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Life Science Valley in the Heart of Europe

The Swiss Canton Ticino is an Ideal Platform for International Business

24.11.2017 -

Located just south of the Swiss Alps, Ticino is the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. The canton’s strategic geographic position represents a bridge between northern and southern Europe and between two of the strongest and most dynamic economic areas in Europe: Lombardy in Italy – with Milan at its heart – and the Basle-Zurich area in Switzerland.

Ticino is one of the furthermost touristic locations in Switzerland, but at the same time it showcases a wide array of business activities. The local economy ideally balances the industrial and the service sectors. Alongside a leading tertiary sector there is a solid industrial sector with internationally competitive and highly innovative companies. The backbone of the industrial sector, composed by a number of SMEs in the fields of life sciences, mechanics and electronics, has recently been complemented by rising new sectors like renewable energies and advanced logistics.

The Life Sciences Sector

Ticino’s industry sector, especially in the electrical engineering and chemical-pharmaceutical areas, is heavily export-oriented. In the life sciences field the pharma industry plays an important role, and top-quality niche producers located in Ticino cover the entire pharma supply chain.

The Farma Industria Ticino (FIT) association of chemical and pharmaceutical industries, founded in 1980, is a private organization that currently counts 26 member companies, with a combined workforce of 2,900 employees and a total annual turnover of approximately CHF 2.3 billion (ca. €2.1 billion and $2.4 billion), more than 80% of which being derived from export.

Quality, technology, innovation and sustainable growth represent the core assets of the pharma industry. Several FIT member companies have been certified, in addition to Swissmedic, by many foreign authorities such as US-FDA, and participate in programs such as OSHA, ISO, responsible care and certified sustainability.

Several investments accounting for almost CHF 500 million have been planned for Ticino from 2016 to 2018, mainly in R&D and innovation. Activities of the associates range from preclinical and clinical drug development to chemical and formulation process development to industrial manufacturing of different classes of APIs and of a great variety of drug products forms. The vast majority of FIT companies also offer services such as contract research and manufacturing.

Representing the vast majority of the companies active in this Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, FIT has a great network of know-how and access to skilled and qualified, multilingual human resources. In Ticino, the presence of world-class high schools and research institutes integrated into the enterprise system and the proximity to the Swiss and Northern Italy universities and pharmaceutical expertise provide a significant technical, scientific, logistic and cultural asset.

A main area of focus to which Farma Industria Ticino contributes with its own expertise is vocational training. A commitment also based on the constant need to discover and train future co-workers. The Association’s activity in this specific area hinges on the promotion of all training opportunities which are tied to careers in the sector, and targeted at new generations of technicians, organizing introductory courses aimed at young people who are serving apprenticeships in the professions of chemical laboratory technician, biology laboratory technician and manufacturing operators. For the middle management teams, mini-MBA training courses in pharmaceutical management are organized in collaboration with a local university school (SUPSI).

Business Advice and Support

The success of the local industrial companies is based, on one hand, on the advantages offered by the “Swiss system” in terms of political and institutional stability, a flexible labor market, and a mild taxation. On the other hand, the availability of highly skilled labor force with exceptional multilingual skills and the opportunity for companies to collaborate with top-notch research institutes stimulates the local enterprises to constantly invest in innovation and remain competitive.

The local authorities are equipped to advise and support business ventures at their various stages. Particular attention is paid to the general framework conditions, in order to provide a business-friendly and unbureaucratic environment.

The Economic Promotion Agency informs foreign companies about the business opportunities in our region and simplifies their settlement by providing practical and direct support. Start-ups and innovative entrepreneurial projects are supported by the AGIRE Foundation through coaching, technology advisory, networking and financial support. AGIRE promotes and fosters the transfer of technology between companies and the academic or research centers. AGIRE manages the Technology Park (the network of technology parks (“Tecnopolo Ticino”) that offers office spaces and support to innovative companies targeting international markets from Ticino. The main hub located in the proximity of Lugano consists of 2700 m2 of offices and conference rooms, and, so far, more than 50 companies have settled there. Additional locations, dedicated to specific business sectors, including biotech and medtech, are in preparation.

TiVenture is a newly established venture capital fund that invests in innovative companies with high growth potential strongly collaborating with the local stakeholders of the local innovation ecosystem.

Existing companies and newly settled enterprises active in manufacturing and innovative fields are also offered various direct incentives and support mainly aimed at fostering R&D, innovation and export.

High Competitiveness

Ticino‘s socio-economic elements offer an attractive and highly competitive environment. Attention to quality of life is of paramount importance in Ticino and is reflected in the personal security provided to citizens, the quality of the health system, the efficiency of public transport and of financial services. These distinguishing social factors, together with a mild Mediterranean climate and a spectacular natural landscape, represent great assets for investors and entrepreneurs in the heart of Europe.