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. 

The importance of skill-based recruitment

Skill-based recruiting has become all the more important in the modern world of work. While experience will always be valuable, assessing candidates based on skills and holistic competencies, rather than their last job title can pave the way for exceptional talent. Over the years, Switzerland has faced skill shortages in many different fields, so companies must take a skill-based approach to recruitment. Skill-based recruitment places the recruiter in the driver’s seat. It means pursuing all the relevant information to match candidates’ skills with the requirements of the job. Below, we’ve outlined the key benefits of recruiting for skills.   Transferrable skills   Skill-based hiring enables recruiters to find candidates with core expertise that can be applied in a variety of different environments. While candidates with years of direct experience may look like an ideal choice for a role, there’s a chance they might not be as adaptable in a new business. Core skills like problem-solving, interpersonal skills and technical competencies are more likely to be transferrable to other industries, increasing the chances of you make an excellent hire. Simply put, focusing on core skills and personality can be much more beneficial for businesses that are looking to grow, and maintain a clearly defined culture. However, screening candidates for skill and talent rather than previous experience means recruiters will need to pay extra attention to people’s cover letters and CVs. Thanks to recruitment technology, most applications are automatically filtered, helping the recruiter save time and find the ones that match the predefined criteria.   Add Diversity   One of the key benefits of skill-based recruitment is that it can add greater diversity to the workplace. Individuals from different backgrounds and diverse skill sets can add different talents, and experiences to the working environment, which can benefit the organisation. When you focus strictly on candidates with a set amount of experience, you risk missing out on individuals who are otherwise strong candidates. While it can be risky to invest in a candidate who’s less proven, they can bring a diversity of thought across the company with their skill set. Using a skill-based approach combined with “blind hiring” also removes any unconscious bias, enabling hiring managers to make more informed decisions, resulting in a much more diverse workforce.   Focus on potential   When you seek candidates with specialist skills, it allows you to focus more on their potential. New skills and competencies can always be taught whereas highly experienced candidates might have a well-established work style that may not be suited to certain types of companies. We’re now entering an era where professionals are constantly changing career paths, and where the younger generations are starting to dominate the workforce. What younger generations may lack in experience, many of them make up in attitude and digital skills. Taking a skills-based approach to recruitment allows you to expand your talent pool and find potentially great candidates that you may have previously missed.   However, companies must establish systems and internal capabilities that allow for skill-based hiring. This means hiring managers must adjust their mindset and use more skill-based assessments when recruiting, with more discussions about the most critical skills. In this way, businesses can be more organised and match candidates with the appropriate roles.    How can Swisslinx help your business?   Swisslinx has a highly experienced team of consultants who are dedicated to providing the best recruitment service to clients and candidates. We take the time to understand your requirements and then deliver tailored recruitment solutions. Our team recruits the best professionals into a wide range of sectors, including financial services, digital and technology, life sciences, as well as engineering. If you would like more information on how we can assist with your recruitment, contact us today.

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How to be successful in the final round interview

As a candidate, the final round interview is the last opportunity to show why you’re the best person for the role. What happens in the first interview can be dramatically different from the final round, so that’s why it’s all the more important to prepare thoroughly and expect to be asked some challenging questions. Hiring managers do not often make final round interviews for candidates they’re not serious about. Therefore, when you’re invited to the final round, the hiring manager already knows that you have the skills for the job. What they’re going to be looking for is how you present yourself under pressure and whether you’re a suitable fit culturally for the organisation. Here’s a swift guide for how to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in the final round interview and securing a job offer.    Review the company and position   Once you’ve made it to the final round, you need to make sure you completely understand the position and the company. The final round may be much longer and involve more people. This means that professionals should review the job specifications again beforehand and be prepared for in-depth questions. At this stage, hiring managers want to determine fit and whether or not the candidate is a team-player. Companies will also use a final round interview to learn how you manage deadlines and juggle workloads. Hiring in a pandemic is no easy task, so companies will likely be paying extra attention to detail and focusing on the candidates who show the most potential. This means it’s important that you thoroughly research the company and come prepared with what you like about the company. Having that extra preparation will increase your chances of being offered a role.    Share your knowledge and expertise   While many final round interviews will be based on how you fit into the company or the team, hiring managers will still want to verify your technical skills and competencies. So, it’s crucial that you effectively share your knowledge and expertise during the interview, and quantify wherever possible. This means discussing your key accomplishments and how they were achieved, as well as any notable skills relevant to the role. For example, you might have excellent time management skills, so you will need to explain how these skills have helped you perform. Whether it’s through project management software or your strategic planning, you must show the unique qualities you bring to a company. Also, always show confidence and evidence of all your skills and experience.   Ask the right questions   In the early rounds of interviews, it’s important to ask thoughtful questions, but in the final stage, you’re going to need to show you’ve thought more seriously about what it would be like to work at the company. Therefore, professionals in the final round should ask questions about what the first month on the job would be like and if there will be any training, as well as what the performance expectations will be when you join. These type of questions show hiring managers that you’re already engaged and eager to be a part of the company.   Show your commitment and passion   In the final round, hiring managers will want to ensure candidates are interested in staying for a long period. Arguably one of the best ways to show you’re a committed professional is by discussing your long-term career plans, and how it’s connected to the role you're interviewing for. Hiring managers want to find candidates who have a strong work ethic and have the potential to be high performing. This means you need to demonstrate a passion for the industry and that you’re genuinely interested in this specific field. For a company, the final round interview is all about evaluating a candidate’s characteristics and attitude, so make sure you tell stories of how you solve problems and why you enjoy your work, which will no doubt help you stand out from other candidates.   Are you looking to advance your career?   At Swisslinx, we have a motivated and friendly team of recruitment consultants who are dedicated to building great relationships with clients and candidates. We specialise in recruiting for a varied range of sectors, including financial services, digital and technology, healthcare and natural resources. Our team works to the highest standards and we’re committed to delivering an exceptional recruitment service on a daily basis. If you would like more information on how we can help your career and even prepare for your next role, contact our team today.

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