I am frequently confronted with this question in my daily life. Be it at our recent innovation seminar in Silicon Valley, in conversations with local representatives of industry or potential investors, the pressure for companies to innovate is palpable and ever-present – especially in today’s world. That is why locations and regions advertise that they particularly promote innovation. We are also convinced that the Greater Zurich Area provides the best conditions for innovation-driven companies, particularly as a location for companies with high value added – whether they are Swiss or foreign.

But what does innovation mean, what does it cover? Anyone who wants to be a world leader as an innovative company needs highly qualified employees. The geographical proximity of research, development and production is certainly important here. But research intensity and the use of state-of-the-art digitalization technologies must be ensured too.

I see the precision goods industry in the business location of Zurich as the best example of this. It clearly illustrates the Greater Zurich Area’s capacity for innovation that we are marketing. The Greater Zurich Area offers the necessary business location conditions, thanks to which precision goods industries have grown into one of the most important industries in Switzerland within a matter of years.

The study by Prognos documents the business location of Zurich’s capacity for innovation and the corresponding interdependencies: The precision goods industry benefits from its proximity to the IT companies located here and from excellent educational and research institutions in the field of digital technologies. In no other sector of industry is the influence of digitalization so pronounced, and companies will find the increasingly important co-location of IT and industry, i.e. of innovation and production processes, in the Zurich region in particular.

This industrial sector illustrates how Swiss SMEs, international companies and the international research community jointly ensure that the Greater Zurich Area remains one of the most innovative economic regions of Europe.

We require outside impetus and the drive to keep improving ourselves to remain at the forefront in future and to also be able to retain and expand the business location advantage as an innovative economic region. Targeted location marketing focused on quality, sustainability and strategic renewal plays a pivotal role in this case.

About the author 

Sonja Wollkopf Walt studied law at the University of Berne. After her post graduate studies in European law and a few years of being a research and teaching assistant, she started her career as a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. After further education in marketing and management she started in 1999 with Greater Zurich Area AG as project and marketing manager. In October 2002, Sonja Wollkopf Walt became a member of the organization’s executive team, responsible for the operational part of the organization and for the markets USA, Europe and Russia. She has been CEO of Greater Zurich Area AG since January 1, 2010.

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