# 1 / 2023

How Switzerland remains successful - the seven pillars of innovation capacity


No innovation, no progress. Innovation is one of the most important factors to create prosperity and to combat major challenges such as climate change or demographic development. However, it does not emerge on the drawing board of the public administration or in politics. On the one hand, the greater public is unaware of how ideas develop, how they are transformed into adequate products and how these products can be established in the market. On the other hand, the incubation period from research to innovation is long and success highly uncertain. Innovation can therefore not be forced by means of political and regulatory measures. Due to its difficult demarcation and vague terminology, however, innovation repeatedly falls into the traps of political haphazardness and opportunism.

What is innovation actually? The term generally encompasses the creation of economic, technical, social or organisational innovations. From an economic perspective, however, it encompasses more: the implementation of ideas in the form of products, new services or processes is just as much a part of innovation as the successful implementation, marketability and sale of a product or service. Hence, a brilliant idea or a groundbreaking research result alone is not enough: innovation only comes into being when an idea is implemented in the real world.

Innovation policy includes not only state-directed education, research and innovation promotion. Private-sector innovation efforts are at least as important. It therefore makes sense to consider innovation policy in a broader context. Any political action that creates optimal economic conditions - from financial to labour market to foreign policy - can also be considered as innovation policy.

Virtually every developed country has made innovation a focal point of its growth policy in recent years. The international battle for the best business locations will become even more intense in the future - the competition is constantly increasing. For Switzerland as a place to work and think, a successful innovation policy is therefore of the utmost importance. As a high-wage and high-cost country, Switzerland must remain at the forefront of innovation. Only in this way can it secure its prosperity and make a significant contribution to solving global problems.

How can this be achieved? For a country without natural resources, answering this question is of central importance. However, it is equally important to recognise which recipes do not work to strengthen the innovation location. The argument of improving innovative strength is often used for political initiatives of all kinds, although they often have counterproductive effects. One thing is clear: Innovation is not to be confused with a specific solution technology.

With this in mind, the seven main pillars of a successful and sustainable innovation policy will be outlined below. The aim is to show how Switzerland can continue to be one of the most innovative countries in the world. We will limit ourselves to the most important points and make no claim to completeness.