Europe is a valuable target for U.S. biotech companies wishing to expand globally. However, it is essential that the right people are chosen when establishing teams. This is where the Greater Zurich Area comes into its own, as the virtual event hosted by Greater Zurich Area Ltd (GZA) and the global consulting firm Blue Matter has demonstrated. The high number of biotech companies in the region and first-class universities are a testament to the extensive pool of specialized professionals.
Two managers from U.S. biotech companies in Europe shared their personal perspectives at the event. Both reflected on their own experiences in various companies who built up their European presence out of the Greater Zurich Area. For example, bluebird bio, a company specializing in gene therapies with headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is developing four major European markets out of Zug. The company now has 65 employees at this site. According to Daan Kranenburg from bluebird bio, the company chose Switzerland because it has the most diverse talent pool in Europe.
Orlando Oliveira from Agios Pharmceuticals is also convinced that it is worthwhile for U.S. biotech companies to have offices in Europe. Although the prices of medication is generally lower than in the USA, the market is big. Agios currently has 20 members of staff in Europe. From its international base in Zug, it also serves the German market, where it benefits from the swift introduction of medicines and good prices. As well as being the biggest, this market is a particularly attractive one in Europe.
The coronavirus crisis has also changed the process of setting up companies in a new location: the resultant rapid intensification of digitization means even a small team may be now enough, the experts say.