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​​​​Swiss innovation system

The Swiss economy thrives on innovation and Switzerland regularly tops the global innovation indexes. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Switzerland is one of the most innovative countries in the world, and also leads in the OECD's main innovation indicators such as employment in innovative firms. The number of patents, and registered trademarks and designs, is a clear indication of the high level of innovation in Switzerland, as is the number of people employed in knowledge-intensive sectors. 


Much as in the field of research, there is a strong belief in the bottom-up approach when it comes to innovation in Switzerland. State support and policy focuses on providing the framework conditions for innovation to flourish without dictating technology or sector-specific investments in innovation. While the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) sets out overall (legal) framework for innovation support, Innosuisse (formerly CTI) is the Swiss innovation promotion agency. Its activities are based on article 64 of the Federal Constitution. It encourages scientific innovation in Switzerland by providing funding, advisory services, and networks to improve the Swiss economy. Swiss businesses undertake and finance the bulk of their Research and Innovation (R&I) activities, and the total amount of public funding for innovation activities is much lower than for basic research. Importantly, Innosuisse funding is distributed principally to publicly-oriented R&I partners, such as public universities and research and technology organisations carrying out applied research with or for Swiss enterprises. With this policy, Switzerland constitutes an exception amongst the member states of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development​ (OECD). Switzerland's innovation policy starts from the assumption that the generation of innovation is a core task of industry and SME and that the businesses have to put, in large parts, their own efforts and money in it. 


Apart from funding R&I projecs, there is a strong emphasis on mentoring, coaching, teaching business 

knowledge and entrepreneurship skills as well as proving small companies and start-ups with a network of partners in the R&I sector as well as along their value chain. Support is also available for export and internationalisation. Apart from the federal institutions, the 26 cantons have their own innovation strategies and offer numerous regional innovation promotion initiatives.  Their support mechanisms can vary according to geographic location, sector, or type of company.