Enterprise R&D investment of over CHF 15 billion in 2015

(© Image: Fotolia)
(© Image: Fotolia)

Neuchâtel, 12.01.2017 (FSO) - Enterprises in Switzerland devoted more than CHF 15.7 billion to their research and development activities (R&D) in 2015. This represents a rise of 10% compared with 2012. Almost 57,000 people worked within enterprises to carry out these research activities. At international level, Switzerland is among those countries where enterprises are the most active in R&D. These are some of the main findings from the survey conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) in partnership with economiesuisse.

In 2015, enterprises in Switzerland spent almost CHF 43 million per day, including Saturdays and Sundays, to carry out their own R&D activities (intramural R&D). This is the highest level ever recorded, surpassing that of the previous survey conducted in 2012 by the FSO.

Switzerland well situated

In international comparison, Switzerland maintains its position as one of the countries with the most active enterprises in terms of research and development. For two decades, R&D expenditure has increased faster than economic activity as a whole in Switzerland, measured by gross domestic product (GDP).

Pharmaceuticals play a leading role

"Pharmaceuticals" is the industry investing the most in R&D. It alone represents 35% of total R&D expenditure amounting to CHF 5.5 billion. The other two main industries are "Research and Development" and "Machinery", which represent 16% and 10% respectively of total R&D expenditure by enterprises.

All industries have increased their intramural R&D expenditure with the exception of "Metallurgy", which saw a marked decline (-30%) and "Others" which fell slightly (-3%). The greatest increase (+66%) was seen in the "ICT services" industry.

Revival of basic research

2015 was marked by a sharp rise in enterprises’ expenditure dedicated to basic research. The amounts allocated more than doubled between 2012 and 2015 reaching CHF 3.5 billion. This means that nearly a quarter of expenditure went on basic research. This proportion is much larger than usual as enterprises are tending to neglect basic research in favour of applied research activities and experimental development.

Increase in R&D personnel

In 2015, 57,000 people were actively involved in research and development work in enterprises. This represents a 10% increase in R&D personnel, following a similar trend to that of all R&D expenditure. Three-quarters of personnel have a tertiary qualification (77%). Women represent 22% of research personnel, foreigners 38%.

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