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Bern’s thriving ecosystem for life sciences innovation

Life sciences

9 August 2023

The canton of Bern, with its continual focus on advancing medicine through research, technology, and collaboration, stands as destination rich in opportunities for companies aiming to grow and innovate in the fields of medicine and life sciences. The canton of Bern, with its continual focus on advancing medicine through research, technology, and collaboration, stands as destination rich in opportunities for companies aiming to grow and innovate in the fields of medicine and life sciences.

In the heart of Western Switzerland, the canton of Bern has emerged as a location of choice for companies in the life sciences sector.

Boasting a rich heritage of academic excellence, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and collaborative innovation, the canton of Bern has firmly established itself as a globally recognized center for medical research, technology, and entrepreneurship. Here’s an in-depth look at the attributes that position Bern at the forefront of this exciting field.

A strong foundation in academic excellence

The University of Bern plays a pivotal role in Bern’s leadership in life sciences. Ranked among the top 100 in the world, the university’s Faculty of Medicine has made notable contributions in various domains, such as biomedicine, medical engineering, neuropsychology, host-pathogen interaction, and overall health.

For example, researchers from the University of Bern made a significant breakthrough in a particularly aggressive form of prostate cancer, revealing new targeted treatment possibilities. Furthermore, the university was at the forefront of developing a novel, painless, and reliable allergy test, simplifying the diagnosis of allergies.

Pioneering research in medicine

Bern’s innovation in life sciences is multifaceted, extending well beyond academic research and into the realms of cutting-edge technology and patient-centered care. The canton’s commitment to harnessing the power of digitization and artificial intelligence (AI) is evident in its numerous ongoing projects and collaborations.

One prominent example of this innovative spirit is a collaborative research team from the University of Bern and Inselspital, which is actively exploring AI’s potential in personalized diagnosis and treatment of myocarditis. This research is not only focused on understanding the disease but also on implementing AI to evaluate thousands of measurements quickly, allowing for a more personalized risk assessment and treatment plan. The initiative, funded by the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (CAIM), showcases Bern’s dedication to using the latest digital technologies for personalized medicine.

Fostering entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship in Bern is thriving, and it is no accident. The canton’s strategic focus on fostering innovation and supporting start-ups has created a vibrant ecosystem that propels new ideas and businesses.

The Sitem MedTech Hub stands as a testament to this supportive environment. An initiative of the Sitem Startup Club (SSC), the Hub provides much more than affordable premises for medtech start-ups. It offers a comprehensive coaching program that encompasses financing, medical, technical, management, and regulatory guidance. Partnering with major regional players like Berner Kantonalbank, CSL Behring, La Mobilière, CPT, Genolier Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Siemens Healthineers, and Swisscom, the SSC provides an extensive network and a nurturing ground for innovation.

MachineMD is one such start-up that has utilized this platform effectively. Embarking on a mission to revolutionize the early detection of brain diseases like tumors, multiple sclerosis, and strokes, they’ve rapidly progressed from concept to prototype development. Similarly, YLAH is another promising start-up from the hub, developing a cutting-edge web application that allows seamless communication between psychotherapy professionals and their patients. This aims to enhance the treatment process, ensuring professionals can stay connected with their patients even between sessions.

A hub of innovation with leading institutions and companies

The canton of Bern is home to some of the most important institutions and companies in the field of life sciences, making it a hub of innovation and cutting-edge research.

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bern and Inselspital work together on significant developments such as painless allergy testing and AI applications in myocarditis diagnosis. Zmk bern plays a vital role in dental care, while the Lindenhof Group provides specialized medical services. The Vetsuisse Faculty stands at the forefront of veterinary medicine, and sitem-insel acts as a national competence center, supporting the transition from research results to marketable products.

In the field of biomedical engineering, the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research leads in innovation, and Ypsomed specializes in developing and manufacturing products for drug delivery. CSL Behring is a global biotechnology leader that has partnered with local initiatives to support medtech start-ups in the region. Also present in Bern, Swiss Medtech represents the interests of the Swiss medtech sector.

These stakeholders collectively contribute to the highly innovative working environment in Bern, driving advancements in medical engineering, neuropsychology, host-pathogen interaction, physical, and mental health. Their combined efforts not only enhance the region’s medical capabilities but also provide a fertile ground for new and existing businesses in the life sciences sector. The canton of Bern’s rich network of expertise and support positions it as an ideal location for anyone planning to start or grow a business in this field.