Switzerland has been named the most innovative country in Europe 2021 by the European Commission.
In a report published by the European Innovation Scoreboard in June 2021, the EC stated that, “Switzerland’s strengths are in attractive research systems, human resources and intellectual assets. The top 3 indicators include international scientific co-publications, foreign doctorate students, and lifelong learning.”
The European Innovation Scoreboard, which has been studying innovation on the continent for twenty years this year, compares innovation performance in EU member countries, European countries outside the EU, and their regional neighbors. It determines the relative strengths and weaknesses of their innovation systems according to four main indicators, which are:
· Framework conditions – human resources dimensions, attractive research systems, innovation-friendly environment.
· Investments – finance and support, firm investments.
· Innovation activities – innovators, linkages, intellectual assets.
· Impacts – employment impacts, sales impacts.
Switzerland scored the highest on all indicators, but was closely followed by Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Belgium. The report classified Iceland, Israel, Norway, and the UK as “strong innovators”. And figures show that countries in Eastern Europe, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine are emerging as competitive innovators for the first time.
Switzerland is not only the most innovative country in Europe. It has also been deemed the most innovative country in the world by the Global Innovation Index (GII) every year since 2011. The GII uses a giant dataset made up of 81 indicators to determine the rankings of 132 world economies. These indicators include a range of social, business model, and technical indicators, as well as research and development laboratories, contributions to scientific journals, etc.
This year, the global top three most innovative countries were:
The impact of COVID-19 upon innovation
The GII report shows that, in response to the economic depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (which is to say nothing of the human cost), governments and global corporations in many sectors have upped their spending on research and development, and innovation. Organizations in the technology sector, including those focused on software, internet, communication, hardware, and electrical appliances, have made greater investments in this area since the start of the pandemic. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have also done the same.
However, the opposite is true for businesses in industries that were hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions. Companies focused on travel and tourism, for example, have been forced to cut back on research and development in order to survive the global lockdowns.
What makes Switzerland so innovative?
Like a lot of post-war economies, Switzerland’s economy can be divided into three main sectors. But while agriculture, industry, and service (mainly insurance, tourism, and banking) form the bedrock of the Swiss economy, it also relies upon the science and technology sectors for growth. The recent investment in cryptocurrency ties two of Switzerland’s most profitable industries together.
Over the past four years, a dynamic cluster of tech companies have come together in Zug, just outside Zurich. Just like Silicon Valley and Isar Valley, “Crypto Valley” is a major world center for the development of technology. It’s so called because of the focus on the development of blockchain technology in the area.
Swiss culture is founded on creativity, individualism, and equality. It’s easy to see these values reflected in the country’s thriving tech and startup scenes.
Switzerland is in the heart of Europe. This puts the country in the perfect position to attract top talent from anywhere in the world, to contribute to their flourishing technology sector.
4. Lack of natural resources
Switzerland is a landlocked country that imports all its crude oil from overseas. Due to this lack of natural resources, they have had to focus their attentions on research and development to be able to compete in the global market. Indeed, it is reported that Switzerland spends c. 16 billion CHF on research and development every year.
What is more, Switzerland has long been committed to protecting Intellectual Property (IP). The Swiss government introduced the world’s first Federal Patent Law in 1906. Still in effect today, this law encourages Swiss companies to come up with new technologies and file for patents by rewarding patent holders with financial grants. In the 21st century, this has led to the establishment of a robust Swiss startup scene.
As a country, Switzerland also invests heavily in their education and higher education systems.
Swiss universities are well-known for their top-tier research programs. They have vibrant international communities, and graduates of these universities are highly sought after by global organizations, in recognition of the country’s reputation for having one of the most progressive higher education systems in Europe.
Both of EU’s Swiss campuses are melting pots of nationalities and cultures. We have nearly 500 students from more than 100 different countries studying with us in Geneva. These different perspectives create an inclusive, innovative classroom environment in which students can collaborate with and learn from their peers as well as their instructors. Our equally diverse faculty comprises experienced global business leaders who are committed to teaching the most up to date theory on trending business topics.
We offer 30+ foundation, undergraduate, and postgraduate degree courses across our two Swiss campuses.
If you are interested in learning and working in the most innovative country in the world, have a look at these programs, which are geared towards technology and enterprise:
Alternatively, you can look up the full range of courses on offer on our website.