Campus Biotech is a Swiss center of excellence in biotechnology and life sciences research focusing on three domains: Neuroscience and Neurotechnology, Digital Health and Global Health.
Founded in 2013 by a Consortium composed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), the University of Geneva (UNIGE), the Bertarelli Family and Hansjörg Wyss, the Campus functions like a giant incubator and focuses on pure science and its translation into real solutions and practical outcomes that have an impact on society and the world.
Campus Biotech was created to cross boundaries between disciplines and sectors, providing a unique ecosystem that brings academic, clinical, industrial and entrepreneurial actors together, to ensure projects to have access to the resources and skills that they need to push the frontiers of medical discoveries and to make breakthroughs. Partners and scientists based at Campus Biotech become part of a diverse, dynamic culture of knowledge exchange.
The building that is now home to Campus Biotech has its origins among the redbrick buildings of the 19th century engineering company, Sécheron, one of the jewels of Swiss Industry.
The Sécheron site’s history, in fact, began in 1891, when the Electrical Equipment Company merged with a company that made dynamo machines, power lines for electrochemistry, and arc and incandescent lighting. A novelty during that time period, the Electrical Industry Company’s factory was connected to the nascent power grid, a genuine technical revolution. The company then acquired land in Sécheron near the railroad. From then on, its activities continually increased and it very quickly became an internationally-renowned electrotechnical manufacturer, employing nearly 1,600 people. The factories covered almost 70,000 m2, underscoring the rise of the electromechanical industry in Geneva. But in 1989, they were sold and risked destruction. Their fate remained uncertain until 2003, when Serono, the catalyst for development of the biotech ecosystem in the region, purchased the land in order to consolidate its activities. Heirs to over a century of industrial history, these 19th-century buildings were therefore preserved and adorned with glass and steel structures. Campus Biotech’s modern home was thus originally designed as the global headquarters of Serono.
The new complex was inaugurated in 2006, at the very same time the company was bought by Merck, a German multinational pharmaceutical, chemical and life sciences company. Merck Serono occupied the building for six years, but, in 2012 it dramatically decided that it would be closing its Geneva headquarters. In May 2013, Merck Serono announced that, rather than real estate developers, the consortium behind the idea for Campus Biotech had won the auction for the acquisition of the site. From that moment on, the consortium members – the Bertarelli family, Hansjörg Wyss, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and the University of Geneva (UNIGE) – made their vision a reality.
From the beginning, the objective of Campus Biotech project was to develop a hub for scientists and life science entrepreneurs and to create an environment in which their collaboration would be nurtured. A new Wyss Centre for bio- and neuroengineering was to be an important part of the project.
The consortium behind Campus Biotech consists of individuals and institutions that share the same goal: to ensure that the Lake Geneva region and Switzerland remain at the forefront of biotechnological and life science research and discovery. In July 2013, Benoît Dubuis was appointed Director of the Campus Biotech, marking the beginning of the development of the organisation as we know it today.