Company Visit at BIO-TECHNOPARK® Schlieren-Zurich

On August 21st a group of 25 PhD students were given the opportunity to explore BIO-TECHNOPARK® Schlieren-Zurich and receive an introduction into three different companies and research institutions - namely, Molecular Partners, InSphero and the Center for Cardiovascular Genetics and Diagnostics.

The event was kicked off by Mario Jenni who is head of BIO-TECHNOPARK® and the one being fundamentally involved in establishing and creating this center for life science industries. The BIO-TECHNOPARK® comprises various start-ups as well as global players and top academic research institutions. It also provides start-up support and promotes the professional exchange between companies and researchers. A historic overview about BIO-TECHNOPARK® highlighted its developmental milestones and promised a bright future for the park. According to Mario Jenni, the park is constantly growing due to an increasing demand in laboratory space. In the long run, he envisions the park to become a campus-like structure with close vicinity of various life science companies, enabling knowledge transfer and collaborations.

As representative of a start-up company and host of the event Christian Zahnd, CEO and co-founder of Molecular Partners, introduced the company with a focus on their DARPin technology. He elucidated Molecular Partners' successful progress in drug development in the fields of ophtalmology, immunology and oncology and described the internal structures of the company. Christian Zahnd rounded off his presentation with impressions of the first steps as a spin-off company from the University of Zurich. In this context, he not only let us partake in organizational and financial challenges, but also shared the main factors of their funding successes and awards with us.

Jens Kelm, CSO and co-founder of InSphero, a start-up company that specialized in 3D microtissue engineering, presented a different form of business model. In contrast to Molecular Partners, InSphero does not develop therapeutics, but living microtissues which are used for in vitro experiments. These engineered microtissues are essential for cell-based assays that are an inherent part of drug discovery and development. Jens Kelm closed his presentation with an overview of InSphero's internal structures and pointed out potential fields of responsibilities for life scientists within the company - such as in R&D, marketing and sales as well as product management and quality assurance.

The last, but definitely not least speaker, was Gabor Matyas head of the Center for Cardiovascular Genetics and Diagnostics. Gabor Matyas was invited as representative of a non-profit foundation with a focus on rare diseases. He stressed the importance of genetic diagnostics of rare disease patience with regard to making an accurate diagnosis and developing individually tailored therapeutic approaches. As special guests Gabor Matyas brought three of his co-workers that gave an insight into their daily work and their Likes & Don't Likes of their jobs and were available to answer questions.

Finally, the participants were given the opportunity to interact with representatives from Molecular Partners, pester them with questions and visit the lab space of the company – such as the division for upstream and downstream processes.

In summary, this event hosted three different institutions in the life science sector pointing out various fields of activities for life scientists. We hope that we were able to widen the participants' field of vision for future career opportunities and we are looking forward to organize future events in collaboration with BIO-TECHNOPARK® Schlieren-Zurich.