Press release

20 Apr 2021 Zurich, CH

Swiss Biotech Report: Agility, leadership and innovation - New Report shows exceptional sector performance

Zurich, 20 April 2021 – As one of the leading global biotech hubs, Switzerland was well positioned to facilitate international collaborations and develop solutions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sector saw record levels of investment in 2020.

  •  Capital investments in Swiss biotech companies almost tripled from 2019 to 2020 reaching CHF 3.4B (USD 3.7B) 
  •  R&D investments increased by 10% to CHF 2.2B (USD 2.3B) 
  • The number of employees in Swiss R&D biotech companies increased by 8% to 16,300 
  • High quality patent output helped maintain Switzerland’s top ranking in Global Innovation Index for the tenth consecutive year 
  • From rapid diagnostic test and vaccine manufacturing to drug repurposing, Swiss biotech companies made significant contributions to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic


As one of the leading global biotech hubs, Switzerland was well positioned to facilitate international collaborations and develop solutions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sector saw record levels of investment in 2020. 

The latest edition of the Swiss Biotech Report launched today by the Swiss Biotech Association in conjunction with EY and eight other partner organizations provides analysis of funding, M&A activity and collaborations. The report also highlights projects and companies that were part of the Swiss response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the life science industry applied its R&D and manufacturing capabilities to deliver effective solutions in record time. 

While the spotlight was on Covid-related projects (such as cloning of the virus, diagnostic development or vaccine production) Switzerland and Swiss biotech companies did not lose sight of other unmet medical needs and continued to invest heavily to expand their R&D and manufacturing infrastructure. Investors contributed new funds at record levels to advance the promising pipeline of the Swiss biotech hub. In total, R&D investments increased by 10% to CHF 2.2B. 

The 2021 report highlights Switzerland’s role in responding to the pandemic through basic research (e.g. cloning and 3D structure of the virus), vaccine manufacture and component supply (e.g. Lonza, Bachem, Janssen Cilag), diagnostics (e.g. Roche, Quotient, Ender, MosaiQ, Biolytix) and therapeutics (Humabs Biomed/Vir Biotechnologies, Molecular Partners/Novartis). The industry also received a large number of international awards, which are yet another clear indication of the strength of the Swiss biotech sector and a reflection of the significant progress made in recent years. «While the pandemic highlighted the importance of the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors, a note of caution may be warranted as many companies suffered significant delays in their R&D pipeline. Nonetheless, we are confident that the sector will continue its impressive expansion», commented Michael Altorfer, CEO Swiss Biotech Association.

«2020 was clearly an exceptional year. Investor interest was demonstrated by record levels of financing and the creation of new biotech-specific investment funds such as Pureos Bioventures and Bernina Bioinvest. It was encouraging that Swissmedic approved 42 new drugs in 2020, which was one third more than the 29 approvals for innovative new drugs in 2019»,added Jürg Zürcher, Partner and Biotechnology Leader Germany, Switzerland, Austria, EY.

Key findings in the 2021 Swiss Biotech Report

Swiss biotechs raised a total of CHF 3.44B – their best year ever. CHF 2.7B were invested in public companies including ADC Therapeutics from Lausanne with a CHF 470M (IPO & follow on), CRISPR Therapeutics (CHF 940M), Idorsia (CHF 866M), Molecular Partners (CHF 80M), and Basilea (CHF 125M). The biggest portion of the private capital was raised by VectivBio Holding AG (CHF 135M), SOPHiA Genetics (CHF 100M), and the newly founded company Noema Pharma (CHF 54M).

The Swiss biotech industry generated revenues of CHF 4.5B, compared to CHF 4.8B in 2019. This drop in revenues was mainly due to favorable one-time events in 2019 which didn’t recur in 2020. Nevertheless, biotechs selling marketed products/services continued to increase their revenues.

2020 saw Swiss companies involved in a large number of mergers and acquisitions and collaborations. Several Swiss biotech companies were acquired in 2020 by either (big) pharma or other biotech companies: Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and Roivant Sciences completed their strategic alliance with the formation of a new company, Sumitovant Biopharma in a deal worth USD 3B, Genkyotex announced the closing of the acquisition by Calliditas, and Boehringer Ingelheim acquired NBE-Therapeutics for EUR 1.2B. The sector was successful not only on the financing front, but also in the area of collaborations and licensing arrangements. Many successful new partnerships were established in 2020, including BC Platforms’ partnership with Dante Labs to build Europe’s largest next generation sequencing laboratory.

The Swiss Biotech Report 2021

The Swiss Biotech Report 2021 sheds light on the most important trends, factors and sources of innovation, and summarizes topics and facts on the development of the Swiss biotech industry. This year’s theme is “Aglity, leadership and innovation in the time of COVID-19”. 

The Swiss Biotech Report 2021 Steering Committee

biotechnet Switzerland, Laura Suter-Dick 
Ernst & Young, Jürg Zürcher
Innosuisse, Johanne Stettler
scienceindustries, Jan Lucht
SIX, Fabian Gerber
Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, Hans-Peter Meyer
Swiss Biotech Association, Michael Altorfer
Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, Christian Moser
Swiss National Science Foundation, Florian Fisch
Switzerland Global Enterprise, Sirpa Tsimal

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About Swiss Biotech and the Swiss Biotech Association

Founded in 1998, the Swiss Biotech Association represents the interests of the Swiss biotech industry. To support its members in a competitive market, the association works to secure favorable framework conditions and facilitate access to talents, novel technologies and financial resources. To strengthen and promote the Swiss biotech industry, the Swiss Biotech Association collaborates with numerous partners and life science clusters globally under the brand Swiss Biotech™.

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EY’s organization is represented in Switzerland by Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, with 10 offices across Switzerland, and in Liechtenstein by Ernst & Young AG, Vaduz. In this publication, “EY” and “we” refer to Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.