Andrea Pfeifer
AC Immune

Lausanne-based biotech start-up chosen as research partner by Genentech, a U.S. biotechnology giant

"There is a veritable cluster of life science skills in this region as well as favourable underlying conditions and genuine support from the authorities. After studying several international options, this is what made us choose Lausanne."

Why did you choose the canton of Vaud to set up your biotech enterprise?
"What an enterprise like ours is looking for above all for is brains. The proximity of excellent schools like the EPFL and the University of Lausanne was a major factor in the decision, as was the more general presence of scientists and qualified staff in the bioscience field. From my previous activities as reader at Nestlé's global research centre, I had established very good contacts with the companies, universities and research centres in the region. There is a veritable skills cluster in life sciences here, and interaction with this environment is essential for us to develop. And we also found a laboratory at attractive rates in the Science Park Ecublens."

How do you rate the infrastructure and the underlying conditions for the development of your company in the canton if Vaud?
"The authorities provided us with a lot of help when we started up, especially with obtaining visas. We have nine different nationalities in our enterprise, including a number foreign experts with whom we absolutely wanted to collaborate. The canton promised us help, and it kept its promises. What's more, the tax regime is favourable compared to the United States and other European countries, especially for start-ups. And then the quality of life is very attractive!"

Did you consider other consider other possible sites before coming to Vaud?
"Yes. We looked at several options in depth, in Europe and elsewhere, and found that the canton of Vaud was the ideal place for us. During the second round of financing, we had to defend our choice of Vaud to a number of important investors who wanted us to relocate to Basel. We had to convince them of the wisdom of staying here, and the arguments once more came out in favour of Lausanne."