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Biomanufacturing in Western Switzerland

Why Switzerland

Global demand for biologics is at an all-time high, and Western Switzerland is positioning itself as a key player in meeting that demand. With a robust pharma heritage, a highly skilled workforce, and a reputation for industrial quality and reliability, Western Switzerland is helping to drive the development and production of innovative therapies and medicines.

Global demand for biologics is at an all-time high, and Western Switzerland is positioning itself as a key player in meeting that demand.

Western Switzerland, a region often referred to as “Health Valley,” is one of the most advanced and diversified life sciences hubs in the world. In 2021, it was ranked the second leading life sciences cluster in Europe and twelfth worldwide by Startup Genome. The Health Valley is home to more than 3,000 life sciences companies, ranging from cutting-edge start-ups spun out of local universities to Swiss unicorns such as ADC Therapeutics, MindMaze and Sophia Genetics, as well as major multinationals such as CSL Behring, Lonza, Incyte and UCB.

World-Class research and education

The region’s strength in biomanufacturing is supported by world-class research institutions. These include the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), the third most international university in the world, and the universities of Bern (UNIBE), Fribourg (UNIFR), Geneva (UNIGE), Lausanne (UNIL) and Neuchâtel (UNINE). In addition, the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES-SO) and the CSEM research and technology organization contribute significantly to the region’s research capabilities.

Western Switzerland is also home to three university hospitals – Inselspital, HUG and CHUV – which are among the best in the world. The region’s market-driven education system produces a deep talent pool of approximately 17,000 STEM graduates annually. Specialized training initiatives, such as the Biofactory Competence Center (BCC) in Fribourg and the Intercantonal Professional School of Chemistry (EPIC) in Visp and Monthey, further strengthen the region’s capabilities in biomanufacturing.

Key companies and investments

Western Switzerland is home to major contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) and local players active in biologics. Companies such as CordenPharma, ExcellGene, Merck, OM Pharma, Selexis, KBI Biopharma, ThermoFisher Scientific, DebioPharm, Lonza, WuXi STA and the Swiss Biotech Center cater to the needs of large pharmaceutical groups and collaborate with smaller biotech companies. Recent investments by companies such as Kodiak, Incyte, CSL Behring and Sanofi underscore the region’s attractiveness for biomanufacturing facilities.

Infrastructure and support

The region offers a dense network of suppliers and service providers across the biomanufacturing value chain. Contract Research Organizations (CROs) such as Labcorp, Aardex and CELLnTec provide comprehensive services from preclinical research to large-scale international clinical trials. Fill-finish specialists include ten23 health, Baccinex and Seyonic, while logistics and packaging experts such as NV Logistics, Medistri and Galenica ensure efficient production and secure exports. Intellectual property, regulatory, M&A, legal, financial and other consulting services are readily available to support the biomanufacturing ecosystem.

Expertise in vaccine production

Western Switzerland boasts more than 130 years of expertise in vaccine technology, with significant contributions from companies such as Janssen, Emergent BioSolutions, Amal Therapeutics and MaxiVax. In 2020, Moderna partnered with Lonza’s Visp site to produce its COVID-19 vaccine, further cementing the region’s role in global vaccine production.

Greenfield and brownfield sites

Companies looking to invest in biomanufacturing facilities can find a range of greenfield and brownfield sites in Western Switzerland, including ready-to-build facilities that meet GMP standards. These sites, ranging from a few hundred square meters to 200,000 square meters, are equipped with the necessary permits and approvals for biomanufacturing.

Proactive and supportive authorities

Switzerland offers direct financial incentives to support biomanufacturing business projects, including financial incentives and tax breaks based on production, capital investment and job creation. Newly established companies can benefit from exemptions from cantonal and municipal taxes on profits and capital for up to 10 years under certain conditions. A single point of contact is available to expedite the approval process for new facilities.

Western Switzerland’s combination of world-class research institutions, highly skilled workforce, advanced infrastructure and supportive authorities makes it an ideal location for biomanufacturing. The region’s vibrant life sciences community, strong investment in education and research, and strategic location between major European markets position it as a leading hub for the development and production of biologics.

Learn more about biomanufacturing in Switzerland