Switzerland is still – for now – regarded as a particularly innovative country. According to an SATW analysis , however, the Alpine republic is increasingly declining in terms of innovative strength and competitiveness. The Academy bases its conclusions on data from an innovation survey that ran between 1997 and 2014. According to this, not only are there fewer and fewer Swiss industrial companies; 4,000 full-time jobs have also been lost in the sector annually over the last six years, as the Swiss Engineering Index shows. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular have reduced their investment in research and development over the survey period, continues the SATW. The chemicals, machinery, metal product, textile/clothing and watch industries have been particularly hard-hit by this.
The authors of the study argue that the Swiss model, in which industrial companies finance their research themselves, has reached its limits. Those who take on risks of this sort, especially SMEs, are increasingly less likely to succeed. Larger companies tend to outsource their research to countries in which government funding is available. The question is whether the Swiss government should also be providing more support to its industrial companies.
However, the consultancy company Strategy& has pointed out – citing several studies – that there is no correlation between investment in research and development and the overall financial results of a company. Rather, success depends on a number of factors, such as the openness of a company to new ideas or its capacity to manage innovative projects from conception through to market launch.