Pharmaceuticals, chemistry and biotechnology

From the beginning of the 20th century, Valais has attracted numerous companies who operate in the field of pharmaceuticals and chemistry, thanks in particular to abundant and affordable hydraulic energy. Those early pioneers have now become international groups recognised for the quality of their products. They have been joined by biotechnology companies which develop medicines and phytosanitary products in Valais.

Chemistry and Pharmaceuticals

Founded on the banks of the Lonza in Gampel at the end of the 19th century, the eponymous company today carries out advanced preparations in the field of chemistry and pharmaceuticals on its site in Visp. Although Lonza is now active all over the world, the site in Upper Valais remains of crucial importance, employing around 3,000 employees and generating around 1 billion in turnover, more than a quarter of the company’s total income.

The site in Visp develops special chemicals that are used in many medicines to fight Alzheimer’s and cancer.

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Debiopharm Research & Manufacturing SA is a bio-pharmaceutical group specialised in the development of drugs to fight against cancer, infectious diseases and rare diseases. The production site is located in Martigny and employs around 150 people. In Valais, the group works with many local subcontractors, thus contributing to the dynamism of the regional economy. Its buildings along the elbow of the Rhone river also contain a world-famous research laboratory.

Over fifteen years, more than 120 million francs have been invested in infrastructure and development by Debiopharm in Valais.

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Based in Gamsen near Brig, the Société Suisse des Explosifs (SSE) is an industrial group that produces explosives for civilians and pyrotechnics, as well as being a specialist in chemical production through its company Valsynthèse. SSE is the leading supplier of explosives and mining accessories in Switzerland, and is one of the world leaders in the production of pentrite and detonating cord. Its expertise is widely recognised in international markets. The SSE group currently employs more than 500 people across seven countries.

SSE manufactured the explosives required for the nose cone of the Ariane rocket launcher.

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The multinational company Huntsman, via its Advanced Materials division in Monthey, provides complex chemical solutions (epoxy resins, polymers, adhesives including Araldite®) for high-tech industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction, electronics, electricity, medical and sport, where high-performance materials are required.

The resin used for the construction of Airbus and Boeing aircraft is from the Huntsman factory in Monthey.

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Did you know?

Every year, the inter-cantonal school of laboratory chemists and biologists trains hundreds of apprentices at the sites in Visp and Monthey.