10. December 2020

Development of Swiss Biotechnology beyond the Healthcare Sector

Hans-Peter Meyer - Other topics

The Swiss Biotech Association (SBA) and SATW have started a joint activity to develop industrial biotechnology. Interested parties are invited to participate.

Biotechnology is a key asset to the contemporary Swiss economy! According to the Swiss Biotech Report 2020, compared to all Swiss exports, the share of the chemistry pharma and life sciences sector has increased to 47.3% in 2019, reaching a record value of CHF 114.56 billion. More than a third of the exports from this subsector are derived from so-called biopharmaceutical products or products of “red or healthcare biotechnology” (e.g. monoclonal antibodies, cell therapies).

Large business potential

Industrial biotechnology (or white biotechnology) is a subsector of biotechnology for the manufacturing of small molecule drugs, intermediates, flavour & fragrance, vitamins, enzymes, bioplastics, bioenergy, and many other products for a variety of markets and applications. Although it represents a large business potential and offers sustainable manufacturing processes, industrial biotechnology is not really exploited in Switzerland yet. Industrial biotechnology is also a key enabling technology with the potential to reinvent the way chemicals are manufactured and to strengthen the image of the organic chemical industry. 

Switzerland should build on the success of healthcare biotechnology (red biotechnology) and establish a strong and well-connected industrial biotechnology community, with a clear vision on areas of interest, a strategic research & education agenda and action plan. Success is a question of “brains that enable innovation” and not raw materials or infrastructure. With this initiative we seek to connect the stakeholders and form an industrial biotech cluster. The focus should be on products which provide solutions and create value based on innovations that can be applied in Switzerland directly or offer business opportunities internationally. Such products may cover a wide range of different sectors, including small molecule pharmaceuticals, intermediates, fine chemicals, flavour and fragrance products, dietary supplements, or biopolymers in medtech and other areas where a very specific performance is required. Similar to healthcare biotechnology, the industrial biotech sector should become a strong contributor to the Swiss national product in the long term.

Are you interested in learning more about this initiative or even want to actively participate in this endeavour? Do not hesitate to contact us!


Hans-Peter Meyer, Topical Platform Biotechnology SATW, meyer(at)expertinova.com
Michael Altorfer, CEO Swiss Biotech Association, altorfer(at)swissbiotech.org

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