Collaborative Innovation With Switzerland: A Cross-Border Commitment to R&D




Collaborative innovation, especially in the realm of research and development (R&D), is a critical factor for the growth and competitiveness of tech scaleups. The UK and Switzerland have both demonstrated a strong commitment to fostering an environment where such collaboration can thrive. This is particularly evident in the partnership between Innovate UK and Innosuisse, Switzerland’s federal innovation agency. This bilateral cooperation aims to support and finance joint R&D projects, sharing expertise and resources to drive innovation.

Innovate UK and Innosuisse Partnership

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is the UK’s innovation agency responsible for driving productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realize the potential of new ideas. Innosuisse, similarly, promotes science-based innovation in the interest of industry and society in Switzerland.

The partnership between these two organizations is designed to bring together businesses, research centres, and universities from both nations to work on collaborative projects. Here are some key aspects of this collaboration:

Joint Funding

The partnership often includes joint funding arrangements for R&D projects, which means that resources are pooled to support the development of new technologies, products, or services.ace for describing your block.

Knowledge Exchange

The partnership often includes joint funding arrangements for R&D projects, which means that resources are pooled to support the development of new technologies, products, or services.ace for describing your block.

Networking Opportunities

The partnership often includes joint funding arrangements for R&D projects, which means that resources are pooled to support the development of new technologies, products, or services.ace for describing your block.

High-Value Sectors

The Canton of Vaud, located in western Switzerland, is one of the country’s most dynamic and innovative regions. Its economic landscape is characterized by a strong industrial tradition, coupled with a robust commitment to research and development. Vaud has carved out a significant niche in several high-value sectors where it offers real added value:

1. Life Sciences

Vaud is home to a thriving life sciences cluster, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. The region benefits from a concentration of world-class research institutions, such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Lausanne, as well as a number of multinational companies and a plethora of innovative startups. The canton’s life sciences ecosystem is supported by dedicated facilities like Biopôle, a life sciences community and campus that fosters collaboration between industry and academia.

UK Life Sciences

2. Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

ICT is another significant sector in Vaud, with a focus on fields such as cybersecurity, software development, telecommunications, and various high-tech startups. The EPFL is also a driving force in this sector, producing cutting-edge research and spin-offs that contribute to the region’s reputation as a tech hub.

3. Cleantech and Energy

Vaud’s commitment to sustainability has led to the development of a strong cleantech sector, with innovations in renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, and water treatment. Companies in Vaud are at the forefront of developing sustainable solutions that are crucial for a greener future.

4. Food and Nutrition

The Canton of Vaud has a notable presence in the food and nutrition sector. Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, has its headquarters in Vevey, a town in Vaud. The presence of such a major player, along with numerous research institutes specializing in nutrition and health, contributes significantly to innovation in this sector.

5. Finance and Wealth Management

Given Switzerland’s global reputation in finance, Vaud is a key player in financial services, including wealth management, private banking, and fintech. The region’s stability, infrastructure, and favorable business environment make it an attractive location for financial institutions.

6. Advanced Manufacturing and Microtechnology

Vaud is also known for its advanced manufacturing, precision engineering, and microtechnology sectors. The region’s expertise in these areas is driven by a combination of technical know-how, innovative SMEs, and industrial leaders, all supported by research institutions that provide a steady stream of skilled talent.

7. Hospitality and Tourism

With its stunning landscapes, including Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps, Vaud is a prime location for hospitality and tourism. The prestigious École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is renowned for its hospitality education, and the region benefits economically from both its natural beauty and its reputation as a center for hospitality excellence.

8. HealthTech and Digital Health

Vaud’s strong life sciences and ICT sectors naturally extend into HealthTech and digital health, where companies and research institutions work on innovative solutions to improve healthcare delivery and medical diagnostics.

Vaud’s strategic focus on high-value sectors has established the region as a leader in innovation and research. Its commitment to collaboration between industry and academia, along with its supportive business environment, has created a fertile ground for both established companies and startups to thrive and contribute to the global market with cutting-edge products and services.

Check out some of the amazing companies in the Vaud region, all potential collaborators and sales opportunities.

Impact on UK Tech Scaleups

For UK tech scaleups, particularly those in specialized sectors like life sciences, biotech, and agri-tech, this cross-border commitment to R&D can be particularly beneficial:

Access to Swiss Excellence

Collaborating with reputable Swiss partners can enhance the credibility of UK scaleups, making it easier to attract further investment and to enter new markets.

Enhanced Credibility

Switzerland is renowned for its R&D capabilities, especially in precision engineering, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences. UK scaleups can leverage Swiss expertise to enhance their own R&D efforts.

Shared Risk and Costs

R&D can be expensive and risky, especially for scaleups. By sharing the costs and risks associated with R&D, businesses can pursue more ambitious projects with greater confidence.

Faster Time-to-Market

Collaborative innovation can accelerate the R&D process, leading to faster time-to-market for new products and technologies.

Broader Economic Context

The commitment to R&D collaboration fits within a broader strategy of both countries to maintain a competitive edge on the global stage. By pooling resources and capabilities, the UK and Switzerland are better positioned to lead in innovation and respond to global challenges.


The cross-border commitment to R&D between the UK and Switzerland serves as a testament to the power of collaborative innovation. For UK tech scaleups, engaging in such partnerships offers a pathway to enhance their R&D capabilities, gain access to new markets, and achieve scale more rapidly. As the UK and Switzerland continue to strengthen their cooperation in innovation, tech scaleups can expect to find fertile ground for their ambitious R&D projects and a supportive environment for their growth trajectories. The Innovaud UK 2024 Mission will likely highlight and promote these opportunities, encouraging more UK tech companies to explore the advantages of such international collaborations. Register your interest below to find out more.

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Ian Collins
Ian Collins
Ian Collins, with an extensive background spanning over 30 years in business development and general management, co-founded GTM Global in 2015. His experience encompasses hi-tech industries such as security, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, and enterprise software solutions. In his career, Ian has started several tech companies, overseen two corporate ventures, executed a management buy-in, and led two business turnarounds. He has also been involved in buying, selling, and merging various of his companies, and has achieved two successful business exits. Ian's expertise is particularly focused on business growth strategies and leading-edge proposition development.