Nathan Leuenberger
Nathan Leuenberger
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Local News Summary of December, 16th

  • New research institute created in Basel
  • 20 million francs per year

New research institute created in Basel

A new research institute called the “Institute for Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB)” is to be built by Novartis, the University of Basel, and the University Hospital.

Andrea Schenker-Wicki, rector of the University of Basel, said it was a happy day when an exemplary Public Private Partnership was announced.

The three founding partners have committed to financing the running costs for the Institute for Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB) for the first ten years, according to a press release issued on Friday. Although Novartis will pay half of the costs, research freedom is guaranteed by setting IOB up as a foundation.

20 million francs per year

Five years after its founding, IOB is expected to receive an annual sum of 20 million francs. Half of this will be paid for by Novartis, three million by the University Hospital and two million by the University of Basel.

The canton of Basel-Stadt wants to contribute five million francs per year, if the Grand Council approves. For the first four years of the IOB, the government wants the Grand Council to approve a total of 12.5 million francs.

According to the founding partners, the IOB is one of the first institutes of its kind in the world. Fundamental researchers and clinical staff are expected to work hand in hand to improve the insufficient knowledge about eye-diseases and develop new therapies.

Operational activity starting in 2018

The highly specialised institute will take up its operational activity next year, led by two world-renowned scientists already working in Basel: Botond Roska currently works at the Friedrich Miescher Institute, and Hendrick Scholl, who is in charge of ophthalmology at the university of Basel and the eye clinic at the university hospital.

Novartis justifies its contribution with their strategic research priority in ophthalmology. With Alcon, Novartis owns an ophthalmological branch however its future is still open.

Novartis hopes that “the ground-breaking cooperation between research and clinic” at IOB will create innovative solutions for patients with visual disorders and vision loss. According to the founders, there has not been much innovation in ophthalmology in recent years.

The coming research focus at IOB will be glaucoma and myopia, and also the Stargardt disease as the most inherited macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentose, a group of inheritable retinal diseases.

The biggest ski-empire in the region: How Karrer became a snow-sport king

People who get off the train in Laufen can see the sign from far away: “Sportshop Karrer”. Winter-sports addicts from all over the region, as well as from the neighbouring countries, rent their gear from this family business, which has grown from a small workshop into a real empire.

December: the season is in full swing, and it is rush hour at the Sportshop Karrer. The shop in Laufen has for decades been the number one ski-hire place in the region. Maybe also in Switzerland. “Yes, we are already in the middle of the ski season,” according to Regula Blätter, shop manager. While snow in North-West Switzerland has been a rarity this winter – once it falls, it melts – the Swiss ski resorts seduce with lots of the magical white stuff. This attracts many customers.

“Our customers mostly hire their winter gear; therefore ski hire is our core business. We have however also a large sales department,” said Ms Blätter. The rental side has actually proved itself to be a recipe for success over the last 40 years since the shop was founded in 1965 by Fridolin Karrer from the Baselland community, Brislach.

At the time, Mr Karrer, a teacher, wanted to take his pupils to a ski camp. However, at the time, neither the ski equipment nor the financial means were available. Mr Karrer began to single-handedly gather the necessary equipment and set up his first workshop in a converted farmhouse. His educational profession fell by the wayside, at the same time as his ski rental business boomed inexorably. The workshop quickly became too small and the Brislacher business, which at first was only open in Brislach, expanded into an old brick factory in Laufen. The business remains there.

Ski rental as a family tradition

And yet it seemed as if the successful ski shop was a curiosity‚ many kilometres farther from the nearest snow-covered mountain. “Our customers borrow their gear mostly long term, over the entire season,“ Ms Blättler said. It is not uncommon, also to borrow skis for a few years. The same pair of skis would also then be used by different children in the family. As soon the big brother or sister grows out of the two planks, the smaller siblings start learning how to ski. “Another advantage to ski rental is that it offers spontaneity. If the weather fits, then skiers can just head off. Without this service, they have to organise the necessary equipment on site.“

An offer that draws people in. In the meantime, customers travel from all over Switzerland, as well as neighbouring France and Germany. “We have a large selection, and the prices are very attractive. That helps a lot,“ she said.

Regula Blättler is relatively fresh in the role of shop manager. In January she took over the position from her father, Alfred Friedli. „However I am not new in the business,“ she said. “In the past I worked here in the holidays. Through this, I could gain experience.“ She is not planning to make any major changes to pursue the firm‘s recipe for success. And why not, when it seems to work.

However, also in Laufen people think about the future, and their purchasing behaviour is changing. “It appears that customers also come to the shop, take photos of the clothes which they then order online.” What a sports shop also depends on is that the weather remains unchangeable. “Last year was one of the most difficult ones, because the snow came so late. Thankfully this year it’s different.”

Not only suitable in winter time

 Good winters are important, when the sports shop Karrer employs around 35 people (20 during the summer). An experienced team, whose members are distributed between service and sales. In the summertime, no skis cross the counter. Instead, all kinds of other sports equipment are rented and sold from there. Bikes, electric bikes, skateboards, walking and running shoes, stand in a row alongside the winter gear across the generous floor space. And next to sales, The Karrer staff offer servicing for their gear. “Our service department prepares the skis within 30 minutes for the next trip and the bike workshop repairs all types of bikes quickly,” Ms Blättler said.

Since she worked as shop manager, Ms Blättler does not go skiing as much as she used to. “Between Christmas and New Year I can totally forget it,“ she said. An advantage, nevertheless, is that she tests the newest skis before the customers. “For me it is great to be able to try new skis; that always makes me happy,“ she said. While we are still using the 2017-18 models to make the right turn, Ms Blättler is already leaning into the bends of the future visions of producers. Her tip for this season: Atomic Skis with Servotec – the power steering for skis.