Innovation is a state of mind

If Switzerland is one of the most prosperous nations on earth today, this can be attributed above all to its amazing ability to innovate. Innovation and mastery of technology have enabled this country of 7.5 million inhabitants to create global market leaders in leading edge sectors, including Novartis (pharmaceuticals), Nestlé (foodstuffs), Merck-Serono (biotech), ABB (energy) and Logitech (IT).

According to an OECD report (OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2005), Switzerland comes out top in terms of developing knowledge-based industries in the 21st century, and is among the leading group for acquiring the new skills and technologies needed by the industries of the future.

This power to innovate is built on large sums of money invested in research: Switzerland spends 2.9% of its GDP on research and development, one of the highest rates in the world, ahead of Germany, France and the UK (the average rate in the European Union is 1.9%). In terms of scientific output, Switzerland heads the global rankings for the number of scientific publications per million inhabitants. The same holds true for technology output, where Switzerland is the global co-leader together with Sweden when it comes to patents filed per million inhabitants.

Research is a national priority in Switzerland. This is underpinned and encouraged by public programmes focusing on both fundamental research (Swiss National Science Foundation, FNS) and applied research (Commission for Technology and Innovation, CTI).

The canton of Vaud is one of the main centres of research and innovation in Switzerland, with the biggest university campus in the country and several public and private research institutions with an excellent international reputation (EPFL, CHUV, ISREC – see links below). For more than ten years, the canton of Vaud has actively pursued a policy of developing its core scientific and technical competencies.

The canton of Vaud is also at the centre of supra-regional technical clusters, together with the neighbouring cantons forming global centres of excellence notably in biotechnology (, and micro and nano technology ( and information and communication technology ( 

Furthermore, companies located in the canton of Vaud benefit from close links between the research centres and industry, thanks to technology transfer offices based in the universities and laboratories.


  • Approximately 1,900 high-tech enterprises employing more than 52,000 people (~ 15% of the active population)
  • EPFL: more than 100 start-ups based on the campus, around 150 patents and license agreements filed each year
  • Seven incubators and technology parks, including the Innovation Park at EPFL (, Biopôle ( and Yverdon Science and Technology Park (, the largest in Switzerland.
  • More than 1,300 new businesses created every year
  • Switzerland : the global leader in the number of patents filed per inhabitant