Swiss Biotech report: More revenues, fewer companies
Zurich – The Swiss biotech industry has grown in 2006 in terms of revenues and profits. However, the number of companies decreased. These are the conclusions of this year’s Swiss Biotech Report, carried out by Ernst & Young (E&Y).
By the end of 2006, the Swiss sector consisted of 218 so called ELISCOs (Entrepreneurial LIfe Sciences COmpanies) – five percent less than in 2005 (229). E&Y defines “ELISCOs” as firms, which “use modern biological techniques to develop products or services”. Pharma or Agribiotech businesses, with only secondary activities in biotech, are excluded, as well as Swiss subsidiaries of foreign biotech companies.
At the end of 2006, more than 14.300 people were employed in the Swiss biotech sector, 6.867 of them work for “ELISCOs”. This number marks a 3% increase compared to 2006. However, public Swiss biotech companies employed 3% less people than in 2006. This number includes the staff of Serono, which was bought by the German Merck KGaA. The acquisition only became effective in early 2007. In terms of financing, Switzerland has had a very successful year with a140 million of venture capital flowing mostly into small and medium-sized firms. This value marks the highest amount invested since the burst of the bubble at the turn of the milennium.
Regarding company size, the Swiss biotech industry can be split into three main categories: the nine public companies, including globally active and well-known biotech leaders such as Actelion, and about 20 medium-sized firms with 50 to 100 employees. Some of these companies are now ready for an IPO or another capital market transaction.
Red biotech dominant
Historically, the Swiss industry has been a strong player in the pharmaceutical and chemical fields. Consequently, 85% of the 137 Swiss biotech developers are active in the field of red biotech, while only 7% are focusing on white biotech and 8% on green biotech. Geographically, the majority of Swiss biotech companies are located in the areas around Geneva, Basel and Zurich.