Switzerland is home to one of the world's most unique life science clusters. Alongside chemical and pharmaceutical corporations such as Novartis, Roche, and Syngenta, there is also a dense network of companies from the medical technology, biotech, and nano technology sectors. The life sciences industry has a distinct international focus, with 98 percent of sales generated abroad. Chemical-pharmaceutical products make up 40 percent of Swiss product exports, making them Switzerland's most exported class of goods. Switzerland has many highly-skilled scientists thanks to its position as an international leader among universities and the many well-funded pharmaceutical companies conducting research there.
Switzerland was named most innovative country in the world in the 2014 Global Innovation Index. In particular, Switzerland is well ahead in terms of innovation output, which is measured against criteria such as new patentA right awarded by an official patent office which guarantees the inventors of commercially exploitable objects exclusive user rights. The patent enables the inventor to prevent others from manufacturing, selling or using their invention. However, the inventor is also able to transfer their rights to others by selling their patent or through licensing agreements. Patents apply to a specific country or group of countries and for a specific period of time (up to a maximum of 20 years). In return, the inventor has to make details of their innovation public. The following conditions must be satisfied before a patent can be registered:
The invention solves a technical problem by technical means.
The invention has commercial applications.
The invention is new. There must be no public knowledge of an invention at the time of registration. Any information made publicly available before the date of registration, be it via a written or verbal description, through a particular application, or in any other way, is regarded as existing technology (the prior art).
The following cannot be patented:
Ideas, concepts, discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods, aesthetic creations (design);
Computer programmes (although, programming-related inventions can be patented under certain circumstances);
Games rules, lottery systems, teaching methods and organisational work processes;
Diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods practised on humans or animals;
Varieties of plants, animal species and essentially biological processes for producing plants or breeding animals;
Inventions where commercial exploitation would be detrimental to public order or morality
The protection that patents afford inventions is becoming increasingly important in the face of competitive pressure and the risk of imitations. In Switzerland, patents can be registered with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (EIGE). Switzerland is a member of the European Patent Organisation which runs the European Patent Office. The members of the European Patent Organisation have put together a database called esp@cenet. The database provides the user with an overview of the prior art. registrations and the number of startups and high-tech companies. Switzerland's strength in innovation is also the direct result of its sizable investments in research and development. Swiss R&D spending amounts to almost 3% of the country's GDP, or CHF 16 billion. Two-thirds of this can be attributed to the private sector.
Compared to other top international centers, the Swiss life sciences sector reports the highest labor productivity. Most recently, this economic sector generated USD 286,000 per employee.
As a highly specialized production location for pharmaceutical products, Switzerland enjoys an excellent reputation the world over.
Switzerland holds a leading position worldwide in the medical technology sector.
Switzerland is one of the strongest biotechnology hubs in Europe.