Biotech sector in Switzerland

Chemical solution in lab

With 188 biotech companies and 61 biotech suppliers, Switzerland has the world’s highest per capita biotech density.

Market overview

In 2011, the Swiss biotech industry generated a turnover of CHF 8.7 billion and had a workforce of over 19,000.

Switzerland maintains a leading position in the global pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The city of Basle is a European centre of “big pharma”, and the country’s strong biotech industry is nearing maturity.

Switzerland is an advanced pharmaceutical market. Per-capita expenditure on drugs is among the highest in the world. Consumption centres around patented pharmaceuticals, with Switzerland providing a ready market for cutting-edge therapies. Meanwhile, high levels of out of-pocket expenditure have resulted in the development of a mature and competitive consumer health sector.

Switzerland has become one of the global leaders in the development and production of biopharmaceuticals, vaccines and diagnostics (red biotechnology), with 85% of all Swiss biotech companies playing an active role in this field. However, agricultural (green) and industrial (white) biotechnology may also have a lot of growth potential.

Complete report published by Ernst&Young available on request from UKTI Geneva

Key opportunities

The Swiss market comprises a spread of company types, ranging from “big pharma” and other larger-sized biopharma companies to small-to-medium sized companies and start-ups. In general, Swiss companies are open to international partnerships and cooperation.

Because of the strengths of indigenous industry, opportunities for British companies are mainly in areas of scientific/technological collaboration, and supply of services:

  • Bioinformatics

  • Human Life Sciences (new compounds and molecules, drug delivery technology)

  • Rising interest in nutraceuticals

  • Contract Research Organisations

  • Instrumentation, systems and equipment

Latest export opportunities in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals sector

Latest export opportunities in Switzerland

Getting into the market

Biotech and pharma companies enjoy a favourable regulatory and administrative environment in Switzerland. Product registration cycles are short and innovative drugs, biotech products and services enjoy easy access to the markets.

Switzerland has good contractual relations with the European Union and in many cases legislation is harmonised.

Swiss companies typically have considerable financial strength and invest significantly in R&D. They are global in their outlook and favourable to international business relationships.

More about doing business in Switzerland


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in the Life Sciences sector

Major Events

For a detailed listing of events in Switzerland please consult

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare & Medical
Countries: Switzerland
Topics: Getting Started
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