Switzerland's economy is founded on the reputation in financial services, pharmaceuticals and precision engineering. But in the past 15 years, the country has also been gaining a growing reputation in the medical technology sector.
One such success story is the Burgdorf-based company, Disetronic.
Founded in 1984, Disetronic has become one of the world's leading producers of injection systems for liquid medications. Two brothers, Willy and Peter Michel, established the company and set out to build the world's smallest insulin pump for the treatment of diabetes.
The Burgdorf-based firm now employs 1,100 people and has branched out to produce other injection systems. It has a 45 per cent market share and globally it ranks second behind the California-based company, Minimed.
"Disetronic has always tried to design products that substantially improve patients' quality of life giving clear benefits through superior and sophisticated therapies," says the company's CEO, Thomas Meier.
Disetronic's success can be clearly measured by its latest interim figures. Its first half annual net profit until the end of September stood at SFr20.9 million ($12.5 million), an increase of 15 per cent over the same period last year.
Sales for the year as a whole are expected to top SFr300 million for the first time.
Much of this growth can be put down to the introduction of a new injection system.
"Last summer we introduced a new pump called D-Tron that complements our existing H-Tron insulin pump," says Meier, "D-Tron is state of the art technology and offers many features such as pre-filled insulin cartridges that make it much easier to use."
Meier adds that the company has been overwhelmed by the demand for D-Tron in the United States and Europe and is having to increase production.
He says the success of Disetronic can also be attributed in the amount of time and money invested in research and development. Around 11 per cent of the company's workforce is involved in R&D and it is this that Meier sees as the foundation for future expansion.
"There's still room for improvement in the treatment of diabetes by integrating glucose measurements," says Meier. "In the end, we should have a system where glucose measurements are continuously taken allowing the right amount of insulin to be delivered on a continuous base."
Disetronic aims to remain at the forefront in the development of advanced treatments for diabetes.
Meier says Switzerland enjoys many advantages that should make this possible.
"We have a unique pool of resources and know-how in the areas of micro-mechanics, micro-electronics and plastic-injection moulding technology," he says. "And using this know-how to produce original products - that's our forte here in Switzerland."
by Michael Hollingdale