Starting a sustainable life science company means having the right blend of several factors: management, access to cash, adaptability, timing and location. The BioAlps cluster offers a variety of financial services to fit the needs of everyone. From private equity to venture capital, through loans and tax breaks, companies can easily negotiate what is required. Switzerland is known as a strong financial centre and its stock exchange, SIX, holds the second position after London in terms of the number of life science companies listed. Entrepreneurs can access coaching programmes through such organisms as Innobe and CTI.
Early and seed money
Incubators like Eclosion and Fongit, who together with CTN SA set up an early seed money fund, provide initial funding. Polytech Ventures is a new technology seed fund launched at the initiative of several parties close to the EPFL and invests primarily in early-stage technology companies located in Western Switzerland.
Venture kick aims for early detection and promotion of promising business ideas at Swiss universities and schools of higher education. Venture kick helps potential entrepreneurs by giving them the opportunity to win up to CHF 130'000 in funds without security. The Fondation FIT provides seed money to technologically innovative projects, as long as they are developed in conjunction with one of the institutions in the BioAlps cluster. The Foundation for Technological Innovation (FTI) gives financial support to founders of start-up enterprises through long-term credits without interest. The non-profit Fondation Seed Capital Fribourg aims to promote innovation in the canton of Fribourg, notably by contributing to the financing of companies and future companies which present an economic interest for the canton, to favour their development in high added value scientific and technological sectors.
Private equity and venture capital
There is also a rich network of private equity and venture capital companies. In 2008, Switzerland ranked third in VC investment in biotechnology, at some €136 million. Switzerland ranked top in Europe in the number of biopharmaceutical companies having raised private equity of over CHF 10 million. Private equity funds, such as Ares Life Sciences, and venture capitalists Renaissance and NeoMed, all have varied portfolios across the life science sector. The Medical Device Accelerator, a joint venture between venture capital and large medtech, offers scientists and physicians a way to develop their idea without leaving their practice.
Switzerland has one of the highest bank per capita ratios in the world and Western Switzerland houses Swiss and foreign banks, many of whom provide credit and loans. Bank Vontobel, Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse are among the banks that have successfully introduced life science companies onto the stock market.
Whatever the kind of financial assistance is needed, it can be found within the BioAlps cluster.