More than 5,000 scientists with higher academic degrees work in public research in Europe's Upper Rhine valley, making this area one of the highest densities of life sciences-related research in the world. Now, the triangle region from Basel, Switzerland, in the south to Strasbourg, France, and Freiburg, Germany, in the north is striving to become the European heart of the biotechnology sector.
Founded in late 1997, this biopharmaceutical company has become a leading player in endothelium-related research. It is now a profitable business that employs 330 staff in R&D. The company will recruit another 350 employees for a new R&D center to be finished by the end of 2006.
Based in Münchenstein near Basel, the company, with a staff of 46 people from 13 countries, is dedicated to the discovery and development of novel antimicrobial agents. It recently raised 51.3 million Swiss francs in its third financing round and is seeking to employ eight new people by the end of the year.
Over the last three decades, this department at the University of Basel has won a worldwide reputation as a leading research institute for molecular biology, microbiology, and immunology. Since 2002, it also includes research in the fields of bioinformatics and genomics. The institute has attracted scientists from more than 30 countries, and young professors lead one-third of its 35 research groups.
Center for Biosystems Science and Engineering
This new department of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich will be based in Basel. The project, costing 33 million Swiss francs between 2004 and 2007, was approved in March.
Friedrich Miescher Institute
Mainly financed by the Novartis Research Foundation, the FMI is known for its research in the fields of epigenetics, growth control, and neurobiology. The staff of 280 representing 30 countries includes 180 graduate students, PhD students, and postdocs.
The company with a staff of 80 is a leading supplier of high-performance bioinformatics software and database systems, specializing in the handling and analysis of genomics and proteomics data.
The 27,500 m2 incubator located in Allschwil, a suburb of Basel, is currently home to 20 companies.
One of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies worldwide, the company's headquarters and a research community in Basel comprise 1,590 employees. Major research strengths in Basel include oncology, musculoskeletal research, neuroscience, transplantation, and ophthalmology.
Last year, the pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Basel spent 4.7 billion Swiss francs on R&D. The 1,000 Roche scientists who work in Basel focus on oncology, virology, neuroscience, inflammatory and metabolic diseases, and vascular and urogenital disorders.
Roche Center for Medical Genomics
The successor institute of the renowned Basel Institute for Immunology (BII) employs 80 to 100 scientists and is fully funded by Roche. Research focuses on the development of individualized medicines.
Headquartered in Basel, Syngenta is an agribusiness that invests more than $2 million (US) per day in research. At its research site in Stein, near Basel, 160 scientists conduct research into crop protection, a field in which the company is world leader.
This incubator has 6,000 m2 of office and lab space for new startups. Another 24,000 m2 are available to more established enterprises, and it also offers consulting services. Altogether 10 biotech enterprises are settled at this location.
Center for Applied Biosciences
This virtual institute brings together scientists from the University of Freiburg to initiate or increase cooperation with industry. Currently 30 such applied research projects are underway, mainly in the field of plant biotechnology.
The company produces custom-made antibodies and develops antibody-based cancer therapies. Founded in 1999, it was recently bought by Aldevron (Fargo, ND, US). Genovac employs 14 people.
Founded in 1999 as a spinoff of the University of Freiburg, the company has developed a moss bioreactor for the production of biopharmaceuticals. It has a staff of 20.
Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology
Approximately 100 scientists investigate the molecular basis of the immune response, and topics of developmental biology. The Max Planck Society is currently investing €11 million to renovate and upgrade the labs. A 1,300 m2 extension is planned in the near future.
Plastic and Hand Surgery Department
This department of Freiburg's University Clinic (one of the largest university clinics in Germany) is renowned for its expertise in the field of tissue engineering. Research focuses on growing muscle, cartilage, bone, fat, skin, sinew, and nerves to replace defective tissue. The department's six research groups work in close collaboration with industry.
A spinoff of the Tumor Biology Center, the company employs 28 people and offers kinase screening and production services. It also engages in the development of new kinase inhibitors for the treatment of cancer.
Tumor Biology Center
Basic research at Germany's largest privately owned oncology research clinic focuses on angiogenesis and molecular oncology. Scientists also are involved in all stages of anti-cancer drug development.
Founded in 2000, Neuro 3D (Drug Discovery Development) conducts research into the treatment of depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. The company employs 37 people and has raised €34 million from VC firms.
Entomed develops insect-derived small molecules with anti-infectious or antitumor activity. Clinical development is anticipated by 2005–2006. The company has 41 employees.
Institute for Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology
IGBMC is devoted to the study of higher eukaryotic genomes and the control of gene expression; it is currently expanding to include research in proteomics and structural biology. Its annual budget of €12 million is paid jointly by the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and University Louis Pasteur.
Gilbert Laustriat Institute
The institute's labs are run by CRNS, INSERM, and University Louis Pasteur. Research focuses on developing new drugs. The institute has special expertise in the screening of chemical libraries and in the molecular pharmacology of animals. It employs around 360 people.
Located in Illkirch, a Strasbourg suburb, the Park is a meeting point for education, public, and private research and companies. Bioparc within Innovation Park offers 5,900 m2 of biotech-dedicated labs and offices.
Institute for Molecular Biology of Plants
IBMP is a CNRS institute with 20 research groups that study cell division and plant development, plant mitochondria, isoprenoids, metabolic responses to the biotic environment, and virus-vector-host interactions.
Mouse Clinical Institute
MCI is housed in a new 6,000 m2 facility with a capacity to house 70,000 mice. It employs 93 people devoted to the generation, care, and analysis of transgenic mouse models.
The company develops gene delivery technologies and therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of cancer. It has a 2,800 m2 GMP-complaint (good manufacturing practices) production facility in nearby Illkirch. Transgene employs 166 staff, including 139 directly involved in R&D.