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Swiss firms realize record number of innovations

The innovative capacity of Swiss companies is the second-highest in the world. This is the conclusion of a recent comparative study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Large companies in Switzerland are particularly innovative in an international comparison.  

The Swiss Novartis is one of the most innovative pharmaceutical companies in the world. Here you see process operators in a Novartis clean room in Switzerland. Image credit: Novartis
The Swiss Novartis is one of the most innovative pharmaceutical companies in the world. Here you see process operators in a Novartis clean room in Switzerland. Image credit: Novartis

Nearly three quarters of Swiss companies realized innovations between 2014 and 2016. With a score of 72 percent, Switzerland therefore came in second place in the rankings for innovative enterprises. In the current edition of the OECD Innovation Indicators report, Switzerland ranks behind Canada in first place, which recorded a score of just under 80 percent, albeit ahead of Norway (69 percent). Poland brings up the rear with a score of just 21 percent, while the average score stands at 53 percent. The only neighboring country of Switzerland to be included among the top ten was Germany, with a score of 61 percent. Data from a total of 39 OECD member countries and partner economies was analyzed for the study. The focus of this analysis was the extent to which companies have introduced new or improved products, services and business processes.

High employment rate for Swiss innovators

Overall, a degree of concentration was in evidence, which reflected the fact the larger firms generally tend to be more innovative than smaller and medium-sized enterprises. Switzerland did achieve a record in this regard: 88 percent of large companies (defined as those which employ more than 250 staff) introduced innovations in the period under review. Canada is in second place with 86 percent and Germany is in third place in this category with 83.5 percent.

The study also provides information on the proportion of employment at innovative companies in each respective country. In this context, too, Switzerland leads the way. The percentage recorded for this metric is higher in Switzerland than anywhere else. In this regard, the 72 percent of innovative companies in Switzerland provide just under 90 percent of the jobs in the domestic corporate sector. On average, innovative companies in an OECD member country account for 70 percent of business sector employment. 

Firms modernizing products and processes

One of the general findings from the survey is that companies are introducing more than one type of innovation across a defined time frame. In so doing, they are modernizing their product portfolio in terms of both goods and services, as well as updating their business processes. A breakdown by economic sector reveals that companies operating in the IT, electronics and optics sector are just ahead of pharmaceutical and chemical firms.

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