At this year’s Swiss Biotech Day, the Swiss Biotech Association celebrated its 25 years of existence and proved the ability of the sector to weather geopolitical disruptions and funding challenges with the findings published in the Swiss Biotech Report 2023. The organisation also celebrated recent industry successes with its Swiss Biotech Success Stories Awards, with this year’s winners being SOPHiA Genetics and Humabs BioMed/Vir Biotechnology.
Swiss Biotech Thriving
The statistics published in the latest edition of the Swiss Biotech Report, created by the Swiss Biotech Association in conjunction with EY and eight other partner organizations, demonstrate that Switzerland’s biotech ecosystem continues to thrive despite geopolitical challenges and the resulting dry up of funding.
In 2022, Swiss biotech companies overall recorded revenues of CHF 6.8 billion compared to CHF 6.7 billion in 2021 while the industry was able to raise more than CHF 1.3 billion and R&D investments again increased to a new record of CHF 2.7 billion. “The record R&D investments of more than CHF 2.7 billion demonstrate that Swiss biotech companies continued to invest heavily, despite global uncertainties and an overall more difficult funding environment in 2022,” said Michael Altorfer, CEO of the Swiss Biotech Association.
The record R&D investments of more than CHF 2.7 billion demonstrate that Swiss biotech companies continued to invest heavily, despite global uncertainties and an overall more difficult funding environment in 2022
Michael Altorfer, CEO, Swiss Biotech Association
Much of the sector’s growth over the past year was driven by collaboration and licensing deals with Swiss biotech companies partnering with large pharma companies, and the boost in product sales for companies such as Idorsia, ObsEva, EffRx Pharmaceuticals, Relief Therapeutics, NLS Pharmaceuticals, Basilea and ADC Therapeutics.
The industry was able to raise more than CHF 1.3 billion in 2022, with CHF 0.78 billion collected by public companies, and the remaining CHF 0.55 billion raised by private companies. And despite the difficult economic environment, two companies were newly listed on SIX Swiss Exchange in 2022: Kinarus Therapeutics and Xlife Sciences.
And the Winners are … Humabs BioMed and SOPHiA GENETICS
This year’s winners of the Swiss Biotech Success Stories Awards, Humabs BioMed and SOPHiA GENETICS confirm the vibrancy of the country’s biotech sector.
Humabs BioMed, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vir Biotechnology headquartered in Bellinzona, Switzerland, is an antibody therapeutics company focused on discovering and developing monoclonal antibodies. The company is currently centring its efforts on infectious diseases, but also has antibodies against inflammatory diseases and cancer in its pipeline.
Co-founded in 2004 by Dr. Antonio Lanzavecchia, founding director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) and Dr. William J. Rutter, an industry veteran and entrepreneur, Humabs was acquired by Vir in 2017 and its antibody discoveries play an important role in collaborations with institutions such as the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. 2023 may be a pivotal year for the company with Phase II data readouts expected for three of its advanced development programs in flu, hepatitis B and hepatitis D.
“[Winning the award] was both a moment of pride and of reflection for me. Looking back, it’s incredible to see how far we have come from the tiny lab running on a shoestring budget,” said Filippo Riva, Senior VP and managing director of Vir Biotechnology in a blog post.
In contrast, Lausanne-based SOPHiA GENETICS is not directly involved in drug discovery but in software development. The company’s cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, SOPHiA DDM, introduced in 2014, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to facilitate information-sharing and generate actionable insights for researchers and clinicians. The platform standardizes, computes, and analyses digital health data so that healthcare professionals can supplement their own experience with data insights and shared knowledge from their peers to inform the best course of action for their patients or their research.
Co-founded by Jurgi Camblong, Pierre Hutter, and Lars Steinmetz in 2011 at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the company’ software began as a research tool for hospitals and federally regulated health care labs and soon expanded to biopharma institutions. Today, SOPHiA works with over 750 institutions around the world and has analysed over 1.2 million genomic profiles. In addition, the company recently partnered with AstraZeneca to apply its technology and expertise to the pharma giant’s oncology portfolio.
“We are honored to be recognized among so many other distinguished organizations as one of the companies driving change in the complex ecosystem of multimodal health data,” said Jurgi Camblong, CEO and co-founder of SOPHiA GENETICS.