Robust ecosystem

Three biotech start-ups have attracted well-known investors and raised more than USD 100 million. Behind this success lies a well-functioning ecosystem.

Dear reader

Alentis Therapeutics raised USD 105 million in its Series C round. The Basel biotech start-up is an example of how well the Swiss ecosystem now works. Alentis CEO Roberto Iacone worked for many years at Roche and US VC Versant Ventures’ Basel incubator. The start-up CEO thus knows first-hand the needs and mindset of big pharma and VCs. The Board of Directors includes Luca Santarelli, a successful biotech serial entrepreneur, and Martin Münchbach, representative of Swiss VC BB Pureos Bioventures, an experienced biotech investor. However, Alentis’ network and activities do not end at the border: the company has an R&D subsidiary in Strasbourg and clinical operations in the US, and iIn addition to European investors, US investors are also on board.

Two other biotech companies also attracted new investors this week. Mosanna Therapeutics is backed by a US and a German VC, and Araris Biotech gained Samsung Ventures. Both start-ups also have a strong investor base in Switzerland, and in turn the investors often have many years of entrepreneurial experience.

The density and quality of the ecosystem gives me confidence in the resilience of the start-up scene. There is also the traditional strength of the local economy – the variety of industries that contribute to Switzerland’s prosperity and which shape the start-up scene. And so this week there were fewer success stories from ICT start-ups, but more achievements from sustainable young companies. Food start-up Yumame secured an investment, as did Xilva – the start-up is building a marketplace for forest investments. Elephbo, which produces backpacks, handbags and sneakers from recycled cement bags, has now been acquired by e-commerce company Surs.

The youngest Venture Kick winner is irmos technologies; its platform extends the lifespan and improves the safety of buildings and bridges. Twelve early-stage agrifood start-ups were selected for the Swiss Israel Lean Launchpad programme, and four other cleantech start-ups scooped national and international awards.

I would also like to point out a new study on the general conditions in Switzerland, carried out by the University of St. Gallen on behalf of the Swiss Entrepreneurs & Startup Association (SWESA). As our article explains, specific improvement measures have been developed based on a survey of experts and an examination of the applicable legislation.

Next week my colleague Ritah Nyakato will be at the Bold Pitch Night for female founders in Zurich. The following week, I will be attending Swiss Biotech Day in Basel and the Startup Champions Seed Night in Lausanne.

Have a good weekend.
Stefan Kyora

Editor in Chief,