An export star thanks to innovation

Written by Peter Biedermann

Peter Biedermann, Head of Swiss Medtech. Photo: Peter Mosimann
Peter Biedermann, Head of Swiss Medtech. Photo: Peter Mosimann
Swiss watches and pharmaceuticals are not alone in enjoying global fame; Swiss medical products are also renowned worldwide.

Thanks to a pioneering spirit and inventiveness, the country has always been world leader in implants, hearing aids, diagnostic equipment in cardiac treatment and other areas. In high-tech devices, 3D and robot technology, eHealth solutions and combined pharmaceutical and medical products, Swiss companies rank among the top in the world. Swiss medical technology companies register the highest number of patents in Europe. Swiss med-tech producers spend as much as 30 percent of their annual sales on research and development.
Sales for the whole Swiss med-tech industry totalled 14.1 billion Swiss francs in 2016, according to the Swiss Medical Technology Industry report. It accounts for 2.2 percent of gross domestic product and is largely export-driven. In 2015, the volume of exports remained stable at 10.6 billion Swiss francs despite the strong Swiss franc, and even increased to the top destinations – the US imported medical technology worth 2.6 million Swiss francs and Germany imported 2.2 million Swiss francs’ worth. Medical technology accounted for 5.2 percent of the total Swiss exports.

Highest density in Europe
The medtech industry profits from an attractive location in Switzerland. With 1,350 companies, the country has the highest density of businesses which are fully or partially active in the industry in Europe. Alongside the Swiss companies which operate globally, like Roche Diagnostics, Sonova, Ypsomed and Straumann, the Swiss med-tech scene also features factories and subsidiaries of foreign companies like Johnson & Johnson Medical, Biotronic, Medtronic, Zimmer Biomet and B. Braun.
Among the attractive conditions in Switzerland are an innovative environment, consistently good access to highly qualified personnel and relatively low corporate taxes. Traditional advantages are high quality, the first-class universities and research institutes and political and economic stability. Regional micro-clusters of companies and institutions have developed here from the historic clock, machinery and pharmaceutical industries. All of this has meant that the value-added chain of the entire Swiss medical technology industry can be completely covered in its own ecosystem.

Publication date: 26 October, 2017