Basel’s BOOM Summit & the Future of Healthtech

23rd May 2024

At the confluence of Switzerland, Germany, and France Basel played host to the BOOM Summit early April 2024—an event that is set to become unmissable in the evolving world of healthtech. On this occasion, Boardroom met with key stakeholders who reflected on the summit’s proceedings while capturing the essence of Basel as a burgeoning hub in the healthcare and digital health landscapes.

Words Remi Deve

The Basel Area stands as Europe’s top life sciences cluster, positioned centrally on the continent. This vibrant hub of innovation is home to more than 700 life sciences companies and over 1,000 research groups, featuring an unparalleled pool of life sciences talent, with 33,000 highly skilled employees in the region.

But news in the sector are bleak: healthcare expenses continue to climb, the digital transformation of healthcare systems progresses sluggishly, and funding for startups focused on healthcare technologies is declining. At the BOOM Summit held at Messe and Congress Center Basel from 10-11 April 2024, around 500 experts, entrepreneurs, patients, investors, and policymakers gathered to explore solutions that could tackle these issues. Over the course of two days, participants shared insights into innovative technologies, discussing how they could potentially reshape the healthcare landscape.

Instrumental in getting BOOM up and running, Basel Area Business & Innovation is a non-profit organisation that promotes innovation across various sectors in the Basel region, providing operational services, office and lab spaces for startups, and international business support through its three business units. 

Caoimhe Vallely, Director DayOne Strategy, explained the summit’s genesis and intentions. “It started from the previous DayOne Conference, where startups within our accelerators had a platform to pitch and network. After listening to the feedback and seeing the need for such an event at a larger scale, the BOOM Summit was born,” Vallely shared. This new iteration aimed to be more than just a meeting; it was to be a melting pot for the giants of healthcare, spirited startups, and technology enthusiasts. Vallely highlighted, “Basel, with its strategic location enriched by a dense network of pharma and biotech companies, offered the perfect backdrop for such a convergence.”

The BOOM Summit unfolded as a meticulously planned event where discussions transcended traditional boundaries of healthtech. According to Vallely, who played a pivotal role in shaping the program, the focus was on fostering innovation that could disrupt traditional healthcare modalities. “We spearheaded the program’s development, focusing on emergent themes and selecting speakers who could bring fresh perspectives,” she explained. This careful curation was central to the summit’s objective of not just sharing ideas but sparking actionable collaborations.

Another layer

Christian Ortlepp, Director Guest Events at Messe and Congress Center Basel, brought another layer to the understanding of the event’s conception. “The initiative to host more guest events leveraging our city’s industrial strengths, particularly in life sciences, led us to amplify an existing event into what became the BOOM Summit,” Ortlepp stated. His vision was clear: position Basel as a hub for niche healthtech gatherings, distinct from traditional large-scale conferences. “We provided a venue and are hoping to scale the event, incorporating innovative concepts and diverse partnerships,” he added, emphasising the collaborative effort that marked the summit’s planning and execution.

From Kenes Group, Violina Kodeva provided insights into the operational and strategic execution of the summit. Her organisation played a crucial role, bringing extensive experience in managing global medical and healthcare events. “Our engagement was sparked by a clear synergy between the summit’s goals and our commitment to advancing healthcare through professional gatherings,” Kodeva said. “We worked closely with our partners to ensure the summit not only ran smoothly but also delivered on its promise to inspire change and foster connections,” she noted.

Aligning with the BOOM Summit’s emphasis on sustainability, it’s worth noting Basel is at the forefront of environmental initiatives, boasting a compact city design, excellent public transportation that is free of charge for every hotel guest with the BaselCard, and green policies. Hosting the Summit in a city that lives and breathes sustainability reinforced the event’s mission to promote sustainable practices within the healthcare sector.

More than an event

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In the end, the BOOM Summit was more than an event; it was a strategic endeavor to showcase and catalyze innovation in healthcare. “Ideally, BOOM will evolve into a year-round consortium, driving tangible healthcare innovations,” Vallely said, detailing their ambitions to establish continuous workstreams in areas like health equity to make a lasting impact on the industry and the broader community.

The role of Basel as an attractive conference destination was unanimously emphasised. Its strategic geographical position, robust infrastructure, and vibrant healthcare ecosystem make it an ideal locale for such high-caliber gatherings. Ortlepp and Kodeva both highlighted how Basel’s attributes—ranging from its global healthcare hub status to its rich cultural scene—contribute significantly to its allure as a host city. “Basel is not merely hosting discussions; it is setting the stage for the future of healthcare innovation,”Kodeva added.

As such, Basel is host to a healthcare ecosystem that you perhaps can’t find anywhere else in the world, advancing not only innovation but also nurturing the growth of the city as a community deeply embedded in the future of global healthtech discussions. The commitment to sustainability and the focus on transforming healthcare from reactive to proactive paradigms were evident throughout the BOOM Summit, signaling a shift towards a more sustainable and health-oriented future.

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