The Bio-Technopark Schlieren-Zurich is home to numerous start-ups in the life sciences sector. Image credit: Limmatstadt AG

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Life sciences drive economy in canton of Zurich

25 March 2021 13:27

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Zurich – The canton of Zurich is a life sciences research location that is above the global average in terms of dynamism. This and the ICT sector are the industries with the strongest growth in the canton according to the Cluster Study Life Sciences Zurich 2021/22.

The life sciences industry is the strongest-growing sector in the canton of Zurich. Over the past ten years, it has increased in value by over 5 percent per year on average. As such, it is developing considerably more dynamically than the rest of the economy. These are the results of the Cluster Study Life Sciences Zurich 2021/22. The Division of Business and Economic Development at the Office for Economy and Labour of the canton of Zurich ordered this extensive, quantitative analysis. It was created by the economic institute BAK Economics.

The study investigated the structure and dynamics of the life sciences industry in the canton as well as its position on an international comparison and its innovative strength. In doing so, the authors came to the conclusion, for example, that cutting-edge life sciences research plays an important role in Zurich’s technology portfolio. Around 30 percent of all active patents in Zurich in future technology come from the life sciences area. The number of world-class patents in MedTech, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals has grown more rapidly than it has worldwide, especially for the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

This leading position is undoubtedly thanks to the “excellent university research environment” in this location. This environment drives innovation and the establishment of numerous start-ups and spin-offs. Additionally, the Bio-Technopark Schlieren-Zürich - which includes the Roche Innovation Center - and the Balgrist Campus, provides the functional transfer of knowledge and technology within this ecosystem.

Some technologies see even stronger growth in Zurich than the global average. Active world-class patents for Zurich-based drug research have grown annually by 14 percent on average since 2000, and this figure is 16 percent for cancer therapies.

Life sciences in the canton of Zurich are also an important growth engine for the digital health sector. In the Greater Zurich Area, there are currently at least 70 start-ups in this industry as well as additional small and medium-sized enterprises. However, for the immediate future, the necessary foundations for further development of this must be promoted “and the challenges present in the market must be addressed, such as data silos due to often still poor interoperability”.

The study views the medium-term and long-term prognoses for the life sciences industry as positive. Hardly any other sector shows such structural growth potential. For this reason, the growth in value will continue to be significantly higher than the rest of the canton’s economy in future as well. “Life sciences will be an important growth driver of the economy of Zurich in the coming decade as well, and the importance of the Zurich life sciences cluster for the economy of the canton will continue to grow.”

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