The rise of disruptive technology in Switzerland

Posting date: 09 July 2019
Technology continues to disrupt industries across the world in numerous ways; for example, the mobile phone changed the way we communicate. Then came cross-platform messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp, which nearly killed SMS. But disruptive technology doesn’t just involve replacing existing technologies; it also creates new marketplaces in itself, like Apple’s App Store and ss technology has continued to disrupt modern society, countries have been racing to keep up.

Switzerland is rated the world’s most innovative country, and is leading the way with blockchain and fintech. But why Switzerland? Heinz Tännler, President of the Swiss Blockchain Federation offers the suggestion that start-ups are attracted to Switzerland due to its legal security, world-class infrastructure and the “Crypto Valley’s” strong ecosystem.

What also makes Switzerland stand out is the government’s willingness to adopt and adapt to these industry-disrupting technologies as they emerge.

It’s important to consider what’s happening in three key industries in Switzerland including fintech, cryptocurrency and blockchain, what led to their rise and the future of these industries within Switzerland.

Fintech

The popularity of fintech in Switzerland is no surprise. The nation is a world leader in financial services, featuring an array of financial institutions and a corresponding rise in innovative banking software. In addition, huge tech corporations such as Google and IBM have set up base in Switzerland.

A lot of the fresh talent can be accounted for by Zurich and Lausanne’s first-class international universities for technology and engineering – a promising factor which may lead to the rise of innovation in the future of technology in Switzerland. This talent surplus is aided by the country’s high quality of life and salaries, attracting international talent and retaining more Swiss grads.

Fintech’s current state in Switzerland sees it act as a home to 10% of all global European fintech enterprises with 46% of those in Zurich and 30% of these offering financial services. This can be explained by the fact that Switzerland supports fintech innovation through its financial market laws and the attractively low tax model for start-ups — leaving innovators feeling supported and encouraged.

So what has the Swiss government been doing to aid the growth on fintech in the country? Thanks to The Federal Council’s sandbox exemption the start-up process is becoming more streamlined in Switzerland compared to other European countries. This means that under the Banking Act, public deposits that equal CHF 1 million or less won’t require a license requirement, and as of April 1st, 2019 this law has been extended for crowdlending business models as part of the Consumer Credits Act. The new fintech licence also became active as of the 1 st of January, 2019 which saw more lenient requirements when compared to fully-fledged banking licences — for instance, no interest needs to be paid on deposits and there are additional safeguards for customers.

Government interest in the continued growth of fintech with these new laws and the rise of new talent, means it’s no surprise that investors are biting — in particular, venture capital giants such as Index Ventures and Google Ventures.

Because of the focus on expanding this sector of finance Investments in Swiss start-ups hit the billion mark in 2018, with fintech accounting for CHF 685 million of this, making it Switzerland’s largest venture capital sector. These investments are only likely to increase, and with it, further advancements in fintech thanks to exaggerated buoyancy of government interests.

Cryptocurrency

Zug, Switzerland’s fastest-growing cryptocurrency hotspot, nicknamed “Crypto valley” has seen billions invested in the sector in just the last few years. Cryptocurrency has revolutionised financial services with its game-changing potential to increase efficiencies and decentralise services.

Zug hosts low tax rates — the entire canton charges 14% corporation tax, making it an ideal spot to build a business. Innovators seem to agree as Zug had over 750 companies with over 3,300 employees registered in it by the end of 2018.

To keep Switzerland at the forefront of finance innovation the government ensures the crypto-movement in Zurich, and other leading cities in Switzerland, thrives doing so with its’ advantageous elements of digital privacy, a stable economy and supportive IT laws, when compared to other European countries. In addition, companies have begun to form clusters to innovate their services to offer unique expertise in cryptographic and security issues.

The Swiss government is clear in its stance to embrace all forms of technical innovations, shown through the way cryptocurrencies are treated as foreign currency, meaning there is no special law based around them. In fact, Zug became the first region in the world to accept bitcoin as a form of payment for a range of governmental services and in politics, and has just successfully completed a trial of blockchain-based voting. Furthermore, it established a digital identity system built on Ethereum as part of the new “e-government” initiative which offered blockchain-based digital IDs for the 30,000 employees working in the Swiss Federal Railway.

Switzerland continues to integrate cryptocurrency into businesses, and even into government, due to its low security risk and high accessibility.

Blockchain

The biggest stakeholder in blockchain development is Switzerland’s affluent financial sector, one of the largest and most diverse in the world. SIX Group, which owns Switzerland’s Stock Exchange, is at present building a trading infrastructure for digital assets using blockchain technology.

The government is also updating financial and corporate regulations to support blockchain advancements. Oliver Bussmann, president of the Crypto Valley Association has said that Switzerland is “a global leading ecosystem for blockchain technology. To establish that, you have to work on all dimensions: start-ups, investors, governments, corporations, R&D etc. You have to bring them together.”

These factors are exactly what Switzerland’s government has considered and incorporated with the introduction of ICOs, which allow start-ups to sell digital crypto tokens to investors globally online and have accounted for over $9 billion in assets last year.

Financial security is of utmost importance in fintech, and blockchain technology provides this along with five other sources of value. These include:

1. Simplification of internal operating procedures 
2. Time-saving financial transactions
3. Optimised use of a company’s liquid assets
4. Reduced risk of fraud and efficient regulator
5. Supervised financial firm interactions 

Blockchain technology is still being developed and refined every day. It has countless possibilities for growth within the fintech industry and Switzerland’s governing parties are keen to play a leading role in cultivating innovation within its businesses.

Disruptive industries still require established recruitment

Swisslinx are market leaders in recruiting for the technology sector and financial services. We have been an established part of the recruitment landscape since 1999 and have successfully placed thousands of candidates in technology and finance roles, winning countless awards while doing so.

We also have offices internationally and a home office in the heart of innovation capital, Zurich. Our expert consultants on hand are equipped to hire the best financial services and technology candidates for your company while being trained and steered by industry-leading experts so you can recruit reliably with Swisslinx.

If you’re interested in working in these booming industries, we have exciting roles available in key tech hotspots in Switzerland, Germany and Dubai. Apply for a role with us today.

Swisslinx recognised as Best Supplier for the second year in a row

We’re delighted to announce that Swisslinx were once again awarded Best Supplier 2018 for the Roche HTS MSP program. As these roles are challenging to source and most positions are distributed to more than 10 suppliers on this account, this recognition is a huge achievement for us – particularly as it was our second year in a row to win.   The award is significant as the suppliers involved all have an even playing field when sourcing for the roles, most of which require a mix of both life sciences and IT knowledge. This is a niche skillset and the talent pool tends to be limited, which means there is huge competition for every position. While the roles can be difficult to source, we gave every position utmost priority and threw ourselves into the challenge. This included incorporating previous managers’ candidate feedback into our search criteria, treating our candidates fairly and maintaining professionalism and discretion at every step. Our reputation as a reliable, top-tier consultancy means we receive high calibre referrals for candidates we can place in the future.   Winning the accolade comes at an exciting time for our consultancy and contributes to our continued success in the ever-expanding healthcare & life sciences IT market. In today’s data-centred economy, our life sciences IT team is particularly busy sourcing and attracting the best talent in the field to enable our clients to use data to save and improve lives. We’re proud of our success in the hotly contested battle and would like to congratulate our fellow suppliers on what was a successful year for the program.   About Swisslinx’s Healthcare and Life Sciences team   Our Healthcare and Life Sciences team is active with clients all over Switzerland and focuses on the Commercial and Research and Development units in addition to our IT coverage. In the last 12 months we have completed four major projects for firms relocating offices to Switzerland, from talent mapping and compensation benchmarking through to search and selection and advising on employment contracts.     Are you a candidate looking for a job in healthcare and life sciences IT or a manager looking to add talent in your team? Then please contact us to start a conversation. 

READ MORE

Why does Switzerland lead the way in innovation?

Switzerland has once again been named the world’s most innovative country, claiming the title for the ninth year in a row. The annual Global Innovation Index ranks 129 countries around the world based on 80 parameters, including regulatory environment, gross expenditure on research and development and mobile app creation, making it an extremely thorough overview of which nations are pushing ahead with innovation. And as innovation is one of the key drivers of economic growth and prosperity, it’s in every country’s best interests to strive for ongoing transformation and technological change. Here’s how Switzerland keeps coming out on top: A history of new inventions Switzerland has the most patent applications relative to population size anywhere in Europe, thanks largely to the dominant pharmaceuticals and life sciences sectors. Pharmaceutical giant Roche led the way for Swiss patent applications, followed by the ABB, Nestle and Novartis. Filing 956 patents per million inhabitants, Switzerland was leagues ahead of the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, which all filed around 400 patents per million inhabitants. António Campinos, President of the European Patent Office, says Switzerland’s strong patent growth sets it apart from other European countries. “This emphasizes the outstanding innovation potential of the country, which continues to grow based on the rise of patent applications,” he notes. The commitment to innovation is demonstrated in the Exhibition of Inventions, an annual event in Geneva where inventors exhibit their products to investors, and in Switzerland’s proud history of bringing new products to market. The nation is responsible for introducing the modern zip (known as the coil zip), Velcro, white chocolate, muesli and the Red Cross to the rest of the world – and don’t forget about the Swiss Army Knife. Ongoing investment in start-ups and new technologies Switzerland has always had a firm focus on investment in innovation, particularly when it comes to start-up business and new technologies. A new fund of up to CHF500 million is testament to this focus on entrepreneurship, with backers of the Swiss Entrepreneurs Fund pledging to close the gap between start-up and established company. 2018 saw venture capital investment in start-ups break the 1 billion CHF mark, increasing by 32% from 2017. ICT investment grew by 120%, with biotech, medtech and digital health also receiving significant investment. The finance sector has long been a target for investors, with Zug’s Crypto Valley serving as one of the global blockchain hotspots and a high proportion of both fintech and IT security start-ups. With more than 300 start-ups founded in Switzerland each year, it’s clear that the nation’s propensity for innovation is only growing stronger. The CHF22 billion investment into R&D each year is further proof of this. A modern approach to education Switzerland boasts some of the top universities in the world, with both ETH and EPFL among the best in the world for robotics. The World University Rankings 2019 point to ETH Zurich being the second-best institution for computer science globally, with knowledge readily transferred between universities and the companies that surround them thanks to government funding of research and development. The focus on education extends as far back as primary school, where new teaching methods are part of the daily routine and there’s an emphasis on teaching skills, as opposed to pure knowledge. Lehrplan 21 is part of this. The curriculum for German-speaking Switzerland specifies not just the content that must be learned, but also the skills that pupils should acquire, with emphasis placed on learning strategies and problem solving. As pupils move through the schooling system, they may encounter the Swiss VET (vocational education and training) system which sees training geared towards demand for vocational qualifications and the jobs available. With one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe, Switzerland’s modern approach to education and training is clearly paying off. Find your next job in Switzerland with Swisslinx At Swisslinx, we partner with some of the world’s most innovative and forward-thinking companies across the recruitment markets of financial services, digital and technology and healthcare and life sciences. If you’re looking for your next role in one of the most exciting and inventive markets in the world, we’d love to help. Take a look at our latest jobs or get in touch to start a conversation. 

READ MORE