News Overview

New global research center for Basel’s innovation district

Arianna Ramirez

Outstanding resident for Main Campus on a mission to revolutionize immune engineering

The Botnar Institute of Immune Engineering has been founded in Basel. The research location Basel managed to hold off competition from locations in the USA, England, Israel and Singapore to secure this important upgrade to its life sciences ecosystem. The research institute is planned to be hosted at the ETH Zurich site in Basel. In 2027, it will move into a new building on the Main Campus of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area in Allschwil.

The BIIE is currently located in the D-BSSE in Basel. In 2027, the research institute will move into a new building on the Main Campus of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area in Allschwil (Visualization: Herzog & de Meuron)

The Botnar Institute of Immune Engineering (BIIE) is starting out in Basel as an independent research institute. According to a press release, its aim is to develop novel immune-based diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as to close gaps in modern healthcare technologies in order to improve the health of children and young people around the world. For now, the BIIE is planned to be hosted by the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE), a Basel-based division of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH). In 2027, the BIIE is expected to move to the Main Campus of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area in Allschwil in the canton of Basel-Landschaft.

A donation of more than 1 billion US dollars across a period of 15 years from the Basel-based philanthropic foundation Fondation Botnar is making the BIIE possible. The new institute will significantly enhance Basel’s reputation as a research hub and complement research groups already working at the D-BSSE and the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel. The region is home to more than 40 biotech and pharmaceutical companies active in the field of immunology. In addition to large corporations such as Roche and Novartis, startups like Engimmune TherapeuticsAnaveon and Cimeio Therapeutics are also dedicated to this field of research.

The new institute, which will have global appeal and reach, is set to employ 300 staff in the medium term. The process of recruiting researchers has already been initiated. Moreover, as the press release from Fondation Botnar indicates, plans are in place to agree partnerships with the University of Oxford and ETH. Basel’s application emerged successful against three locations in the USA, as well as against the “Golden Triangle” of London, Oxford, Cambridge in England, as well as Tel Aviv and Singapore.

Huge win for the Basel Area

“The BIIE will bring together a critical mass of investigators, all of whom are experts in various aspects of immune engineering; combining their strengths and perspective should result in a sum greater than its parts”, as Stephen Wilson, CEO of the BIIE and former Chief Operating Officer of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in the USA, explains in the press release.

“The thriving cluster at the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area in Allschwil is the ideal location for the BIIE”, comments Monica Gschwind, head of government of the canton of Basel-Landschaft. Her counterpart from the cantonal government of the canton of Basel-Stadt, Conradin Cramer, describes Basel as a “strong economic region with a strong philanthropic tradition”. The focus of the new Botnar Institute of Immune Engineering on “people with the greatest need, as well as the entrepreneurial and humanistic mission of the new institute, are, in addition to the benefits for the life sciences cluster, a great signal to the wider world”.

“The BIIE is a huge win for the Basel region. Our life sciences hub is not only being expanded to include a significant field of research, but its standing in terms of the world’s most important research locations is also being bolstered”, comments Christof Klöpper, CEO of the investment and innovation promotion agency Basel Area Business & Innovation.

In line with our mission to improve the wellbeing of young people, Fondation Botnar has made a bold investment to unlock scientific innovations specifically for the benefit of child and young people’s health in low- and middle-income countries. Understanding the immune system of children and young people in different parts of the world is key to developing solutions that can diagnose, prevent and treat infectious diseases and other health conditions. With this investment in an independent institute that provides cutting-edge research in immune engineering, not only we continue the Botnar family’s frequent support of biomedical research, but also firmly believe to make a difference in the translation of scientific innovation into healthcare practice.
Dr. Alexander Schulze

Dr. Alexander Schulze

CEO of Fondation Botnar

Learn more about the Main Campus

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