Lake Geneva Region at the forefront of innovation

March, 2017

Lake Geneva Region at the forefront of innovation


Switzerland’s economic success, and more particularly its Lake Geneva region, is based on two key elements: innovation and dynamism. In the field of innovative research, the country is considered by international standards as extremely competitive which translates each year into a high number of scientific publications and patent application filings. This long-standing trend has again been confirmed by the European Patent Office’s (EPO) annual report published on 7 March 2017 *.

Switzerland: patent filings as indicator of innovation: The EPO received nearly 160 000 European patent applications in 2016 under the EPC and Euro-PCT, roughly the same level as the record number reached in 2015. Switzerland maintains its position and displays a high level of growth with a total of 7,293 European patent application filings. Fifth most important patent applicant at the EPO, with a 2.5% annual growth, Switzerland precedes South Korea, China, Great Britain and Sweden.

However, if the number of EP application filings per capita is taken into consideration, Switzerland jumps to the first place with more than 893 European patent applications per million inhabitants, far ahead of the Netherlands, in second place, with 405 European patent applications per million inhabitants.

Lake Geneva Region at the forefront of innovation: Looking at the national level for European patent filings, the three cantons of the Lake Geneva Region (i.e. Vaud, Geneva and Valais) represent together nothing less than 21.7% off all nationally filed EP applications. Even more impressively, the canton of Vaud alone accounts for 15.7% of the applications filed by Applicants of the Lake Geneva region, placing it as a matter of fact at the second place in terms of number of applications behind the region of Zurich.

This trend has also been translated into investments. Compared with 2015, funds invested in Start-ups in the Canton of Vaud rose by more than 160% to reach around CHF 460 mio, and the number of financing rounds almost doubled**.

Life Sciences strongly represented: European patent applications in the sector of Life Sciences mainly concern medical technologies, pharmaceuticals or biotechnology and represent around 19.8% of all filings by Swiss applicants at the EPO, which constitutes a 10% increase in comparison with 2015.

Switzerland, and especially the Lake Geneva region, has become one of the most dynamic countries
in the areas of scientific research and the transfer of academic knowledge to industry in the field of Life Sciences.

Please contact us for more information about these data.


Gilles Pfend and Andrea Manola
Swiss & European Patent Attorneys – Life Sciences

** Swiss Venture Capital Report 2017

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