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Why Zurich Is the Place to Be for Startups

February 26, 2019

Why Zurich Is the Place to Be for Startups
Innovation is more than just a buzzword in Switzerland: despite being a small country, the Alpine nation has been labelled one of the most innovative countries worldwide numerous times. According to an index by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Switzerland is top in the world when it comes to innovation.

In 2018, the country with a population of about 8.4 million had been ranked number one in innovation for the eighth year in a row. Switzerland scored particularly high in the category ‘knowledge and technology outputs’ as the Swiss have the highest ratio of European patent applications to the population and over 40,000 new companies are founded every year in Switzerland.

But great ideas alone are not enough. Entrepreneurs need to build up a network in their industry to succeed.

Zurich being the financial centre of Switzerland is an ideal place to meet potential investors, corporate partners, clients, industry experts and other FinTech enthusiasts

Apart from numerous banks, the biggest Swiss city is home to Fortune Global 500 companies in sectors such as financial services, insurance and technology. Multiple international companies and organizations established their global, European or EMEA headquarters in Zurich. Prominent examples are Google with its largest office outside of Mountain View, the FIFA with its international headquarters and IBM as well as Disney with international research labs in Zurich. Swiss ICT and FinTech Startups achieved 685 million francs of investment in 2018 - which is 120 percent more than in the previous year. It was the first time that ICT Startups received more investments than their counterparts in Life Sciences.

Swiss dual education system provides well-trained and experienced professionals

Growing Startups are often in need of a well-educated workforce. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (German: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) is amongst the world’s top universities for sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics while Zurich University and Zurich University for Applied Sciences educate the next generation of finance and banking experts in the region. The accessibility to high-quality schools and universities in combination with the Swiss dual education system in which many professional qualifications for the finance sector are obtained during so-called apprenticeships ensures a permanent supply of well-trained and experienced professionals.

Political stability and safe-haven currency

While the political situation in Switzerland’s neighbouring countries has changed significantly in the last year and months, according to the news platform Swissinfo, the balance of power between the main Swiss parties remains broadly stable. Corruption does not impede business in Switzerland. The business anti-corruption portal GAN states that interactions with public officials are transparent and corruption is not common. The Swiss law criminalizes active and passive bribery, while bribery in the private sector is criminalized under the Unfair Competition Act. The Swiss tax administration is not known to be affected by corruption. Political stability and the low degree of corruption make Switzerland a safe, predictable and transparent place to do business.Switzerland is also one of the world’s most stable economies with the Swiss franc being one of the strongest and stable currencies. The franc’s independence has proved critical during turbulent times, including throughout the eurozone debt crisis which saw tremendous fund flow from the troubled European nations to Switzerland. The franc’s stability attracts Swiss and international investors.

Zurich has been ranked second-best place to live in the world

As life not only consists of work, the high quality of life in the biggest Swiss city needs mention. In most surveys, Zurich ranks among the best places to live in the world. The Mercer Quality of Living study 2018 saw the biggest Swiss city retain second place after Vienna, which took the top spot for the ninth year in a row. In addition, Switzerland performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the OECD Better Life Index, ranking above the average in subjective well-being, jobs and earnings, income and wealth, health status, social connections, environmental quality, education and skills, work-life balance, housing and personal security.