In 2016, some 47 biotech companies launched an IPO in 2016 as compared with 78 in 2015. Of these, 24 US-based biotechs raised USD 1.2 billion as compared with 2015, when 45 companies raised USD 3.8 billion. Some 23 European companies achieved a total of USD 0.7 billion compared to 33 raising USD 1.4 billion in 2015.
The total amount of capital raised via IPO in 2016 was about half of the amount raised in 2015. This was a clear reflection of uncertainty created by the presidential elections in the US as well as the unknown outcome of BREXIT and its implications for the European biotech universe.
Swiss biotech landscape
These global trends were also reflected in the Swiss biotech landscape. The Swiss biotech industry achieved total revenue of CHF 5.7 billion (2015: CHF 5.1 billion). This result is very positive, especially as the number of revenue-generating biotech companies has increased over the past years. It is also a sign of a certain maturity in the Swiss biotech industry as some of the products are well received in the market and the corresponding demand continues to increase. However, more revenue does not automatically translate into better profitability. A larger proportion of the biotech companies are still in a loss-making position and only a few of the more established companies are generating stable profits.
Key developments in product approvals and clinical development include Actelion’s selexipag. This was approved by Health Canada and the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) in January 2016 as well as Swissmedic in summer 2016. Basilea’s isavuconazol (Cresembal®) was also approved by various European countries.
A series of positive study results were communicated by companies such as AC Immune, Addex, GeNeuro, MaxiVax, Neurimmune, NovImmune and Polyphor. Some of those study results triggered double-digit milestone payments for the Swiss biotech companies from their collaboration partners. Other companies – e.g. Auris Medical with its AM-101 phase III trial – had to digest some setbacks.
Positive momentum in financing
The Swiss biotech community was able to raise almost CHF 823 million (2015: CHF 907 million). Public companies raised approximately CHF 351 million (2015: CHF 474 million) and private companies harvested CHF 472 million in private rounds (2015: CHF 433 million). ADC Therapeutics located in Epalinges was able to achieve one of the largest private rounds in Europe with the collection of USD 105 million. Cardiorentis and NovImmune also cashed in each with CHF 60 million rounds.
In 2016, three Swiss biotech companies successfully completed an IPO. However, all of these IPOs took place abroad; two on NASDAQ (AC Immune, CRISPR Therapeutics) and one at EURONEXT in Paris (GeNeuro). AC Immune was the most successful IPO of a European biotech company in 2016. These three IPOs combined collected more than CHF 200 million in gross proceeds by going public. In December 2016, another two biotechs announced their intention to do a listing at a foreign exchange. ObsEva’s IPO on NASDAQ was successfully completed in January 2017, and Genkyotex’s reverse merger with the French company Genticel resulted in another EURONEXT listing.
SIX Swiss Exchange reported two reverse mergers. During the
1st quarter of 2016 Cytos was completely absorbed by Kuros BioSciences (thereby becoming a medtech company). During the summer months, Relief Therapeutics completed another reverse merger with THERAMetrics Holding, which was itself the result of a reverser merger back in 2013 (Mondobiotech).
Also worth noting is the fact that Lugano-based Helsinn launched its own venture fund with an initial capital injection of USD 50 million.
M&A and collaborations
Big and specialty pharma’s need for new growth opportunities has been discussed in depth in the EY Firepower Index and Gap Report in early 2016. Some of the impacts on the Swiss biotech landscape are outlined in more detail below.
Delenex Therapeutics, a spinoff from Esbatech, was acquired in summer of 2016 by CellMedica UK. Finox was sold by BV Holding to the Hungarian company Gedeon Richter. This was the 2nd acquisition in Switzerland after PregLem back in 2010. EngMab, located in Schwyz, attracted Celgene to acquire the company for a total of USD 600 million. The University Zurich spinoff G7 Therapeutics was purchased for CHF 12 million by Heptares (also UK based) and Xpand agreed to become part of Kuros BioSciences.
On 26 January 2017, the US life sciences giant Johnson & Johnson announced its decision to acquire the European biotech star Actelion in an all-cash acquisition with a deal value of USD 30 billion. This transaction will include the planned spin-off of the Actelion R&D unit in a new and independent, SIX-listed company called Idorsia. Being a 2017 deal, this transaction will be included in the 2017 deal statistics and charts of the Swiss Biotech Report issued in 2018.
Also on the collaboration front, various Swiss companies were able to attract well known partners. Here are a few of the deals:
- Piqur Therapeutics with Eisai
- ADC Therapeutics with Chiome BioSciences
- Sophia Genetics with Illumina
- Selexis with Xencor
- GeNeuro with Servier
Overall, 2016 was again a very positive year for the Swiss biotech industry. The industry achieved a lot of progress in many development fields and the positive news flow is a confirmation of the maturity of the sector as a whole. Swiss biotechs are continuing to attract financial as well as industrial investors which is needed for a prosperous industry.
Number of biotech companies in Switzerland
Number of employees
Capital investment in Swiss biotech companies
Total Swiss biotech companies
Publicly traded Swiss biotech companies
Privately held Swiss biotech companies
- The 2016 data in this table is based on information that was available up until March 2017 when this report was compiled. At this time, some of the companies had not yet disclosed their final financial figures for 2016. Therefore, some figures were carefully extrapolated on the basis of the latest interim data publicly available (e.g. Q3 2016).
- Selected financial figures for biotech activities of Lonza’s business segment “Pharma & Biotech Market Segment”, which has been established as part of the reorganization at Lonza, are included for 2016. For the previous periods presented, Lonza’s “Bioscience” and “Biological Manufacturing” are included based on actual figures publicly available or careful estimates. Lonza’s “Pharma & Biotech Market Segment” respectively “Bioscience and Biological Manufacturing business sectors” are presented due to Lonza’s transformation into a life sciences company and its inclusion into the ICB Biotech Sector and the SXI LIFE SCIENCES® and SXI Bio+Medtech® indices at the SIX Swiss Exchange.
- As some privately held companies do not disclose financial figures, the figures above represent EY’s best estimate.
- All figures are headquarter-counted and do not include data from pharma companies such as Novartis and Roche.