Three of Switzerland’s strengths are especially prominent: high degree of innovation, supremely educated workforce and first-class scientific research organisations. Cutting-edge technologies and a business-friendly climate also contribute to the country’s productivity.
Switzerland invests nearly 3% of its GDP in research and development, one of the highest percentages in the world. More than 60 universities help to ensure the highest level of professional work. They connect with the industry through the exchange of knowledge and technology, the support of innovative start-ups, and the establishment of strong spin-offs.
Almost half of Swiss workers are employed in knowledge-intensive industries. High-tech products form an important pillar of the country’s economic success and reputation. Around one quarter of all high-tech products are exported. This underlines the innovation potential of the Swiss economy, which holds a leading position in international rankings. In 2016, more than 7,000 patent applications were filed in Switzerland. This is the fifth highest figure in the world, the third highest in Europe – and it is the highest figure worldwide per capita.
Despite the fact that a big number of major multinational companies are originated in Switzerland, a myriad of small and medium sized enterprises constitute the backbone of the Swiss economy and employ more than two-thirds of the total workforce.
As an important center of research, Switzerland attracts highly qualified foreign researchers. Several internationally important institutions are based here. For example, the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN and the Paul Scherrer Institute. CERN is considered to be one of the most important centers in the world for basic research in physics. It was here, in the late 1980s, that the World Wide Web was developed.
Important industry clusters choose to locate their headquarters in Switzerland. Here, they find a solid foundation: an excellent environment for research and development, an efficient registration and certification system, and a highly educated workforce. Switzerland is also a popular, neutral location for European headquarters: over 1,000 multinational firms have their regional or global headquarters here, including major names such as eBay, Google, and Unilever.
Switzerland is home to a unique life sciences cluster. In addition to world’s leading chemical and pharmaceutical firms, it encompasses a dense network of medtech, biotech, and nanotech companies. In the industrial sector, the machinery, electrical engineering, and metals industry play a key role. In the region between Geneva and Schaffhausen, a “precision cluster” has developed on the basis of the traditional watchmaking industry. Switzerland is also world-renowned for its financial services industry: Zurich and Geneva are among the world’s top 15 financial centers.
Switzerland is also growing in importance as a center of the information and communications industry. Many leading international corporations have set up their presence near Swiss universities and research institutes. The initiative “digitalswitzerland” positions Switzerland as the center for digital innovation in Europe. In the cross-sectoral field of cleantech, Switzerland stands out for its achievements in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and in recycling.
*This article is contributed by Switzerland Global Enterprise
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