in Switzerland have been able to benefit from a strong legal system, planning reliability and financial stability. Such an environment also provides the single most important precondition for sustainable expansion into new markets. Not coincidentally, Switzerland can claim the highest density of multinational enterprises.

The Basel region has made major contributions to this Swiss success story. Not only lay the beginnings and origins of numerous leading global players here, their successes also fuels the economic growth of our dynamic region. For instance, GDP numbers for the Basel region are significantly above the national average: The greater agglomeration of Basel achieves the highest gross domestic product per capita. At the same time, the Basel region is boosting Switzerland’s innovative capabilities, largely due to its leadership in life sciences and other high-tech sectors that are strongly represented in the area. For example, roughly a fifth of Switzerland’s value of exported goods is generated in the Basel region – remarkably considering the Basel region represents less than 10% of the Swiss population.

Four eminent features are at the core of the excellent reputation that Switzerland, and the Basel region in particular, enjoy when it comes to global competition of business, industry and knowledge locations:

Intelligent tax policies

Federalism as Switzerland’s guiding principle encourages active fiscal competition among cantons - which keeps tax rates within reasonable brackets. Apart from a flat tax rate on a federal level, the cantons are solely responsible for setting the tax rates - and for providing a best possible business environment for companies. As a result, the main beneficiaries of the Basel region are companies active in innovative industries with a high value add, as well as companies investing substantially in research, development and production.

Liberal labor market

Given the high density of internationally active high-tech companies in the Basel region, local authorities are supportive in order to answer the demand for highly qualified experts and executives from abroad. Companies also benefit from one of Europe’s most liberal labor market, while simultaneously being able to offer employees great benefits. The Basel region’s labor regulations and market allow companies to react quickly if changes in the business environment require action.

Sustainable infrastructure

In Switzerland, 5 minutes of train delay is considered unpleasant and exceptional – which routinely puts a smile on the faces of visitors from other countries. It is a well-known fact that the Swiss public infrastructure is rightly considered one of the most modern and reliable of the world – much to the advantage of companies in the Basel region: Exceptional connectivity by car, train or plane from and to all of Europe – and by waterway on the Rhine to all over the world.

Dual education system

Only a third of young Swiss finish high school and continue to earn degrees at one of Switzerland’s top universities. For many other countries this might represent a disastrous educational failure. In Switzerland, it’s actually part of the country’s success of professional formation. The aim of Switzerland’s “dual” education system is that a majority of young people will complete a Swiss-Federation-certified apprenticeship in order to join the workforce early on. A specialization, mostly „on the job“, is possible and often pursued at one of the country’s technical colleges or universities of applied sciences. This provides the Swiss labor market with a steady supply of entry-level employees with several years of on-the-job training and who will flexibly work in the most promising sectors, and where the actual demand is from employers and the industry. In addition and especially in the Basel region, there are many and well-established international schools that address the needs of expats and their kids for easy integration.

Being the only political system based on direct democracy, Switzerland has developed a uniquely cohesive political and social culture over the centuries. It is characterized by federalism, autonomy, and concordance, and has been the foundations of a stable political and social environment and is an embodiment of Swiss values. With its open-mindedness, the pragmatic can-do attitude of its authorities and people, the Basel region is a superb example of a business location that offers companies a great environment in which they’re all but certain to thrive.

The Basel region is one of the most sought-after life sciences locations in the world and clearly Europe’s No. 1. With Roche and Novartis, two out of three global market leaders, hail from the Basel region from where they run their global operations.

Just like them, several other international players have established central business divisions here in Basel, among them Elanco (Eli Lilly Company), Abott and Bayer. A good deal of newcomers such as Actelion, Basilea, Evolva and highly specialized companies like Bachem and Polyphor complete Basel’s life sciences ecosystem. Not surprisingly, the Basel region has also morphed into a hotspot for promising start-ups.

The Basel region is home to a total of 700 life sciences companies that are making a substantial contribution to an already dynamic business environment. Their sustainable success is mainly based on the following three factors

The life sciences industry is the growth engine of the Basel region – home-grown and here to stay

With a total of 33’000 employees in the life sciences sector, the Basel region boasts a production of goods and services worth USD 321 million per hour. This makes the Basel region by far the world’s life sciences destination with the highest productivity. When it comes to gross value, the Basel region is a world champion too: Nowhere in the world are higher production volumes to be found than in the Basel region, with its USD 19 billion p.a. At the same time, Basel’s annually received USD 6 billion investments in research and development makes the region a leader in this discipline too. Local life sciences are responsible for above-average economic growth – a fact reflected in the spotless reputation that the industry enjoys in the Basel region.

In the Basel region you’ll find talent and specialists with all kinds of competencies – quite often even in walking distance

From research and start-ups to manufacturing, marketing and distribution you’ll find the complete life sciences value chain of the Basel region practically on-site, and hence a deep talent pool of experienced specialists and experts at every stage and for every function of your company. Add top-of-the-line research institutes like Biozentrum at the University of Basel, the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering of the ETH Zürich and the Friedrich Miescher Institute, and you’ll begin to grasp the extent of the Basel region’s unique life sciences mix. Its depth and density of resources, expertise and talent – oftentimes literally in walking distance – is unmatched in a global comparison and provides a uniquely fertile ground for innovations of the future.

The Basel region is a beacon of innovation in the life sciences – with a long tradition of more than 250 years

The Basel region can rightly claim to be the life sciences location with the longest history. From the beginnings with its industrial silk ribbon dye mills in the mid-century 1800s up to the biotech revolution, the Basel life sciences ecosystem has repeatedly evolved and reinvented itself in the course of the industry’s larger developments. This success story continues to be written. Unlike other historically grown life sciences centers, the Basel region has enjoyed solid and sustainable growth in recent years. And given a planned capital expenditure of 6 billion Swiss Francs for public and private infrastructure projects in the next couple of years, the region’s next growth spurt is just around the corner.

Tradition, a strong industrial backbone, and profound expertise in research and development, as well as in commercialization, have made the Basel region one of the most complete and full-fledged life sciences destinations in the world. You really would be hard pressed to find a region more suitable for efficient, sustainable and successful pre-commercial and commercial project development in the life sciences.

High-tech is the driving economic force in the Basel region and a guarantor of higher-than-average growth. And it will stay this way.  Because a strong industrial backbone, an international business environment that attracts talent and specialists from all over the world, combined with the world-class Swiss educational system have rendered the Basel region an ideal biotope for innovation. Here, companies, in particular from medical technology, ICT, precision mechanics, as well as from chemical industries, will benefit from the following location features:                         

The Basel region stands on strong industrial ground in the high-tech sector

92% of the industrial value added in the canton of Basel-Stadt is created by high-tech companies. Similarly, in the more rural cantons of Basel-Land and Jura, it is well above 70% and hence above the national average of around 60%. And it’s this latter percentage that has lifted Switzerland into the ranks of the most innovative nations in the world.

The Basel region is a front-runner in research and development

In Switzerland, the private sector is responsible for 69% of investments in research and development - a rather high ratio in global comparison – and 40% of which are generated in the Basel region, even though it holds only 10% of Switzerland’s population. Five of the 10 Swiss companies with the most patents registered are headquartered in the Basel region: Roche, Novartis, Clariant, Syngenta and Endress+Hauser. That’s why there simply is no other Swiss business location that employs a larger workforce in research and development.

The Basel region is globally connected and attracts talents from all over the world

Approximately one out of five in the Basel region’s population of 700’000 hails from abroad; the expat community currently amounts to 36’000. Situated close to the borders of Germany and France, the Basel region also sees a daily influx of 70'000 cross-border commuters from these neighboring countries. It’s hard to think of another business location, where such intense international business dynamics are unfolding in so little space, to form a center of attraction for professionals and specialists from all over the world.

World-class science and academic education

In addition to being a strong industrial research and development location, the Basel region is also perfectly positioned within the European world of academia. With its 2'000 professors and 12’000 students, the University of Basel is one of the oldest in Europe and ranks among the top 100 worldwide. Less than a two-hour train ride away are the Federal Institutes of Technology ETH Zurich (which has a life sciences department in Basel) and the EPFL Lausanne, both among the world’s absolute top-notch universities. In total, the Basel region (including its bordering countries) is home to no less than 167 research institutions in a perimeter of a few 100 kilometers. In addition, Switzerland’s dual education system and the University of Applied Sciences in Northwestern Switzerland provide a steady supply of highly trained professionals and skilled specialists.

Studies and surveys rank Switzerland year after year as one of the world’s leading location for innovation. Thanks to its strong industry backbone, a thoroughly international business environment that attracts talent from all over the world, and combined with the Swiss academic and dual education system, Basel has established itself as the innovation hub of Switzerland. The density of its offerings is truly unique: Maximum scientific performance, industry expertise and know-how, and a qualified labor force can be found within walking distance in the Basel region.


As early as during the Roman Empire, the Basel Rhine Port was known as the most southern navigable port in the waterways leading to the North Sea. After the opening of the first – and for many years the only - bridge over the river Rhine between Lake Constance and the North Sea in Basel in the year 1226, the city evolved into an important trade hub. Bordering France and Germany, and favorably situated in the center of Europe, the Basel region has maintained its leading role as the most important transportation and logistics hub of Switzerland – with many benefits for local industries and business in general.
In addition, the Basel region is particularly suitable for companies intending to establish an international headquarters in Europe, and for businesses actively pursuing new opportunities in global trade. The Basel region offers the following unique benefits:

The Basel region is an important European traffic hub

A mere 15 minutes by taxi or bus away from downtown Basel, the EuroAirport connects the region directly to more than 90 destinations in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. From the city’s three Rhine ports, containers can reach Rotterdam within three days and be shipped from there all over the world. A train leaves nearly every hour to all major Swiss cities like Zurich (including the Zurich International Airport), Bern, Lausanne and Geneva, as well as economic centers on the river Rhine (i.e. Freiburg, Karlsruhe and Strasbourg). And Europe’s leading metropolitan and capital cities such as Frankfurt, Paris and Milano can be reached easily and conveniently in a few hours on a high-speed train.

The Basel region is Switzerland’s leading logistics hub

Basel’s three Rhine ports handle 12% of Switzerland’s foreign trade along with 842'000 tons of food and produce per annum. The entire Basel region processes a third of Switzerland’s foreign trade. Basel’s EuroAirport is Switzerland’s leading airport for freight. This fits the picture of Basel as a logistics hub, with a workforce of more than 23'000 employed in the logistics sector. 990 logistics companies – among them market leaders such as DHL, Panalpina, Goldrand or Kerry Logistics – call the Basel region home. Here, they provide sophisticated solutions for complex challenges, e.g. in supply chain management, that are routinely in demand by companies in the life sciences and the chemicals industry.

With its central location in Europe, the Basel region is an ideal location for companies active in international trade

Companies as diverse as Davidoff (specialty tobacco), Dufry (retail), Transgourmet (catering) or BIS (Bank for International Settlements, international finance) underline that goods of all kinds are being traded and provided from Basel. Accordingly, Swiss retail giant Coop (the country’s second largest supermarket chain), and Manor (largest Swiss department store) have chosen to locate their headquarters here. The Basel region is also an important location for an array of international trade fairs and exhibitions. A large portion of the international watch and jewelry industry’s revenue is realized annually at BaselWorld. And ArtBasel simply is the world’s most important art fair. A growing number of international consumer brands have discovered the advantages of Basel as a trade hub and opened European headquarters in the Basel region. Among them are for instance the well-known US lifestyle brand Fossil, bicycle manufacturer Cannondale, or fashion and design label Tally Weijl.

A growing number of global companies is discovering the appeal of the Basel region for opening a global or European headquarters, particularly given the outstanding connectivity and transportation system, and the local competencies in logistics and international trade. Well-established Swiss companies and start-ups alike are taking advantage of this central location within Europe. Last but not least, the vicinity to Germany and France, a thriving exchange with the rest of the world, and the cosmopolitanism of the local population make for a dynamic, continuous and sustainable growth of the entire business region.

Breakfast in Germany, lunch in France and dinner in Switzerland: where three borders meet and brimming with the cosmopolitan flair of global businesses, the Basel region sports an un-paralleled quality of life, at a lower cost than in other metropolitan areas of Switzerland. Award-winning architecture, the historic downtown, and a rich and elaborate cultural life – from hipster to classy – are the pillars of an outstanding urban lifestyle in the Basel region. At the same time, a well-developed public transportation system provides quick and direct access to suburban and rural residential areas along with natural parks and sites for local recreation.

Just ask newcomers and recent arrivals: Not only does the Basel region sport Switzerland’s largest expat community with a comprehensive offer of international schools for their kids. Basel can also claim the largest share of expats that have settled and made their home in the region for longer than 5 years. There’s more than one reason for this:

In Basel’s urban lifestyle and rich cultural life there’s something for everyone

The roots of Basel go all the way back to the times of the Romans and the Celts. The region reached its prime for the first time towards the end of the Middle Ages and at the beginning of Modern Age. Of course, Basel didn’t stop there: Today, a thriving creative sector, a variety of restaurants for the local foodie scene, paired with a rich calendar of cultural events all but guarantee a vibrant metropolitan lifestyle. On a stroll through the picturesque historical downtown, during the local carnival season, at a concert in the neo-baroque symphony hall, or simply while enjoying an outdoor movie on the Münsterplatz town square in summer: there is always something going on in Basel.

In Basel, art lovers have come to the right place

The Kunstmuseum Basel, founded in 1671, is considered the oldest public community art collection and according to a rating of the Times of London one of the top 5 art museums in the world. By no means a less appealing point of attraction is the Fondation Beyeler museum, which was designed by the Italian star architect Renzo Piano. Another Basel art highlight is the world’s largest art fair, the Art Basel. Every year, artists, collectors, galleries and auctioneers, as well as celebrities and VIPs have their calendars marked for Art Basel. Some of them might even catch one of the many internationally acclaimed and award-winning performances of the Theater Basel (with opera, drama, and ballet).

Sports are always happening in the Basel region – and not only at the stadium or on the couch

The best of the best in European football (viz. soccer) competitions are hosted by local favorites FC Basel in their St. Jakob Park home stadium. And the aces of the ATP Tour are serving it up at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament – including the region’s very own native and superstar Roger Federer. Even outside the arena, the folks of Basel are quite keen on sports: No other Swiss city can claim a higher bicycle use, be it commuters riding to work or recreational cyclists on one of the numerous bike paths in the surrounding country side. Runners find unobstructed tracks along the shores of the river Rhine. Cross-country skiers can glide for miles and miles on the gentle runs in the canton of Jura. And after a short drive of less than two hours, alpine skiers and snowboarders will stand on pristine slopes in the Swiss Alps.

Where the borders of Switzerland, Germany and France meet, and an enticing diversity of activities awaits

A wine tasting in Alsace, a gourmet feast in Southern Baden-Württemberg or a cozy picnic on a mountain range in the Jura? In the Basel region there’s hardly a wish that cannot come true in an hour’s drive. And there’s always something new to discover! Ever wanted to jump in a cool river after a hot summer’s day? That’s when the shoreline of the river Rhine turns into a veritable Mediterranean Riviera – in the heart of the city of Basel.

Variety and diversity within short distances, a first-rate public transportation infrastructure like no other, and safety and political stability routinely place Switzerland in the top ranks of the leading quality of living surveys. All of this can easily be found in the Basel region, enriched with a unique mix of arts and culture, lifestyle and an international flair. Not surprisingly, Basel is considered one of Switzerland’s hippest and trendiest places among young Swiss.

Our services
Gabriela Güntherodt

Your contact person

Gabriela Güntherodt

Member of the Management Board, Head of International Markets & Promotion

Contact us

Invest in Basel Region

Is your company in expansion mode? Are you looking into establishing a presence in Europe and Switzerland to break into new markets? Then the Basel region is your location of choice. Within close proximity you’ll find everything you need for long-term and sustainable succeed.

A number of multinationals, first and foremost in life sciences, guarantee for a truly international business environment. The Basel region sports a global-minded talent pool, and a highly skilled workforce across the entire value chain and across functions. Located in the center of Europe and directly neighboring France and Germany, the Basel region offers an outstanding business framework while enjoying Switzerland’s world-renowned quality of life.

Would you like to find out how your company can benefit from establishing a presence in our business location? We’ll gladly show you how. Our specialists advise companies like yours during every stage of their expansion projects, comprehensively and expertly:

Evaluation

Taxes? Job market? Competitors? Permits? Industry environment? We compile all the relevant information and data about the Basel region and Switzerland for you, customized to your individual project requirements.

Site selection

Any open questions? We facilitate contacts to the right experts to answer your questions. We’ll connect you to our government authorities, industry and legal experts, and provide professional support during your real estate search.

Site visit

Would you like to get to know the Basel region first-hand? We’ll diligently plan your site visit and put together a customized itinerary, with maximum efficiency and fully matched to your requirements.

Business development

Do you want to accelerate your business growth? We support you in establishing relations to local partners and organizations - accelerating your access to the Basel region’s highly diverse business and innovation ecosystem.                                        

Our services are free of charge to companies that are evaluating the Basel region as a potential business location, and hence will contribute to our dynamic business environment. Being innovative with an open mind for new ideas has a long tradition in the Basel region. We are looking forward to hearing about your business idea and helping you to become successful right from the start.

Gabriela Güntherodt

Your contact person

Gabriela Güntherodt

Member of the Management Board, Head of International Markets & Promotion

Contact us

Connecting Innovators

Connecting Innovators brings together ideas, companies and entrepreneurs. This happens both informally at the specialist events organized by BaselArea.swiss and also formally through the individual support provided by BaselArea.swiss for projects with the procurement of experts, cooperation partners and funding. And here the experts from BaselArea.swiss have a broad network of more than 8000 innovators they can fall back on.

In terms of subject areas, the focus of Connecting Innovators is on five core fields: Life Sciences, Medtech, Information and Communications Technology, Production Technologies and Micro, Nano & Materials. Each of these technology fields is managed by a specialist. In close collaboration with industry, the Technology Field Manager defines the programme of events, acts as contact partner for projects and cultivates partnerships with relevant research groups and other institutions in the Basel region.

Connecting Innovators thus offers the ideal entry point for gaining a foothold in the Basel region and profiting from its diverse innovation ecosystem. Entrepreneurs, innovators and experts get together for regular exchanges of ideas and know-how at more than 80 meetings each year – in a variety of formats:

  • Events: focus on knowledge transfer, offering companies and especially also start-ups the opportunity to present themselves and their projects and promoting regular exchanges of experience and knowledge across companies and disciplines among innovators in the Basel region.
  • Workshops: address a topic in depth by facilitating dialogue within a body of experts that extends across companies and disciplines – with the aim of exploring the spectrum of applications for new technologies and initiating concrete projects and cooperative ventures.
  • Technology & Innovation Circles: are seen as initiatives that run for several years in order to develop an innovation topic further within a community that extends across companies and disciplines and to exploit new market potential.

BaselArea.swiss also offers specific events and services to companies in the founding phase under Supporting Entrepreneurs.

Sebastien Meunier

Your contact person

Sebastien Meunier

Member of the Management Board, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship


Tel. +41 61 295 50 15

sebastien.notexisting@nodomain.commeunier@baselarea.notexisting@nodomain.comswiss
Sebastien Meunier

Your contact person

Sebastien Meunier

Member of the Management Board, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Contact us

Supporting Entrepreneurs

Looking to start a company? That’s great, because our region lives from entrepreneurship. As promoter of innovation and inward investment for the Basel region, BaselArea.swiss provides support especially for entrepreneurs focused on technology and innovation.

At the heart of the service we can offer is our programme of seminars and workshops:

  • Founder Course: The centrepiece of the supporting services on offer is our programme of seminars and workshops: our basic package - the founders’ course - is aimed at all interested parties planning to start a company. You can find an overview of the next courses here: Overview courses

The further range of support on offer is aimed exclusively at start-ups and entrepreneurs with concrete projects from the innovation and technology sector:

  • Seminars & Workshops for Entrepreneurs: These allow a more in-depth examination of various business issues, such as the business plan, funding, product development, pricing and intellectual property, as well as marketing and communications. This series of events is aimed exclusively at start-ups and high-tech SMEs with concrete innovation projects.

In addition to the courses and seminars, BaselArea.swiss also offers individual consultations on concrete projects. The focus here is exclusively on companies and projects with strong growth potential from the field of innovation and technology:

  • Connect & Advisory: In an initial consultation, our expert assesses the need for support and sets up contacts with specialists, research institutions or potential cooperation partners.
  • New Venture Assessment: In a guided process and at individually convened expert meetings, start-ups and innovative SMEs can get their business projects reviewed by established industry experts, entrepreneurs and investors. Further information

With these provide, BaselArea.swiss above all covers the early phase of founding a company. The aim is to valuable information and concrete recommendations between the initial idea and the actual start-up, right through to the first implementation plan and financing round. This not only gives entrepreneurs more security, but also enables them to speed up the implementation of their project quite considerably.

Sebastien Meunier

Your contact person

Sebastien Meunier

Member of the Management Board, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Contact us
Gabriel Schweizer

Your contact person

Gabriel Schweizer

Senior Project Manager Asia


Tel. +41 61 295 50 13

gabriel.notexisting@nodomain.comschweizer@baselarea.notexisting@nodomain.comswiss

Accessing China

The importance of China as a place for doing business has increased enormously in the past few years – at first as an offshore destination for low-cost production of consumer goods, but today also - and increasingly - as a major sales market and source of talents. The expansion of business into China offers great growth potential especially for small to medium-sized enterprises in the high-tech sector. However, it is not easy to gain a foothold in this complex business area.

BaselArea.swiss therefore offers support from a single source to companies in the Basel region (cantons Basel-Stadt, Basel-Land and Jura) – from the initial market evaluation to concrete procurement of business partners. Besides the necessary expertise, our advisors have excellent local contacts, which have been established over many years of exchanges both on the political and on the business level. BaselArea.swiss also cultivates a large network of companies and experts with experience of China who keep abreast of all the latest developments.

As a co-organizer of the annual Swiss-Chinese Life Sciences Forum, BaselArea.swiss helps to deepen exchange between China and the Basel region.

Life sciences companies benefit from partnerships with the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park and the new Fenglin Life Sciences Park in Shanghai and thus have access to the leading life sciences hub in China. The longstanding team of local partners provides support in both building a business in Shanghai (product registration, funding, marketing and so on) and in establishing contacts with potential business partners and clients.

Gabriel Schweizer

Your contact person

Gabriel Schweizer

Senior Project Manager Asia


Tel. +41 61 295 50 13

gabriel.notexisting@nodomain.comschweizer@baselarea.notexisting@nodomain.comswiss

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report Invest in Basel region

"We will not shy away from taking risks"

05.06.2018

In 2016, Roivant Sciences established their global headquarters in Basel. Roivant founder and CEO Vivek Ramaswamy talked to us about his fast growing company, his priorities for the company and about the role that Roivant aims to play in the Basel life sciences ecosystem.

BaselArea.swiss: You built a company from scratch. What are the crucial ingredients?

Vivek Ramaswamy: In biotech you need three main ingredients to build a great company: good drugs, good people, and sufficient capital. Of course, it is difficult to know which drugs will succeed or fail in advance of conducting clinical research so I started Roivant with the vision of having a broad portfolio—a company whose success would be measured by the number and the quality of the medicines that we deliver to market, but at the same time a company that would not be defined by the success or failure of any given drug. It is my belief that the long term success of the company will be driven by the quality of our people and our cultural principles which include a singular focus on value creation and a commitment to innovation throughout all aspects of our business. This is an expensive and risky industry where you have to invest heavily before you know the eventual result and I am very grateful for the backing of our investors. But at the end of the day, the money we’ve raised is not an accomplishment, it is just an ingredient.

Roivant has grown rapidly. How do you maintain an entrepreneurial spirit within the company?

Maintaining an entrepreneurial mindset is core to our model. Our company is based on the principle that smaller tends to be better which is why we did not organize Roivant as a single, centralized, command-and-control operation. Instead we scale our business through the creation of wholly- or majority-owned subsidiary companies, which we call “Vants.” We now have over 600 employees across our family of companies, and it is fair to say that preserving that initial entrepreneurial mindset is one of my main priorities going forward.

How free are the Vants in finding their own version of entrepreneurial spirit?

Think of Roivant as a parent that contributes DNA to each of our Vants. We also carefully select leaders who contribute their own DNA. Each Vant resembles Roivant heavily but also has its own unique genotype. There are common cultural principles, but there are also important distinctive features and we see that heterogeneity as a comparative advantage.

How do you cope with failure?

We are fortunate that relatively early in our history we have experienced both success and failure. We would not be doing our job if we had only a string of successes insomuch as that would indicate we are not taking sufficient risk to benefit patients. We cope with failure in three ways. First, we acknowledge it as a necessary consequence of our broader strategy. Second, we build a diverse portfolio rather than predicate the success of our business on any single drug. Finally, we own our failures openly and use them as an opportunity to learn. When our drug for Alzheimer’s disease intepirdine failed in phase III, we did not obfuscate or sugarcoat the news. But we also did not overreact and we will not shy away in the future from taking risks in similar areas of significant unmet need. Instead we will embrace the risk of failure as we make calculated decisions across all therapeutic areas.

You chose Basel for setting up your global headquarters. Which aspects did you find most convincing about the location?

It starts with the talent. We believe in diversity of talent and we recruit from both within and beyond pharma. Basel is emblematic in that sense because it brings together a very diverse talent pool from multiple countries and cultures, speaking different languages with varied experiences and educational backgrounds. That mixture makes for a warm, welcoming, and innovative environment which mirrors the culture we seek to build internally at Roivant. At the same time, the legacy of successful pharmaceutical products being developed here makes Basel a place where we wanted to plant a seed early in the life of our company. In addition to the large multinational companies for which Basel is best known there is also a strong scene of young and vibrant companies building on that tradition, and we hope to be at the center of that.

How did Roivant accommodate in Basel for the time being – were your expectations met?

Yes, except in one aspect: Basel does not seem to believe in air conditioning! Joking aside, our expectations were in many ways exceeded. I have found the community to be very welcoming, and we immediately felt at home here. We have been able to recruit talent very effectively, and we have engaged in positive dialogue with several companies in the area. We continue to source new asset opportunities in the region, and we are delighted with how this ecosystem has embraced us and allowed us to thrive. The partnerships we have forged in the region are crucial for us, not least with partners like BaselArea.swiss and its BaseLaunch accelerator program.

We are happy to have you. How do you contribute to the accelerator?

Our business model is to accelerate the launch of new companies in our family so it’s only logical that we would be part of BaseLaunch. We can use our expertise to help other companies accelerate their own launches and scale their businesses. We support BaseLaunch in the process of selecting new projects and we offer advice and mentorship. For us, it is a great way to signal our support for the local startup scene and develop our relationships with other companies in Basel. We are happy to be a part of that.

What are the prospects for the headquarters in Basel?

The short answer is we will grow further. All of the Vants will use Basel as a business hub to develop and maintain partnerships within Europe. We started out as a company focusing on shelved drugs. But we are also keen to accelerate drug development in other companies’ pipelines. Basel is a great place to do that with companies in Europe and its vicinity.

Interview: Annett Altvater

report Precision Medicine

Artificial Intelligence – the Holy Grail to Healthcare Innovation?

21.06.2018

event ICT

Future Trends of Software Engineering

Date: 26.06.2018

Place: launchlabs, Gundeldinger Feld, Halle 8, Dornacherstrasse 192, 4053 Basel

report BaseLaunch

“IP protection is crucial for business and research”

08.05.2018

The patent law and attorney-at-law firm Vossius & Partner has been an important partner for BaseLaunch since the inception of the healthcare accelerator in 2016. They advise startups and big corporations alike on IP strategy. Philipp Marchand, patent attorney in the Basel office, advocates to take IP protection seriously.

BaselArea.swiss: Vossius & Partner maintains offices in Munich, Düsseldorf, Berlin and Basel. How do you fit in the Swiss and Basel ecosystem?

Philipp Marchand: Our firm was founded in the 1960s, coming to Basel eleven years ago. We have developed extensive and profound in-house knowledge concerning all IP issues and currently represent clients of all sizes from startup companies to big pharma in Switzerland and all over the world. Basel, as one of the most exciting life science locations, is of particular interest to our firm, which has one of the largest life science groups in Europe.

That sounds a bit sophisticated for startups.

Not at all. Our expertise obtained from representing clients of all sizes is a huge advantage for the startup sector. Moreover, instead of considering IP issues in an isolated way, we endeavour to take all possible future developments of our cases into account. This includes considering aspects from other jurisdictions since, even as a startup, you have to be aware of potential worldwide implications right from the start. In addition, we work with our attorneys-at-law to not only protect an invention but also to provide advice on related aspects such as freedom-to-operate.

You are also involved in BaseLaunch. Why is that?

We entered into a partnership with BaseLaunch in order to be closer to the startup community in Basel and Switzerland. We meet with each of the selected companies and review their IP situation free of charge in order to identify potential ways to optimize protection. We are excited to be able to offer our expertise more frequently to startups because we believe that they genuinely benefit from our full service approach. If they wish, later they can also enter into a client relationship and benefit from our experience right from the start. Of course, we then have to charge for our services. However, we offer a very reasonably priced system for startup companies and universities.

Why is it worth it to spend that money?

IP protection is crucial in all technological fields and in more than one aspect: It is the only reliable means to ensure that you can make a profit in the long run in different markets worldwide. For a startup company working in life sciences, or any other technological field, the most important type of IP is without a doubt a patent right. Specifically, only a patent grants you the monopoly to keep third parties from using your invention. However, further IP topics are relevant at an early stage, too. For example, a trademark protecting the company’s name or its products that are put on the market can be invaluable. Without trademark protection a startup may be forced to change its name or the names of their products, which can incur considerable costs.

What if a researcher has no intention to commercialize his or her invention right-away?

You might think keeping your invention a secret is a good idea. But in the meantime another bright mind might have the same idea and file for patent protection. Today all jurisdictions, including the US, follow the “first to file” principle, which means that you may have missed your chance and you could even be sued for infringement by a third party for using what you thought was your own invention. We therefore strongly encourage inventors and their employers to file for IP protection as early as possible.

What do I need to protect an invention?

We like to discuss everything with our clients in person to fully understand the potential product as well as its market and its customers. Afterwards, we draft the patent claims, which means that we define the invention and the technical problem that it solves. We file the application text with a patent office, usually with the European Patent Office (EPO) as part of the European Patent Organization of which Switzerland is also a member. One year after the first filing, we can prepare a subsequent application, which covers more than 150 states worldwide. The whole process until an application is granted can take more than five years.

Is there a difference in the importance of IP protection in the life sciences sector compared to other fields?

The biggest difference is the longer product life cycle for pharmaceutical products and the stricter regulations compared to, say, short-lived computer hardware. Also, due to the long product life cycles and general development costs in this sector, patent protection is the only way to ensure that the owner of the patent right benefits first from the invention. With a particular focus on the pharma sector, one should also mention the need to build-up an IP portfolio which not only protects, for example, a drug but also the process of making that drug, different formulations, dosage and treatment regimens and so on. At the same time, you should consider using additional IP rights such as trademarks. Take Bayer who invented Aspirin. The patent for the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid has long expired, which means it may be widely produced and sold. However, the trademark still ensures that people specifically ask for Aspirin.

Are there any reasons to advise against filing for patent?

Yes, of course. There are situations where it may make sense to wait with filing a patent application until sufficient data and support has been collected. For example, it may not always be advisable to file a patent for a research platform to protect a screening method for active compounds. This is because patent applications are published 18 months after filing, meaning that everyone has access to the method. In this scenario, it may make sense to wait for the first molecule that emerges from your platform and file for product protection. However, such strategic aspects should always be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Which misconceptions concerning IP do you sometimes encounter?

Most researchers are aware of IP protection but the execution could be better. One misconception includes the so-called grace period. There is no grace period in European patent law or in most other jurisdictions with the exception of the US, Japan and Canada. After you publicly disclose your own invention by writing or talking about it, you may not be able to obtain patent rights for your invention.

What may researchers reveal to their peer collaborators?

An invention is new if it does not form part of the state of the art, meaning it is not publicly known. Hence every discussion with a colleague or presentation of a poster at a conference prior to filing a patent application can potentially destroy the novelty. You may think that no one will find out. However, when it comes to money, third parties will leave no stone unturned. Of course, we are aware of the conflict between patent applications and the need to publish academic papers or give presentations. If you are unsure what to do: It is always better to come talk to us before a publication, a poster presentation or any other public disclosure, even on short notice.

 

About
Philipp Marchand heads the Basel office of Vossius & Partner. After graduating in biochemistry at the University in Frankfurt am Main and his PhD studies at a CNRS institute in Paris, he started his career as a patent attorney trainee with Vossius & Partner in Munich. After the bar examination, he transferred to Basel at the beginning of 2017. Recently, he started to pursue a doctorate in law at the University of Basel. Vossius & Partner is a leading patent law firm offering a full-service concept with legal competence from patent attorneys in every technological sector and attorneys-at-law qualified to practice not only in Europe and Switzerland, but also in the United States, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. The firm employs 55 patent attorneys and 20 attorneys–at-law in their offices in Munich, Düsseldorf, Berlin and Basel.

report Invest in Basel region

Basler Insurtech vereinfacht das Versichern

19.06.2018

event Innovation

Symposium on 3D Printing for Life Sciences 2018

Date: 27.06.2018

Place: University Hospital Basel, Zentrum für Lehre und Forschung, Hebelstrasse 30, 4056 Basel

report BaselArea.swiss

Connecting Innovators App Launch

11.04.2018

How the BaselArea.swiss-App connects innovators and supports an innovative idea.

One of the major assets of BaselArea.swiss is its broad network, which has been confirmed time and again by the participants of our seminars, workshops and conferences. To simplify the networking during and after the events, BaselArea.swiss launches the App “Connecting Innovators” together with SAS Papott.

The use is simple: After downloading the app from Google Play or from the App Store, connect with your LinkedIn account and complete your profile. You will see the other event attendees in a list with their name and picture, filtered according to proximity to your location, thus facilitating connect with other participants. Not only will you see which users attend the same events but it is also easier for specialists to connect to people with similar interests or for entrepreneurs to approach potential investors.

Networking made simple

Originally, the developer and founder of SAS Papott, Maxime Vitrey, had the vision of improving our ability to connect with our fellow human beings on a more general level. He designed an open app and everybody who created a profile could see who is close by. “I wanted to make it easy for everybody to get in touch with each other.” He also realized the potential the technology holds for networking at conferences. “I know from personal experience how hard it is to get in touch with other participants I do not know yet”, Maxime says. The challenges are manifold: Groups of people who stay together because they know each other already; name tags that are hard to read; the slightly impolite act of interrupting people who are engaged in conversation. And last but not least: finding the people you should talk to because you share the same area of interest.

The World of entrepreneurship

After attending a startup seminar organized by BaselArea.swiss, Maxime approached Sébastien Meunier, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, to suggest creating an application according to the needs of the organization. “We quickly decided to give it a shot”, says Maxime. Being a seasoned project manager, he developed new techniques and gained experience during the implementation of the project since the whole value chain was in his hands. Currently, he approaches new customers to build clones of the app. He sees potential to ease interaction in large companies during meetings or amongst their employees. Further, the technology could be used in hospitals to allow patients to socialize with other patients. While Maxime still works for his long-term employer, Jet Aviation, he is also pleased that his entry into the world of entrepreneurship is successful. “It is extremely exciting to finally be the entrepreneur I always wanted to be.”

For BaselArea.swiss, the app allows the participants of the more than 70 events per year to be served even better: “The app helps to strengthen one of our core disciplines in creating an open and supportive business culture - a solid network with approachable members,” says Sébastien Meunier. “We are looking forward to seeing a lot of our participants using it.”

Join us to keep networking simple, efficient and useful. Download the app “Connecting Innovators” from Google Play or from the App Store and let us know what you think.

report BaselArea.swiss

5 Take-Aways from the aiming for novel antibiotic event

18.06.2018

event Precision Medicine

DayOne Accelerator: Improving the wellbeing and health of children and adolescents worldwi...

Date: 27.06.2018

Place: Technologie Park Basel, Hochbergerstrasse 60C, 4057 Basel

report ICT

“A good network is power”

03.04.2018

Melanie Kovacs was frustrated by the IT teaching she got, and developed her own product – Master21. She attributes her success with this not least to her carefully maintained network, which has continued to grow in Basel. Melanie Kovacs and her fellow campaigners use the technology and innovation network “We Shape Tech” to promote diversity by making women working in the technology and innovation field more visible.

Ms Kovacs, you founded Master21 when you were 28. How did that come about?

As a co-initiator of the Aspire network for women startup owners, I’d met a lot of very interesting women. One of them was Valérie Vuillerat, the managing director of Ginetta. She offered me a job, and I took it. At the agency I was the link between clients and developers. I worked closely with the people from the technical area, but I didn’t speak their language. Then I went back to taking courses at the university. But this was dreadfully theoretical, boring front of class teaching, and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I was sure that anybody can learn programming, but I felt it had to be done differently.

So what is your company doing better?

We do exactly what I was missing at the time. We put people without a technical background in a pleasant atmosphere and use lots of practical exercises to give them sufficient competences and self-confidence in programming. Most of them are like me – they don’t necessarily want to embark on a new career, they want to work with developers on a solid basis. That’s why at Master21 you learn the fundamental terms and concepts and understand how design, front end, back end and databases fit together. Participants learn HTML, CSS, Javascript and Ruby and try out for themselves how object-oriented programming works.

How did the start-up process work out?

I started a pilot project for Master21 while I was still working at Ginetta. The fluid transition was ideal for me. My co-founder is responsible for the technical side and content, I’m responsible the business aspect. I’m very happy that he gave me the push I needed to start. I’m not sure I would have dared to found a company on my own. A few months ago, we hired a new employee. I find it very motivating if every initiative doesn’t depend on me and I can work with a team.

What do you most appreciate about being an entrepreneur?

I can set my own schedule for the day, I’m learning a lot and I work every day with bright, exciting people. I’m also seeing that my services are directly influencing the students. There have already been two cases where people met on the course and subsequently started a project together. It’s more difficult to find developers who like teaching and are good at it.

What happens next with Master21?

I’m currently participating in the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation’s Accelerator Programme, and I’m also working with a coach. Currently I’m not at all interested in a financing round, because I’d like to continue to grow independently of investors. I want the firm to develop, but at my own pace and with long-term prospects.

The company’s headquarters are in Zurich, you live in Basel. What happens where?

I’m in Zurich when I’m working at the Impact Hub and want to meet people. The courses have also been held there so far. In Basel I work on corporate strategy in my home office and write texts. If things get too quiet for me, I go to the “Unternehmen Mitte” establishment and work there, or I meet someone for lunch at the Markthalle. I think it's because there are so many expats in Basel that there’s a great sense of openness there.

How important is your personal network for the success of Master21?

My network is absolutely central. At the start, I emailed every single one of my contacts, told them about my new project and asked for feedback. I maintain my network by LinkedIn and email, and I go and have coffee with people regularly. I also go to events like TEDxZurich, and I’m active in We Shape Tech.

You’re an enthusiastic networker.

Yes, it’s easy for me. For many people networking has such a negative image. I’m not interested in collecting business cards; I want to get to know people. And I’d much rather talk to one person than quickly give my card to a whole lot of people. I really enjoy networking, because I can learn something from everybody. A couple of years ago I was just everywhere, including to promote my business. Now I find it boring if someone’s just presenting their pitch, and I’m better at choosing where I participate. I find networking particularly valuable if you can share your ideas on a joint topic with others in small groups.

You brought the initiative for diversity, the We Shape Tech network, which was previously already active in Zurich and Bern, to Basel. Why does Basel need this network?

Basel still has a lot of potential in the technology and innovation area. One indication of that for us was the way that we were welcomed with open arms. Our board member Elaine Skapetis is a developer at Adobe. The company supported us generously without hesitation with our first two Basel events. The hall at the launch event was filled to bursting, the response was just unbelievable. We offer people working or interested in the technology and innovation field the opportunity to share ideas and views and learn from each other. We follow a specific format here, where one person tells their story, a discussion is initiated, and there’s time for networking. Our goal is to connect people, communicate knowledge and ensure access to other organisations and partners. Knowledge and a good network are power.

What are the advantages of networks primarily aimed at women?

In Basel men are welcome at We Shape Tech as well. To promote diversity, you need both men and women. However, sadly, only a few men have taken advantage of the opportunity to date. The few men at the meeting have an experience which women often have, namely being part of a minority. If you have a group of just women, the atmosphere is more relaxed. I also see this in courses specifically for women at Master21. If women are just with other women, they trust themselves to do more. They ask questions which they wouldn’t if men were present, say more and are more confident than if there were men there.

About Melanie Kovacs
Melanie Kovacs founded Master21, where people interested in courses with practical relevance are introduced to the fundamentals of programming. Previously, she has founded the women’s network Aspire, and organised start-up weekends. She studied business administration at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration and the University of Madrid and completed a CAS in requirements engineering at the University of Applied Sciences, Rappers. Together with Aileen Zumstein and Elaine Skapetis, Melanie Kovacs brought the network We Shape Tech to Basel. The Movement in Diversity initiative offers a platform and community for people who want to make a difference in the hi-tech and innovation area. The organisation focuses simultaneously on communicating knowledge and promoting the exchange of ideas.

report Invest in Basel region

Northwestern Switzerland pushes for new Jura tunnel

18.06.2018

event Precision Medicine

DayOne Accelerator Program Webinar

Date: 03.07.2018

Place: Webinar invite to be sent to registered participants

report BaselArea.swiss

Die Wirtschaftsregion Basel-Jura entwickelt sich stabil

28.03.2018

Die Wirtschaftsregion Basel-Jura bietet Unternehmen ein erstklassiges Umfeld. Dies das Fazit des aktuellen Jahresberichts 2017 von BaselArea.swiss.

In ihrem Jahresbericht 2017 zeigt sich BaselArea.swiss zufrieden mit der Entwicklung der Region Basel-Jura. Zwar pendelte sich die Zahl der von der Innovationsförderung und Standortpromotion der Kantone Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt und Jura betreuten Ansiedlungen nach dem Rekordjahr 2016 wieder auf Vorjahresniveau ein. Gemessen an der Anzahl der geplanten Arbeitsplätze in den kommenden drei bis fünf Jahren knüpft das Ergebnis jedoch ans 2016 an. «Dies ist angesichts der erschwerten Rahmenbedingungen ein gutes Resultat», freut sich CEO Christof Klöpper. Insbesondere habe die Ablehnung der Unternehmenssteuerreform III zu Verunsicherungen auf Kundenseite geführt.

Bezüglich geografischer Herkunft und Tätigkeitsfeld der angesiedelten Unternehmen dominierten einerseits die USA sowie die Life Sciences (inklusive Chemie). Zu den grösseren Ansiedlungen zählten: Bio-Rad (USA), die in Basel den Europäischen Hauptsitz eröffneten, Idemitsu (Japan), die in Basel ein Forschungszentrum für organische Leuchtdioden einrichteten, sowie SpiroChem, die ihren Hauptsitz von Zürich nach Basel verlegten. Zudem gelang es, die Pipeline mit neuen Ansiedlungsprojekten zu füllen: So besuchten im vergangenen Jahr 90 Firmen im Rahmen einer Standortevaluation die Region.

Mehr Unternehmertum

Positiv entwickelten sich die Unternehmensgründungen in der Region Basel-Jura. So verzeichnete BaselArea.swiss eine erhöhte Nachfrage nach Dienstleistungen im Bereich Supporting Entrepreneurs und konnte mehr als 60 Neugründungen und Start-ups unterstützen. Die von BaselArea.swiss organisierten Veranstaltungen, Seminare und Workshops brachten über 5500 Teilnehmende zu Innovationsthemen zusammen, was ebenfalls ein deutliches Plus gegenüber dem Vorjahr darstellt.

BaselArea.swiss gelang es im Jahr 2017 eine Reihe von Aktivitäten in neuen, für die Region wichtigen Innovationsthemen anzustossen. So wurden die Aktivitäten im Bereich Industrie 4.0 ausgebaut. Diese sollen im 2018 mit Partnern aus dem benachbarten Ausland innerhalb eines Interreg-Projekts weiterentwickelt werden.

Ein weiterer thematischer Schwerpunkt fokussiert auf Innovationen in der chemischen Industrie. Unter dem Namen DayOne wurde 2017 eine vielbeachtete Initiative zum Thema Precision Medicine und Digital Health lanciert.

Überaus erfolgreich erwies sich der im 2017 lancierte Healthcare Accelerator BaseLaunch. Nicht nur gelang es mit Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Novartis Venture Fund, Pfizer und Roche sowie Roivant Sciences die Unterstützung von fünf Industrieschwergewichten für den Accelerator zu gewinnen. Auch am Markt wurde BaseLaunch gut aufgenommen: Über 100 Bewerbungen von Start-up-Projekten aus mehr als 30 Ländern gingen bei BaselArea.swiss ein. Sechs Start-up-Firmen werden nun in der Region Basel-Jura gegründet und während eines Jahres beim Firmenaufbau mit bis zu 250'000 Franken sowie Infrastrukturleistungen im Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area unterstützt.

report Micro, Nano & Materials

Basel startup QNAMI wins seed capital

14.06.2018

event Medtech

How to develop medical device software that conforms to IEC 62304

Date: 17.07.2018

Place: Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area AG, Gewerbestrasse 24, 4123 Allschwil

report Life Sciences

“I enjoy thinking about seemingly unsolvable problems”

13.03.2018

Andreas Plückthun continues his research where others stop: 40 employees work in his laboratory on protein engineering. Their results form the basis for three biotech companies: Morphosys in Munich, as well as Molecular Partners and G7 Therapeutics (today Heptares Zurich) in Schlieren. At the Antibody Congress 2017 in Basel, Andreas Plückthun told us why he remains true to his research.

Mr. Plückthun, you co-founded three biotech companies in three decades. How did this come about?

There was always this curiosity in the beginning to discover something – but never the wish to found a company. After we produced artificial antibodies and learned how to mimic the immune system, we established the company Morphosys. Then the next question arose: can we do this with other protein molecules and solve new problems? Out of this emerged Designed Ankyrin Repeated Proteins (DARPins) and a second company, Molecular Partners in Schlieren. The next challenge was then to stabilize receptors by means of protein engineering in order to develop better drugs for these points of attack. Based on this research, we founded the third company, G7 Therapeutics.

Who pushed ahead with the spin-offs each time?

For the first company, it was my research colleagues. I was the more sceptical of us three at the time. The other two companies were traditional spin-offs of my doctoral and postdoctoral students.

How are the companies doing today?

Morphosys now has 430 employees and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. We also received the first FDA approval for an antibody that is now available on the market. This is one of the few companies that is still doing exactly what we once wrote in the business plan, and successfully too. Molecular Partners has 130 employees, several Phase 2 and 3 studies, and, like Morphosys, is listed on the stock exchange. G7 Therapeutics was sold to the British company Heptares, which in turn belongs to the Japanese company Sosei. In short: all companies are doing well. I don’t consider founding a company to be a particular achievement. The achievement is more that the companies are flourishing and bringing drugs to the market.

What changes have you noticed over the decades when it comes to founding a company?

The climate has changed completely. It was totally against the grain in Europe 25 years ago to found a biotech company. That’s why people went to California. At a symposium in America, I was once introduced as a researcher and a founder with the words; “He’s like us.” It was very common there for a long time to be both a researcher and an entrepreneur. That scepticism has since disappeared here, and founding a company is now judged positively. A venture capital scene has also developed since then. To be fair, I have to say that it helps investors if you’ve already successfully founded a company. The first deal is always the hardest.

You seem to be quite successful when it comes to founding companies. Did it ever tempt you to move to one of your companies?

It was never a question for me to leave the university. It’s an incredible privilege to be paid by the state to do crazy things. I always wanted to think about the next challenge at the university. Not having to account for quarterly profits is the only way forward in this context. In a company that conducts research with money from investors, you simply cannot undertake the type of risky and long-term projects that interest me. But I can say that thanks to the companies that are based on my research, I have repaid my dividends and created many jobs.

So you’ll continue to devote yourself to basic research. Can this be steered towards commercialization at all?

We’ve always wanted to solve a problem that seemed important enough to us. At some point in the research the question arises of how to use the results, what you can make of them. If we hadn’t commercialized the results, the problems would have simply stopped at an interesting point. We would have stopped halfway along. This is comparable to a coming up with blueprint for a computer and then not building it. By founding the companies, we could ensure that the projects would continue.

Is there any collaboration with industry within the scope of your research?

Direct collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and our laboratory has never worked properly. Expectations and time horizons are very different. We develop new ideas and concepts that are often not exactly in keeping with large-scale pharmaceutical research. I don’t think anyone will feel offended when I say that the pharmaceutical industry is very conservative. We do have many contacts but hardly any collaboration. That being said, our spin-offs work very well with the pharmaceutical industry.

Which topics would you like to focus on next?

We are researching artificial viruses that cannot reproduce. The viruses should produce proteins directly in the body that are needed as therapeutic agents. This is so far away from practical implementation that such a project is only possible at a university. But I am absolutely convinced that it would have enormous significance if it worked. I couldn’t sit still if we didn’t at least try. We are once again trying to solve a problem in my laboratory that most people in the field would consider impossible to solve. That’s what makes me get up in the morning. I want to show how it works.

Learn more about Andreas Plückthun between basic research and biotech entrepreneurship at our event on 24 April 2018.

About
Andreas Plückthun (*1956) is a scientist whose research is focused on the field of protein engineering. He is the director of the department of biochemistry at the University of Zurich. Andreas Plückthun was appointed to the faculty of the University of Zurich as a Full Professor of biochemistry in 1993. Plückthun was group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry , Germany (1985-1993). He was elected to the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 1992, and named a member of the German National Academy of Science (Leopoldina) in 2003. He is cofounder of the biotechnology companies Morphosys (Martinsried, Germany), Molecular Partners AG (Zürich-Schlieren, Switzerland) and G7 Therapeutics (Zürich-Schlieren, Switzerland).

Interview: Annett Altvater and Stephan Emmerth, BaselArea.swiss

report Invest in Basel region

EBL to create innovation centre for e-mobility

13.06.2018

event Medtech

Medical Apps: Classification and Challenges (MDD & MDR)

Date: 17.07.2018

Place: Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area AG, Gewerbestrasse 24, 4123 Allschwil