Breakthrough innovation in oncology

The Basel Area: a centre for breakthrough innovation in oncology. 

With companies specializing in oncology R&D and therapeutics springing up all over the globe, more and more companies are focusing in on the Basel Area as they search for a base for their new enterprises. 

Immunology and oncology research fields edge closer to the holy grail of personalized medicine and show real promise for treating certain malignancies.

Dr Stephan Emmerth and Paul Eschmann, from Basel Area Business & Innovation, explain the benefits of being in the location of Basel, Switzerland. They say it’s a multitude of factors, including an extensive and highly qualified talent pool, a unique industry cluster of global players, prestigious academic institutions, and major investors 

Located in the heart of Europe, at the apex of borders with Germany and France, it has first-class road and rail links and an international airport on its doorstep. 

Added to this is Switzerland’s political and economic stability, with favourable tax laws and immigration policies. Then there’s the life in Switzerland, one of the most beautiful and culturally rich parts of the world. 

The Basel Area offers a broad and deep talent pool with 32,500+ skilled professionals on the ground along the entire value chain. Excellent framework conditions attract international talent and companies alike, whether they are relocating their headquarters, setting up a new division, or opening a research and development facility.

Paul EschmannHead of International Markets and Business Affairs

Supporting pioneers in cancer research

Several leading companies focusing on developing novel cancer therapeutics have now established a base in the Basel area, taking advantage of this unique environment to accelerate their research.  

SOTIO Biotech is an international biotech from the Czech Republic that focuses on immuno-oncology and develops innovative methods for treating cancer.  

The company has conducted multiple Phase I to III clinical trials and uses four distinct technological platforms, including numerous promising drug candidates.

SOTIO has built a diverse biotechnology portfolio through its R&D  collaborations and investments since 2010. It now employs around 240 personnel across Europe and the US. It chose to establish a base in Basel after evaluating several potential European locations and has since forged connections with many biotech professionals in the area.

Another example of ground-breaking oncology in action in the area is BeiGene, a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company from China that recently established its European headquarters for clinical trial operations in Basel.  

Because we are based in Basel, we get access to the tremendous flow of innovation from this leading European life sciences hub. The academic and biopharma environment, the deep talent pool of the region and the entrepreneur-friendly economic policies of Switzerland make the difference for our portfolio’s success.

Stephan EmmerthDirector of Business Development & Operations, BaseLaunch

Similarly, Engimmune Therapeutics has also benefitted from the rich scientific ecosystem in the area to further its work in cancer drug discovery. The company was founded in 2021 as an early-stage spinout of a research group at D-BSSE Basel (the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering). It applies genome editing, deep sequencing, functional screening, and machine learning to address key efficacy and safety challenges that currently limit the full potential of T-cell receptor (TCR)-based therapies.  

Engimmune Therapeutics started in academia and harnessed local support to successfully launch in the biopharma field. It was supported by BaseLaunch which partners with scientists and entrepreneurs to help launch and grow exceptional biotech ventures and develop cutting-edge therapeutics. 

BaseLaunch was fundamental in the company’s transition, providing initial financing, strategic advice, and access to its biotech network, allowing the firm to rapidly bring personnel on board and fasttrack its fundraising efforts. 

Another example of ground-breaking oncology in action in the area is BeiGene, a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company from China that recently established its European headquarters for clinical trial operations in Basel.  

We all feel very comfortable when we come here, you have a beautiful relaxing river that runs through the city, and that’s how it’s felt for our organization as we set up here. At every moment, we felt very comfortable and like we were flowing with a stream of things to get our organization going, and it’s really been a pleasure and a delight, and refreshing.

John V. Oyler
Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of BeiGene

Access to a varied and highly skilled pool of talent, a business-friendly environment, and proximity to the European market were all crucial factors, and Basel Area Business & Innovation was pivotal in helping BeiGene to evaluate business locations, establish its new site, and rapidly build a large team of experts to kick-start its success in the region.

This new base on European soil is helping the company to continue its mission: to transform the way drug discovery is made and to make medicines more affordable and accessible to patients worldwide. 

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The Basel Area: an international business hub

These three examples demonstrate the incredible diversity and quality of talents – from scientists to commercial experts. The excellent infrastructure and local support make the Basel area a perfect choice for entrepreneurs to establish companies in the life sciences and biotech industries.

 In fact, no other life sciences ecosystem in the world is developing as rapidly as the Basel Region. For example, it demonstrated a 9.3% growth a year in the decade from 2010 to 2020, and in 2018, the area submitted 205 patent applications per million inhabitants, placing it second only to the city of Boston in terms of innovation capacity (1). The Basel area also generated $526 per hour worked in 2020, compared with $280 in the San Francisco Bay Area, further demonstrating its high level of productivity (1).  

The Basel Area ecosystem 

The Basel Area is home to more than 700 life-science companies, many of whom are involved in research into antimicrobial resistance and the development of new drugs and therapies to combat diseases. It’s a progressive ecosystem comprising large companies, spin-offs, start-ups, suppliers, leading research organizations, an experienced talent pool and a pragmatic regulatory framework.
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This dynamic hub in the heart of Europe has already helped many businesses grow beyond expectations and will certainly continue to back more innovators from across the globe. The many visionaries and business-minded professionals who call Basel home are driven to extend their network and translate their ground-breaking scientific research into impactful and accessible medicines on a global scale. 

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