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Discover the Basel Area as # 1 in biotech investment


A total of 700+ life science companies call the Basel Area their home. It has become the premier biotech cluster in Europe and one of the world’s most dynamic life science centers.

Basel Area vom Bruderholz

The Basel Area, traditionally synonymous with pharmaceutical superpowers like Novartis and Roche, is also the epicenter and leading European hub for a thriving biotechnology industry.

With a rich foundation in big pharma break-through innovation, the Basel Area has seen the establishment of successful pharma spin-offs in more recent times. In turn, this has inspired a growth in fledgling startup companies, sparking significant interest in inward investment.

Today, a total of 700+ life science companies call the Basel Area their home. It has become the premier biotech cluster in Europe and one of the world’s most dynamic life science centers.

Biotech startups especially have gained a lot of traction in recent years. A growing number of biotechnology investors from Asia, America, and Europe have become aware of the business benefits of injecting investment into the Basel Area.

A contributor to that development is BaseLaunch, Europe’s leading biotech accelerator. The program partners with scientists and entrepreneurs to help launch and grow exceptional biotech companies that are developing cutting-edge therapeutics. So far, its portfolio has raised over $200M in venture financing with an average raise of $25M per company.

The Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area offers four unique coworking sites, including a new 50’000 m2 innovation campus due for completion next year. This iconic space is built by global star architects Herzog & de Meuron and will become the meeting point for biotech and healthcare trailblazers.

The who’s who in the Basel Area biotech boom

Industry platform described the Basel Area as a “hotspot for biotech and pharma.” It cited Actelion, amongst others, as a prime example. Actelion, one of the largest companies in the history of European biotech, was acquired by US corporation Johnson & Johnson in 2017 for just under 30 billion dollars.

There are currently 27 top-flight biotech companies firmly established in the Basel Area.

In 2020 alone, big names such as US vaccine company Moderna, Chinese life sciences company Hengrui Medicine, and Japanese conglomerate Yokogawa established their research centers and European hubs respectively in Basel Area.

Moderna, much in the news because of its COVID-19 vaccine, expanded from its headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and opened its first branch outside of North America in the Basel Area. This life sciences company is using the new site to drive the production of its coronavirus vaccine.

Hengrui Medicine, one of the most innovative and successful Chinese pharma companies, established a Swiss subsidiary in the Basel Area. As the European hub for clinical research and development, it will help the company to advance its innovative drugs, including cancer treatments.

The Japanese conglomerate Yokogawa also established a Swiss subsidiary based at the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area. Here, the focus is on driving forward innovation in the field of biotechnology.

The impressive growth of biotech investments and startups

Startups are also driving the development in a massive way: Over the past few years, 82 biotech startup businesses have been established in the Basel Area.

According to the Swiss Biotech Report1, Basel Area’s premier position as the center of choice for investors in the Swiss biotech industry. In the last year alone, more than 500 million Swiss francs was invested in startups in Basel. That’s a 403% increase of investments in startups since 2012, according to the Swiss Venture Capital Report2.

Among the big success stories in the biotech sector are:

Roivant Sciences focuses on the development of innovative drugs in neurology, oncology, endocrinology, dermatology, and hepatology. In 2016, the group established its headquarters in the Basel Area. In the following years, it established several of its Vants in Basel. Vants are nimble and focused biopharmaceutical and health technology companies. Currently, Roivant is preparing for its entrance to the Nasdaq in Q3 20213.

NBE-Therapeutics, the Basel based life sciences company was acquired by German pharma group Boehringer Ingelheim for €1.18 billion. NBE-Therapeutics specializes in the development of cancer therapies.

VectivBio, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing transformational medicines for patients with serious rare diseases, has closed a 110 million US dollars crossover financing. With this funding the Basel based company wants to further develop its drug to treat short bowel syndrome.

Monte Rosa Therapeutics raised a total of 96 million US dollars after closing a successful Series B financing round. Using this fresh injection of capital, the company intends to drive forward the development of its molecule degradation platform, which aims to eradicate proteins regarded either as difficult to medically treat or are untreatable and occur in cases of cancer, for example.

Synedos Therapeutics expanded its funding from a European consortium to 24 million Swiss francs to develop its innovative approach that aims to treat anxiety, mood, and stress-related disorders.

BioVersys received 2.7 million euros, alongside two partners, to help set a Phase 2a trial to investigate a drug candidate that aims to combat tuberculosis.

Exceptional talent in biotech

The reasons why companies choose to settle in the Basel Area are plenty. For one, companies are attracted by the exceptional talent they find here. The Basel Area is home to one of Europe’s largest pools of pharma talent from which to recruit the best in the business. There’s more talent in life sciences in the Basel Area, at 31’600 people, than in other major European hubs such as London, Munich, or Paris. Also, there are favorable corporate tax rates, grants, and venture capital opportunities. The central location in the heart of Europe, with its excellent road and rail infrastructure feeding into the heart of Europe, and an international airport on the doorstep, is equally important.

Oh, and of course, there’s the Swiss quality of life. Life in Switzerland is safe, provides a stable environment and is one of the most stunning scenic locations. Basel was ranked in the top 10 global cities in the 2019 Mercer Quality of Living index. It offers a cosmopolitan way of life.

“There are huge investment and networking possibilities on offer in the Basel Area for life science startups and biotech businesses from all over the world,” said Franz Waibel, Head of International Markets and Business Affairs, Basel Area Business & Innovation.

“If you want a doorway into Europe, then there’s no better strategic location than the Basel Area. We’re located at the apex of a tri-border triangle between Switzerland, France, and Germany. We give you access to our dynamic ecosystem, including a team supporting your projects from offering new settlement support, office and laboratory space, networking opportunities, and analysis. And, for global reach, we have offices in five countries in Asia, Europe, and North America.”

“Whether you’re relocating your headquarters, setting up a new marketing and sales division, or opening a research and development facility, it’s never been easier to get your team on the ground in the Basel Area,” added Franz Waibel.


References and sources

1Swiss Biotech report, April 2021  |  2Swiss Venture Capital Report, January 2021 from in collaboration with SECA (Swiss Private Equity & Corporate Finance Association)   |  3Roivant Sciences Press release, May 2021

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