A lack of patent law
In France, a patent law had existed for chemical products since 1844, providing protection not for the chemical manufacturing process or the inventor, but rather for the manufacturing company and the product itself. Many inventors, therefore, emigrated to Basel, where products patented abroad could still be manufactured until the advent of the Chemical Patents Act in 1907. Initially, the companies established here operated as conglomerates that had evolved over many years. A series of subsequent mergers and spin-offs led to more focused lines of business. With Novartis and Roche, Basel is now home to the world’s second and third-largest pharmaceutical companies in terms of revenue.
A cluster is deﬁned as a local concentration of similar enterprises. This situation can lead to innovation and competitive advantages, as well as providing a boost to the regional economy, as highly specialized companies often choose to establish themselves only in certain regions despite the possibility of opening locations worldwide. “The choice of location is, therefore, an important area of geographical research, typically yielding new insights for the promotion of locations and regional development,” explains Rita Schneider-Sliwa, Professor of Geography.