Switzerland Is Increasingly Becoming the Heart of Innovation


In the first half of 2023, the number of Swiss embarking on entrepreneurial adventures has surged impressively. Swiss startups hit a record high in the first half of 2023–by one day before the end of the fiscal quarter (July 1st), 25,836 start-ups had been registered, a significant 4.5% growth when compared to the same period in 2022, according to the IFJ Institute for Young Enterprises. This same entrepreneurial spirit is reflected in the fact that a mounting number of innovation hubs are being inaugurated in Switzerland, underlining the fact that the country is earning a strong international reputation for its talent for marrying expertise to innovation.

Switzerland’s unique geographical location also lends itself to the creation of a uniquely globalized economic ecosystem. The Alpine country is host to a rare mixture of multinationals, powerful SMEs, and dynamic start-ups which contribute to its economic strength. Currently, Switzerland is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, meaning there is more than one Fortune 500 firm for every one million inhabitants. There are a variety of different factors that make the country such a fertile ground for innovation. For one thing, all parts of the value chain are accessible in one location, the perfect one-stop-shop – from R&D to manufacturing, through to commercialization – while a pragmatic and business-friendly approach to legislation has attracted fast-growing companies looking for the unique selling proposition that comes with the “Swiss-made” label associated with trust and savoir-faire. 

The “Swiss-made” label isn’t just attractive to clients, but also to potential employees looking for opportunities in cutting-edge companies. Switzerland has a constant stream of highly qualified talent and offers said talent the opportunity to work in a country with some of the highest spending on R&D in relation to its GDP, with private companies contributing almost two-thirds.  Swiss companies are showing what is possible in terms of innovation, while the embodiment of Switzerland’s hunger for innovation is the increasing number of innovation hubs, from SICPA’s unlimitrust campus to CSEM’s Battery Innovation Hub, that are springing up around the country.

Innovation hubs arising in key sectors

Innovation can rarely flourish without trust–something that SICPA, the leading security firm based in Prilly, has understood from its inception nearly 100 years ago. SICPA develops a wide variety of secure and technologically advanced solutions and services for identification, traceability, and authentication, and has spoken extensively about the importance of establishing an “economy of trust”, in which trust is the foundational principle at the heart of every interaction or transaction.

Recently, SICPA took its raison d’etre one step further by inaugurating the unlimitrust campus, a 50,000 m2 hub dedicated to innovation in digital trust, aiming to build “a dynamic innovation ecosystem that will fuel the construction of a safer, more reliable digital world”.

As Christelle Luisier Brodard, President of the Vaud State Council, said at the launch of the new campus, “Proficiency and innovation, expertise and excellence here are the qualities associated with SICPA”. The aim of the unlimitrust ecosystem is to deploy those qualities to advance the Economy of Trust through new partnerships between key stakeholders, including SICPA employees, startups, larger firms, and researchers.

The campus’s overarching goal is to ensure that citizens are able to live in a world where they are able to interact with a variety of stakeholders safely–a sentiment which was strongly echoed when the unlimitrust campus was inaugurated. As Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin aptly put it at the unlimitrust launch event, “Trust is always essential, but it is no longer personal, based on reciprocity, it is now of a global nature, in that it must be applied to all systems that frame our relationships, especially economic ones.”

SICPA isn’t the only Swiss entity opening up new avenues to innovation. Earlier this year, public-private research group CSEM, which began its energy innovation programme in 2013 and has already achieved several world records in terms of solar cell efficiency, opened a Battery Innovation Hub in Neuchâtel with the aim of boosting technology development as well as supporting the local supply chain.

Christophe Ballif, CSEM’s VP of Sustainable Energy, explained that the hub aims at “expanding the existing battery landscape in Switzerland and making it more competitive.” The goal of the center, currently the only one of its kind in the country, is also to bring together interdisciplinary teams to work on battery technology with local companies. It will contribute to the development of new chemistries and interfaces with the analysis and intelligent control of batteries to cover the entire value chain, all under one roof.

The battery innovation hub proves to be an impressive feat of synergies which is more important now than ever before. In a joint study by the International Energy Agency and the European Patent Office, it was concluded that by 2040 the world will need energy storage solutions equivalent to 50 times the current market capacity. “Our challenge is to develop disruptive technologies that make batteries more powerful and durable, with improved safety and ideally lower cost to make the European industry more competitive,” said CSEM’s Andrea Ignenito.  

Equipping the world with the necessary tools

Both companies look towards a future that is innovative and trustworthy, helping consumers to navigate a period in history where change is not only perpetual but important. SICPA’s unlimitrust campus and CSEM’s Battery Innovation Hub illustrate how leading Swiss organizations are continually working to prove that Swiss “savoir innovation” is part and parcel of why the joint effort between the private and public sector has paid off.

For the past 12 years, Switzerland has been crowned the most innovative economy in the world by Global Innovation Index (WIPO), which compares 132 countries worldwide. Swiss enterprises are offering the world the necessary tool set to take on the world and leave it a better place than we found it. It is up to us to use the tools we’ve been given and make the most out of it.

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Source : Analyticinsight