Welcome to Aargau – the Swiss high-tech canton with a Triple A rating. In Aargau, where the number of people working in R&D is twice the Swiss average, you will find the best environment for your company to succeed: new technologies and a highly qualified and motivated workforce.
Switzerland is the most competitive country in the world. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2013-2014, it ranks number one in the overall ratings – for the sixth time in a row. One of the main reasons is its strength in innovation. Additionally, in 2014, Switzerland has not only topped the ranking of the Innovation Union Scoreboard but the Global Innovation Index as well.
Within Switzerland, the canton of Aargau has an excellent position. Aargau, as a leading destination for high-tech companies, has a long-lasting tradition in cutting-edge technology. It boasts wide-ranging high-tech expertise in pharmaceuticals, medical and energy technology, plastics, electrical and mechanical engineering and ICT. Due to its proximity to renowned research institutions such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), companies are certain to find strong R&D partners. As a result, the number of employees in the field of R&D is twice the Swiss average. Thorough professional training, international experience, high motivation and loyalty characterise these specialists. In addition, most of them speak several languages – a great advantage when doing international business.
High-Flux Solar Furnace at the Paul Scherrer Institute © PSI
Strength in innovation is an important driver of a country’s competitiveness. The key factors here are knowledge and technology. Various studies show that knowledge and technology transfer strengthen a company’s capability to innovate. Businesses that collaborate with scientific institutions are far more successful than others. Their production runs more efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition to that, they are much more export-driven and offer outstandingly innovative products. Nowadays, technology used in production processes of any kind is becoming increasingly complex and demands knowledge of various disciplines. That is why working with scientists means a competitive advantage.
Thus, knowledge transfer is a strong focus in the high-tech canton of Aargau. Being home to the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the Plastics Training and Technology Centre (KATZ) and the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), Aargau is hence attractive for innovative companies.
The PSI is the largest research centre for natural sciences and engineering within Switzerland. It strives to make new findings from research accessible to the industry. As a result, firms can launch innovations on the market and be successful in the long-term. The innovation park, PARK innovAARE, a federal and cantonal project, is being built right next the PSI to intensify the exchange between research and business. Companies that settle there benefit from the proximity and direct access to the PSI’s unique large-scale research facilities, its experts and specialists and their particular and detailed know-how. Moreover, they profit from a widely ramified international network of universities, research institutions, knowledge transfer establishments and internationally active enterprises.
KATZ is Switzerland’s most important plastics technology platform. The association advises companies and universities on innovative projects, and provides the infrastructure for research and development. The FHNW’s School of Engineering has been involved in research, innovation and technology transfer for about forty years. More than 200 projects are conducted every year with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and great national and international operating companies.
The government of Aargau puts great emphasis on research and development as well as the transfer of knowledge to SMEs. For this reason, the Cantonal Executive Council has launched the “Hightech Aargau” program. Companies in the canton benefit from excellent framework conditions and the promotion of innovation and technology transfer, so that they can increase their capability to perform and compete. Hightech Aargau promotes exchanges and collaboration between SMEs, universities and research institutes, as well as large international corporations. In the context of “Hightech Aargau”, the institution Hightech Zentrum Aargau was founded in 2012. This high-tech consulting centre makes it easier for resident SMEs to gain access to know-how, technology, universities and industry partners. It performs innovation check-ups, analyses innovations, and looks for solutions, appropriate innovation partners and financial support. This helps SMEs in a number of different ways. On the one hand, they can reduce the risks that the innovation process poses to the business and thereby save on the costs of innovating. On the other hand, they spend less time looking for the knowledge, technology and partners required, and conduct their own initial analysis. Companies can also take advantage of an active network of public and private research facilities and technology providers. The main aim here is to offer businesses the best possible technology and partner. The Hightech Zentrum Aargau also provides access to financial support at either cantonal, confederational or EU level. The services are equally available to all businesses that are in the process of innovating. Support is given to enterprises of any size, and irrespective of their technological background – such as (but not limited to) the fields of engineering, life sciences, medical technology, ICT, micro and nanotechnology, energy and environmental technology.
Due to the time-tested governmental programs and the unique and close collaboration with outstanding research facilities, companies are certain to find the most fostering environment for new technologies and know-how transfer in Aargau. A large number of specialist suppliers and competitive production costs – low taxes, wages and real estate prices in comparison with other Swiss cantons – ensure that their innovation projects will progress rapidly.
Moreover, the high-tech canton of Aargau is particularly well located to develop the market. It lies at the heart of Switzerland’s strongest economic region, within easy reach of the international airports in Zurich, Geneva, Berne and Basel. The dense rail and motorway infrastructure that is superbly linked to the European transport network allows companies to benefit from short distances to customers, suppliers and business partners worldwide. This whole package is rounded off excellently by attractive and safe residential areas with a modern infrastructure. The authorities are business-friendly and will play a supportive role in the project.
High-quality contacts and Assistance
To help companies and their employees settle, the Economic Promotion Department of the canton of Aargau – Aargau Services – provides a network of valuable industry contacts. The organisation acts as a direct link to both cantonal and federal authorities, easing the administrative burden of moving to a new location. There are teams to deal with migration, tax and trade registry, as well as consulting partners such as lawyers and tax advisers. Aargau Services supports companies in answering business and location questions and finding the right site. The aim is to enable entrepreneurs to concentrate on their daily business along the process.
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