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Biggest successes in 2020 for biotechs in the Basel Area


Biotech companies in the Basel Area played a key role in the sector’s record performance in 2020. The latest Swiss Biotech Report has shown that they led the response to the coronavirus pandemic, received record levels of financing or were acquired by big pharma.

A review of the Swiss biotech sector for 2020 shows that the industry could hardly be in better shape. As the latest Swiss Biotech Report 2021 entitled “Agility, leadership and innovation in the time of Covid-19” reveals, the industry achieved top scores for nearly every category. In the Global Innovation Index, Switzerland claimed top spot in 2020 for the tenth year in a row. Biotech companies from the Basel Area had a major stake in this success.

The Report and accompanying press release issued by the Swiss Biotech Association underline the part Switzerland played in combating the coronavirus pandemic. In this context, the role of Bachem Holding AG from Bubendorf in the canton of Basel-Landschaft in responding to the pandemic through basic research and vaccine manufacture is highlighted. With regard to diagnostics, the work of Roche Pharma is noted.

Overall, investment in Swiss biotech companies almost tripled on the previous year’s figure. It amounted to 3.44 billion Swiss francs. Investment in research and development alone rose by 10 percent to 2.2 billion francs. Of the listed companies, Idorsia raised 866 million francs and Basilea Pharmaceutica raised 125 million francs. With 135 million francs, the biggest portion of the private capital was raised by Basel company VectivBio Holding AG, while  54 million francs went to another Basel-based company Noema Pharma, founded in July 2020.

Research carried out by the country’s biotech firms led to an 8 percent increase in jobs. At present, these companies employ 16,300 people. Moreover, they were involved in a series of mergers and acquisitions. The Japanese company Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and Basel’s Roivant Sciences together formed the new company Sumitovant Biopharma. The deal was worth US$3 billion. In addition, Boehringer Ingelheim acquired Basel-based company NBE-Therapeutics for €1.2 billion.

The Swiss biotech industry generated revenues of 4.5 billion francs in 2020. Many companies suffered significant delays in their research and development pipeline, as Michael Altorfer, CEO of the Swiss Biotech Association explained. “Nonetheless, we are confident that the sector will continue its impressive expansion”.

The Swiss Biotech Report is jointly produced by ten Swiss companies and associations.

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