The NTN (National Thematic Network) Swiss Biotech™ has set some ambitious objectives which are important when it comes to adding value to the technology value chain:
- combining core competences of absorptive companies with academic knowledge and practices;
- bringing together decentralised competences such as academic partners and industry;
- concentrating knowledge and technology around platforms;
- supporting the building up of important alliances;
- enabling access to a reliable network of capacities.
NTN Swiss Biotech™ Research Platforms
- Biocatalysis and Biosynthesis
- Bioresource Technologies
- In vitro Diagnostics
- Regenerative Medicine
- TEDD Tissue Engineering for Drug Discovery
The NTN Swiss Biotech™ makes use of effective instruments to implement the set objectives:
- organizes events to bring industry and research together such as the Swiss Biotech™ Day (including partnering), the Swiss Biotech™ Innovation Day, the Swiss Biotech™ Research Day at Basel Life, the Swiss Biotech™ Day Fall and specific platform events;
- provides platforms to concentrate knowledge and technology from antibiotics to tissue engineering;
- brings together decentralised competences and chaperones the phase of partner finding;
- supports international activities and participates with
- an exhibition stand at events such as BioEurope or BIO
- promotes events, workshops, successful R&D projects through own publications (NTN bulletins), articles in journals such as European Biotechnology or CHIMIA and web-site coverage (www.biotechnet.ch, www.swissbiotech.org);
- provides seed money to realize CTI projects.
Since it was established in 2013 the NTN Swiss Biotech™ has stimulated exchange and interaction between industry and academia. These are a selection of successful R&D projects:
High added-value diagnostics
BÜHLMANN Labs is a sound source of innovation. Within the CTI Special Measures for the strong Swiss franc, the team, together with two Swiss companies and the FHNW, created CALEX®, a stool extraction device that enables stool extracts to be prepared for biomarker tests outside medical laboratories; for example in POC settings or for self-testing (two patents pending). The MIAMI project in the 7th Framework Program with Swiss and European partners generated IBDoc®, the first IVD CE marked self-test to help with the therapeutic monitoring of diagnosed IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) patients.
Member competences in NTN Swiss Biotech™
At HES-SO Valais-Wallis, Prof. Fabian Fischer has specialized in microbial fuel cells for novel applications that meet the challenge of producing renewable energies. He and his team possess a unique expertise in bioelectric energy vector generation, phosphate extraction and the testing of antimicrobial surfaces.
Peptides are small proteins typically containing a chain of up to 100 amino acids. In our bodies, they are produced every day in vast quantities and perform highly specific biological activities. As there is an increased interest in peptides for pharmaceutical applications, the HES-SO Valais-Wallis created a research group to focus on peptide and protein technologies.
For the first time, researchers from MCI Innsbruck and the University of Salzburg have manufactured and purified a plant-based allergen in a green algae and opened the door to a specific immunotherapy against allergies. Their vision is to replace unpleasant injections with oral administration, as its production is both simple and cost effective.
In summer 2016, Michael Raghunath from the National University of Singapore (NUS) took over the professorship from Ursula Graf-Hausner in cell culture technology and tissue engineering at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), Life Sciences and Facility Management. He intends to boost 3D tissue engineering with his core technology of macromolecular crowding and spur on the development of bioink for bioprinting. He will introduce metabolic tissue engineering as a research theme in Switzerland with the aim of making an impact at national and international level.
Networking events by NTN Swiss Biotech™
The NTN Swiss Biotech™ Innovation Day demonstrates the potential of industry-academia collaborations for innovation in life sciences. Program highlights were the keynote by Dr. Peter Grunenfelder of Thinktank Avenir Swiss, and the presentations of current CTI life sciences projects and their strategic role for the industry and academic partners, as well as the poster exhibition in the networking area.
During the Basel Life Science Week from 19 - 23 September 2016, four international speakers presented their topics on the theme of ‘Molecular Diagnostics brought by NTN Swiss Biotech™.
In a world of dwindling fossil-based energy, global air pollution and warming, biocatalysis may be a perfect problem solver. It has the potential to deliver sustainable raw materials and energy from biomass, and enables chiral and highly functionalized compounds to be produced ecologically for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. At ZHAW Life Sciences and Facility Management on 20 June, the Competence Center for Biocatalysis (CCBIO) headed by Dr. Rebecca Buller, gave European experts the opportunity to present the latest findings from science, research and practice in the future oriented field of biocatalysis.
Life long learning and formation of the next generation
In response to current needs for advanced professional training, Roche offers its employees an intensive course in cell cultivation and downstreaming under the auspices of biotechnet Switzerland. In 2016, lecturers from the ZHAW, Life Sciences and Facility Management gave participants the benefit of their expertise in theory and laboratory practice. One valuable side effect is the creation of a permanent network of specialists.
11th Summer School on Advance Biotechnology
The 11th biotechnet Summer School on Advanced Biotechnology 2016 was held in the Orto Botanico of the University of Palermo. Students (bachelor, master and PhD), researchers and teachers from Italy, Switzerland and Austria met to discuss important topics of biotechnology.
Platform events organized or co-organized by NTN Swiss Biotech™
- Visit of the Clinical Chemistry Laboratories of the Inselspital Bern, 25 April 2016, Bern
- Industrial Biocatalysis: 8th Wädenswil Day of Life Science. 20 June 2016, Wädenswil
- Second Antibiotics Platform meeting. 20 June 2016 Polyphor Ltd., Allschwil
- Latsis Symposium ETH Zurich on Personalized Medicine, 29 June 2016, Zurich
- Retreat Competence Center-Personalized Medicine. 30 October 2016, Kartause Ittingen
- Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing and Single-Use-Technologies. 5 September 2016, Wädenswil
The comprehensive program of activities by NTN Swiss Biotech™ and its partners biotechnet and Swiss Biotech Association has been recognized with funding by the CTI KTT program until end of 2018.