Press Release

Survey: Exporting SMEs rely on innovative business models

The strong Swiss franc and increasing competition pose challenges for Swiss small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Many businesses have realized that an innovative business model is an important factor for successful internationalization: 70 percent of SMEs are currently dealing with this issue. This is represented in a recent survey by Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) of over 150 exporting SMEs, which was presented today at the Foreign Trade Forum.

Cable connections being installed
What’s needed is creativity and lateral thinking Rethinking business models

The strong Swiss franc continues to burden Swiss exporting SMEs. At the same time, new technologies and competitors such as Uber and AirBnB are turning many target markets upside down. 85 percent of those surveyed feel that competitive pressure is greater now than it was five to ten years ago. 79 percent believe that in coming years, their business models will no longer work like they do today.

Becoming an innovation leader for business models

“Our companies are known around the world for their quality products and services. However, in order to maintain our position in global markets in the future, we have to go one step further and become innovation leaders for business models,” says Daniel Küng, CEO Switzerland Global Enterprise.

Clever ideas that lead to export success

Many SMEs are currently proving that it’s possible to develop innovative business models with few resources. Four of the companies included in S-GE’s survey, Elite Beds SA, Ifolor AG, Berlinger AG and Berhalter AG, demonstrate such an approach. The main concern is to be creative and think laterally – for instance, by using ideas from other industries.  

Many of the surveyed companies are still not fully exploiting this potential. Only half of the SMEs are engaged in targeted innovation partnerships, and only around one third are networking with other businesses in their own industry or beyond.

“The vast majority of SMEs realize quite well that they have to rethink their business models. The issue now is to tackle the challenge with more awareness and to think outside the box. Intelligently adapting a company’s business model to each individual target market is the prerequisite for being internationally competitive,” says Daniel Küng.

The full study with four example companies and commentary by Tamara Carleton, Innovation Specialist from Silicon Valley, is available for download here.

About the publication

The data presented are based on a survey with 155 S-GE member companies; survey period: February and March 2017.


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