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 has been rated the most innovative country in the world for the last few years. 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 strengthens 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. With its leading universities, technology transfer and technology parks, Switzerland’s strengths are clear for all to see. Switzerland is well positioned in terms of the number of patents and ranks among the top countries in the world.
Aargau – Region of High-Tech Industry
The canton of Aargau is ideally placed within Switzerland and one of the country’s foremost driving forces in the technology sector. The region is number one in energy and electrical engineering, nanotechnology and plastics. Many companies in the plastics sector develop and manufacture medical devices. Other key sectors in Aargau are the life sciences industry, information and communication technology, and also the machinery and metalworking industry.
How did Aargau come to be a centre for high-tech industries? Aargau became industrialised very early on due to its geographical location and abundant supply of water. For example, the Brown Boveri Company (BBC), which was the predecessor of the industrial giant ABB, was founded in the canton in 1891. The municipality of Baden-Dättwil in Aargau is now home to the largest of the ABB Group’s seven research centres around the world. Some 220 staff from 40 nations carry out research here in the fields of power electronics, electrical engineering, materials sciences and industrial automation.
Cutting-Edge Key Technology Made in Aargau
Everything from rapid charging of electrical vehicles, drive technology in railways through to uninterrupted power supply in data centres relies on power electronics. It is regarded as a key technology in terms of energy and resource efficiency and as a result is an important focal point of research at the ABB Group’s Corporate Research Centre. ABB has been operating a unique competence centre for power electronics with a team of highly qualified staff in the geographical triangle of Baden-Dättwil (research), Lenzburg (semi-conductor technology) and Turgi (converter technology) for decades. The geographical proximity is an important factor in the operation. “It makes it possible to bring together stakeholders from research, development and production with the aim of developing innovative and marketable products and services along the entire value-added chain as rapidly and sustainably as possible”, says Stefan Ramseier, Director of ABB’s Corporate Research Centre in Baden-Dättwil. ABB regards power electronics as having great potential for boosting energy efficiency in various fields of application in the future as well. That is why ABB Switzerland invested 18 million Swiss francs in the new power electronics research laboratory opened in Baden-Dättwil last year.
Speed to Market Thanks to Highly Efficient Technology Transfer
Aargau is the place to be for innovative companies. 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. The government of Aargau places great stock in research and development as well as the transfer of knowledge to SMEs. For this reason, the Cantonal Executive Council launched the “Hightech Aargau” program three years ago. 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, analyzes 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 Hightech Zentrum Aargau also provides access to financial support at either cantonal, national or EU level. The key concept here is speed to market. In 2014, the Hightech Zentrum Aargau supported over 150 projects. Funding was approved for around 20 projects, and collaboration with a university was initiated in the case of 64 projects.
PARK innovAARE, the High-Tech Business Park
Being home to the PSI, the largest research centre for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland, Aargau offers even more opportunities for innovative companies. The PSI is a strong advocate of applying research results to the development of new industrial products and procedures. A collaborative project of the canton of Aargau and the PSI is PARK innovAARE, a high-tech business park. It will be located right on the doorstep of the PSI in Villigen. Businesses that settle at PARK innovAARE will profit from the institute’s top-flight research and unique infrastructure. 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.
Starting Up and Growing the Local Network
To help companies and their employees settle and grow in Aargau, 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 registration issues, 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 during the process.
A Good Idea on its Own is not Enough
Dominik A. Lysek, the founder and CEO of Credentis AG, emphasizes that an innovative idea on its own is not sufficient: “Our company is located in the Technopark® Aargau in Brugg-Windisch– the perfect site for technology-oriented start-ups. During the initial stages of the company, we had competent support from Aargau Services, benefiting from their vast network. Additionally, we received financial support through the Aargau research fund. The Hightech Zentrum Aargau accompanied us through research projects involving the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. Without this broad support, the scientific based development of technology wouldn’t have been possible.”
Credentis revolutionizes dental medicine. Its innovative product, Curodont Repair, silences dentist drills and heals tooth rot in a pain-free manner. The product consists of small, intelligent proteins called peptides that organize themselves to form a three-dimensional biomatrix. This creates supporting structures in the tooth enamel, wherein minerals embed themselves enabling new Hydroxylapatite crystals to form, grow and heal the tooth.
Attractive Production Factors Ensure Growth
A large number of specialist suppliers and Aargau‘s competitive production costs – low taxes, wages and real estate prices in comparison with other Swiss cantons – ensure that the local companies’ innovation projects will progress rapidly. Moreover, the high-tech canton of Aargau is particularly well located to delevop 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 perfectly linked to the European transport network allows companies to benefit from short distances to customers, suppliers and business partners worldwide.
Philipp Gruner CEO of Medicoat AG confirms: “Many innovative companies are located in the canton of Aargau. As a result, we benefit from short distances to important customers, specialized suppliers and our partners. We also appreciate Aargau’s excellent infrastructure, its good transport connections, the direct contact with professional authorities, and of course the attractive residential districts and reasonable prices”. Medicoat specializes in medical coating for cementless implants. In order for an implant to be accepted easily by the surrounding bone, two requirements must be met: the surface must be rough and porous, so the structure corresponds to the bone – and the chemistry has to be right. Implants made of metal, plastics or ceramics are first provided with a titanium coating which is very rough. To accelerate coalescence, an additional layer of synthetic bioactive bone is applied, so that the surrounding bone is practically forced to accept the coating and fuses quickly with the implant. Nowadays, Medicoat coats around 60,000 implants a year in Mägenwil/Aargau.
Please contact us for further information:
Aargau Services Economic Promotion
Phone: +41 62 835 24 40
Fax: +41 62 835 24 19