For some years now, Switzerland has featured regularly at or near the top of international rankings for innovation and competitiveness – although the country differs significantly from the typical “Silicon Valley” model. This discussion paper tries to explain why Swiss innovation has been so successful internationally and recommends how the competitive edge can be maintained.

Switzerland’s achievements lie less in successful start ups or IPOs than in other factors.  Private investment in research and development – which comprise three quarters of the nation’s entire spending on innovation, is focused mainly on the health sector (in the broadest sense – Health@Large) – in other words, medicine, pharmaceuticals, medical and bio-technology, bio-informatics, nutritional sciences, hygiene etc. This, among other reasons, has helped Switzerland’s health sector file countless scientific and technical patents.

But how can this competitive advantage be protected? Xavier Comtesse‘s discussion paper makes three recommendations:

  • Tax breaks for companies investing in R&D and innovation.
  • A clear division of responsibilities between private and public sectors and a sharper focus by the Commission for Technology and (KTI) on “disruptive innovation.“  
  • Reinforcing and promoting a co-operative culture within in the innovation community to better harness synergies.