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RENTING A LAB IN SWITZERLAND

Yasmina Penas

Do you want to rent a laboratory but are not sure if private or shared lab space is the way to go? Let’s find out! We also help to set you up with your research facility.


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Private and shared labs

Research in the realm of biology, chemistry, or biotechnology often starts at the university laboratory. But as soon as research turns into a business, the university lab will not be sufficient anymore.

Startup founders will need to look for a laboratory to verify their findings. Let’s assume as a startup founder you are not blessed with tons of money. Your income is meager as you are still proving your science to potential investors. Buying lab space and equipping it on your own is out of the question.

Why? Because equipping a laboratory can prove to be very costly, especially if you need top-of-the-line analytical equipment. Not to mention high instrument maintenance costs or finding a suitable location that meets the legal restrictions for laboratories. Hold that thought for a later point in time.

For now, let’s focus on renting lab space. There are two different categories of lab space:

Private labs

You and your team are working alone in a private lab, and you use it on your own terms – you also need to buy the equipment by yourself. It usually is more expensive than a shared lab as you need to invest first before you can start working.

Shared labs

Several research teams share a lab. Some, but not all shared laboratories also provide and share the instruments. Rent is usually less expensive than for private lab space.

When should you rent a private science lab?

There are some reasons to consider renting a private lab for exclusive use:

  • Your expectations regarding confidentiality are high.
  • You work with dangerous chemicals like nitroglycerine.
  • You need animal facilities.
  • You need more than 100 square meters for your science and have special machine requirements.
  • You need a cold room and a dark room.
  • You start with more than six laboratory workers.
  • You need lots of storage for your samples.

In this case, the best decision would be a private lab.

Should you rent a shared lab?

Find out if sharing a laboratory with other individuals and teams is the way to go. Ready?

A guide to find out if you should consider renting a shared lab.

Your funds are limited.

That’s the way things are for most startups. This is why some shared labs offer the benefit of using some very expensive infrastructure together. That way, you don’t need to buy everything on your own. Facilities that cater to startups often rent infrastructure at affordable rates.

You are an organized and thorough person.

While this should be a given for people working in the lab, these skills are even more important when you share a work environment with others. Landlords and other teams expect you to book slots in the lab or the office space and to clean up after use.

Working in an environment with like-minded people suits you.

Good news! There’s no way to avoid running into the other teams. They most likely face similar challenges. Working in a shared lab is not that different from working at a university lab so transitioning from university to a shared laboratory should be smooth.

You want to spend your precious time working – not maintaining sensitive and costly infrastructure.

That’s probably the best part: You can, and you should focus on your science. Safety installations, waste management, infrastructure maintenance, – it’s all taken care of in a shared laboratory.

“All the equipment is available. For a small company like ours, this is a big advantage. We were able to start working right away.”

Damien Evéquoz
Co-founder and Scientist at Alpha Anomeric

Alpha Anomeric is focusing on developing therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The disease causes muscle loss and shortens life expectancy.

But wait, what if you’d only stay for a limited time because your startup grows and you need a bigger lab for more people?

Shared labs often cater to teams and projects who are just starting. You start small, you grow, you leave for a private lab – that’s how it should be. That is also the reason why leases are quite flexible in a shared lab and tenants can choose lease periods that suit their needs.

Do you want to use certain instruments for only two weeks? In some laboratories, this is possible, e.g. at the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area in Allschwil.

“We are here when companies start. I am always happy when they become too successful for the shared facilities and move into a bigger private lab.”

Luigi SolinesManager
Laboratory, and Facilities at Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area

What about privacy? How do you protect your IP in a shared lab?

If you have been part of an academic group at a university lab before, communication hygiene between members of different groups is known to you. Protecting intellectual property is not an issue at all as long as teams follow the basic rules of laboratory communication.

Labs of the Basel Area

Research in Europe’s life sciences hub

As a researcher in biology, chemistry, or biotechnology, your natural habitat is the laboratory. Fume hoods, dry rooms, benches with vials, and colleagues in white coats – that’s your turf. But where do you want that work environment to be?

All over Switzerland, you will find laboratories for rent. However, if you are in biotech, no place matches the Basel Area, home of NovartisRocheJohnson&JohnsonIdorsia… We cannot even name all of the exciting established companies that are active in the region.

Partners for laboratory workers: from ten23 health to Lonza and SKAN

Startups are equally drawn to the Basel Area. Not only do they find suitable labs for their research, but also interesting partners, and service providers specialized in delivering drugs. Among the service providers in the Basel Area is SpiroChem. The CRO SpiroChem offers chemistry solutions for life science companies.

Ten23 health in Basel acts as a CDMO. They are specialized in injectables. And you surely know Lonza, the company that manufactures the Moderna vaccine. The manufacturer produces big and small molecules and plays an important role in the production of pharmaceuticals in the region and beyond.

Probably, you will also come across instruments from SKAN: The company is based in Allschwil. They are a global market leader for isolators and cleanroom devices. If you produce biopharmaceutical substances, your facilities are most likely outfitted with SKAN infrastructure.

From lab project to funding

Startups also find funding: Biotech startup Cimeio received 46 million francs in funding, Engimmune acquired 16.7 million US dollars in 2022, and Anaveon raised 110 million francs in 2021 to pursue their research.

To make things even better, one of the best established/most relevant biotech programs in Europe is located here: BaseLaunch has helped numerous projects launch and grow their business and get funding since 2016. Nine of their portfolio companies raised 450 million dollars from venture funds in Switzerland and the US.

If you are a biotech startup or wish to become one, apply now. If you are a match, you will get coaching but you will also get access to fully equipped labs in the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area at its site in Allschwil.

The Baselaunch application cycle is now open!

The next deadline for 2022 is September 1st.

Renting your science lab in the Basel Area

In Switzerland, safety levels for biology labs are defined with BSL – biology lab level. To work with cell cultures, you need BSL 2. In the Basel Area, most bio labs are accredited for BSL 1 or BSL 2.

There are also differences in the equipment and in the services that are on offer. “Shared lab” can signify that you share a certified lab fitted with workbenches and bio hoods. Whatever equipment you need, you have to bring yourself. Others, like the shared labs at the Allschwil site of Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, come fully equipped with all necessary instruments. Let’s take a closer look at some labs in the Basel Area.

Fully equipped labs at Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area

Some of the science lab equipment that comes with the shared biology lab at Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, site Allschwil:

  • Biohood
  • Cold storage with -20 C and -80 C freezer
  • Centrifuges
  • Rotors
  • Mixers
  • PCR machines
  • Glassware
  • Glassware washer
  • HPLC
  • Image systems
  • Fluorescent absorbance plate
  • Teams can also use the working stations to note down their findings. There are more fixed and flex desks in the open coworking space.

    Luigi Solines, Manager Laboratory and Facilities at Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area, helps teams to accommodate in the labs. He is also responsible for the supply of usables and takes care of the waste management and the CO 2 supply. If a problem with the infrastructure occurs, he takes care of it.

    Need help with finding lab space? Talk to us.

    We’re the go-to agency for every question or request about launching in or relocating to the Basel Area. Either we know the answer, or we know the people who do. We help you solve questions about commercial real estate and lab space.

    Fabio Marelli
    Manager Business Affairs at Basel Area Business & Innovation

    Lucky for the teams working on-site, Luigi’s love for machines runs deep, and he is eager to help when a plate reader doesn’t work properly. He also makes room for the instruments that the teams want to bring in addition to the existing equipment.

    Luigi also knows suppliers of secondhand infrastructure if teams require special instruments at a reduced price.

    Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area will move to a new building in 2022. Tenants can choose between shared and private labs at the Main Campus in Allschwil. They also can rent fix or flex desks in the coworking zone.

    Monthly rates for the shared labs start at 2300 francs per person.

    We offer all the instruments your team needs – and more.

    Luigi Solines
    Manager Laboratory, and Facilities at Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area

    Tech Park Basel: ideal for biotechnology startups

    In Basel, close to all the life sciences action, Tech Park Basel rents labs to startups. Lab spaces start from 42 square meters. You can rent private labs but shared infrastructure is also available, like autoclaves, ice machines, water purifiers, centrifuges and incubators. Good to know for biotech startups with high lab rent: Ask the Economic Development Unit of the canton of Basel-Stadt for rent allowance.

    Among the tenants at Tech Park Basel are AnaveonCimeio, and NBE Therapeutics. Medtech company Artidis and biotech Cellestia are also at home at Tech Park Basel.

    Tech Park Basel

    Keep an eye out for Superlab Suisse

    Superlab Suisse has announced to open its labs in Basel in 2024. The company offers labs-as-a-service. After opening labs in Lausanne and Zurich, Basel will be outfitted with lab and research space. The labs will be opened at Stücki Park in Basel.

    Superlab Suisse

    The 5th Floor CO.LAB in Muttenz

    The Fifth Floor in Muttenz offers coworking spaces – but also spaces in the shared lab that can be rented on a monthly or an an annual basis. A space in the chemistry lab that includes two work stations starts at 3500 francs per month. 2 research stations in the biology lab are available for 5000 francs per months. Laboratory equipment can be rented, access to the coworking space is included.

    The 5th Floor CO.LAB


    If you would like to know more about laboratories in the Basel Area, download our guide. We introduce you to 16 facilities. The lab guide is updated every year.

    Lab Facilities Guide 

    We took up our work at the Allschwil site of the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area with a small team and expanded within five months to the full team size. Basel Area Business & Innovation helped us to settle and find a starting setup with lab and office space. The team supported us greatly with bigger lab space and more office capacity to facilitate our growth.

    Jörg Breitling
    Team Leader Application biological Qualification Hamilton

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