Biomedical research and technology

All over the world, biomedical research and technology are helping drive economic growth and assure high-quality healthcare. Switzerland is one of the world’s leading players in this domain. The Swiss Federal Council is setting up the optimum framework to make sure it remains ahead of the field.

Biomedical research and technology play a key role in Switzerland’s economy and healthcare system. The fact that this country is one of the world’s leading players in biomedicine is thanks to the successful interplay of many different factors – including education and research policy, the legal framework (for example the law governing human research), regulations governing market entry and supervision, social security cover, and rules designed to protect intellectual property. Added to this, qualities such as economic efficiency, political stability, attractive taxation, flexible employment laws and a high standard of living create a basis for Switzerland’s success as centre of business, research and innovation.

This country will only be able to maintain its leading international position in biomedicine and biomedical technology by carefully coordinating and nurturing all the relevant components and factors.

The role of the federal authorities

It is the job of the federal administration to maintain and develop as good a framework as possible for biomedical research and technology, and at the same time to enable people in Switzerland to physically benefit from the achievements of biomedicine and give them affordable access to the latest biomedical products. The FOPH plays a key role in this. It is responsible for the legal framework (for example in relation to human research, therapeutic products, cancer registers and e-patient dossiers), and is charged with ensuring that the healthcare system remains high-quality, effective and affordable.

Besides the FOPH, efforts to promote biomedicine and biomedical research also involve units of other departments, including the following:

  • The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), part of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) is the federal administration’s centre of competence for the domestic and international aspects of education, research and innovation policy.
  • The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), also part of the EAER, is responsible for business and economic development across industries, encouraging foreign companies to locate to Switzerland.
  • Swissmedic, the Swiss agency for the authorisation and supervision of therapeutic products, guarantees that only high-quality, safe and effective therapies are marketed in this country.
  • The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property is the federal centre of competence for all matters related to patents, trademarks, indications of source, the protection of designs, and copyright.

A master plan for systematic, sustainable development

International competition in biomedical research and technology is expected to increase over the coming years. In response to requests from parliament, in 2013 the Federal Council presented a package of measures designed to boost Switzerland as a centre of biomedical research and technology. The master plan contains more than 20 actions covering the promotion of research and innovation, market entry, health insurance reimbursements, rare (orphan) diseases and intellectual property. The Department of Biomedicine at the FOPH is responsible for coordinating the master plan.

Given the importance of biomedical research and the industry for the Swiss economy and healthcare system, at the end of 2018 the Federal Council resolved to continue with the master plan and commissioned the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) to draft a new plan for the next period. The Federal Council approved the 2022-2026 master plan on 22 June 2022.

Last modification 26.08.2022

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Division of Biomedicine
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