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.

An overview of Switzerland’s pharmaceuticals industry

The pharmaceutical industry employs 135,000 people in Switzerland and contributes to 30% of its exports — more than the Swiss chocolate, cheese and watches export industries combined, making it a significant economic industry for the nation. It’s no surprise with Switzerland’s forward-thinking and innovative endeavours that two of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, Novartis and Roche, are companies born out of Switzerland. Other famous corporations in pharmaceuticals also employ heavily in Switzerland, including Celgene which ranks eighth in terms of its number of employees in Switzerland. Celgene has recently been acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $74 billion, making it one of the top 10 most expensive mergers and acquisitions in history. So why have these pharmaceutical giants chosen Switzerland as an attractive location to set base and how is it significant to their success? Let’s consider the pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland and why it’s such a key player in the global market. Focus on speciality chemicals Despite Switzerland’s lack of natural resources, it still hosts a successful export industry due to its focus on low volume speciality chemicals which constitutes 90% of its product portfolio. Switzerland is known for providing bespoke pharmaceutical solutions through its access to and funding for intensive research and development of these fine chemicals. The global demand for these speciality chemicals is always increasing, which makes Switzerland’s assets valuable. Switzerland has seen many success stories and inventions in the pharmaceutical industries. Roche is credited with inventing Invirase, the world’s first HIV proteinase inhibitor drug in 1995 and later, co-created Funzeon, which stops the HIV virus from entering human cells. In addition, Novartis has been widely recognised for their work on cancer treatment through their aromatase blocker letrozole (Femara) which is used in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer. The Swiss pharmaceutical industry now offers more than 30,000 products and is well-positioned to make significant contributions to healthcare, both in Switzerland and worldwide. Intense research and development From as early as 1896, the region of Basel became the centre of 19th-century pharmaceutical industries since Switzerland had no patent laws. This was in direct contrast with the surrounding European countries and led to a migration of researchers to Switzerland who wished to work without restrictions. Currently, there are 900 pharmaceutical and MedTech companies which employ 50,000 workers in the region of Basel. Though patent laws have changed since the 1890s, Switzerland still hosts a supportive regulatory environment through its fair patent and pricing regulations. In addition, Switzerland’s current proximity to research institutions and sophisticated healthcare system provides an ideal environment for the intensive research of highly specialised products and the ability to test drugs to be sent to market. There is also high access to recruit highly qualified scientists from these globally ranking universities and their research teams. Novartis hired 23,000 science professionals including scientists and doctors to work on over 200 projects in clinical development worldwide, just as Roche employed 22,000 people to work in research and development. Switzerland hosts outstanding scientific and technological workforce with in-demand skills. In addition, there is a lot of financial support from pharmaceutical companies who have invested almost 7 billion Swiss francs into research and development in Switzerland. Supportive framework conditions Switzerland has free trade agreements with the EU and 40 other countries, including innovative key giants such as China and Japan which provide access to essential export markets. After Germany and China, Switzerland has the third most populated network of bilateral investment protection agreements. Switzerland’s pharmaceutical industry is supported by its global reputation for high-quality production standards, for being a strategic test marketer and being able to introduce new medical products at an early stage. This recognition of quality control saves Switzerland’s pharmaceutical industry between 130-300 million Swiss francs yearly when trading with the EU, the EFTA States and Canada. In addition, a single central authority, the Federal Coordination Centre for Biotechnology governs all biotech and gene tech licensing applications which leads to a minimalistic and streamlined bureaucracy procedure. Switzerland continues to rank number one on the Global Innovation Index due to its access to expert workforces, supportive governmental laws and its relation to the global trading market. Switzerland remains an attractive place to live and work, especially in such an important industry to Switzerland’s nationality and GDP as the pharmaceutical industry. Work in Switzerland’s pharmaceutical industry Now that you know more about the exciting contributions Switzerland has made in the history of the pharmaceutical industry, consider landing your next role in this booming industry and innovative country with Swisslinx. We also recruit talented pharmaceutical candidates to work in pharmaceutical hotspots worldwide. Contact us for more information or apply for your next role with Swisslinx today.

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High growth industries in Dubai and how to capitalise on them

Doing business in Dubai: Trends and developments to keep an eye on Dubai has become an increasingly desirable location in which to live and work, with a competitive and diverse business landscape. New developments announced by the government look set to continue the emirate’s upward trajectory as a fully-fledged global business capital, and at Swisslinx we’re excited to continue expanding in this part of the world. With exciting developments in tech entrepreneurship, oil and gas movements and a booming finance sector, there’s plenty to keep an eye on. Here are some of our highlights: A growing market As the biggest re-exporting centre in the Middle East, Dubai’s economy has become more dynamic and diversified in recent years, with international trade growing at an average of more than 11% each year since 1998. The emirate also recorded 41% year-on-year growth in foreign direct investment in 2018, creating around 25,000 new jobs and reflecting investors’ optimism in the future of the local economy. As the leading hub for finance and transportation in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dubai is also ranked in the first quartile for business activity, human capital, information exchange and cultural exchange. It hosts the headquarters for most major international corporations based in the GCC and is an international tourism destination, with entrepreneurship and private investments beginning to emerge to shape a culture of innovation. Alongside that, the UAE has reached the 11th rank in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list for 2019 thanks to its modern infrastructure, supportive legislature and access to networking opportunities. Put simply, the Dubai business market is expanding in many different directions, making it an exciting time to be doing business in this part of the world. The emergence of tech entrepreneurship Early-stage start-ups make up nearly half of all companies registered in Dubai, according to Dubai Statistics Sector, with accelerators and incubators emerging at pace. The UAE sees high levels of commitment from the government and independent programmes to support the tech ecosystem, with Dubai Future Foundation and Dubai Future Accelerators supporting growth in innovation. Alongside incubators are initiatives such as the STEP Conference and GITEX Technology week, providing entrepreneurs and start-ups with the ability to showcase their work and engage with investors. Banking and finance gain steam The financial services market has long been a key pillar of Dubai’s economy, and this shows no sign of abating. So far this year we’ve seen the launch of a project aimed at providing 1,500 banking and finance jobs to Emirati citizens within 100 days and plans to triple the size of Dubai’s financial district (DIFC). This expansion is part of a move to cement Dubai’s position as an economic and commercial hub for the region, adding 13 million square feet to the existing Dubai International Financial Center. The DIFC investment hub is already high-performing, reporting its best-ever year for new company registrations in 2018 with a total of 437 new registrations. This saw an 11% rise in net profits for the year, taking the number of registered financial companies to 625. Transformation is ongoing within the UAE banking sector, with banks operating with high capital and a positive outlook for the sector both now and into the future. Oil and gas continues to recover As a major oil and gas hub globally, it’s no surprise that the UAE’s presence in this sector remains strong. After a well-documented price slump in late 2014 the market has recently shown continued stability with the current brent crude price averaging USD $67 - $71. The sector has seen a recent increase in exploration investment, demonstrating a renewed confidence in the market. The GCC has USD $835bn worth of active oil and gas construction projects underway currently. Development of the region’s major players is ongoing. Aramco has announced an expansion into international oil and gas exploration, likely putting them in direct competition with Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, while ADNOC is actively seeking venture partners for its 2030 growth strategy. Such large-scale projects and ongoing investment in oil and gas suggests a burgeoning employment space for both local and international candidates. How Swisslinx can help you Established in 2007, our Dubai office has a focus on the Banking & Finance, Technology and Oil & Gas sectors in the Middle East and North Africa. Based in the DIFC, we have access to the huge number of opportunities available to clients and candidates here, keeping ahead of updated and trends within this part of the market. Our multilingual team of specialists are considered experts in their respective markets and have experience in recruiting for all levels of seniority up to and including C-Suite and Board Level. Our consultants have access to the most up-to-date information regarding the market and offer the best local advice possible to our candidates and clients. Get in touch with our Dubai office or view our latest jobs in Dubai and the UAE.

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