Why does Switzerland lead the way in innovation?

Posting date: 29 August 2019

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. 

An Overview of Switzerland’s thriving technology market

Switzerland has long been a world leader in innovation and technology. Ranked as the most innovative country in the world by the Global Innovation Index, the country remains at the forefront of science and technological research. Switzerland has always been quick to utilize new technologies to create robust innovation across a range of industries, from the financial services to healthcare and life sciences.   Over the years, Switzerland has gained a reputation for being the centre for research around artificial intelligence. Indeed, the country currently holds the most AI patents in the European health care industry. And as Switzerland continue to invest in new technologies, we can expect smarter applications to appear across all industries. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at Switzerland’s thriving technology market in more detail.   Switzerland’s tech hubs In Switzerland, fintech is a key driver of innovation throughout the country, paving the way for several tech hubs. For example, the Swiss city of Zug, not too far from Zurich, is home to bitcoin and blockchain start-ups. Blockchain technology is used in a wide range of industries, including insurance and logistics. The city has become so synonymous with the tech movement that it earned the nickname “Crypto Valley” – and it’s the fastest growing technology hub in Europe. In a 2018 report, it was shown that the city grew by 177% in the number of tech-related events. Since then, Crypto Valley has continued to thrive, even in the face of uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic. With its ever-expanding pool of developers and software companies, Switzerland has become a tech hub paradise. Other cities like Lausanne have very successful technology companies, with a focus on AI, health tech and energy.   Tech start-ups Since 1996, the number of start-ups in Switzerland has increased by 700%, with Zurich taking up most of the share. It’s important to know that Switzerland is one of the most expensive places to start a business, due to high living costs. Despite this, Switzerland has still managed to become one of the go-to countries for starting a technology company. Some of the most notable tech start-ups in recent years include Bestmile, a software company that provides autonomous vehicles, and they have offices in San Francisco and London. In 2019, it was named one of the top five best Swiss start-ups in an annual competition. Further afield in the Swiss start-up world is Flyability. Founded in 2014, the company build drones that can be used indoors to check for security and safety and dangerous spaces. The company raised 16m in total to build the drones, which promise to provide fully autonomous inspection. Flyability is focused on reducing risk for workers in confined spaces, and for the environment itself.   Key trends Several key technology trends are making waves in Switzerland. Wearable technology, for example, is having a huge impact on the Swiss insurance industry. It has the potential to help companies better understand their customers with the use of data, and as a result, manage risk and improve processes. Other trends like big data and robotics are big players and have been gaining momentum in recent years, especially in the Swiss healthcare sector. These technologies have the potential to tackle a variety of challenges in healthcare, as outlined in the digital opportunity report by the University of St. Gellen. More data and optimisation can lead to better decision-making in healthcare and create more trust for patients. There’s no doubt Switzerland has developed into an innovative hub for all kinds of technology, all of which continue to fuel the economy at a rapid rate.   Are you looking for your next opportunity in technology? At Swisslinx, we have a deep understanding of the digital and technology industry. It’s a sector that continues to evolve, with innovations coming out daily. Our team of consultants are always up to date with the latest trends in the tech market, and they use their knowledge to support candidates. If you’re looking to land your next role in technology, take a look at our job page for more information.

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What you need to know about starting a job during a pandemic

Even in normal circumstances, starting a new job can be a daunting experience. It’s a learning curve that requires patience, adaptability, and social awareness. However, beginning a new role during a pandemic is even more challenging, as you’ll be navigating a huge change while working remotely. Professionals across all industries need to be prepared for the unexpected, as well as the onboarding process and meeting colleagues virtually.   The pandemic has proven to be a stressful time for many businesses, so it’s important anyone starting a new role can manage their own time and work efficiently. Despite the pandemic, many companies across Switzerland and further afield are still hiring. Looking ahead, the Swiss labour market is on the road to recovery after a sharp decline when COVID-19 initially broke out – which is good news if you’re looking to progress your career and land your next role. Here’s how to ensure you make an excellent start to your new role during a difficult time.   Communication is key Communication is the backbone of any business. It’s essential for achieving productivity and maintaining good relationships. However, starting a job in a pandemic means that consistent and quality communication is all the more important. Since you’ll most likely be learning your new role virtually, you must understand the preferred method of communication. Whether your company uses Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Zoom, you’ll need to ensure open lines of communication at all times while you learn the basics of your new role. COVID-19 has forced many businesses to change the way they work, with employees now expected to be more autonomous and flexible. When you’re virtual, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to connect with your co-workers and build relationships across the business. The pandemic has pushed us to embrace remote work and communication is fundamental for success.   Embrace the culture Businesses of all sizes have been forced to adapt their operations during the pandemic, and this includes workplace culture. Now more than ever, employers will want new hires to quickly learn the culture and align themselves with the company’s mission. In the COVID era of remote working, navigating company culture can be difficult due to the lack of in-person conversations. However, it’s important to recognise that culture isn’t bound to a location. Culture is all about how you connect with your co-workers. That’s why during the onboarding process, you will need to listen actively and engage thoroughly during remote calls. Since you likely won’t be in the office often, it can be harder to present yourself as a team player. But with the right transferrable skills and emotional intelligence, you’ll be able to enter a new role and build great relationships from day one.   Organisation must be a priority  Even in regular circumstances, time management is critical for productivity. But with the pandemic disrupting schedules, the ability to keep organised and track your progress couldn’t be more important. This means that when starting a new role you need to first understand what’s expected of you and make a plan that includes key dates and deadlines, with digital tools to help you stay on task. Because everything has changed so much in the COVID world, you will have to be more proactive and willing to share ideas with more experienced members of your team. As the situation evolves, you’ll need to organise your time accordingly and work in a way that gives you the flexibility to prepare for challenging situations. Starting a new job is never easy – but staying organised can make the transition that much easier.   Get in touch with our team of recruitment specialists There’s no question that starting a job in a pandemic is a real challenge for anyone. With the right leadership, co-workers, and tools at your disposal, you can thrive in an unprecedented time. The team here at Swisslinx is dedicated to providing quality career advice to help with your job search. We keep up with the latest trends in recruitment markets, from financial to digital and technology. Contact us to speak with a team member or start your job search now.

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