Zurich – Switzerland is fertile ground for robotics startups, says Roland Siegwart. The ETH Professor and co-founder of the startup Sevensense highlights the specialist expertise in precision mechanics and sensor technologies in the country.

Prof. Dr. Roland Siegwart, Head of Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zürich
Prof. Dr. Roland Siegwart, Head of Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zürich


Roland Siegwart is full Professor of Autonomous Systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH). He is also Co-Director of the accelerator Wyss Zurich. In 2018, Siegwart co-founded the ETH spin-off Sevensense Robotics. The company with headquarters in Zurich develops technologies for robots, for use in autonomous navigation, for example. Sevensense also works with German railway company Deutsche Bahn to develop technologies for train travel of the future.

In an interview published on the Sevensense blog, Siegwart praises Switzerland as a stimulating and attractive environment for robotics. It has all the main assets needed for robots. Precision mechanics, which “have a long tradition” in Switzerland, and sensor technologies are particularly important in the area of robotics. These are less commonly known worldwide, though Switzerland is very good in various sensing technologies already. 

Siegwart also emphasizes that ETH Zurich and ETH Lausanne (EPFL) are developing extremely well. The two universities offer the necessary control and intelligence, enabling them to apply their expertise effectively. They have created multiple other successful spin-off companies, especially in robotics. Switzerland has also attracted a wide pool of international talent, which further strengthens the startup scene for robotics.

However, it is currently lacking big investments for scaling. Investors in Europe are much more risk averse than in the USA, but this helps European startups to develop a sustainable customer-centric approach. As a result, startups in Switzerland have a much higher survival rate than those in the USA. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of ETH startups survive long term.

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