Text: Benoît Dubuis
Photo: DR

Drive is the starting point in any success.

“I’d like to congratulate you for creating this wonderful ecosystem,” Johann Schneider-Ammann said in praise on 1 December 2016, looking at the map of Health Valley and especially realising how much positive energy goes into developing this regional ecosystem.

2016 was indeed a busy year. Nearly 550 million Swiss francs was raised to support the region’s entrepreneurs in life sciences. IPOs achieved outstanding success, such as those for AC Immune and GeNeuro. And the company MindMaze became the first unicorn in Switzerland.

The year also reached an important milestone, with nearly 1,000 companies and 25,500 highly skilled professionals who work every day in defining the medical strategies of tomorrow. That includes researchers, entrepreneurs, producers, manufacturers, product design innovators, service providers and all kinds of “energisers”.

Making that drive a reality

In a comparison between countries, today life sciences bring key value to Switzerland, which ranks third worldwide in growth of gross added value. That indicator has risen more than 12% over the past 10 years and is expected to climb 4.4% per year between now and 2020. As a result, life sciences currently represent one-quarter of the total value of exports in Western Switzerland, i.e. 17 billion Swiss francs in 2016.

Maintaining that drive

However, this particularly fertile ground must be maintained. It must also be, live and grow basing its structure on its key players so that it does not simply waste away.

Health Valley has found the right channels to come together and, tomorrow, must organise the resources it needs to stay together in order to work in synergy thereafter, transforming hopes into promises and turning those promises into concrete plans.

A year ago, I told you about two initiatives that specifically aimed to help you make your drive a reality—the Inartis Challenges and the MassChallenge.

The Inartis Challenges are designed to identify and stimulate the emergence of fresh projects by giving new meaning to individual ideas. Building on this mindset and drive to offer hospital patients real support, the first edition of the Debiopharm Inartis Challenge, featuring a prize of 50,000 Swiss francs, was launched with the theme “Quality of life for patients undergoing treatment”. Given the success of the first event, a second edition of the Challenge will be organised. Once again, it will draw on collective intelligence—the intelligence of students, artists, retirees, patients, entrepreneurs and hopefully your own. Turn your drive into reality by joining us!

MassChallenge, the leading international start-
up accelerator, offers four-month accelerator programmes for the most ambitious innovators. The first edition in Switzerland wrapped up in November 2016, honouring 13 companies and handing out more than 400,000 Swiss francs in prizes. Our region felt the direct impact, with
over 50 direct jobs created, 30 agreements signed between start-ups and manufacturers and five foreign companies set up permanently in French-speaking Switzerland. A second edition is on its way. Onlookers, come take part in the revolution. Join us, join them and create value for our regional ecosystem. ⁄