The traditional approach of undifferentiated medicine (one size fits all) has reached its limits in terms of effectiveness and drug side effects. Health systems that focus on treatment rather than prevention are struggling to meet the medical and financial challenge of chronic diseases (cancer, diabetes etc.). Individuals, sick or not, increasingly want a holistic management of their health.
The convergence of computer sciences and nanotechnologies with biotechnologies has led to major advances in the prevention, early diagnosis, customized treatments and continuous monitoring of diseases. Precision medicine, also known as individualized or personalized medicine, takes into account the individual characteristics of each person’s genes, environment and lifestyle. Advances in biotechnology enable the development of increasingly targeted drugs, coupled with companion biomarkers. The rapid spread of low-cost NGS genetic diagnostic platforms is now supplemented by fine analysis tools at the cellular level (single cell analysis, for example). The new generation of biosensors designed to track various biosignatures, such as blood pressure, pulse, breathing and body temperature, biosensors will revolutionize the way we monitor our health.
Strenghts & Weaknesses
Switzerland has exceptional assets to become one of the world lead- ers in precision medicine. It is home to pharmaceuticals giants (Roche, Novartis), medical equipment (Medtronic, Synthes) and nutrition (Nestlé, Givaudan). Equally important, IT giants (Google, IBM) are present and are increasingly interested in health, because data is at the heart of pharmaceutical innovation. The Basel region is considered the second most powerful pharmaceutical cluster in the world after Boston. Switzerland’s healthcare cluster includes more than 300 start-ups in biotech (e.g., Cutiss or Versantis, the latest winners of the Top 100 Swiss Start-up Award), medtech (Ava Women, Piavita), Bioinformatics and genetic diagnostic tools (SOPHiA GENETICS, BC Platforms). Others specialize in telemedicine (Medgate, Oviva, DomoSafety) or in connected self-monitoring, known as quantified self (LMD, Sleepiz, Aktiia). The ecosystem is very powerful and concentrated. It brings together in a small area the decision-makers of world-renowned hospitals (the CHUV of Lausanne was ranked in the top 10 best hospitals in the world by Newsweek in 2019), university and industrial R & D, insurance, the supervisory authority (Swissmedic) and companies.
The ecosystem therefore has all the ingredients for great success: a long tradition with historical players known throughout the world, a high intensity of R & D, a strong brand image and a VC track-record. The machine is ready. VC financing must now be intensified to reach a critical global size.
Healthcare issues are difficult to resolve not only because of the com- plexity of the human body, but also because of the interactions between regulators, the medical profession, insurance companies, the research community and the end consumer, not to mention the multitude of ethical issues and laws on the patients’ medical data protection.
- Cluster in the top three worldwide, first in Europe for biotech and precision medicine
- 15 start-ups valued at more than CHF 1 billion