As co-founder and CEO of the Bio-Technopark Schlieren, you are in charge of Zurich’s most important promotional institution for spin-offs in the life sciences sector. How did that come about?

After graduating from university, I gathered practical experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, and later founded my own startup in Schlieren together with three professors. I am now passing on this expertise and experience to up-and-coming enterprises and thus serve as a link between the startups and the infrastructure providers.

What is the Bio-Technopark’s recipe for success?

 Flexibility, lean structures, and therefore also rapid decision-making paths. Coupled with decades of experience on the part of real estate providers, when it comes to building functional and affordable laboratory infrastructure. Another key ingredient is the excellent basic research in life sciences carried out at the ETH and the University of Zurich, which prevents the flow of innovative spin-offs from drying up.

Mario Jenni commenced a degree course in physics at the ETH Zurich before changing to the University of Zurich to obtain a Master’s degree in molecular genetics. Nowadays, he promotes spin-offs from both universities at the Bio-Technopark.

Mario Jenni

Of which spin-offs at the Bio-Technopark are expectations particularly high?

Of all of them, hopefully! Some of our firms currently have promising medications in the final phase of clinical testing, while others have succeeded in convincing major pharmaceutical companies to use their services. Nine startups have already been acquired by large corporates so far.

In the Swiss life sciences sector, Zurich is the hub for eager, young companies, while Basel, with Novartis und Roche, is the established global player. Basel and Zurich – the perfect duo?

Our startup companies work with large firms all over the world. The interaction between Basel and Zurich symbolizes a well-established business model between small, innovative life sciences firms and large-scale industry. And with the Roche Innovation Center Zurich at the Bio-Technopark, the Basel arm reaches out into the Zurich region.

The Bio-Technopark is located in Zurich’s “wild west”. Where else do you take your visitors in order to show them the innovative strength of the life sciences hub Zurich?

To the ETH, the university and the University Hospital Zurich, as well as to Eawag and Empa in Dübendorf. Also fascinating is a visit to Balgrist Campus in Zurich, to the ZHAW with its business incubator, “grow”, in Wädenswil, to Toolpoint in Hombrechtikon, to the Technoparks in Zurich and Winterthur, and to StartSmart in Schlieren.