Economic Prosperity

The canton of Vaud stands out most markedly in the field of innovation and the high added-value sectors, such as life sciences, digital technologies, nutrition, and precision industries. Not that this is the sole focus of the canton – indeed, businesses from all sectors can flourish here thanks to the solid yet diversified economic fabric.

Switzerland has sat proudly atop the Global Competitiveness Index for a number of years, ahead of the USA and Singapore. The innovation potential and efficiency of the workforce are considered to be the best in the world by those establishing the ranking, as is the ability to cover basic needs via the institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, and the health and education systems.

Set-Up Guide

Economic Framework

Economic prosperity is one of Switzerland’s calling cards. The GDP per capita stands at around 78,000 francs, while the unemployment rate is down at 3%. The pharmaceutical industry, banks, and the food industry are the heavyweights of the country’s economy, but while multinationals such as Novartis, UBS, and Nestlé are ambassadors for Swiss prosperity, small and medium-sized businesses should not be overlooked – after all, they represent over 90% of the country’s companies and provide work for two employees out of every three.

The Global Competitive Index, WEF (2017-2018)

1. Switzerland

2. USA
3. Singapore
4. Netherlands
5. Germany
6. Hong Kong
7. Sweden
8. United Kingdom
9. Japan
10. Finland

« Small and medium-sized businesses represent over 90% of the country’s companies and provide work for two employees out of every three »

The canton of Vaud is a veritable microcosm of Swiss economic prosperity, having seen the world No.1 in the food industry, Nestlé, emerge on the shores of Lake Geneva, as well as the likes of Bobst and Logitech. Then there are the many prestigious watch brands such as Audemars Piguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre, which despite being based in tiny villages, have gone on to conquer the world. The canton has managed to attract multinationals such as Merck, Medtronic, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Edwards Lifesciences, Becton Dickinson, Nissan, Honeywell, Cisco, Sunstar and Chiquita which have set up not only their international or European headquarters in Vaud but also their research and development or production activities.

Some 36,000 businesses, the large majority of them small and medium-sized, drive the economy in Vaud. Most of them are active in services as well as leading industries such as life sciences (pharma, biotech, and medtech), measurement instrumentation, and digital technologies.

To respond to demand and further diversify the economic fabric, a number of technology parks and incubators dedicated to innovation, life sciences, aeronautics, and design have sprung up and are now to be found across the region. Their aim is to encourage innovative technologies, entrepreneurs, and talents from the prestigious research centers and universities in the canton, such as the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the School of Management and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) in Yverdon, to name but two.

Finally, the economic and financial health of the State of Vaud should not be overlooked. It has obtained an AAA+ rating from Standards and Poors, while its public finances are healthy and in the black. The canton therefore has significant capacity to finance investments in education, research, health, the development of infrastructures, and the reduction of tax rates for businesses by 2019.