The entrepreneurial culture is often perceived as Switzerland's Achilles heel in comparison to regions such as Silicon Valley or Israel. The reality is more nuanced, because French-speaking Switzerland inherits a culture that reflects its particular context.

Comparisons are odious. It is necessary to keep a certain critical distance, especially when comparing places of very different sizes. But comparing themselves nevertheless makes it possible to highlight the specificities of the region and also to identify potential areas for improvement or sources of inspiration.

As introduced earlier, the comparison focuses on eight ecosystems and takes as its starting point the detailed data from the Global Innovation Index. While Switzerland ranks number 1 overall, it ranks 7th in terms of skills and culture, behind Sweden, Israel and Singapore.

«It is necessary to keep a certain critical distance, especially when comparing places of very different sizes »

An important part of the knowledge economy

The first observation is that, compared to the other selected countries, Switzerland already has a significant proportion of its jobs in the knowledge economy, in knowledge-intensive functions.

While it is probably not entirely foreign to this first observation, and also due to the small size of the country, another important characteristic of Switzerland is the level of openness of its higher education system to external talent.

Switzerland stands out in the field of higher education

Other ecosystems also have their respective strengths. Sweden and the United States, for example, have a larger share of research jobs in the private sector than Switzerland. The German academic system is very much oriented towards technical fields. And women's participation in high value-added jobs is higher in Israel, the United States and Sweden.

«Women's participation in high value-added jobs is higher in Israel, the United States and Sweden»

A potential at the level of the best

The global entrepreneurship study conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is another very interesting source for the culture theme. The report for Switzerland has been supervised for several years by Professor Rico J. Baldegger, from the University of Management in Freiburg. This study covers most of the world's countries and presents, for some of its indicators, specific results for French-speaking Switzerland.

The entrepreneurial appetite of the French-speaking population

First striking element: on several dimensions relating to appetite or perception of opportunity or social status, French-speaking Switzerland is very close to, or even at the level of, leading innovation centres such as Israel or the United States. However, the comparison remains difficult, because the United States as a whole includes several regions with a strong innovation orientation, but also many regions that are much less innovation-oriented.

These data also tend to show that the modesty of the Swiss is not a legend. The perception that French-speaking Switzerland has of its own entrepreneurial capacity is clearly lagging behind other ecosystems. On the other hand, the fear of failure is a common misconception. French-speaking Switzerland is neither positively nor negatively different from other places in this respect.

A level of entrepreneurship that is still lagging behind

But the result remains behind. Intentions, as well as the rate of action, are below most other ecosystems. And at the Swiss level, there is no indication that the situation is changing. This rate is rather stable in an environment where other advanced countries are making overall progress.

It should be noted that this indicator covers all entrepreneurial activity. In Switzerland, the share of science-based entrepreneurship is comparable to other observed ecosystems, at around 30%.

The level of entrepreneurship in Switzerland remains generally lower than in other developed economies


This lack of concretization reflects dimensions that do not appear directly in the indicators analyzed. First, the healthy economy and, second, the high level of job security in Switzerland, which contribute to offering interesting and safe career choices to the country's citizens.

«Au niveau suisse, rien n’indique que la situation est en train de changer»