The global pandemic left its mark on the Foreign Direct Investment business in 2020 as well. The number of foreign companies establishing a business in the Greater Zurich Area decreased year-on-year from 109* to 86 (-21%). The established companies created 510 new jobs in the reporting year (2019: 764*; -33%). The stronger decline in the number of jobs compared to the number of investment projects is primarily explained by a single large project in the previous year with 100 jobs. The established companies plan to create 1,599 new jobs over the next five years (2019: 2,026*; -21%).
Damage limitation thanks to good work and Swiss location advantages
"In view of the global crisis, the result is very solid," GZA managing director Sonja Wollkopf Walt acknowledges. "It is particularly encouraging that these companies are creating jobs during a global crisis." This also illustrates the added value that investment promotion creates for the entire economic region, she says.
After the first half of the year, GZA had still expected a decline of thirty, forty percent or more. In addition to the slump in the global economy and the associated uncertainty, practical reasons have led to a decline in client projects and settlements – such as the complete halt in travel, physical meetings and events, or the limited availability of services needed for business incoporations. "The fact that the decline in investment projects was less severe than feared is also due to the well-filled project pipeline, the networks established abroad over the long term, and the consistent work of GZA and its partners from the economic development offices," Wollkopf explains. It also shows that the stability and reliability of Switzerland and the Greater Zurich Area are worth their weight in gold in times of global upheaval.
Investment projects according to technology sectors and origin
The majority of the established companies come from sectors and technologies with a high level of innovation and added value. Information and communication technologies (27) are at the top of the list, followed by life sciences (14, including 11 biotechnology/pharmaceuticals and 3 medical technology), mechanical engineering (including cleantech, 11) and financial services (7).
At the top of the list of companies' countries of origin, three GZA focus markets remain unchanged: USA (20), Germany (14) and China (11). However, differences can be seen in the changes comapred to last year: While the number of successful settlement projects from the USA (-18) almost halved, Germany (-1) almost reached the previous year's level. There are even 2 more successful projects from China than in 2019. This picture reflects - to put it simply - the course of the pandemic in the various regions of the world. More than three investment projects also come from Singapore (6), the UK (5), Italy (5) and Austria (4).
Speed U Up relies on technology expertise in the Greater Zurich Area
The company Speed U Up is exemplary for many successful investment projects in recent years. The digital agency from Tyrol (Austria) founded a joint venture with the Swiss media company Somedia in October 2020 to drive digitization in Alpine tourism. The company will create 75 new jobs in Chur in the Canton of Graubünden over the next three to four years.
Sven Thoenes, member of the board of directors of Speed U Up Suisse Ltd, explains the choice of location: "Chur will become Speed U Up's technology hub. In the Greater Zurich Area, we can find the talent to further develop our technologies in the areas of speech recognition, artificial intelligence and extended reality." He added that the company also wants to further expand its Swiss customer base, which includes the likes of Zermatt Tourism and SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun.
* Deviations compared to the annual report 2019 due to subsequent registrations of established companies.