After the pandemic-related decline in the previous year (–18%* compared to 2019), the number of incorporations of foreign companies increased from 89* in 2020 to 125 in the year under review (+40%). In fact, more incorporations were recorded than in the previous record year of 2018 (124*). However, the two results are not directly comparable because an additional canton, Ticino, has been part of the Greater Zurich Area since 2019.

The newly established companies have already created 582 new jobs in the reporting year, 11% more than the 522* jobs in 2020. The companies plan to create 1,843 new jobs over the next 5 years (2020: 1,629*; +13%).

Strong catch-up effect after Corona slump

"The very good result was shaped by a strong catch-up effect in investment projects that could not be realized in the first year of the pandemic," explains Sonja Wollkopf Walt, Managing Director of Greater Zurich Area Ltd (GZA). In addition, the pandemic accelerated the growth of many technology companies, making more capital available for expansion to or within Europe. Finally, the pandemic reinforced the importance of two key location factors of the Greater Zurich Area: the availability of skilled workers in the technology sector and Switzerland's stable, reliable environment. "For years, GZA's strategy has targeted forward-looking companies that fit into the Greater Zurich Area and create the greatest possible value here," Wollkopf said. The well-filled pipeline of new and good-quality investment projects also gives cause for confidence, she added.

Investment projects by technology sector and by country of origin

The majority of the newly established companies come from sectors and technologies with a high level of innovation and added value. The frontrunners are information and communication technologies (42), followed by life sciences (25, of which 18 biotechnology/pharmaceuticals and 7 medical technology), engineering (incl. cleantech, 18) and financial services (13). Compared to the previous year, life sciences have replaced information and communication technologies as the most important "job creator" (2021: 235 vs. 154; 2020: 87* vs. 200). The decisive factors here were several very substantial investment projects in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology sector and one in medical technology. 82% of the companies not only work the Swiss market from their new location, but also pursue international activities (5% neighboring countries, 37% Europe, 40% global).

In the USA market, the decline in the number of companies settling in Switzerland was most pronounced due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the 22* settlements represented a decline of over forty percent. The comeback of the most important GZA focus market is all the more impressive: the 42 successful settlements in 2021 mean almost a doubling (+91%). The two most important country markets in Europe - Germany (+4*) and Italy (+5) also increased. In contrast, settlements from China, where strict travel restrictions remain in place, fell by more than half (-6).

* Deviations compared to the 2020 Annual Report due to late reporting of established companies.

The GZA annual report is available on

targens Suisse SA strengthens fintech competence in the Greater Zurich Area

The company targens exemplifies many successful investment projects in recent years. The IT and consulting company from Germany founded a subsidiary in Schwanden in the canton of Glarus in February 2021, from where it serves the market in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. targens Suisse SA envisions substantial growth combined with job expansion in the coming years.

targens offers compliance services and products that enable companies in the financial and industrial sectors to implement effective digital compliance management. This enables them to monitor regulatory requirements, detect violations or attempts to circumvent them, and enforce sanctions - as is currently the case against Russia.

"The central location of Glarus between the financial centers of Zurich, Zug and Vaduz is ideal for targens to acquire and serve new customers," explains Ruedi Becker, Chief Business Development at targens Suisse SA. "Since the digital successes of Glarner Kantonalbank, it's obvious that the canton of Glarus not only produces Ziger and Elmer Citro, but also has a concentrated fintech know-how." According to Becker, targens benefits from these competences and at the same time contributes to their strengthening. targens was supported by GZA and by the economic development office of the canton of Glarus in establishing the company.

More about the annual result

More about the annual result

Greater Zurich Area annual result 2021

Contact us

Can we put you in touch with a peer company or research institute? Do you need any information regarding your strategic expansion to Switzerland's technology and business center?