Orphanbiotec | Our History
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Our History

The idea of establishing Orphanbiotec AG and the Orphanhealthcare Foundation was formed in 2002 by Dr. Frank Grossmann. Influenced by a personal experience with a Rare Disease and the bad situation of those affected, as well as the great potential of natural active substances and various diseases, he developed the business idea for Orphanbiotec.
In 2004 Frank Grossmann began as a lecturer at the ETH Zurich at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. His continued education in the field of plant-based active substances made clear to him that natural active substances such as plants have a very great potential for containing unused active substances, most of which have been unexplored in particular for Rare Diseases.
At the same time he noticed during several years spent as a manager in the pharmaceutical industry that traditional development processes are oriented towards synthetic mono-substances and research from idea to finished product is extremely long, complex and expensive. The majority of therapeutic drugs were also developed for widespread diseases and lifestyle drugs.
At the same time, over 7,000 rare diseases were waiting to be noticed and integrated into research and development. But this did not seem compatible with the known market mechanisms and rules. The market niche was attractive, though, and with a clever design of the framework it was easy to handle even – or especially – for a startup.
The possibility of using a natural, active compound for the diagnosis of gastric cancer occurred to Dr. Grossman on the occasion of various conferences. Because gastric cancer is also a Rare Disease, the ideal candidate for the first project was found. Discussions with colleagues confirmed his assumption and encouraged him to pursue the project. In 2008 Frank Grossmann started at VENTURELAB, studied and wrote his first business plan and learned the trade of a young entrepreneur.
Orphanbiotec AG was finally founded in January 2009 in Zurich. Since then, Orphanbiotec has continuously reached major milestones and received important recognitions. Orphanbiotec AG has so far been supported by the CTI coaching program as an innovative young company. In November 2010 Orphanbiotec was nominated as one of five new companies of the Swiss Biotech Organization to be presented at the Biotech Showcase 2011 in San Francisco. In January 2011 Orphanbiotec was honored as the winner of the 2011 Social Entrepreneurship Award for its business model, past work and innovation. Frank Grossmann is regularly invited to international meetings as a presenter, speaker and guest of honor at events such as the 2012 annual meeting of the Charité Foundation and the International Conference for Environment in April 2012 in Hanover and as Chairman at the World Orphan Drugs Congress 2012 in Geneva.
He accepted the invitation by the University of Coventry / Oxford to contribute a chapter to the new book Orphan Diseases in the Age of Health 2.0, Springer Publishers published in 2014.