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What’s fueling Basel Area’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem

| Dossier

What’s fueling Basel Area’s Advanced Manufacturing ecosystem


A growing movement that’s establishing a new order in Advanced Manufacturing is sweeping across Europe and the rest of the industrial world. One of the key player of that change is the Basel Area which has become a thriving ecosystem for life sciences and manufacturing companies who are utilizing new digital technologies and processes.

The digital revolution is changing every facet of how businesses and healthcare organizations operate.

What Advanced Manufacturing means for the biopharma industry

For pharmaceutical powerhouses like Basel-based Roche and Novartis, the revolution in data science and advanced digital technologies is transforming patient care.

Novartis says its goal is to reach twice as many patients, twice as fast, and realize sizeable productivity improvements in its manufacturing facilities. It believes that through its digital strategies, it has the potential to reduce the time to market for new drugs by more than two years.

Roche adds that the days of mass treatments, which weren’t effective for all, have now largely evolved into a new era of personalized healthcare with a more holistic view of patient health generated from a wide variety of data sources.

Such a data-driven patient-centric ecosystem requires a high level of coordination, standardization, and analysis, all of which rely on the collaboration of healthcare companies and technology partners. Perfect chemistry for seeding growth in supporting technology companies in both healthcare and manufacturing in general.


Who are the key players in the field of Advanced Manufacturing in the Basel Area?

Endress+Hauser is a global leader in measurement instrumentation, and services and solutions for industrial process engineering. The company uses a cloud-based Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) ecosystem to connect the physical and the digital world. It uses digitalization to make knowledge available to customers to help them optimize their processes and make fact-based decisions fast.

Headquartered in central Basel, the Straumann Group epitomizes the Swiss reputation for quality, precision, and innovation. Employing a global workforce of around 9,000 people. It’s a world leader in dental implantology. It researches, develops, manufactures, and supplies dental implants, instruments, biomaterials, CADCAM prosthetics, digital equipment including a range of sophisticated 3D printers and software, and clear aligners for applications in replacement, restorative, orthodontic and preventative dentistry.

Skan is a Swiss company and a global market and technological leader for isolators, cleanroom devices, and decontamination processes for the aseptic production of biopharmaceutical substances. Today it has more than 1000 employees. More than half of its employees work at the Allschwil headquarters in the Life Sciences Hub of the Basel region.

Success Story video: Skan in the Basel Area

In 2020, Tokyo-based Yokogawa, a global leader in industrial automation and test and measurement solutions, established a subsidiary  Yokogawa Innovation Switzerland in Basel to accelerate R&D and market development activities for its bio-economy business. At its new offices in Allschwil, it has been joined by Yokogawa Europe’s existing Swiss branch for its industrial automation business.

Switzerland is ranked high in global competitiveness and is a gathering point for highly talented professionals. (...) Basel is the European center of the biotechnology and life science industry. In this ideal location, the new company will promote Yokogawa’s bio-economy business through research and development and partnerships. It will focus on discovering research themes, promoting open innovation, and searching for business partners.

YokogawaPress Release - July 2020

Global consulting and planning group Chemgineering, with offices at Münchenstein, provides project consultancy and planning services to the life sciences, chemical, and food industries. It specializes in operating in GxP (Good Practice) regulated environments, and its design projects run from concept through to turnkey construction. One of the many ways the company embraces technology is through the use of Virtual Reality (VR) glasses to precisely plan buildings, workplace workflows and systems.

Key player in the COVID-19 pandemic, Biosynex occupies over 230 employees and is a major player in public health. It designs, manufactures, and distributes easy-to-use medical devices for screening, diagnosis, and prevention. To respond to increasing manufacturing demand from Switzerland and expand its business to Austria, Germany, and other countries, Biosynex has set up a branch office in the Canton of Jura.

Success Story video: Biosynex in the Basel Area

The rise of the Smart Factory

Among the many significant advances in manufacturing, processes, and production in recent times is the increased use of technology and automation. It has led to what is described as “Smart manufacturing” or the “Smart Factory”. Broadly, it’s about employing computer controls, computer modelling, big data, robotics, and other automation to improve manufacturing efficiencies.

Key players in the field of Advanced Manufacturing in the Basel Area include:

Actemium Schweiz AG offers engineering services and projects in the areas of Mechanical Execution Systems (MES), electrical engineering, and industrial and building automation. Across six businesses, it employs over 200 people.

Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Basel, Medartis is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and providers of medical devices and titanium implants for fixing bone fractures and head injuries. It employs around 700 people across its 14 locations globally, with products offered in over 50 countries and annual sales of CHF 160 million.

An exciting recent development has seen the establishment of uptownBasel, a 70,000 square meter international centre of excellence for Industry 4.0. On a site at Arlesheim, a development and production hub has been created where selected technology companies and other organizations will be located. The focus is on industrial manufacturing, healthcare and logistics sectors as well as the interdisciplinary function of digitalisation. As a platform for connected companies, uptownBasel aims to drive knowledge transfer between sectors and disciplines.

One of the first companies to take advantage of the opportunities and facilities provided by uptownBasel was VINCI Energies, the energy, information and communication technology division of the global VINCI Group. It recently set up an international security operations center (SOC) in uptownBasel with its brands Axians (ICT) and Actemium (industrial technology). As a hub, the SOC will connect more than 300 cybersecurity specialists from Switzerland, Germany and other European countries, focusing on Industry 4.0 security, bundling expertise in information and communications technology (ICT) and industrial operating technology (OT), as well as processing the findings from international scientific collaborations regarding critical infrastructures.

With the mission to bring together SMEs and start-ups active in the life sciences and industrial transformation, Innodel technology park continues its development with the Dock Techno Jura. This project will offer companies wishing to establish themselves in the Canton of Jura opportunities for production and research with 8 industrial buildings on 50,000m2. Today, Jura companies are mainly active in cutting-edge industrial sectors such as the watch industry (brands, component manufacturing, movement assembly), microtechnology, machine tool construction, automation, robotics and the development of innovative materials.

Project in video: Dock Techno Jura

So why is the Basel Area such a hotspot for the Advanced Manufacturing sector?

Traditionally, Switzerland has long held a fine reputation for quality, precision, and trust. Think of the watch industry, for instance.

But what makes the Basel Area unique is that it has been able to attract a wealth of large corporate companies, spin-offs, and start-ups.

There are more than 2,400 companies with manufacturing activities and over 700 life-sciences organizations. It has a combined talent pool of over 63,000 interdisciplinary and highly educated professionals with strong engineering expertise and knowledge transfer capabilities.

Companies are attracted by the area’s key strategic geographical position in the heart of Europe and bordering key markets like Germany and France. There are first-rate road and rail infrastructure and an international airport on the doorstep. There’s progressive Federal and local government, and favorable tax, grant, and venture opportunities.

Basel Area is also a major center for academic and research and development institutions, providing collaboration between top universities, teaching institutions, and industries. These include the University of BaselHE-Arc  and FHNW – the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Northwest Switzerland.

Besides working in Switzerland, did we also mention the quality-of-life benefits of living in Switzerland, one of the most picturesque regions in Europe?

Basel is the European center of biotechnology and Life Science. A lot of innovative biotech companies and start-ups are located here. So we are in the best company. (...) After I started working in Basel, I realized that we had chosen the best place to work with the Life Science and Bioeconomy ecosystem. An open innovation system is effectively working, and the government, academia, and industries are welcome to work with other entities.

Tsuneji SawaiManaging Director, Yokogawa Innovation Switzerland

The Basel Area ecosystem

Cutting-edge technologies, strong know-how, qualified talent in high-tech and a supportive government have turned the Basel Area into a top Swiss location in Advanced Manufacturing. It’s a progressive ecosystem comprising large companies, SMEs, startups, suppliers, leading research organizations, an experienced talent pool and a pragmatic regulatory framework.
View infographic

Basel Area promoting Advanced Manufacturing

Basel Area Business & Innovation is the investment and innovation promotion agency for the Basel Area and the go-to agency for starting a business or relocating to the area. It is helping to promote Advanced Manufacturing and the implementation of Industry 4.0 by bringing together various initiatives and organizations to support future-focused manufacturing.

One of those initiates in the i4Challenge accelerator program.

Industrial transformation is seeing factories become increasingly automated and self-monitored as machines are given the ability to analyze and communicate with each other.

But Industry 4.0 isn’t just about investing in new technology and tools to improve manufacturing efficiency – it’s about revolutionizing the way your entire business operates and grows while still meeting customers’ and suppliers’ expectations. That’s why Basel Area, through the I4Challenge accelerator, is looking for innovative solutions or ideas to deliver superior and improved value to the end customers.

The fourth industrial revolution explained


This hi-tech, highly networked world has become known as “Industry 4.0,” the “4th Industrial revolution,” or “Advanced Manufacturing.” It has seen exponential growth in the development of advanced digital technologies, including the use of big data and analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, robotics, quantum computing, voice recognition and digital voice assistants, 3D printing, and cyber security and zero-trust architecture (ZTA).

Industry 4.0 is defined by i-scoop as “a name for the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, including cyber-physical systems, the Internet, cloud computing, cognitive computing, and creating smart factories.”

Technological pillars of Industry 4.0

Process Automation and Virtualization

IoT, Robots/Cobosts, Digital Twins, 3D Printing, VR, AR, MR, etc.


Cloud and Edge Computing, and next-generation with Quantum Computing

Future of Programming

Software 2.0


IoT Connectivity

Applied AI

Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing and Speech Technology


Blockchain, Cyber Security, Business Mode

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