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Find the perfect business match

Valentina Francia

Find the perfect business match


Businesses need partners to grow and become successful. Valentina Francia helps companies find suitable partners in the Basel Area: She matches scientific requests from clients with the local scientific community in the biotech, medtech, and digital health space.

Valentina, you are Manager Ecosystems at Basel Area Business & Innovation. What does a typical working day look like for you?  

I help international businesses and companies in innovative fields grow in the Basel Area. I’m in touch with local research institutes, hospitals, local startups, and pharma companies. 

Every day I meet as many people as possible. I join events and local conferences organized by our stakeholders, partners, or our organization. I map and cultivate relationships with people from diverse backgrounds, introducing my role and understanding their work and their availability for external collaborations, and I consult companies on their business setup. 

When I receive a request from innovative international companies abroad, I match their request with the Basel Area ecosystem and facilitate access to the local players and our stakeholders.  

How do you support your clients?  

Basel Area Business & Innovation is the official economic promotion agency for the Basel Area. The International Markets team I am part of offers opportunity analysis and site visits to innovative companies. Once our clients decide that the Basel Area is the right place for their business, my team supports their settlement. We aim to embed them into the ecosystem of innovative companies, and this is where I come into play. I try to understand their scientific needs and connect them with the local community: We discuss which kind of partnership and collaboration do they need or which experts they are looking for. Then, I find the best collaboration partners in the Basel Area for them to start their business. Most of the time, these companies are small or medium and therefore need support and a few collaborators to start working here.  

For example, a pharmaceutical company needs a collaboration partner in ophthalmology. They want to target a particular type of patient, but they need to gain specific knowledge to do that. They may need a partner in commodity, and I know who this partner could be in the region and how to connect them.  

What’s the most interesting part of your job?  

I find interacting with entrepreneurs and researchers fascinating. It’s exciting to meet them and understand what they do and what they are experts in. It allows me to learn new things every day. 

When is your job successful?  

When I find the right match and both partners are happy about it. At one of our events, I was introduced to an application scientist who worked in the same city where I grew up. As we started chatting, I realized she needed help with expanding a US company in the Basel Area, which is exactly what we offer. I put her in touch with our Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, she got a tour and an offer, and now she is planning to expand her business operations here.  

-> read a comprehensive guide to the Switzerland startup ecosystem.

You are a nanomedicine specialist and hold a Ph.D. in pharmacology and gene therapy. How does your scientific background help your clients?  

First, it helps me evaluate whether the science of the companies that approach us is solid and innovative. My scientific background also allows me to better match their needs with the competencies and capabilities in our local ecosystem. 

One more point: Sometimes, scientists are unaware of the complexity of their research. Even if it’s not my specific field of research, I still understand what they’re talking about, and we can talk at eye level.  

You are from Italy. You have lived and worked in the Netherlands and Canada before coming to the Basel Area. What do you like about your current location?  

I fell in love with Basel, and I didn’t expect that. I always knew that Switzerland was a great place to work and live, but I only moved to Basel a year ago. Back then, I had decided to leave Canada and move closer to my family in Milan.  

I find the high density of the life sciences ecosystem attractive and the fact that people are willing to help you when you tell them you need support or are looking for some contacts or introductions. And when people here say yes, then it’s a yes! They are very straightforward and reliable, and I love that about Switzerland. 

On a personal level – well, it’s Switzerland: beautiful landscapes and small cities where you can walk everywhere within a few minutes. You don’t need to commute for hours every day, and it offers an excellent work-life balance and a great quality of life. Overall, I am very satisfied with my choice, and plan to stay here long-term. 

 Connect with Valentina: LinkedIn and Twitter

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