Swiss biotech industry buoyant

Employment in the sector up by 6% as turnover rises to CHF9.3bn

The Swiss biotechnology industry performed rather well in 2009, according to Mario Brossi, North American senior advisor for Switzerland Trade and Investment Promotion.

The Swiss Biotech Report 2010 reveals that employment in the sector grew 6% to 19,071, while turnover reached CHF9.3bn (US$8.1bn; €6.5bn), a 7% increase over the previous year. There were 327 biotech firms in Switzerland in 2009, of which 65 are suppliers to the industry.

‘While the financing environment was challenging, Swiss companies were able to raise CHF370m in new capital, led by NovImmune's CHF60m in venture capital,’ said Brossi. ‘BioMedInvest II raised CHF100m in new capital and Index Ventures raised €350m for early stage investment.’

Other activity in the sector saw MondoBiotech float its shares on the SWX Swiss Exchange; Evolva became public through a reverse merger with Arpida; and eye care leader Alcon acquired ESBATech in a transaction worth up to CHF600m.

‘A measure of a country's ranking in a particular field is the number of patents filed per million of population,’ Brossi added. ‘The World Patent Index reports that for Switzerland the number of biotech patents registered under this criterion is about 250. This compares favourably with the US (70), Japan (65), Germany (45), and the UK (40).’

He said much of the country's success in biotech is due to strong government support, its network of excellent research institutions and research-oriented industrial players.