Academia and Research Technology Organisations
Precision Medicine in Basel is well supported by Academia with over 6,000 students and researchers in the field of Medicine and Science at the University of Basel including the dedicated centre for Life Sciences, Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Biomedicine a joint venture with the University Hospital Basel, The Swiss Tropical Health Institute, ETH-Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (ETH-DBSSE), Friedrich Mischer Institute for Medical Research and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwest Switzerland (FHNW) with four institutes in the areas of chemistry, bioanalytics, pharma, environmental technologies, biomedical engineering and medical informatics. This offers a great talent pool for future innovation.
In applied research, the Swiss Centre of Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), is a world leading Research and Technology Organisation (RTO), active for more than a decade in the wearable technologies and IoT domain, and with the mission to transfer its IP and (micro-) technologies to the (Swiss) precision medicine industry cluster.
In addition to the Basel based institutions Basel’s close proximity to Zurich and Lausanne give access to ETH and the EPFL. Universities Ranked in the top 20 globally and top 10 in Europe. Other close by institutions include the Paul Scherrer Insitute and also the Strasbourgand Freiburg universities just across the border. An example that shows the collaboration with Basel and nearby ETH Zurich is 4Quant, a big imaging data start-up from ETH, and the University Hospital of Basel looking to automatically review and quantify patient imaging data and create a truly digital diagnostic department. These efforts are a supported by a long-term cooperation between the department of radiology and Siemens Healthineers.
Another example of collaborative work in the region is the MIRACLE project at the Department of Biomedical Engineering where interdisciplinary teams are working to reduce the negative impacts of surgery. This work is recognised internationally and is supported by the Werner Siemens foundation. Other leading work is that of the ETH-DBSSE particularly the Biotechnology and Bioengineering group working across biopharmaceutical manufacturing, gene therapy and tissue engineering.
The Institute for Medical and Analytical Technologies (IMA) at FHNW is a collaboration supporting the local hospitals in the field of reprocessing and medical data analytics. In cooperation with these institutions software was developed to visualize patient flows in the hospital and process data over the borders of hospitals and companies. Collaborations like this have previously led to CTI-projects and startups such as Mininavident and MIMEDIS.
Karger Publishing, is a Basel based academic publisher with over 105 biomedical journals and an increasing number of open access and online publications. They are in the process of launching a journal on digital biomarkers to support Precision Medicine and innovate the way the community shares information.
A strong Healthcare system is obviously key to the transfer of invention to an innovation. Basel has leading institutions such as the University Hospital Basel with over 7,000 staff and a number of other specialty and regional hospitals and world leading telemedicine innovators Medgate.
Medgate one of the global leaders in Telemedicine was founded in Basel in 1999 and now has partners and offices throughout Switzerland and in Abu Dhabi and Australia. It is an example of the value of collaboration across silos being co-founded by a Physician, Economist and IT professional. This innovative approach continues with the application of Artificial Intelligence to optimise patient flows today.
Payors and Regulators
The better alignment of incentives with outcomes is likely to be key to the adoption of Precision Medicine as it often goes beyond the traditional reimbursement model. A number of Insurers including Sympany are present in Basel and the global insurance hub of Zurich is close by when knowledge is needed.
Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products is the single authority for the approval of both pharmaceuticals and medical devices in Switzerland. They are aligned with but separate to the European Medicines Agency enabling some freedom for more innovative approaches in the future and is located close to Basel in Bern.
The Patient and Patient Data will be crucial both to the development of Precision Medicine and the future implementation of any innovations. Since 2015 the Swiss law on Electronic Patient Dossier (EPD) has been in effect. This will build a future framework for the exchange of patient data across providers and the 26 Swiss Cantons. Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft and key players in the region have joined in the eHealth Nordwestschweiz: Trägerverein (North West Switzerland ehealth Foundation) to promote the smooth implementation across as large a number of patients and organisations as possible.
Healthbank.coop and midata.coop  are 2 bottom up initiatives that aren’t waiting for the EPD to be rolled out across Switzerland. They both combine Patient data along with non-medical data to be used in medical research. Together with the SPHN these are a number of the exciting new opportunities for the use of patient data in Switzerland.
Putting the pieces together.
The value of a cluster comes not from simply having the pieces in the same geographic region but also in the process of collaboration between the institutions and individuals and support to grow when needed.
Government support is available through BaselStadt and the BaselArea.Swiss that promote collaboration in the region. This also includes the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, the Technologie Park Basel and recently launched BaseLaunch accelerator for biotech companies. In addition, DayOne-the innovation hub for Precision Medicine, is a bottom up initiative to break down the silo mentality of healthcare innovation formally launched in 2017. This group is working to promote collaboration through events and collaborative projects amongst stakeholders in the region.
Access to financial support to go to the next level is also possible in the region with a life science angel network and also the presence of venture capital investors such as BiomedPartners, BayCity Capital as well as the Novartis and Roche Venture funds.
How does Basel compare?
Basel is on a global level well placed when it comes to the key ingredient of Employees working in the key sectors of Life Science, R&D and ICT. Compared to a number of regions in the table below it is clear that Basel has the highest share of employment in Life Sciences and the fastest growth rate in Life Sciences and R&D. The ICT Sector in Basel though lower than a number of other regions in absolute numbers is ranked 4th of the 12th regions in growth.