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report BaselArea.swiss

GRID boosts innovative power of Basel region

26.09.2019

Work on the construction of the GRID complex for innovation and commerce has begun on the BaseLink site in Allschwil BL. By mid-2022, the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area will be operating from the new site as its anchor tenant.

With the GRID (Grand Réseau d’Innovation et de Développement) and the neighboring newbuild of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, the ecosystem of the Basel region will be further expanded in the fields of life sciences, biotech, public health and medtech, it was reported in a press release from the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, its operator BaselArea.swiss and Senn Resources AG. The latter has been tasked with constructing the GRID building designed by Basel architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.

In this building, the GRID Campus of Collaboration, space will be created on five floors and an area of around 50,000m2for “offices and laboratories for teaching, research, development and production of innovative products for the future”. To this end, 150 million Swiss francs is being invested. By mid-2020, the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area will have given up its existing location in Allschwil and leased 6,000m2 at the GRID complex. Tenants are expected to have been found for the remaining space as well by this point. The goal is for the GRID to offer workplaces for 2,220 people.

The GRID will further enrich the area around the Bachgraben, which is already home to companies such as Actelion and Idorsia as well as institutions in the fields of life sciences, biotech, public health and medtech. A new building for the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute will also be constructed in this area. The GRID will contribute to “the Basel region further gaining significance as a first-class ecosystem for innovation”.

Allschwil is the largest of the three planned sites making up the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, with the second in Basel and plans to create a third in Delémont. The Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area is one of five locations in the network of Switzerland Innovation Park. It is backed by the two Basel cantons, Jura, the Handelskammer beider Basel and the University of Basel. 

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«Je suis fasciné par le niveau d’innovation jurassien»

11.06.2019

Le Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area compte lui-même deux antennes, à Allschwil et Bâle, et bientôt une troisième dans le Jura, sur la zone d’Innodel, territoire de la commune de Courroux entre Delémont et Courrendlin. Cette antenne jurassienne est en cours d’aménagement. Elle sera inaugurée officiellement le 25 octobre.

Ce sera une étape marquante d’un énorme travail déployé par plusieurs acteurs régionaux, en lien avec cet ambitieux projet fédéral. Le but est de dynamiser la recherche et développement en Suisse et dans la région, explique Frank Kumli, Head Innovation & Enrepreneurship de BaselArea.swiss dans un entretien accordé au "Le Quotidien Jurassien".

Le Quotidien Jurassien: Que représente l’antenne jurassienne pour le Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area?

Frank Kumli: C’est un pas en avant dans l’innovation régionale. Le parc va être dédié comme les autres à accélérer l’innovation. On pourra enfin faire participer le Jura au parc d’innovation. C’est très important pour nous que le Jura puisse se joindre et que nous puissions profiter de l’expertise et du savoir-faire jurassiens, et en même temps de soutenir localement le développement économique et l’innovation. Pour nous Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, c’est une occasion unique de conduire et soutenir cette antenne jurassienne.

Quelles sont les attentes pour cette antenne jurassienne?

Nous attendons bien sûr un site vibrant, où il se passe beaucoup de choses, où les gens se retrouvent pour développer de nouvelles idées, échangent, montent des projets d’innovation. Ce doit être une interface entre les trois cantons de Bâle-Ville, Bâle-Campagne et du Jura dans le domaine de l’innovation.

Combien y aura-t-il de places de travail sur ce site?

Au total, nous aurons 1200 m2 de surface, ce qui pourrait représenter une soixantaine de places de travail, certaines étant dédoublées, donc environ 30 à 35 emplois.

Des intéressés se sont-ils déjà manifestés?

Nous travaillons étroitement avec la Chambre de commerce et d’industrie du Jura et son directeur Pierre-Alain Berret pour faire connaître le parc d’innovation auprès des patrons des PME locales. Plusieurs se sont intéressés à participer. Des start-ups locales et françaises ont aussi manifesté leur intérêt à venir s’installer sur le site.

Et du côté des institutions de formation?

Sur le plan académique, nous avons aussi suscité l’intérêt du Centre suisse d’électronique et de microtechnique (CSEM), qui sera présent sur le site. Nous avons aussi discuté avec la Haute Ecole Arc (HE-Arc) au plan local, pour voir comment nous pouvons les représenter sur le site. Nous sommes en train de signer quelques contrats. Le but est d’avoir un mix de startups, quelques projets académiques et surtout beaucoup de projets d’entreprises.

Dans quels domaines est-il prévu d’agir?

Nous aurons des projets sur deux axes, les soins de santé et l’agilité d’entreprise. On ne va pas réinventer comment on fait de l’horlogerie mais voir comment transformer les entreprises locales, les rendre plus agiles pour répondre aux défis d’un monde qui change. Pour les soins de santé, nous travaillons étroitement avec l’Hôpital du Jura, son directeur Thierry Charmillot et Nicolas Pétremand, chef du Service de la santé publique.

Que va-t-on faire plus précisément dans le domaine de la santé?

Une réflexion a débuté avec le professeur Hans-Florian Zeilhofer de l’Université et de l’Hôpital universitaire de Bâle. Nous avons prévu plusieurs projets avec lui. Le professeur Zeilhofer se spécialise dans la robotique et l’automation dans le domaine de la chirurgie. Il est convaincu qu’il y a beaucoup de savoir-faire jurassiens à mettre en pratique dans ce domaine. Il a déjà des collaborations dans le Jura, spécifiquement dans le domaine de l’impression 3D. Avec la domotique, l’idée est de rendre l’habitat sécurisé pour pouvoir libérer des patients plus rapidement de l’hôpital, retarder aussi l’entrée en EMS, maximiser donc la présence chez soi.

Combien de temps selon vous pour atteindre la vitesse de croisière?

Nous sommes relativement optimistes, vu l’aide que nous recevons, de la part de la Chambre de commerce, de l’Hôpital du Jura, du Service cantonal de la santé et des hautes écoles. Je pense que la vitesse de croisière devrait être atteinte dans l’espace d’un an, pas pour la totalité des emplois mais pour avoir un site animé avec des idées innovatrices. Nous avons localement beaucoup d’aide pour pouvoir trouver rapidement les bons projets.

Que va-t-on développer dans l’industrie 4.0?

Pour nous, l’industrie 4.0, c’est bien entendu ce qui est relatif aux technologies de production. Ici, on va prendre l’axe d’agilité avec une focalisation sur le côté humain, les équipes, les modèles d’affaires, et au troisième plan les technologies nécessaires à transformer et produire. C’est pouvoir mettre plus d’agilité dans les PME pour répondre plus facilement à des demandes qui fluctuent, en nombre et types de pièces commandées. Pour cela, il faut des équipes beaucoup plus réactives. On en a parlé avec des patrons de la CCIJ, dont Georges Humard, son nouveau président. Ils confirment que les thèmes qui les intéressent, c’est tout ce qui est relatif au design thinking, à l’agilité, aux procédés Lean (n.d.l.r. pour une production efficace et rentable). Il y aura beaucoup de séminaires, des cours, de la sensibilisation et de l’accompagnement.

Dans la thématique des soins de la santé, de quoi parle-t-on plus précisément?

Nous avons développé trois axes lors de multiples séances de travail, avec le professeur Zeilhofer, l’Hôpital et la Chambre de commerce. Le premier axe sera celui de la technologie médicale pure et dure, avec les implants et l’impression 3D, des spécialités très proches du savoir-faire jurassien. Ce sera la plus grande focalisation. La deuxième, c’est ce qu’on appelle health-tech, qui se situe dans la connectivité, la santé numérique. L’Hôpital et le Service de la santé publique pensent qu’il y a beaucoup à faire dans le canton. Le 3e axe, c’est le système de santé. Le ministre Jacques Gerber et Nicolas Pétremand sont convaincus que le système de santé jurassien relativement petit permettra d’expérimenter et innover beaucoup plus rapidement que dans d’autres cantons.

Sur votre liste figurent aussi montage de projets, financement, animation, méthodes de travail…

Nous travaillons à libérer des financements de niveau cantonal mais aussi à accompagner les entreprises pour obtenir des financements de niveau fédéral. Nous avons promis de leur mettre à disposition des personnes pour naviguer dans la bureaucratie des fonds d’innovations, pouvoir accéder plus rapidement à ces fonds.

Qu'y a-t-il de si particulier dans la culture d'entreprise jurassique?

Ici, la pratique, c’est la discrétion avant tout. L’entrepreneur jurassien règle tout lui-même. Du coup, il y a peu de visibilité sur les compétences des entreprises jurassiennes. Quand nous parlons avec les entreprises du groupe de biomedical engineering présentes à Allschwil, elles nous demandent souvent de les aider à trouver les bonnes compétences dans le Jura pour leurs projets. Les gens savent qu’il y a beaucoup de savoir-faire dans le Jura mais ne savent pas comment y accéder. Cela plaide pour que les entreprises fassent davantage savoir quelles sont leurs compétences. Avec la Chambre de commerce, nous allons faire le lien avec Bâle-Ville et Bâle-Campagne. Un groupe informel, qui regroupe notamment des patrons, l’Hôpital du Jura et des hautes écoles, va accompagner le parc d’innovation.

L’accès à une communauté et à un réseau d’innovateurs et d’experts, pour la Recherche & Développement, cela manque dans le canton du Jura?

Oui. Il y a beaucoup d’appétit pour travailler avec l’Université de Bâle, la Haute école de Muttenz, la HE Arc à Neuchâtel du côté technologique. Je pense qu’on va pouvoir créer un lien entre les entrepreneurs jurassiens et les hautes écoles et universités. C’est aussi une demande des clients des entrepreneurs jurassiens, qui souhaitent à ce que ces entrepreneurs collaborent avec les universités, nous ont-ils dit. Il y a beaucoup plus d’innovation qu’on ne le dit. Chaque fois que je visite une entreprise jurassienne, je suis fasciné par le niveau d’innovation. Je trouve formidable quand on discute avec les patrons jurassiens de voir qu’ils ont beaucoup de pragmatisme pour aller de l’avant.

Interview: Georges Maillard, Le Quotidien Jurassien

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«Biotech et Digitization Day» avec le conseiller fédéral Johann Schneider-Ammann

15.05.2017

Comment la Suisse et la région de Bâle, peuvent-elles assumer son rôle de leadership dans les Life Sciences? Dans le cadre du ‚Biotech et Digitization Day’, le conseiller fédéral Johann Schneider-Ammann a visité la région de Bâle afin de discuter avec des représentants importants de la politique, de l’économie et de la recherche ainsi qu’avec des start-ups des tendances et défis actuels de la digitalisation.

L’importance des Life Sciences pour l’économie suisse est énorme. L’année passée, la part de cette industrie aux exportations suisses s’élevait à 45%. En plus, la plupart des nouvelles entreprises s’engagent dans le secteur de la santé. C’est pourquoi la Suisse est considérée comme pays leader pour les Life Sciences dont la région de Bâle est le moteur.

Dans ce contexte et dans le cadre du ‚Biotech et Digitization Day’, le conseiller fédéral Johann Schneider-Ammann, chef du Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche, a visité aujourd’hui la région de Bâle sur invitation de BaselArea.swiss et digitalswitzerland. Il discutait, avec une délégation de haut rang de la politique, de l’économie et de la recherche ainsi qu’avec des start-ups des tendances et des défis actuels dans l’industrie Life Sciences. L’événement s’est déroulé chez Actelion Pharmaceuticals et dans le Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area à Allschwil près de Bâle.

Le conseiller fédéral Johann Schneider-Ammann a souligné la grande importance de la région et du secteur des Life Sciences : «Les deux cantons de Bâle bénéficient d’une densité élevée d’entreprises innovantes et florissantes. Cela me remplit de fierté et d’optimisme. Les industries pharmaceutique et chimique sont considérées, à juste titre, comme promoteurs d’innovations.» Afin de continuer à réussir, la Suisse ne devrait cependant pas se reposer ; selon lui, l’économie et la politique, les sciences et la société devraient profiter du passage au digital.

L’événement a été organisé par BaselArea.swiss - l’organisation d’encouragement de l’innovation et de promotion économique commune aux trois cantons du Nord-Ouest de la Suisse: Bâle-Ville, Bâle-Campagne et le Jura – et digitalswitzerland qui est une initiative commune de l’économie, du secteur public et des sciences. Elle veut faire de la Suisse, au niveau international, un site leader dans l’innovation digitale.

Actuellement, le conseiller fédéral Schneider-Ammann rend visite à des régions leader de la Suisse afin de se familiariser avec les effets de la digitalisation sur les différents secteurs économiques et de parler de recettes prometteuses d’avenir.

Promotion de start-ups dans le domaine des biotechnologies

Les Life Sciences sont considérées comme industrie émergente qui présente un fort potentiel de croissance. Néanmoins, la compétition devient de plus en plus agressive: D’autres régions dans le monde investissent énormément dans la promotion des sites et attirent de grandes entreprises. Une des questions principales lors de l’événement d’aujourd’hui était donc : Comment la Suisse et la région de Bâle, peuvent-elles assumer son rôle de leadership dans la compétition internationale?

La Suisse possède, en relation avec la grande importance économique des Life Sciences et en comparaison avec d’autres sites leaders dans le monde, relativement peu d’entreprises start-up dans le ce domaine. BaseLaunch, le nouvel accélérateur pour des start-ups dans le secteur de la santé, lancée par BaselArea.swiss en collaboration avec l’accélérateur Kickstart de digitalswitzerland, représente un premier pas an avant. Toutefois, il manque du capital de démarrage pour la phase initiale du développement d’une entreprise et notamment un accès à du capital important dont une start-up bien établie aurait besoin pour son expansion.

Domenico Scala, président de BaselArea.swiss et membre du Steering Committee de digitalswitzerland dit: «Nous devons investir dans notre force. C’est pourquoi nous avons besoin d’initiatives comme du Zukunftsfonds Schweiz qui devra faciliter aux investisseurs institutionnels de soutenir de jeunes entreprises innovantes.»

L’importance d’un paysage novateur de start-ups pour les Life Sciences en Suisse était ensuite également au centre de la discussion de la table ronde, présidée par le conseiller fédéral Johann Schneider-Ammann ensemble avec Severin Schwan, CEO du Groupe Roche, Jean-Paul Clozel, CEO d’Actelion Pharmaceuticals et Andrea Schenker-Wicki, recteur de l’Université de Bâle.

Digitalisation comme moteur de l’innovation

Le deuxième sujet du ‘Biotech et Digitization Day’ était la digitalisation dans les Life Sciences. Celle-ci est – selon Thomas Weber, conseiller d’état du canton de Bâle-Campagne – un moteur important pour l’innovation dans tout le secteur, voire déterminante pour le renforcement du site suisse de la recherche.

Dans son discours, le conseiller fédéral Johann Schneider-Ammann s’est concentré sur trois aspects: Premièrement, sur la création d’une nouvelle et courageuse culture de pionnier qui encourage l’esprit d’entreprise et qui récompense ceux qui osent essayer quelque chose. Deuxièmement, sur le fait qu’un fonds pour start-ups, initié et financé par le secteur privé, leur donnerait plus d’élan. Et troisièmement, sur le rôle de l’état qui rend possible cette activité tout en créant des espaces de liberté au lieu de dresser des interdictions et des obstacles.

La discussion ouverte entre les représentants de la recherche, de l’économie et les entrepreneurs a démontré clairement l’avis commun que la digitalisation changera les Life Sciences. Tous étaient d’accords sur le fait que la Suisse possède les meilleures conditions pour assumer un rôle de moteur dans ce processus de changement: des entreprises pharmaceutiques puissantes et globales, des universités, reconnues dans tout le monde, ainsi qu’un système écologique innovant avec des start-ups dans les domaines de la santé et des Life Sciences qui s’orientent vers la digitalisation.

C’est tout cela que digitalswitzerland veut également promouvoir. Selon Nicolas Bürer, CEO de digitalswitzerland, le secteur de la santé et les Life Sciences sont les industries clés pour faire de la Suisse un pays leader dans la digitalisation innovante. DayOne, la plateforme innovante pour la médecine de précision apporte une autre contribution importante à ce but. Lancée par BaselArea.swiss en étroite collaboration avec le canton de Bâle-Ville, elle réunit régulièrement une communauté croissante de plus de 500 experts et innovateurs pour échanger des idées et promouvoir des projets.

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Le système de santé doit assumer sa responsabilité

09.05.2017

Kristian Schneider veut améliorer la qualité des services de soins et faire face à la hausse des coûts de la santé en créant un réseau qui regroupera les médecins, les hôpitaux, les mutuelles et les pouvoirs publics. L’objectif est de fournir les services dont les patients ont besoin précisément pour leur santé. Pour le canton du Jura, qui, tout comme les autres cantons, souffre d’un marché des prestations de soins atomisé, c’est l’occasion unique de devenir le fer de lance d’un système de santé intégré, souligne le Directeur de l’Hôpital du Jura.

Interview: Fabian Käser, Steffen Klatt

Comment êtes-vous arrivé dans le canton du Jura ?

Kristian Schneider : J’ai été approché et n’ai eu que 16 heures pour me décider et envoyer ma candidature en français. L’opportunité d’accéder à un poste de direction générale est plutôt rare pour un soignant. Il existe en Suisse seulement trois hôpitaux dirigés par des personnes issues d’une formation initiale en soins.

Comment vos futurs collègues ont-ils réagi en apprenant qu’un soignant allait diriger l’hôpital ?

Les réactions ont été quasiment toutes positives. Les soignants ont une autre compréhension du système et s’adressent différemment aux personnes qui sont sur le terrain, car eux-mêmes l’ont été.

En tant qu’allemand, comment le vivez-vous ?

J’ai vécu une grande partie de mon existence dans la grande région de Bâle, non loin du Jura. Quand j’ai été contacté par le canton du Jura en 2012, je me suis installé du côté de Belfort, à 20 minutes de la frontière jurassienne. Cela créé des affinités. Mais je connaissais peu le canton et j’ai pu rapidement constater que les gens ici sont très accueillants et ouverts. Il est facile de s’y intégrer.

De quelle façon avez-vous abordé votre mission ?

A mon arrivée au 1er janvier 2013, le budget était déjà bouclé avec une perte prévisionnelle de 4,5 millions de francs. Nous avons donc établi un plan d’action visant à apurer cette perte. Et, avons lancé 40 projets pour améliorer l’efficacité des ressources et des flux. A la fin, nous avons quasiment atteint le but.

Comment les personnes ont-elles réagi ?

Certes, le plan d’action a été fixé par la direction mais nous avons eu à cœur que sa mise en œuvre se fasse conjointement avec nos collaborateurs. Par exemple, nous avions trop de blocs opératoires. Nos spécialistes ont proposés de concentrer tous les blocs à Delémont. Les personnes sur le terrain savent où nous ne sommes pas efficaces. Il suffit juste de leur donner la possibilité de changer les choses. Mais, cela implique aussi un changement des mentalités.

Où en êtes-vous aujourd’hui ?

En 2013, nous sommes sortis du rouge. Depuis, nous maintenons l’équilibre budgétaire, alors que le canton peut s’engager de moins en moins dans l’hôpital. Nous nous sommes beaucoup réorganisés et sur certains aspects sommes plus avancés que d’autres hôpitaux de la Suisse romande. Sur la question du codage des cas, nous sommes à présent suffisamment à la pointe pour proposer nos services aux autres hôpitaux, comme celui de Neuchâtel. Quant à la comptabilité, contrôlée par nos réviseurs, elle est au meilleur niveau de la Suisse romande. Nous avons été le premier hôpital à obtenir le label de qualité REKOLE (système de révision de la comptabilité analytique et de la saisie des prestations conformément aux prescriptions légales de la loi sur l’assurance-maladie).

Nous avons également amélioré notre position au niveau du canton. Notre situation en Suisse est tout à fait exceptionnelle : en tant qu’hôpital nous sommes en « quasi monopole » pour les soins intensifs, le traitement ambulatoire, tout comme la réadaptation neurologique et la gériatrie.

Qu’en est-il de la suite ?

A horizon 2030, Credit Suisse a pronostiqué un doublement des primes d’assurance-maladie. Dans le canton du Jura, cela plongerait 60% de la population en-dessous du seuil de pauvreté. On peut s’interroger alors sur la façon d’organiser le système de santé de manière à pouvoir encore le financer.

Où se situent les coûts les plus élevés ?

Il s’agit tout d’abord des soins ambulatoires et du vieillissement de la population.

Bien évidemment, les coûts sont les plus élevés concernent la dernière ou l’avant-dernière année de vie. Mais, ils augmentent déjà les années ayant précédé. Pour éviter cela, il faut une santé préventive plus efficace car bon nombre des coûts actuels ne contribuent pas à améliorer la santé.

Comment envisagez-vous de pouvoir maîtriser les coûts ?

Si je considère que mon rôle est d’améliorer l’état de santé des personnes alors cela implique également qu’elles ne consomment que les services de santé dont elles ont besoin. Je dois donc empêcher les médecins de prescrire des soins qui ne sont pas réellement utiles aux personnes.

Le seul moyen d’y parvenir est que tous les acteurs soient responsables de la qualité et des coûts. Le médecin doit être payé pour que ses patients recouvrent la santé.

Comment cela peut-il s’articuler ?

Nous devons mettre en place un réseau en étroite collaboration avec les médecins et changer le système de financement. Admettons que chaque personne dispose par exemple d’un budget annuel de santé de 5000 francs. Nous aurions alors pour tout le canton du Jura et ses 72000 habitants 360 millions de francs disponibles. Pas plus. Si tout l’argent n’est pas dépensé, alors il reste dans le réseau et chacun a intérêt à ne prescrire que ce qui revêt une réelle valeur ajoutée. Il y aurait également de ce fait intérêt à investir dans la prévention.

Comment voulez-vous organiser cela?

Il faut, tout d’abord, créer un réseau et le réglementer par un contrat-cadre. La règle essentielle étant : chacun ne fait que ce qui est strictement nécessaire. Puis, on crée dans ce réseau un cercle de qualité qui s’assure en s’appuyant sur des cas concrets que la coopération fonctionne. Ensuite, les différents acteurs doivent travailler géographiquement de façon aussi proche que possible. Si je construis un hôpital, il faudrait alors qu’un centre médical se trouve juste à côté. Et enfin, le réseau doit investir dans la prévention. Ce qui est possible puisqu’il reste de l’argent.

Comment financez-vous le réseau ?

Ce sont les assurances car elles n’ont aucun intérêt à ce que nous utilisions au maximum le budget. Les assurances vendent alors ce modèle à leurs assurés. Et, les assurés qui optent pour notre réseau bénéficient de meilleurs tarifs que s’ils choisissaient librement leur hôpital et médecin.

N’est-ce pas déjà le cas de Swica avec ses centres médicaux ?

Swica applique ce système seulement aux soins de base, sans hôpital. Le canton du Jura a une chance unique : il est facilement gérable et n’a qu’un seul hôpital.

De quoi avez-vous besoin pour créer un tel réseau ?

J’ai besoin d’un partenaire qui a déjà une certaine expérience en la matière. Ce dernier existe déjà, c’est le Réseau DELTA qui est un réseau de la région de Genève, spécialisé dans les soins de base. Il se montre très intéressé à étendre le partenariat avec un hôpital. Nous allons aussi discuter avec d’autres partenaires possibles comme Medbase et l’hôpital universitaire de Bâle. Et, il faudra également intégrer le canton puisque le mode de financement changera. Mais, je ne vois aucun frein à cela.

Pour le canton, ce n’est qu’un changement de nom et non de montant ?

Exactement. Les 55% qu’il prend en charge pour les soins d’hospitalisation ne deviendraient qu’une partie du budget total. Il pourrait ainsi montrer aux citoyens que les frais de santé ne sont pas condamnés à augmenter sans cesse. Du moins aux citoyens qui auront fait le choix de notre modèle de réseau.

Quand commencez-vous ?

Les discussions sont déjà en cours. Pour la première fois depuis qu’il existe, le canton rédige une stratégie de propriétaire. Il doit définir s’il a des attentes vis-à-vis de nous en tant qu’hôpital pour les dépenses globales de santé. Et si oui, si nous nous libres de changer les structures. La Confédération qui est finalement responsable du financement est ouverte à de tels modèles. Le canton du Jura pourrait ouvrir la voie vers un système complètement différent. Il pourrait même devenir la région où des personnes âgées aisées viennent passer la dernière partie de leur vie. Et le secteur de la santé constituerait un facteur économique pour le Jura.

Comptez-vous rester dans le Jura jusqu’à votre retraite ?

Il est important pour moi de prendre plaisir à mon travail, et tel est le cas. Mais, je ne suis pas certain que cela soit une bonne chose pour l’hôpital. On verra avec le temps. A une époque où tout va si vite, le changement s’impose à ce type de fonction. Il faut apporter un nouveau souffle.

Plus sur la personne :

Kristian Schneider (45 ans) est né à Francfort-sur-le-Main. Il a suivi une formation d’infirmier à Bâle puis y a exercé près de 20 ans à l’Hôpital universitaire. Il a, ensuite, dirigé le Service des Urgences pendant cinq ans. De 2007 à 2009, il a suivi une formation à l’Université de Berne en Management de la santé. Il est depuis 2013, Directeur général de l’hôpital du Jura. L’hôpital cantonal du Jura, qui regroupe depuis la fusion en 2002 les hôpitaux de Delémont, Porrentruy et Saignelégier, emploie 1655 personnes.

report Medtech

Virtuelle Realität zeigt den Körper von innen

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«Le Tout Connecté 2019» a pris le pouls de la santé et de l’innovation

05.03.2019

report ICT

Dr App – Digital transformation in the life sciences

30.11.2016

The future belongs to data-driven forms of therapy. The Basel region is taking up this challenge and investing in so-called precision medicine.
An article by Fabian Streiff* and Thomas Brenzikofer, which first appeared on Friday, 14 October 2016, in the NZZ supplement on the Swiss Innovation Forum.

So now the life sciences as well: Google, Apple and other technology giants have discovered the healthcare market and are bringing not only their IT expertise to the sector, but also many billions of dollars in venture capital. Completely new, data-driven, personalized forms of therapy – in short: precision medicine – promise to turn the healthcare sector on its head. And where there is change, there is a lot to be gained. At least from the investor’s point of view.

From the Big Pharma perspective, things look rather different. There is quite a lot at stake for this industry. According to Frank Kumli from Ernst & Young, the entry hurdles have been relatively high until now: “We operate in a highly regulated market, where it takes longer for innovations to be accepted and become established.” But Kumli, too, is convinced that the direction of travel has been set and digitalization is forging ahead. But he sees more opportunities than risks: Switzerland - and Basel in particular - is outstandingly well-positioned to play a leading role here. With the University of Basel, the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering ETH, the University of Applied Sciences Northwest Switzerland, the FMI and the University Hospital Basel, the region offers enormous strength in research. It also covers the entire value chain, from basic research, applied research and development, production, marketing and distribution to regulatory affairs and corresponding IT expertise. The most important drivers of digital transformation towards precision medicine include digital tools that allow real-time monitoring of patients – so-called feedback loops. The combination of such data with information from clinical trials and genetic analysis is the key to new biomedical insights and hence to innovations.

Standardized nationwide data organization
In rather the same way that the invention of the microscope in the 16th century paved the way to modern medicine, so data and algorithms today provide the basis for offering the potential for much more precise and cheaper medical solutions and treatments for patients in the future. At present, however, the crux of the problem is that the data are scattered over various locations in different formats and mostly in closed systems. This is where the project led by Professor Torsten Schwede at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) comes into play.

As part of the national initiative entitled Swiss Personalized Health Network, a standardized nationwide data organization is to be set up between university hospitals and universities under centralized management at the Stücki Science Park Basel. Canton Basel-Stadt has already approved start-up funding for the project. The standardization of data structures, semantics and formats for data sharing is likely to substantially enhance the quality and attractiveness of clinical research in Switzerland – both at universities and in industry. There is no lack of interest in conducting research and developing new business ideas on the basis of such clinical data. This was apparent on the occasion of Day One, a workshop event supported by BaselArea.swiss for the promotion of innovation and economic development and organized by the Precision Medicine Group Basel Area during Basel Life Sciences Week.

More than 100 experts attended the event to address future business models. Altogether 14 project and business ideas were considered in greater depth. These ranged from the automation of imaging-based diagnosis through the development of sensors in wearables to smartphone apps for better involvement of patients in the treatment process.

Big Pharma is also engaged
“The diversity of project ideas was astonishing and shows that Switzerland can be a fertile breeding ground for the next innovation step in biomedicine,” Michael Rebhan from Novartis and founding member of the Precision Medicine Group Basel Area says with complete conviction. The precision medicine initiative now aims to build on this: “Despite the innovative strength that we see in the various disciplines, precision medicine overall is making only slow progress. The advances that have been made are still insufficient on the whole, which is why we need to work more closely together and integrate our efforts. A platform is therefore required where experts from different disciplines can get together,” says Peter Groenen from Actelion, likewise a member of Precision Medicine Group Basel.

There is also great interest among industry representatives in an Open Innovation Hub with a Precision Medicine Lab as an integral component. The idea is that it will enable the projects of stakeholders to be driven forward in an open and collaborative environment. In addition, the hub should attract talents and project ideas from outside the Basel region. The novel innovation ecosystem around precision medicine is still in its infancy. In a pilot phase, the functions and dimensions of the precision medicine hub will be specified more precisely based on initial concrete cases, so that the right partners can then be identified for establishing the entire hub.

Leading the digital transformation
The most promising projects will finally be admitted to an accelerator programme, where they will be further expedited and can mature into a company within the existing innovation infrastructures, such as the Basel Incubator, Technologiepark Basel or Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area.

Conclusion: the Basel region creates the conditions for playing a leading role in helping to shape digital transformation in the life sciences sector and hence further expanding this important industrial sector for Switzerland and preserving the attractiveness of the region for new companies seeking a location to set up business.

* Dr Fabian Streiff is Head of Economic Development with Canton Basel-Stadt

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«Le grand challenge c’est l’innovation et bien comprendre les besoins des clients»

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A Miracle in Innovation from Switzerland Innovation Park Allschwil

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“This is the century of biology and biology for medicine”

05.10.2016

Andreas Manz is considered one of the pioneers in the field of microfluidics and at present is a researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology in Saarbrücken (KIST Europe) and professor at Saarland University.

In our interview, the successful scientist explains the motivation that drives him to research and what it means to receive a lifetime achievement award from the European Patent Office.

You are known as a pioneer of microfluidics. How did you come to start researching in a completely new field?
Andreas Manz*:
Even as a child I was really fascinated by small things. They were mostly stones, insects or bugs that I took home with me. This interest in small things stayed with me, and eventually I went on to study chemistry at the ETH Zurich. In my PhD thesis I examined the natural law of molecular diffusion. If you entrap two molecules in a very small volume – rather like two birds in a cage – they cannot get away and become faster. I was instantly fascinated by this acceleration. My professor Willy Simon, an expert in chemical sensors and chromatography, talked in his lectures about processes can also get very fast when they are reduced in size. And that instantly fascinated me.

But so far you have been talking about pure chemistry – when did you get the idea of using chips?
I started working for a company in Japan in 1987. That’s where I first came into contact with chip technology. I was part of the research department myself, but I kept seeing colleagues disappearing into cleanrooms and coming back with tiny chips. That inspired me and got me wondering whether you could not also pack chemistry onto these chips instead of electronics. After all, even the inner workings of the tiniest insect involves the transportation of fluid, so it should also work on a small chip. At Hitachi I was eventually able to get my first microfluidic chip produced for test purposes.

From Japan your journey then took you to Ciba-Geigy in Basel. What prompted that move?
Michael Widmer was then Head of Analytical Chemistry Research at Ciba-Geigy in Basel. This brilliant fascinated me from the word go: he had the vision that you should also integrate crazy things in research and not only look for short-term financial success. Industry should allow itself to invest in quality and also develop or promote new methods in the research activities of a company if it could be of benefit to the company. So Professor Widmer brought me to Basel, where it was my mission to pack “the whole of chemistry”, as he put it, on a single chip. While Michael Widmer did not yet know what to expect, he had a feeling that it could be worthwhile.

How did you go about it?
At that time, chips were very new and not entirely appropriate for the world of pharmaceuticals. Ciba-Geigy, too, was not enthusiastic about the new application initially. There was no great interest in making changes to existing technologies and processes that worked. But in my research I was able to try out what might be possible. I found, for example, that electrophoresis – a method for separating molecules – could work. It would be relatively easy to miniaturize this method and test it to see whether it also speeds up the process. And the results were very good: We were able to show that a tenfold miniaturization of electrophoresis makes the process 100 times faster without compromising the quality of the information. This realization was really useful for clinical diagnosis and the search for effective molecules in drug discovery. At the same time, we were also testing different types of chips that we sourced from a wide variety of producers.

When did the time come to go public with the new technology?
At the ILMAC in Basel in 1996, Michael Widmer organized a conference in the field of microfluidics – which proved to be a bombshell. We had planned for this effect to a large extent, because in the run-up to the meeting we had already invited selective researchers and shown them our work. This hyped things up a little, and at the conference we were eventually able to mobilize researchers from Canada, the USA, the Netherlands, Japan and other countries to present the new technology of microfluidics.

Although the attention was there, Ciba-Geigy nevertheless later brought research in this field to an end. Why was that?
Basically we lacked lobby groups within the company and a concrete link to a product. Our research was somewhat too technical and far ahead of its time, and within Ciba-Geigy they were simply not yet able to assess the potential of the technology. Added to which, we had not given any concrete consideration to applications; we were more interested in the technology and experiments than in its commercial use. When a large picture of me then appeared in a magazine with a report on microfluidics, and the journal pointed out on its own initiative that Ciba-Geigy was not adequately implementing the technology, the research was stopped. I was quite fortunate under the circumstances: Since the company had terminated the project, I found that – despite a non-compete clause – I was able to follow the call to Imperial College in London within a short time, where I could continue research in microfluidics with students. In addition, I joined a company in Silicon Valley as consultant.

Is it not typical that a large company fails to transform a pearl in its portfolio into a new era?
You should not see it so negatively, because microfluidics was a pearl not for the pharmaceutical industry, but rather for environmental analysis, research or clinical diagnosis. The pharmaceutical industry dances to a different tune. It prefers to buy in the finished microscope at a higher price than get it constructed itself for relatively little money. Michael Widmer and his team in research and analytical chemistry at Ciba-Geigy developed many things in a wide variety of fields – with which were far ahead of their time.

Microfluidics is an established field today. What are the driving forces now?
To my mind there are two driving forces: firstly the application and the users and secondly academic curiosity as regards the technology and also training. The first of these is the stronger driving force: there are cases in which the application of a microfluidic solution is not absolutely necessary to do justice to the application. Take “point of care”, for example. The objective is to analyse a patient directly at the place where he or she is treated – for example, in intensive care. The patient is evaluated, blood and respiratory values are analysed, and it is possible to assess immediately whether the measures taken are having an effect in the patient. Another possibility is to integrate the widest variety of analytical options in smartphones – similar to the Tricoder in Star Trek. I’m pretty sure that something like that is feasible. But at the moment the hottest topic in the commercial sector is clinical diagnostics. This came as a surprise to me, because you cannot reuse a chip that has come into contact with a patient’s blood. You need a lot of consumable material, which is also reflected in the price. But perhaps new funding models can be found in which, for example, the device is provided, but the consumable material – i.e. the chips – are paid for separately, rather like a razor and razor blades.

Where do you see opportunities for Switzerland in this field?
The education of qualified people is important. Here the ETH and EPFL play a particularly important role for Switzerland, because they attract students from all over the world. They hopefully leave Switzerland with good memories and could possibly campaign later for the commercialization of technologies. That could be a huge opportunity. Of course there are also generous people within Switzerland, but there is a tendency here to economize and think twice before deciding whether and, if so, where to invest one’s money. It’s a question of mentality and not necessarily typically Swiss. It’s also not a bad thing, because in precision mechanics, for example, reliability and precision are essential – and this technology fits with our mentality. “Quick and dirty” works better in Silicon Valley and Korea – but the products then often fail to ensure up to the quality standards here. As a high-price island, Switzerland offers little, opportunity for cheap production, which is why the focus is on education and existing technologies. This too is very important and has a good future.

Will microfluidics one day become as big as microelectronics is today?
I don’t think so, because it is limited to chemical and cytobiological applications and is also not as flexible as microelectronics. At most, I see the new technology being used on existing equipment or processes.

But most of the systems on the market today are very much closed, so it is difficult to integrate new technologies here.
Yes, but that’s only partly true, because existing devices also have to be upgraded. Take a mass spectrometer, for example. You can buy one of these, and there are certainly many companies that sell this equipment. But if ten companies offer something equivalent, you have to stand out from the mass. So if a “Lab on a Chip” is added on, then this mass spectrometer enjoys a clear advantage. While the company makes money from the sale of the equipment, it is the microfluidic chip that gives the incentive to buy – and there is certainly a lot of money to be made from this. You see, we are living in the century of biology and medicine and are only just beginning to takes cells from the body to regenerate them and then perhaps re-implanting them as a complete organ. When you see what has been achieved in physics and electrical engineering in the last century, and translate that into biology and medicine, then we have an awful lot ahead of us. Technology is needed to underpin these radical changes. SMEs in particular are very good at selling their products to research; that’s a niche. In most cases, small companies use old technology and modify it – such as a chip in a syringe that then analyses directly what the constituents of a fluid are when it is drawn up into the syringe. This opens up many opportunities.

You have also co-founded companies, but describe yourself mainly as a researcher. How do the two go together?
Actually I was never an entrepreneur, but always just a scientific advisor. I preferred to experience the academic world instead of becoming fully engaged in a company. Deep down, I’m an adventurer who comes to a company with wild ideas. Money is also never a priority for me; I always wanted to improve the quality of life or give something to humanity. It is curiosity that drives me. When I see a bug that flies, that drives me to find out how it works. There are ingenious sensors in the tiniest of creatures, and as long as we cannot replicate these as engineers, we still have work to do. This inspires me much more than quarterly sales revenue and profits.

But money is also an important driver for research.
Yes, it’s all about money, right down to university research. Research groups are commissioned by companies because of the profit they hope to gain. Even publicly funded research always has to show evidence of a commercial application. Curiosity or the goal of achieving something of ethical value is hardly a topic in the engineering sciences. Of course it’s important that our students can also enter industry; after all, most of the tax revenue comes from industry. But if I personally had the freedom to choose, then I would prefer to pursue work as a form of play – which can by all means result in something to be taken seriously. Take electrophoresis on a chip: That was also quite an absurd idea to begin with, and it led to something really exciting! A lot of my work therefore has a playful, non-serious aspect to it – for me that is exactly right. You see, I can produce a chip which deep inside it is as hot as the surface of the sun, but which you can nevertheless hold in your hand. It’s crazy, but it works, because only the electrons have a temperature of 20,000 Kelvin. The glass outside does not heat up very much as a result, and the chip does not melt. And suddenly you have plasma emission spectroscopy on a chip as the result of a crazy idea. I feel research calls for a certain sense of wit, and I often like to say that, with microfluidics research, we take big problems and make them so small that you can “no longer see them”.

You have covered so many areas of microfluidics yourself – are other researchers still able to surprise you with their work?
Admittedly, I am rather spoiled today by all the microfluidic examples that I have already seen. Sometimes I feel bored when I go to a microfluidics conference and see what “new” things have emerged – I somehow get the feeling I’ve seen it all before. The pioneering days, when there was also a degree of uncertainty at play, are probably definitely over. Today you can liken microfluidics to a workshop where you get the tools you need at any given time. This means of course that the know-how has also become more widespread: Initially I possessed perhaps a third of all knowledge about microfluidics worldwide; today it is much less. So I now enjoy casting my research net further afield.

You received a lifetime achievement award from the European Patent Office last year. What does this award mean to you?
You cannot plan for an award – at most you can perhaps hope for one. When you then get it, it brings a great sense of joy. The award process itself was also exciting: as with the Oscars, there were three nominees: a Dutchman who developed the coding standard for CD, DVD and Blu-ray discs, which is still used to this day, and a researcher from Latvia who is one of the most successful scientists and inventors in medical biochemistry with more than 900 patents and patent applications. Faced with this competition, I reckoned I did not have much chance of the award and was absolutely astonished when I was chosen. The jury explained that its decision was down to the snowball effect: citations almost always refer to my patents at the time with Ciba-Geigy.

Interview: Fabian Käser and Nadine Nikulski, BaselArea.swiss

*Andreas Manz is a researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology in Saarbrücken (KIST Europe) and professor at the Saarland University. He is regarded today as one of the pioneers in microchip technology for chemical applications.

After positions in the research labs of Hitachi in Japan and at Ciba-Geigy in Basel, he took up a professorship at Imperial College in London, where he headed the Zeneca-SmithKline Beecham Centre for Analytical Chemistry. In the meantime he was also a scientific advisor for three companies in the field of chip laboratory technology, one of which he founded himself. In 2003, Manz moved to Germany and headed the Leibniz Institute of Analytical Sciences (ISAS) in Dortmund until 2008.

Around 40 patents can essentially be attributed to him, and he has published more than 250 scientific publications, which have been cited more than 20,000 times to date.

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BASEL LIFE: Where the European Life Sciences Community gathers

05.06.2018

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Le Salon EPHJ-EPMT-SMT presente des innovations jurassiens du 12 au 15 juin

05.06.2018

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«We will be certificating the world’s first autonomous robotic surgical device»

04.11.2015

The laser physicist and entrepreneur Alfredo E. Bruno is co-founder and CEO of the medtech start-up Advanced Osteotomy Tools (AOT) in Basel. Their surgical robot «Carlo» (acronym for Computer Assisted, Robot-guided Laser Osteotome) is an award-winning project (Pionierpreis 2014 and CTI MedTech 2015). The company will exhibit «Carlo» at the Swiss Innovation Forum 2015 on 19th November.

In the i-net interview, Alfredo E. Bruno explained his roadmap for AOT and what drives him to be an entrepreneur.

You are a laser physicist – what brought you to medtech?
Alfredo E. Bruno*: My younger daughter needed difficult orthognathic surgery to correct conditions of the jaw and face. This brought me into contact with Professor Hans-Florian Zeilhofer and Dr. Philipp Jürgens from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University Hospital Basel. I was worried about my child, but the surgeons devoted a lot of time to explain the procedure to us. Their pre-operative approach to surgery fascinated me more and more. I asked the surgeons why they were not cutting bones with a miniaturized laser instead of mechanical tools to best reproduce the software-planned intervention. In another project, I had developed a laser of this kind to cut and drill through nails. At this point, we all realized that we could create something very useful together.

How did you gain your knowledge in surgery?
I had absolutely no idea about surgery until I met the surgeons – despite the fact that my father was a rural medical doctor. Indeed, when I see a drop of blood, I panic. But I wanted to know more about this new type of planned and navigated surgery the surgeons were talking about. I managed to find a good 160 publications and about 20 patents in the field, read them during vacations and became a «theoretical» surgeon. Reading these documents, I noticed that Professor Zeilhofer appeared as co-author in many of these publications and realized that he knew a lot about pre-operative planning and navigation. I started to design «Carlo» from scratch using all available state-of-the-art technology, and trying not to be biased by the robotic surgery products already on the market. What worried me most was the software, which is crucial to integrating the whole system. Hans-Florian Zeilhofer introduced me to Professor Philippe Cattin, an expert in navigation who liked the idea from the outset. He was the «missing link» to the realization of «Carlo».

Was it always clear that «Carlo» would be the goal of AOT?
As an entrepreneur, I made it very clear from the beginning that I wanted to have a product rather than a nice academic idea. Instead of writing a business plan, we first applied for patent protection of the innovations. The business plan came afterwards with a business model in which we at AOT would only focus on core technologies and would outsource the technologies mastered by other companies under contractual partnerships in order to reduce development time.

Were you ever afraid that AOT might fail?
While writing the business plan, I clearly saw that there was a need for our product. We had the right founder’s team, but I was worried about the funding, because there was a global economic crisis and investors had become cautious. Therefore, I decided to talk to a few experts I knew in the start-up media in Switzerland before launching the initiative. They reviewed the AOT case and encouraged me to pursue the project, because it was truly innovative and, for this kind of project, they argued that there are always funds available in Switzerland. And indeed, with our first pitch in BioBAC, we gained a lead investor. Shortly afterwards, we won the three stages of Venture Kick and I was then asked to participate in the Swiss Venture Day of CTI Invest to make a pitch. Despite some doubts I had about the completely new surgical device, many potential private and institutional investors were literally queuing right after my presentation to talk to me about the «Carlo» device and AOT as an investment opportunity.

Why do you think your pitch attracted potential investors?
I think the every one of the technical founder’s team had a remarkable technical record which inspired trust, and I also have a good entrepreneurial record, all of which make up the ingredients investors are looking for to fund new projects. The pitch is key to convincing investors. We cannot afford to devote much time to making «professional» slides, but the audience realizes that we have an unbeatable project and know what we are doing; and they can see during the Q&A sessions that we are very authentic.

In the beginning, you faced some criticism with regard to the feasibility of a complex medical device such as «Carlo». Do you still face negative reactions?
No, not anymore! When I started speaking of «cold» laser ablation, many physicists questioned this paradoxical term. Today, after we assessed the remaining surfaces of the bones and captured the ablation process with thermal cameras showing that this cutting method is even cooler than mechanical cuts, nobody has any doubts about our assertion anymore. Another critical issue raised by some experts was depth control. Some argued that we would never be able to have depth control working in real time. Again, this is no longer an issue.

You recently presented this depth measurement system for the first time. How does it work?
With the help of external academic partners we developed a laser interferometric method suitable for our device that provides not only the depth of the cut but also its width right after every laser shot so its entire profile can be reconstructed in real time. This «probing» laser beam is co-axially mixed with other visible pointing laser beams to ensure that the surgeon can observe the cut on the monitor. There are many computer-controlled processes such as the depth control running in parallel during some of the tasks. They are processed by a microprocessor which sends values that are already calculated to the «Carlo brain» to decide what to do next. With this software technology, we are pushing the envelope in three disciplines: laser physics, data processing and synchronization.

Could this know-how be used for other applications in or beyond surgery?
As pioneers in this field, we encounter many new problems to solve. But on the other hand, once we have found the solution, we file for patent protection and, in this way, we’re strengthening our patent protection. Some of these innovations could be used for other applications, but we have to remain focused on one thing: getting device certification. Once we «put our foot on the moon», we could follow up on other options with the technology we have discovered.

It sounds as if you are not facing any difficult situations anymore with AOT?
Problems are constantly arising, but we have a very professional and courageous team that brainstorms the problems at hand in complete transparency and always comes up with one or more solutions. Although scientists are trained to present nice results in conferences while leaving the bad results aside, we are upfront with the bad news. If a problem appears, it’s immediately brought to the attention of the team so we can find a solution together.

What in your opinion are the key factors for an innovative company?
Everyone knows what the main ingredients for innovation are: You have to have a product that addresses a need, a unique proprietary technology, the right people and the financial means. However these ingredients do not guarantee success, and many start-ups that have these ingredients fail. The causes of failure are often underestimated, but should be addressed in the risk analysis of the business plan. A classical killer of technological innovation is when investors strategically decide to sell the start-up to an established competitor. But the buyer wants to get rid of a potential competitor! A possible antidote is to have a good legal adviser. A lawyer can help you to set clear goals for the steps after the acquisition and implement penalties in the contract. Also, it is good to keep the founders of the company in-house, because these people are part of the success and often the «engine» of a start-up.

What makes Switzerland a good place for you to launch a medtech start-up?
I have worked with people and projects in a few countries. What I find unique in Switzerland is the scientific family: Everybody knows each other and has close relationships. For instance, when the issue of a suitable depth control appeared, we spoke to other scientists who had solved similar problems for eye surgery. They came up with friendly and open advice without speculating on what the benefit would be for them. This is by no means the rule in other countries, where often knowledge is seen as power. But the free flow of information in this country is crucial in ambitious high-tech projects.

Where do you see room for improvement of entrepreneurship in Switzerland?
Switzerland already ranks as leader when it comes to innovation, but I see there are three things that could be changed to foster even more innovation – namely, the no-risk mentality, the fear of failure and the loss of reputation. The Swiss education system teaches students to avoid risks instead of focusing on the possible reward associated with a risk. Indeed, the word risk has a negative connotation in Switzerland, but entrepreneurship without risk is as hypothetical as perpetual motion.
How can we overcome our fear of failure? One recipe for passing an exam is «to do the homework in time to get a good sleep the night before». In a high-tech start-up, this recipe means firstly drafting a comprehensive and realistic business plan and strong IP protection. Failure is part of the game, and the question needs to be how fast you can get back up after getting knocked down, not whether you are going get knocked down.
Regarding the loss of reputation, people look at you with suspicion when you’re trying to build your own company based on an unusual idea. And your employer may think you’re not happy with the job. But large established companies don’t have the framework for promoting new ideas. They should support their employees to pursue their own ideas and get trained on founding a new company.

What drives you as an entrepreneur?
I have always tried to do things I like and am capable of realizing. I have always been a curious person. As a child, I built rockets and blew the fuses in our house with my experiments – for example – to split water into O2 and H2 with 240 volts! My grandfather, who was a full-blooded entrepreneur, also taught me the basics of entrepreneurship. I guess the ideal situation for high-tech entrepreneurship is a «born scientist» with a flair for entrepreneurship, as management skills can be acquired.

Do you have any entrepreneurial role models?
Columbus has always fascinated me since childhood. Only later did I realize that he was an incredible entrepreneur who first had to convince the queen to get funds and had to overcome many odds. He definitely had the intelligence, the passion and the courage required to literally embark on such a project. And although pirates are not exactly good role models, they were excellent start-up entrepreneurs. Pirates planned their attacks rigorously in advance, had to get funding or develop advanced boats with higher masts to sail faster. Their structure was similar to a start-up nowadays, and they even had the equivalent to stock option plans, where the loot was distributed among all the hierarchies in proportion to their performance.

Interview: Fabian Käser and Nadine Nikulski, i-net

*Alfredo E. Bruno holds an M.Sc in Quantum Chemistry and a PhD in Laser Physics from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). Alfredo came to Munich in 1985 as an Alexander-von-Humboldt fellow followed by a teaching position at the University of Zürich. In 1988 he joined Ciba-Geigy and later Novartis where he accumulated more than 25 years of experience in biomedical, preclinical and clinical research in joint projects with Spectra Physics and Chiron Diagnostics.

At Novartis, Alfredo Bruno invented Transungual Laser Therapy for nail diseases, which was the basis for the spin-off of TLT Medical Ltd in 2004, where he was the sole founder and CTO. After three years of successful operation under his leadership, TLT Medical was sold to Arpida Ltd in 2007, where he became the Head of Antifungals. In 2009, he co-founded FreiBiotics in Freiburg (Germany), where he was CEO until mid-2011. In 2011, he co-founded Advanced Osteotomy Tools (AOT), where he is the CEO. He has published over 35 peer-reviewed publications and holds more than 15 patents and has been on the editorial board of three international scientific journals.

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«Only when it is shared in the team does an idea take shape»

03.09.2015

Hans-Florian Zeilhofer is a surgeon, innovator, scientist and entrepreneur. He has performed pioneering work in many fields of reconstructive facial surgery. Always driven by the goal of improving the situation for his patients, Zeilhofer is constantly initiating new projects that meet with international acclaim – as also with his latest project, Miracle, which his team will present at the Lift Basel Conference 2015.

In this interview he explains why work in an interdisciplinary team is so important for him and why he is convinced that new impulses are being generated worldwide from Northwest Switzerland.

You are a surgeon with an extraordinary background – how would you describe yourself?
Hans-Florian Zeilhofer*: Above all I’m an inquisitive person who likes to explore new paths. Even in areas where there is no path as yet, and even if I don’t know whether and how I will arrive. It‘s an enriching experience to keep meeting new people on the way and finding the solutions together that will hopefully fulfil their purpose. It’s really inspiring when you approach and arrive at a goal in this way.

You perform surgery, establish companies and are scientifically engaged in diverse areas. How do you manage with your work-life balance?
I dislike the term work-life balance. I don’t put my professional life and private life on the scales to make sure they are in balance. You should always do your work with joy and passion and find fulfilment in your work. Then you will also no longer speak of work-life balance. If work is done or has to be done without any consideration of the overall context behind it, then there will be no sense of purpose or meaning. It is therefore important to establish working conditions that help to invest the work with meaning – and that applies in all kinds of work.

You have already done a lot in your life: medicine and dentistry, philosophy, science and management – how do you reconcile all that?
I don’t see my different activities as contradictory, but rather as mutually complementary. Today I can do a lot of things that I could not do five or ten years ago and am constantly trying to appreciate what new perspectives there are and what I would like to keep working on. You never stop learning, and I learn a lot from younger colleagues. That’s very enriching for me in the late stage of my professional career.

Do we live in an age where more Leonardo Da Vincis are needed? Should doctors acquire a broader knowledge?
It’s not absolutely necessary to emulate the universal genius, but a certain knowledge base is extremely important. The oral and maxillofacial surgeon has to study both medicine and dentistry. But that is no longer enough by many means. A budding specialist should acquire a wide variety of knowledge, for example in engineering and the use of computers or media, but knowledge of economics and ethics is also become increasingly important. I also believe that the training has to change. I’m in the fortunate position that I am able to influence developments and guide the youngsters. That’s a really nice experience.

You are a pioneer in many areas of medical technology. How do those famous Eureka moments come about?
My innovations always start out from an everyday problem for which I am seeking a solution. If I find a conventional solution for our patients is no longer adequate or satisfactory, then I start looking for an alternative. Solutions often emerge quite suddenly or spring from a moment of meditative calm.
The idea then comes, for example, when I’m sitting in the train with my eyes closed or in the morning under the shower. It’s working there somewhere in the subconscious and then suddenly an approach to solving the problem presents itself. As a rule it will not yet have clearly defined contours, but will be sufficient to allow me to make some brief notes. Then it is important to have friends and partners with whom I can exchange ideas. For only through this exchange can the idea come into being and take concrete shape. If a partner then asks the right questions, this quickly takes it forwards and you can see what aspects of the idea are still incomplete, where there might be a hitch that has to be considered to ensure the solution will work.

You’re known as a doer – many of your ideas are implemented and you have been involved in many spin-offs. What does the risk of failure mean for you?
The risk of failure is a very serious matter, and it’s always there wherever you go – for surgeons in particular this is a huge challenge every day. When a patient entrusts himself to me, he wants the operation to go well. For me this means I have to plan a lot to make sure the procedure is as safe as possible. And I also have to be aware that Plan A might have to be abandoned in the course of an operation and that an unpredictable moment may spontaneously necessitate a new Plan B.
In the course of my professional experience I have learned to cope with this. We have often tried to learn from other professional groups such as musicians, who also have to improvise. It can only enrich us all to think outside the box and to learn from other disciplines; in my case, that is art and the humanities above all.

And what does entrepreneurial risk mean for you?
This also requires courage. It took me a long time to venture taking this step for the first time. I have often found that outstanding and especially innovative medical ideas have hardly been taken up by industry. There are a wide variety of reasons for this: sometimes it is down to production processes that don’t fit, or there are logistical problems, and the regulatory approval processes are also often too protracted. I came to realize that we doctors and scientists need to find the courage to start companies ourselves if we do not want good ideas to land in the drawer. However, we then take an entrepreneurial risk that brings far-reaching strategies for action with it. For example, I first have to protect my idea before I go public with it. After the patent and the start-up, you then have to develop the product to market readiness and resolve the problems associated with this. Not least, and here lies a more complex part of the venture, you have to find investors who are prepared to provide financial support for a new development. But such investors of course also want to keep the risk as low as possible if they are to come in with several hundred thousand to a million francs. But ultimately, it is precisely the riskier ideas that are the really exciting projects.

Where does your enthusiasm for entrepreneurial risk come from?
You know, as a young doctor in Germany I developed my first idea for a product innovation. And when I presented this to experts, I was told no one needed it. Soon after that I attended a congress on medical imaging in Silicon Valley. There everyone congratulated me and encouraged me to pursue the idea. Eventually I found my partners in related subjects, such as mathematics and engineering. Leading research and cutting-edge technology can no longer be developed today in a monoculture. You need small and flexible, interdisciplinary teams of physicists, computer scientists, biologists, engineers and physicians for creative and quick solutions. There is enormous energy and dynamics here. It’s a culture that we have developed in Basel and taken almost to perfection. This is precisely the secret and the key to our success in the region. Such a culture needs sufficient space and time to develop and does not work as a solo effort – you always need a team.
I see my role increasingly in encouraging others, offering security and trust and also simply being present. Trust always rests on people, and you have involve yourself as a whole person. The partners feel this. I like being described as a door opener, but actually I only support the teams – they open the doors themselves.

And was this also the case with your last two coups: the MIRACLE project and the MedTech Fund MTIP?
Put simply, the MIRACLE project is about minimally invasive, computer-assisted, robot-guided bone cutting. The project is almost like a miracle. We are already world leaders in the use of laser technology to process hard tissue. In the next generation we want to work with flexible instruments directly in the body in order to make the procedures less stressful. I’m quite sure the MIRACLE project will have major significance for our society around 2050. Then there will be almost two million people aged over 65 in Switzerland. Greater life expectancy will bring an increase in age-related diseases due to wear and tear. The treatment of these diseases will require very complex technology and should not compromise the quality of life of patients. We therefore have to develop technologies with specific solutions for elderly people that allow the minimum possible invasiveness and rapid healing. With MIRACLE we will broaden the spectrum for surgical procedures and also make therapeutic measures accessible for elderly patients in relatively poor general health. At the same time, it will be possible to shorten the length of hospital stays and the subsequent rehabilitation phase.
It is our task today to research the basic principles that can deliver satisfactory results for the population in 30 or 40 years.
The special feature of MTIP is that the University of Basel and Basel University Hospital are partners in the fund. Both are sharing the entrepreneurial venture with us. I see this as a commitment that gives us courage and trust in science to continue down this path with industry.

Last year you made a highly regarded impression at the Lift Basel Conference that aroused a desire for more. What can visitors expect on the subject of Surgeon Superpowers this year?
We will present the Miracle project at the Lift Basel Conference 2015 and show the robot in Action. I very much hope that physicians will also be at the event and that we can dispel any reservations they may have about this technology. I believe it’s very important that we develop technologies out of our field, design them ourselves, keep them under our control and don’t place them unconditionally in the hands of industry. We will also present the latest 3D printing at the Lift conference. We already worked with this technology many years ago, when it found use in the automobile industry. I was one of the first to use 3D printing for medicine. Today we can produce individual implants from titanium powder that are better accepted by the body and are adapted to the needs of the patient. A third important issue is Big Data in medicine. We need cross-sectional images through the body for diagnostic purposes. These images contain an awful lot of information and we use only a small percentage of this – if any of it at all. Using today’s computing power we could process this data and use it, for example, for prophylaxis. We therefore intend to pay greater attention to Big Data here in Basel.

What other visions do you have for the region?
My vision is for the structures we are building up now to endure. I call the environment here a Medtech Innovation Hive. Beekeeping has been a hobby of mine for more than 30 years and I‘m fascinated by the way 40,000 individuals live together in a superorganism with a highly complex organization. For me the beehive is a source of inspiration and problem solving. And precisely for this reason I call our environment a hive, because like a bee population we need to be sensitive and flexible in the way we react to our environment. The research structures are like an organism which is in a state of constant change, can divide and grow, but is also vulnerable. In view of the high degree of interdisciplinarity, we need to develop new structures of cooperation. These will have an impact on industry, on the way a company is organized. And I’m sure these structures will also have an impact on universities. There are structures - such as the division into faculties - that are difficult to overcome. In Basel we have had help in resolving this problem with the establishment of departments. But in my opinion that is only an interim solution. At university level we need to find new ways to give structure and support to this form of research and facilitate a sustainable development for the future. And I’m delighted to have the privilege of playing a part in helping to shape this.

You came to Basel from Munich in 2002. Certainly a stroke of good fortune for Northwest Switzerland. And for you too?
I find very open people in Basel with whom I can discuss my ideas. And I appreciate the fact that Basel has a full university. For I believe there is an advantage in this that cannot be overestimated. In the Basel region we have not only a strong university, but also universities of applied science that are doing very good applied research. At the same time, we have very short paths of communication with the Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich (ETH) and Lausanne (EPFL) and with EMPA and the CSEM. The triregional metropolitan region lends the Basel region a cultural diversity that we need to put our ideas into practice. I know many places in the world where people are engaged in innovation. And I’m convinced that something like a Silicon Valley for Europe can grow here – with impulses for the world and of similar consequence. And you talk of good fortune: yes, I do see it as a real stroke of good fortune that I can initiate and follow such a process together with i-net, the Swiss Innovation Park Northwest Switzerland, the university and university hospitals – I won’t get another chance like this.

Interview: Fabian Käser and Nadine Nikulski, i-net

*Professor Hans-Florian Zeilhofer heads the clinics for oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University Hospital Basel and the Cantonal Hospital Aarau, as well as the High-Tech Research Centre at the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Basel. After studying human medicine, dentistry and philosophy, he trained as a specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery and gained his postdoctoral qualification at the university hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technical University Munich. In June 2002, he joined the University of Basel. In 2004 he established and headed the High-Tech Research Centre at the University Hospital Basel. In 2005 he became the founding president of the annual International Bernd Spiessl Symposium for Innovative and Visionary Technologies in Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery. Since 2013 he has been establishing the Med-Tech Innovation Hive in collaboration with i-net and the Swiss Innovation Park (SIP) Basel. Since 2007 he has been president of the Swiss Society of Maxillo-Facial Surgery. He has received numerous honours and awards for his innovative research work. He holds a number of international patents and has created several startup companies in recent years out of high-tech innovations from university research. Most recently he founded the new innovation platform Med-Tech Innovation Partners (MTIP) as a private public partnership together with the entrepreneur Felix Grisard and the manager Christoph Kausch with the involvement of the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel.

Project «MIRACLE»

Webpage of MTIP

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Video of Hans-Florian Zeilhofer at Lift Basel Conference 2014

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«We benefit from many years of research in Basel»

08.07.2015

While Switzerland is innovation world champion in many rankings, promising innovations in the field of medical technology often lack the funding needed in Switzerland to get them to the market. The start-up investor MedTech Innovation Partners AG (MTIP) closes this gap.

CEO Christoph Kausch explains in the i-net interview what MTIP does differently from other investors and outlines the start-up projects that are especially interesting for his company.

MedTech Innovation Partners has recently established its presence in the market. How did this come about and why did you not take this step earlier?
Christoph Kausch*: About two-and-a-half years ago, the idea was conceived of bringing the work and research of Prof. Hans-Florian Zeilhofer together in a business model under the MTIP brand. This means that MTIP benefits from many years of research in Basel. Since then, the organization has developed and the concept refined. In short, we are strongly rooted in Basel thanks to our history and promote innovation here. Our work can help to prevent start-ups taking their good ideas abroad because they are unable to find the necessary funding and resources here.

And who are the people behind MTIP?
Apart from me, the core team includes Professor Zeilhofer, Head of the High-Tech Research Centre at the University Hospital Basel, who has been engaged in the field of medical technology throughout his career, and also the entrepreneur and investor Dr. Felix Grisard, who has been investing in medical technology for more than ten years. We have a strong team of board members and an equally top-class advisory board. Our skills range from medical technology and research expertise, through investor and entrepreneurial know-how to knowledge of how to manage innovation projects.

The MTIP board of directors is made up of highly renowned individuals. How were you able you motivate these people?
Until now there has not been a business concept anywhere in Switzerland with such strong links to research institutions. We are closing this gap in the market in order to promote innovations in Switzerland. The opportunity to play a part in this is very attractive.

MTIP promises to put the emphasis on sustainable development. What do you plan to differently from other funds?
Our integrated business model takes the long-term view; we are not in it to make a fast buck. We also make a contribution to society by reinforcing the power of innovation strength in Basel. What no other venture capital fund in this area possesses is our unique Swiss network and our excellent access to research institutions. At international level we are developing an “innovation ring”. For example, when we carry out a clinical trial for a start-up, we can do this much faster but to the same quality standard in collaboration with top-flight international partners. This shortens the time to market enormously.

What does MTIP expect in return from the companies you support?
A trusting collaboration and thus the people involved are very important to us. Intellectual property rights, such as patents or brands, must be clearly regulated before the technology can be developed further. We ourselves are a minority investor and strive for at least a 10 percent stake in a start-up. Our objective is to support the entrepreneur behind the company and to help him avoid the pitfalls that occur during the establishment of a company.

You write on the website that MTIP wants to get involved as early as possible and provide long-term support. For how long do you plan to support start-ups?
It’s somewhat easier here in Switzerland than elsewhere to get seed capital ranging from 100,000 to a million francs for the first round of financing. But what is incredibly difficult is the follow-up funding. This leads to many start-ups having to move away. So we also support the follow-up funding after the seed funding. To facilitate this, we join forces with other investors.

Medical technology is a very broad term. It encompasses everything from gauze bandages through implants and robot-assisted surgery to treatment and nursing. Where does MTIP focus its attention in this enormous range of options?
We have five focus areas: imaging, robotics/navigation, IT/big data management, medtech meets pharma and smart materials. This is where our core competencies lie, but this does not mean that we would exclude other areas. Interdisciplinarity is also very important. A model organization is the High-Tech Research Centre of Professor Zeilhofer, where different disciplines, such as IT, biology, engineering, the humanities, art and medicine, work together on finding the best solution for a medical problem. For it is not possible today to develop anything innovative in isolation.

You have experience yourself as a young entrepreneur. What are the biggest challenges for start-ups and how can MTIP help to overcome them?
In the case of start-ups in medical technology I see two big challenges. First of all, it is important to address the question of certification or regulatory approval early on. Secondly, young entrepreneurs have to take care from the outset that they already define a patent strategy when they are setting up the company. We can offer assistance here with established experts in the field.

MTIP has recently set up home in Allschwil at the Swiss Innovation Park of Northwest Switzerland. Is it your aim to collaborate with the technology and innovation ecosystem and to pool resources?
The whole Department of Biomedical Engineering and the High-Tech Research Centre of the University of Basel have just moved into the temporary premises in Allschwil. To ensure that the collaboration is efficiently organized in a spirit of partnership, we have also moved in there for the time being and are managing innovations and start-ups in this setting. Where we will be based in future has not yet been decided, but we are open to cooperation with the Swiss Innovation Park of Northwest Switzerland.

The search for venture capital in Switzerland is challenging and time-consuming, MTIP promises to make this easier. Are you overrun today by requests for funding?
The number of queries has doubled since we went public. Now we have to evaluate the best projects.

And what does a project have to offer in order to get support from MTIP?
An important point is innovation: we want to know what sets it apart from the state of the art so far. Another important question is whether it is a technology that can be protected by a patent or a trade secret and what market potential the project offers. We place great value in particular on a good management team: if competencies are lacking, we are happy to help in the search for suitable employees. Traditional venture capital companies invest their money and wait for the exit of the company.

Where do you see MTIP in five years?
The aim is to have a presence in Switzerland with a very good portfolio of start-ups. An organization like i-net can play an important role for MTIP and it would be great if the shared network idea could lead to new projects.

Interview: Fabian Käser and Nadine Nikulski, i-net

*Christoph Kausch has a sound knowledge of strategic management and experience in bringing innovations to market. Before founding MTIP, he led the global strategy department of Syngenta for several years. Prior to this, he was Managing Director at Hafiba AG, a boutique investment company, where he is still a member of the board of directors. He started his career at McKinsey & Company where he had specialized in private equity and life sciences.

Christoph Kausch studied mechanical engineering at the TU Munich and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Management (MIT) in Boston. He completed his PhD in innovation & technology management at the University of St. Gallen and at Harvard Business School.

About MedTech Innovation Partners AG
MedTech Innovation Partners (MTIP) headquartered in Basel, is an early-stage investor focusing on health technologies. MTIP offers more than traditional venture capital, delivering access to business building expertise, a systematic approach to intellectual property management, recruitment and a unique interdisciplinary culture for the entrepreneurs and start-ups that MTIP works with.
A local network which consists of well-known Swiss universities and research centres specializing in medtech, gives MTIP an early access to research outcomes. Furthermore, an international innovation ring offers scientists and entrepreneurs ideal conditions for bringing innovations to market.
Website of MTIP

 

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Industry 4.0 – what’s the impact on other sectors?

28.01.2015

On January 22, 2015, NZZ published a very interesting set of articles about the silent revolution in industry and production: industry 4.0 is the digital interlinking of production and value chains (see links below).

The revolutionary phases in industrial production were the introduction of the steam engine and water power, which allowed mechanized fabrication (industry 1.0), the invention of the conveyor-belt, which allowed mass production (industry 2.0), and computers and robots, which enabled automated production (industry 3.0). And today, the next industrial revolution is enabling the physical and virtual systems to be merged through the internet of everything (industry 4.0). The results of digital production are the vertical interlinking of intelligent production systems (smart factories) and the horizontal integration of global value chains, including suppliers and customers.

The sensing of everything becomes reality – not only in production, but also in mobility (self-driving car), in health (quantified self), in logistics (real-time tracking) or in finance (high-frequency trading). But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Sensing and listening (in terms of data exchange) will inform every aspect of what we do. But how do we get the essentials from the vast, unstructured data and how can we benefit from this becoming more effective, more sustainable, more innovative, improving safety, reducing risks and finally improving our habits?

Apart of sensors and data storage, we also require smart brains and emulation power, such as lateral thinking, lean management (bad processes remain bad, even if they become smart through the latest technology) and expert systems (smart and self-learning algorithms based on large data sets, which make decisions without human interaction). The future is bright; some potential advantages include the prediction of failure and conflicts (and thus hopefully their prevention), the personalization of products, services and therapies, automatic maintenance, self-organized logistics, the share economy, energy efficiency in all aspects of our life and so on.

The threats and challenges are also enormous: Data privacy, protection against industrial espionage, data security measures, data banking and so on. Sound solutions are required. We have a lot of opportunities in Switzerland from the internet of everything and expert systems, not only in industry, but in all manner of applications for our daily life. Swiss data banking and Swiss secure cloud are two such potential opportunities. Learn about more the opportunities from the i-net Technology Trend Forum and the i-net technology and business related events.

Related NZZ articles:
«Das Internet kommt in die Fabrik»
«Evolution statt Revolution»
«Auf dem Weg in die Arbeitswelt 2.0»

i-net related information:
Article about the i-net Tech Trend Forum
List of i-net Events

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