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aprs le doctorat > Western Switzerland > Innovation: regional overview

Regional panorama of innovation

The economic activity of French-speaking Switzerland – in particular, the Lake Geneva region – stands out for its polyvalence and diversity, without any one domain dominating.

The sectors of activity range from private banking to trading, from clockmaking/watchmaking to biotechnology and micromechanics. The region is also home to international organisations and the headquarters of large international firms and international athletic associations, as well as research and training centres, health institutions and renowned private schools.

In the biotechnology and medical technology sector, the region is also home to over 750 enterprises, including Novartis, Medtronic, Merck Serono, Debiopharm, Kery Bio-Pharma, Biocartis, Ferring, Stryker, Addex Pharmaceutical, etc.

Key sectors of innovation in Switzerland


 Biotechnology (human health)

Biotechnology (agriculture)

Medical technology

Electrical engineering, metals, machinery

Clockmaking/watchmaking, micromechanics, optics 


Sustainable development 
of natural resources (CleanTech)


Innovation supports

Research and innovation are supported by the hautes écoles universitaires, the various campuses of the Haute École Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale (HES-SO) and by several specialised institutes (IHEID, CERN, Human Brain Project and Campus Biotech).

Hautes écoles universitaires (HEU)

French-speaking Switzerland is home to 5 HEU (including 3 within the Lake Geneva region): the Université de Genève, the Université de Lausanne, the Université de Neuchatel, the Université de Fribourg and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

The campuses of the Haute École Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale (HES-SO)

The HES-SO gathers together 27 institutes (including 16 in the cantons of Vaud and Geneva) specialised in:
  • Design and the visual arts
  • Economics and services
  • Engineering and architecture
  • Music and the performing arts
  • Health
  • Social work


Specialised institutes

Institut de Hautes Études Internationales et du Développement (IHEID)

A higher education and research institution specialised in the study of international affairs, located in Geneva. 

European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN)

CERN focuses on fundamental physics and the makeup and laws of the Universe.

Human Brain Project

This European project is dedicated to the development of new more effective medical therapies for neurological diseases. It is headed by a team from the EPFL, in partnership with the University of Heidelberg, the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (“Vaud University Hospital Centre”) and the Université de Lausanne. 

Campus Biotech is a new competitiveness cluster specialised in biotechnology and life science research, located in Geneva. The cluster links together EPFL and UNIGE, and will welcome companies active in this sector.

The doctorate is enjoying strong growth in Switzerland, echoing the strong growth of research and innovation in the Swiss economy!