The Swiss Appeal

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology, June 2023, Volume 47, Issue 6

Despite being a relatively small nation, Switzerland is booming for biotech innovation.

Small in size but not in impact, landlocked Switzerland is widely considered a pharmaceutical powerhouse of Europe and is the birthplace to two industry giants, Novartis and Roche, and home to numerous other firms of varying sizes. Further cementing the country’s reputation as a prime location for industry, research conducted by IQVIA, published in Swiss Biotech Report 2023, has shown that Switzerland is attracting global biotech attention (1).

The research findings demonstrated that a fifth of European biotech companies now have their headquarters in Switzerland and international companies are increasingly looking to Swiss locations for their international hub. This popularity is thanks in part to the country’s ecosystem, which is built around several biotech hubs located in specific regions—Basel, Zurich‑Zug-Lucerne-Schaffhausen, and Romandie (1).

“We’ve seen a continued growing interest from biotech companies in our ecosystem, especially in the last decade. In view of the geopolitical shifts, Switzerland’s stability is a major advantage,” said Patrik Wermelinger, chief investment promotion officer, Switzerland Global Enterprise, in a press release about the research (2).

Additionally, the country’s high rate of approvals granted by Swissmedic is another advantageous aspect of setting up shop in Switzerland for biotech companies. “Swissmedic strengthens the Swiss research hub by supporting innovation and accelerating the approval process for new drugs long before they are ready to be commercialized,” added Jörg Schläpfer, head of Management Services and International Affairs at Swissmedic, in a press release (2).


Another string to the Swiss bio/pharma bow is the country’s access to talent and ability to retain said talent (3). The country has done well in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, actually ranking top since the launch of the index in 2013 and is described as a global leader in enabling and retaining talent within the report (4).

Finally, Switzerland’s approach to drug exclusivity is a major bonus, particularly for innovators as they can gain 20 years of exclusivity (5), which is much longer than in the United States or across the European Union. Throw in some other benefits, such as favourable taxation, strong investment into research, and a high quality of life, and a move to within Swiss borders seems to be a ‘no-brainer’ for biotechs everywhere.


1. Swiss Biotech. Swiss Biotech Report 2023. Market Research Report, April 2023.
2. Switzerland Global Enterprise. Latest Research Shows 20% of European Biotechs Now Headquartered in Switzerland. News Release, 24 May 2023.
3. Haywood, A. Why Are There So Many Pharmaceutical Companies in Switzerland? Hobson Prior, 10 Aug. 2020.
4. Lanvin, B.; Monteiro, F. Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2022. INSEAD, November 2022.
5. Davis Plüss, J. New European Pharmaceutical Rules Met with Scepticism in Switzerland., 1 May 2023.

About the author

Felicity Thomas is the European/senior editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Group.

Article details

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 35, No. 6
June 2023
Page: 6


When referring to this article, please cite it as Thomas, F. The Swiss Appeal. Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 2023 35 (6) 6.