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Top 15 Swiss biotech startups making a difference in Europe

17.06.2021
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This article was written by Labiotech.eu with the support of BioAlps, the Greater Zurich Area, and Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE).

 

Switzerland has long been known as a booming biotech hotspot in Europe that boasts many high-profile companies. Here are the top 5 biotech companies among the new generation of promising startups in Western Switzerland.

Last year saw a record-breaking amount of money pouring into the Swiss biotech industry. According to a recent report by the Swiss Biotech Association, biotechs in Switzerland raised approximately €3B (CHF 3.4B), more than doubling 2019’s €1.08B (CHF 1.2B) haul.

Notable Swiss biotech fundraising included ADC Therapeutics’ €215M IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in May 2020.

Switzerland’s success as a bubbling biotech cauldron is reflected in the steadily growing number of biotech companies that have settled there. In the last ten years, the number of biotechs in Switzerland has grown from 236 in 2010 to 314 in 2020. Swiss biotechs employed more than 16,000 people in 2020.

High-profile companies in Switzerland include ADC Therapeutics & AC Immune.

Smaller biotech companies and startups in Switzerland are often spun-out and supported by a number of academic institutions, incubators, and accelerators. Examples include the EPFL & StartLab.

 

List of promising biotech startups in Western Switzerland

 

  • Haya Therapeutics focuses on blocking long non-coding RNAs found in the human genome, which play a role in fibrotic diseases and other age-related health conditions, like cancer. Haya aims to identify new targets and drug candidates that could be more effective and have a greater efficacy profile than current treatments. The precision therapeutics company uses RNA-targeting drugs, such as modified antisense oligonucleotides, to inhibit long non-coding RNAs.In May 2021, Haya Therapeutics raised a €16.4M (CHF 18M) funding round. The company is also preparing to start clinical trials with its lead candidate, an antisense molecule to treat the rare heart disease non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

 

  • iOnctura: Spun out from Merck in 2017, iOnctura develops cancer and fibrosis treatments. The company’s lead candidate is a small molecule drug that blocks a protein called PI3K delta, which is active in many types of cancers. While there are several PI3K inhibitors on the market and in development already, iOnctura’s drug is the first to target solid tumors. In January 2020, the company raised €15M in a Series A round to fund a phase I trial of iOnctura’s lead candidate. The rest of the money was earmarked for completing the preclinical development of iOnctura’s second candidate, also for treating solid tumors.

 

  • Stalicla was founded to meet a fundamental challenge in the development of autism treatments: clinical trials of ‘one-size-fits-all’ drugs for autism patients have failed in recent years. The precision medicine company is taking a tailored approach to tackle the diverse condition. Stalicla uses AI to class patients with autism spectrum disorder into different patient populations based on their genetics and other available clinical data. Then, it repurposes existing drugs that are best suited to treating the groups of patients it has identified. In February 2020, Stalicla raised €16.3M in Series A financing to boost the clinical development of its lead candidate and preclinical testing of its second candidate. The company’s lead candidate combines two repurposed drugs and two diagnostic tests to detect biomarkers. It is designed to treat 20% of patients who have autism from an unknown cause.

 

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