Switzerland takes clean technologies to higher levels

Cleantech will become one of the next megatrends. The demand for “clean” products and services is growing, which opens up new opportunities for businesses and governments to invest. Switzerland is one of the top leaders in this emerging field, with strong SMEs offering a wide range of innovative solutions. The locational advantage for cleantech in Switzerland as well as innovative highlights are illustrated in the newly published 2017 edition of the Swiss Cleantech Report.

Solar panels on a rooftop
Switzerland is a cleantech nation

Switzerland is well-known for its picturesque landscape. Based on a desire to protect the ecosystem, Switzerland was the first European country to enact an environmental protection law. Switzerland has also been a pioneer in environmental innovation for almost a century. Not only is its railway network one of the densest in the world, it also has the world’s longest railway tunnel and drinking-quality water everywhere. This pioneering spirit has helped forge Switzerland’s national identity, enabling the country to achieve outstanding performance in areas as diverse as the management and recycling of waste, public transport, energy efficiency and land management.

Switzerland is a cleantech nation

Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Federal Council decided that Switzerland should withdraw completely from nuclear energy by 2050. Hand in hand with this strategy goes the Cleantech Masterplan, a political instrument to strengthen the development of cleantech productions and services in Switzerland. The capacity of the Swiss for innovation and high-tech manufacturing further ensures that the country leads the way with its transport networks, production of electricity from renewable sources, waste processing and recycling of materials, and energy efficiency. It is therefore not surprising that Switzerland has become a leading nation in patents for wastewater treatment technologies and waste management including recycling. The country ranks first in cleantech patents per capita, which illustrates that Switzerland is on the right track with increasing investments in clean technologies.

Cleantech is also a relevant factor for the Swiss economy. The number of jobs in the sector has grown by 25% over the last five years, which represents almost 5% of Switzerland’s GDP.

Swiss SMEs are innovation leaders

The new edition of the Swiss Cleantech Report presents a wide range of technologies, products and projects developed by Swiss SMEs, scientific institutions and start-ups. It showcases the implementation of pioneering developments in water treatment, mobility, materials, reduction of CO2 emissions, photovoltaics, energy efficiency and smart grids. “Switzerland is ready to take innovation to higher levels,“ says Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation, in the Report’s editorial.

In July last year, the Swiss adventurer-scientists Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg went down in history when they circumnavigated the world with clean energy for the first time. The idea of their Solar Impulse was born in Switzerland. Its feasibility studies were also carried out in Switzerland. A large number of Swiss SMEs were involved in its design. This is a telling example of Switzerland’s credibility in innovative clean technologies. “Switzerland has everything needed to be successful,” Piccard and Borschberg are cited in the brochure.

Facts about cleantech in Switzerland:

  • The cleantech sector currently employs 5.5% of the total workforce.

  • The sector has grown by 25% over the last five years and represents almost 5% of Switzerland’s GDP.

  • The majority of cleantech companies in Switzerland are SMEs that are well integrated into the global supply chains.

  • Innovative start-ups such as L.E.S.S or Designergy are spun off every year from top-notch research institutes like ETH and Empa in Zurich and EPFL in Lausanne.

  • The estimated public expenditure on supporting cleantech R&D in Switzerland was over 0.5 billion dollars in 2014, additionally the R&D expenditure of Swiss cleantech companies far exceed the public R&D expenditure.

About the Swiss Cleantech Report 2017

The Swiss Cleantech Report is a reference work for the cleantech sector in Switzerland. It is published by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property IPI, Switzerland Global Enterprise and CleantechAlps, with the support of various private and public sponsors.

It is available in English and can be obtained free of charge from CleantechAlps ( An electronic version is available at or via the interactive mobile app (Swiss Cleantech Report).


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