20% of European biotechs headquartered in Switzerland

Published: 25-May-2023

Evidence published in the Swiss Biotech Report reveals why Switzerland is now one of the most popular countries for European biotech companies

New research conducted by IQVIA and recently published in the 2023 Swiss Biotech Report shows that 20% of European biotech companies are now headquartered in Switzerland. Furthermore, last year’s statistics for investment promotion by the Swiss federal government, cantons and regions confirm that this trend is continuing.

Out of a total of 265 companies settling in Switzerland, 63 were biotechs, making it the second most important sector after ICT. The influx was also strong from the US, with 23 setting up in either Basel, Geneva, Zurich or Lucerne. 

Several of these were biotech companies self-commercialising their innovative therapies without large pharma support, and choosing Switzerland as their European hub, in part because of the high approval rates by Swissmedic.

“Swissmedic strengthens the Swiss research hub by supporting innovation and accelerating the approval process for new drugs long before they are ready to be commercialised,” comments Jörg Schläpfer, Head of Management Services and International Affairs at Swissmedic. “Through collaborations with international partners, we facilitate controlled and rapid global access to promising products for drug developers, ensuring that patients can benefit as quickly as possible from innovative therapies which are safe and of high quality.”

One example is Blueprint Medicines which has located its international headquarters to Zug to support the commercialisation outside the US of its first-to-market therapy AYVAKYT for the rare haematological disorder advanced systemic mastocytis.

Many biotechs based outside Europe choose Switzerland for setting up their European HQ, driven by a business-friendly environment and a deep talent poo

“Switzerland provides a unique ecosystem of highly qualified talent, a diversity of trusted partners, business-friendly regulation and accessibility to major academic and innovation hubs around the world. These criteria are key for business growth and among the most significant factors that Blueprint Medicines considered when opening our European headquarters in Zug,” commented Francesco Almirall Alzamora, Director Commercial Operations & Launch Excellence at Blueprint Medicines.

“In our extensive work with emerging biotech companies responsible for a record 65% of the molecules in the R&D pipeline in 2022, we have observed common infrastructure choices made in preparation for a European launch. These include the engagement model, the degree of centralisation, the degree of specialisation of roles and the geographic footprint and structure."

Alzamora continued: "Many biotechs based outside Europe choose Switzerland for setting up their European HQ, driven by a business-friendly environment and a deep talent pool, including individuals who honed their skills and gained relevant launch experience at big pharma, or indeed another, commercial-stage biotech.. Our research shows + 25% higher rate of availability in European markets for medicines, developed by Swiss-based biotech companies versus average, biotech launches in the past five years,” added Isma Hachi, Director Emerging Biopharma, IQVIA.

“We’ve seen a continued growing interest from biotech companies in our ecosystem, especially in the last decade. In view of the geopolitical shifts, Switzerland’s stability is a major advantage. As a business and technology location, this continues to be one of our trump cards,” concluded Patrik Wermelinger, Chief Investment Promotion Officer, Switzerland Global Enterprise.

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