Finding and attracting top talent from the Life Sciences

Finding and attracting top talent from the Life Sciences

Since Biogen and Amgen set foot in Zug over a decade ago, the canton of Zug in the Greater Zurich Area has quickly become a hub in Europe for the pharmaceutical and medical industries. It is difficult to walk anywhere in Zug without going past a headquarters or an affiliate of a pharmaceutical company. But what many people will ask is why? Why a small lake side city south of Zurich?

Below are some of the key points that have drawn many candidates and clients to Zug in the Greater Zurich Area.


Zug has a direct 40 minute high quality train to Zurich airport, while being within 30 minutes commute of both Zurich and Luzern (both very attractive cities to live). In addition there are a number of small towns in the area. In short, this means if you work in Zug, you have a huge variety of choices in where to live. Some prefer Zug as it is quiet and tranquil. Luzern is very beautiful and cultural while Zurich is lively and metropolitan. Choice is always a winner!

Strong business and life style culture

One observation I’ve always had as an outsider (I am British), is that things work and it is simple to get tasks done. I’ve always considered Switzerland to be the USA of Europe when it comes to business and logistics. There’s a ‘can do attitude’ that you can feel on the streets and if you leave the office late you will still see people working hard. On the train to and from Zurich you will always be over hearing business discussions, strategies and targets. Flip to the weekend however and many people are off skiing, biking or running in the mountains, spending time by the lake, or visiting friends in the rest of Europe. I find this to be quite unique and really not something you will see in the likes of Dublin or London.

Strong academic partnerships and talent links

One look at the list of the spin offs that came from the ETH Zurich University (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) really speaks for itself. Because of this there is a huge talent pool of people who have worked in start-ups and know how to conduct drug development. This is critical and a key benefit as most countries in Europe are heavily dominated by either big pharma or local affiliates. For small pharma companies wishing to enter the EU and global markets, you need staff who are flexible, who know and want to work in an entrepreneurial atmosphere and who understand development.

Tax and costing

It certainly is not news to anyone that the Greater Zurich Area has strong incentives regarding taxes. Both corporate and personal taxes are considerably lower than the majority of Europe. With this in mind, there are massive long term benefits to having headquarters and key operations led in Switzerland. However, what about costs? Switzerland by reputation is expensive and this is somewhat true. But, if you compare with London, New York, Paris and Dublin, the costs are not so different. In many cases rent (one of the key costs) is actually lower in Switzerland. If you take this into account, with the quality that you receive and the attached services, it makes business sense.

There are many other areas to cover here, but I hope to give a short summary. The proof to date has been the overwhelming number of companies who have moved to Switzerland and the many more that will join them!


About the author

Matt Beedle is the associate director for Swiss pharmaceutical recruitment at NonStop Recruitment. He is also a past chair for life sciences at APSCo, one of the leading regulatory bodies for recruitment in Europe. Matt has a strong track record of helping US Pharma/Biotech companies set-up in Switzerland and has a passion for high level, ethical and pro-active recruitment solutions.

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