A hotspot of innovation and entrepreneurship
Opening of sitem-insel

Health and medicine

"Translating" research into products

The University of Bern is a founding member and an academic partner of sitem-insel, the new Swiss Institute for Translational and Entrepreneurial Medicine. On 30 August 2019 the institute was officially inaugurated with an open day.


The aim of sitem-insel is to translate research findings as quickly as possible into clinical products and services for the benefit of patients. Several institutions of the University of Bern have rented spaces in the sitem-insel building and are supporting it with their research and infrastructure.

Together with research groups from the Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, companies from the MedTech, biotech and pharmaceutical industries, start-ups and other partners, they will work on "translating" innovations from medical research into clinical products as quickly as possible in a process similar to the changing of one language to another.

Unique constellation in Switzerland

"The University of Bern has a great interest in translating findings from basic research into products with social and economic benefits," said Christian Leumann, Rector of the University of Bern, at the open day. Furthermore, the unique constellation of sitem-insel in Switzerland as a public-private partnership is an outstanding environment: "It supports the networking of clinicians with researchers from the university as well as with interested parties from the MedTech and pharmaceutical industries."

Research groups from the University of Bern: enriching

For Simon Rothen, CEO of sitem-insel, the university’s interdisciplinary research groups bring a wealth of experience and diversity with them: "They are a great source of enrichment for the sitem-insel community." As an example, Rothen names the School of Dental Medicine in Bern: "They demonstrate what world-class translation is all about." In this way, the successful collaboration between the School of Dental Medicine and the MedTech enterprise Institut Straumann AG has led to globally groundbreaking products and improved patient treatment since the 1970s. The School of Dental Medicine with its labs is the "Dental Research Center" in the sitem building.

The ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research has a proven track record of successful cooperation of engineering and medicine: Leading researchers from the fields of engineering, materials science, computer science, life sciences as well as from clinics work in its eleven interdisciplinary research groups. There are five of these groups and six start-ups at sitem-insel.

Did you know?

"The sitem building will not only house Switzerland’s most modern high-security laboratory but has also one of the most powerful magnetic resonance tomographs worldwide. It is so powerful that it could cripple the electronic systems of buses passing by two floors above. This is why it is surrounded by a special protective shield in the basement."

Testing and improving therapies

The Institute for Infectious Diseases will run a biosecurity center at sitem-insel and will have the most modern high-security laboratory in Switzerland. In so doing, it will be making a contribution to protecting both man and the environment. The biosecurity center of the Institute for Infectious Diseases will be the only one in Switzerland to be embedded in translational research: In the future, two labs will be able to be hired here, in which, for example, a pharmaceutical company can test a new gene therapy with support of specially trained institute staff.

The clinical aspect of studies will be carried out at the Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) of the university and Bern University Hospital. The outpatient clinic of the CTU is available for commissioned research. In cooperation with hospitals, researchers and pharmaceutical companies, new drugs will be tested and existing therapies improved - for example, by investigating their dosage or interaction of drugs with other agents.

An innovation hub

From the idea to the market launch

sitem-insel is a public-private partnership of the Federal Government, the Canton of Bern, the University of Bern, the Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, and business, particularly the MedTech and pharmaceutical industries. Four institutions of the University of Bern are involved in sitem-insel as so-called "Enabling Facilities": They support partners from industry as well as other interested parties with the development of clinical solutions by making their research infrastructure and expertise available. In turn, researchers who have an idea that they want to bring to market can attend the sitem-insel school's training course specialized in the translation of research into a product, or seek advice.

Overview